Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 8.16.17 – Jack Latvala hits the trail; Jimmy Patronis to consider hitting the trail; Bobby O. wins on the trail; Joe Negron blazes a trail; Bill Montford leaves a trail; Happy trails, Carol Gentry

in Peter/Top Headlines by

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

It’s all over but the shouting.

Sen. Jack Latvala will take a stage today (several stages, to be accurate, as he will visit three different cities) to tell us what we already know, that he is seeking the office of Governor of the State of Florida.

Now, we hope, those who do not know him will begin to learn who Jack Latvala really is, rather than a commodity consultants want us to see.

We know from Twitter, for example, that the Pinellas County Republican supports the Rick Scott constitutional amendment requiring a supermajority vote to raise taxes.

But with “over 20 a day dying on opioids, 36 counties lost jobs last ten years. Those are my priorities right now,” he added.

Drug abuse and job creation seem an odd mix, at first. Maybe they speak to a ‘protective love’ of the Sunshine State.

Indeed, Latvala’s challenge is to morph beyond his gruff ‘Clearwater Curmudgeon’ persona into a candidate that will people will turn to, and from the more conservative firebrand that Richard Corcoran is, and that Adam Putnam is playing.

Can a candidate seem, dare we say, fatherly without appearing paternalistic? Or is that what people want, after eight years of the sometimes robotic Scott?

Will you want to have a beer with him? If you’re a baby, will you want to be kissed by him? And how much of a bear hug is Latvala (at least figuratively) willing to give voters?

We’re going to find out in the coming months just how far we’re all willing to go.

– “Chris Latvala says moderate in GOP Florida governor’s race is not his dad” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

Editorial: Jack Latvala’s voice elevates governor’s race” via the Tampa Bay Times Latvala brings a welcome voice of reason and pragmatic conservative values to the 2018 governor’s race. The longtime state senator from Clearwater has a firm grasp of the issues and challenges facing Florida, and he has a record of standing up to powerful special interests in Tallahassee. If he can break through a Republican primary field that will tilt far to the right, he would be an attractive general election candidate with broad appeal to centrist voters of both political parties. … Latvala is a reliable fundraiser and starts with several million dollars in his political committee, but he cannot self-fund a campaign like Gov. Scott did. Yet the Republican primary is more than a year away, and anything can happen. President Donald Trump‘s long shadow could affect the race. Or the most conservative candidates could divide the primary vote and leave an opening for Latvala. And Latvala’s popularity in voter-rich Tampa Bay should be an asset.

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Aerospace workers’ union endorses Gwen Graham” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – “With 39 lodges across the state of Florida, you’ll find our union members working in manufacturing and aerospace from Pensacola to Miami,” Frank Ortis, president of the Florida State Council of Machinists, stated in a news release. “We are excited to endorse Gwen Graham and ready to elect her Florida’s next governor. Gwen has the experience and leadership Florida needs to create jobs, raise wages and lift up working families.” The Machinists and Aerospace Workers is the second major union to endorse in the race for governor, joining the United Steelworkers, which endorsed Graham in June. In Congress, Graham co-sponsored legislation to raise the minimum wage and opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, and authored the bipartisan Middle STEP Act to expand technical education.

Jimmy Patronis to open political committee – Look for recently appointed Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis to open a political committee on Wednesday. The Panama City Republican told Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida that he is “very interested in running.” Gov. Rick Scott will host a fundraiser for Patronis’ Treasure Florida PC on Sept. 28.

Bill Galvano committee tops $125K in early August” via the News Service of FloridaGalvano‘s Innovate Florida committee received $40,000 from a Florida Retail Federation PAC and $25,000 from a Florida Chamber of Commerce PAC, a contribution list on the website showed. It also received $25,000 from the restaurant company Southeast QSR, LLC. Galvano is slated to become Senate president after the 2018 elections. The Innovate Florida committee had about $484,000 in cash on hand as of July 31 … It raised $235,000 in July.

Robert ‘Bobby O’ Olszewski wins HD 44 Republican special primary” via Scott Powers of Florida PoliticsOlszewski had a 99 vote victory over his main rival, John Newstreet. The other candidates, Bruno Portigliatti and Dr. Usha Jain, finished well back. In the final tally, Olszewski had 39.8 percent of the votes. Newstreet had 38.2 percent, Portigliatti, 18.2; and Jain, 3.8. Oszewski will be headed to a special election showdown with the Democratic nominee, Paul Chandler of Lake Buena Vista. That is provided Chandler remains on the ballot. The Democrat’s qualification for the ballot is being challenged in a lawsuit filed last week. “I am sunburned. I am sweaty, and I am extremely grateful for all the voters and volunteers who have supported me in this race,” Olszewski declared.

Save the date:

Joe Henderson: As Dan Raulerson leaves HD 58, only question is which Republican replaces him” via Florida Politics – Today marks the end of Raulerson’s five years in the Florida House … He is stepping down following recent back surgery and to concentrate on his local accounting business in Plant City. As he told me during a recent chit-chat, “I’ve got to make a buck.” In politics, one person’s departure is another person’s opportunity, and qualifying is underway to fill Raulerson’s seat. Two Republicans are already in the race – Yvonne Fry and Lawrence McClure. Democrat Jose Vazquez, whom Raulerson beat in 2016 by 16 points, has filed as well – although he also plans run in the district where Janet Cruz is stepping down because of term limits. Raulerson said he will remain “absolutely neutral” on the Republican side and will not run again for public office. “I’m done baby,” he said … Barring something unforeseen, a seat where Democrats could have been competitive with the right candidate stays Republican.


“Cost to protect Rick Scott now up to nearly $3 million” via Florida PoliticsProtecting Gov. Scott, First Lady Ann Scott, their family, and the Governor’s Mansion and grounds cost the state nearly $3 million last fiscal year, up from $2.6 million the year before. The annual Report of Transportation and Protective Services, issued Tuesday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, showed the cost to safeguard the governor alone rose roughly $218,000 from 2015-16, to almost $2.3 million in 2016-17. Also last year, 75 “protective details were performed” at a cost of $304,000, the report says. All costs include agents’ and officers’ salary and any overtime, plus the cost of transportations and other expenses. Those include “dignitary protection” details at the Republican Governors Association Policy Summit in Miami this May ($33,578), the Republican Governors Association Annual Conference in Orlando last November ($63,674) and a visit to Jacksonville that same month by former President Bill Clinton ($402).

“State budget aided by new gambling deal with Seminoles” via The Associated Press A new gambling deal between the state and the Seminole Tribe is providing a boost to the state’s finances. State officials on Tuesday drew up new forecasts to predict how much the state will collect in taxes. State legislators will use the forecasts when drawing up a new state budget next January. Economists now predict that state’s main budget account will grow by 4.5 percent during the fiscal year that ends next June. That same account is estimated to grow an additional 4.1 percent in fiscal year 2018-19. But that total has been boosted by an extra $500 million the state is receiving the next two years due to a settlement reached between Gov. Scott and the tribe that owns several casinos..

Senator or lobbyist? Texts show ‘overlap’ between Bill  Montford’s conflicting jobs” via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida – The Democratic senator from Tallahassee who also leads the Florida Association of District School Superintendents routinely blurs the lines between his two roles, as shown in text messages he sent recently to his fellow lawmakers and Gov. Scott’s staff. His communications flaunt a conflict of interest that’s not unique in the part-time Legislature but is certainly one of the Capitol’s more glaring examples. During this year’s legislative sessions and after, Montford strategized with his colleagues about how they might derail HB 7069, a controversial bill loathed by superintendents and other traditional public education advocates. He helped make his argument in part by citing powerful members of his superintendents association who had been outspoken against the bill. He also simultaneously advocated for his local priority projects in the budget while highlighting the superintendents’ push for Scott to veto the House bill in texts to the governor’s then-chief of staff.

Bill could ease open-carry penalties” via the News Service of Florida – The bill (SB 148), filed by Sarasota Republican Greg Steube for the 2018 legislative session, stems from a law that bars people from openly carrying guns in Florida. The bill would keep a second-degree misdemeanor penalty for people who do not have concealed-weapons licenses and openly carry guns. But it would lead to reduced penalties for people who have the licenses and openly carry. In such cases, license-holders could be cited for noncriminal violations that would include a $25 fine on a first violation and a $500 fine on a second violation. They would face second-degree misdemeanor charges on third or subsequent violations. Under the bill, people with concealed-weapons licenses also could not be arrested or charged if firearms are “temporarily and openly displayed.”


Senate President Joe Negron is shaking up budget-related and other panels, embarking on an aggressive round of leadership changes in advance of the 2018 Legislative Session.

Negron appointed new heads of five budget subcommittees, while changing the leaders of committees that oversee policy areas involving the environment, agriculture, utilities and elections. Also, Negron added members to numerous committees.

Perhaps the biggest changes announced Tuesday will affect appropriations subcommittees.

Negron appointed Sen. Kathleen Passidomo to replace Sen. David Simmons as chair of the Pre-K-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees public-school funding. Simmons will shift to the chairmanship of the General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, replacing Sen. Denise Grimsley.

Similarly, Sen. Rob Bradley will leave the chairmanship of the Environment and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee and become chairman of the Transportation, Tourism & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee. Sen. Lauren Book will replace Bradley as leader of the Environment and Natural Resources budget panel.

Sen. Jeff Brandes is shifting from the leadership of the Transportation, Tourism & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee to replace Sen. Aaron Bean as chairman of the Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee.

While Grimsley and Bean will stop chairing the budget subcommittees, Negron appointed both to lead policy committees.

Grimsley was appointed to chair the Agriculture Committee. In that role, she replaces Sen. Keith Perry, a Gainesville Republican who was named by Negron to replace Passidomo as head of the Ethics and Elections Committee.

Bean, meanwhile, was appointed chairman of the Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee. That position was held for much of the 2017 session by former Sen. Frank Artiles, a Miami Republican who resigned from the Legislature in April amid a controversy about vulgar and racially charged remarks he made at a private club.

Negron also named Bradley, who played a key role on Everglades-related issues during the 2017 Session, to serve as chairman of the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee. Bradley will replace Book in that role.

Three takeaways from Negron’s power moves:

1. Negron is not running out the clock on his presidency and anyone who thinks he is just isn’t paying attention. He’s also not running for anything (as far as we know), and that, makes him one of the most dangerous individuals in Florida politics.

2. The conservative agenda is alive and well in the Florida Senate. Need proof? Look no further than the strength Negron added to the appropriations committees. Couple that with his tax payer-protective response to the budget surplus announced yesterday, and you can see the contours of an agenda taking shape.

3. Negron’s commitment to elevating strong, effective women is something to admire. Yesterday, he added Grimsley, Passidomo and Book to the roster of powerhouse women already helping lead the Senate (Benacquisto, Flores, his COS Cheri Vancura and Katie Betta).


When will lawmakers learn: if you don’t want somebody else to read it, don’t write it. Also, for Pete’s sake, stop texting state business.

POLITICO Florida, again looking through text messages gained from a public records request, now finds that state Sen. Bill Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat who was formerly Leon County’s elected schools superintendent, “routinely blurs the lines” between legislating and his day job.

Bill Montford said it was often an unavoidable reality for part-time legislators to see ‘overlap’ between their government work and outside jobs, which they must hold to make ends meet. Photo credit: AP.

Montford, first elected in 2010, is head of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. Text messages show how he tried to deep-six a controversial education bill, using his superintendent contacts, while at the same time pushing for budget money for his sprawling, 11-county north Florida district.

  • “There’s no doubt that there’s always some overlap,” said Montford, a former Leon County schools superintendent.
  • Even Montford seems unsure about whether he’s a lobbyist. At first, when asked whether his advocacy for superintendents’ priorities constitutes lobbying, he said: “I think my colleagues look to me to help them understand and guide them with what’s going on in public education. Some could consider that lobbying, which it is.”


Rick Scott: State will help UF prepare for white supremacist’s visit” via Mitch Perry of Florida PoliticsScott contacted the heads of the Departments of Law Enforcement, Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Florida National Guard. He asked them to confer with university President Kent Fuchs and Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell on what assistance the state could provide. UF administration and campus police are working on a security plan for Richard Spencer, the head of the white supremacist National Policy Institute. He’s scheduled to appear on the Gainesville campus on Sept. 12. Scott said he wants to make sure that if university officials have any concerns that they can reach out to those law enforcement officials, adding that “they can always reach out to me.”

– “Tampa Bay area lawmakers against possible white nationalist leader’s visit to UF” via Melissa Marino of WFLA/News Channel 8

Chris King calls for removal of all Confederate monuments” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Taking to Facebook, King posted, “It’s time to remove all the Confederate monuments in Florida. These monuments should be removed because we should not celebrate literal anti-American ideology or any ideology based on the oppression of any group of people. “And to those who say these monuments are needed to preserve our history, I say we don’t need memorials celebrating this dark time in our history. As we’ve seen in Charlottesville this weekend, we live with the legacy of this history every day,” he added. “It’s time for Florida to put its fealty and energy not toward monuments to a divided past, but toward a vision of the future that provides for common growth. Florida values diversity, but simply saying so understates the case,” King continued. “Florida’s economic engine is built on diversity. We are a state of many races, faiths and languages, each making our state a great place to live in, and each underpinning our economy. But our economic engine has been held back for far too long by the ghosts of the past.”

FSU’s John Thrasher speaks out on Charlottesville” via Thomas Tobin of the Tampa Bay Times –”Florida State University recognizes freedom of expression as a constitutional right, and we are dedicated to protecting it for everyone,” his statement said in part. “We do not, however, condone the expression of ideas that infringe upon the rights of others or lead to violence … At times like these, we are reminded that institutions of higher learning can — and should be — leaders. That’s why we will continue to speak out against the efforts of those who would attempt to divide us based on our differences, whether race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity. Through our shared values of respect and civility, Florida State continues to strive to be a welcoming place for all who study and work at our world-class university.”

Libertarian party: Any white nationalists in party should resign” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics –“There is no room for racists and bigots in the Libertarian Party. If there are white nationalists who — inappropriately — are members of the Libertarian Party, I ask them to submit their resignations today,” Libertarian National Executive Director Wes Benedict declared … “We don’t want them to associate with the Libertarian Party, and we don’t want their money.” Benedict cited the national Libertarian Party’s platform, which includes a plank that states, “We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant. Government should neither deny nor abridge any individual’s human right based upon sex, wealth, ethnicity, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference, or sexual orientation … I’m not expecting many resignations, because our membership already knows this well,” Benedict stated in a news release issued by his office.


A record 60 million-plus tourists have visited Florida so far in 2017” via Tierra Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – The relentless uptick in travelers — a 4.1 percent increase over the first six months in 2016 — includes 53.2 million domestic visitors, 5.3 million overseas tourists and 2.2 million Canadians. “I worked hard this session to continue to fund VISIT FLORIDA, and it’s paying off,” Scott said. “Our goal is to have 120 million visitors this year.” But the continued surge in tourism comes with a big asterisk: all of the increase is coming from domestic travel. Florida saw a small drop in tourists from Canada, at 1 percent and international, at 0.4 percent, from the same period last year.

“Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof”: Gov. Rick Scott at The Florida Aquarium, announcing another record 60.7 million visitors to the state.

Court refuses to suppress statements from Mayan speaker” via the News Service of Florida – An appeals court rejected arguments that it should suppress statements given to police in a sexual-battery case because the suspect was interviewed in Spanish instead of a Mayan language. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal said detectives did not violate the Miranda rights of Reynoldo Martin-Godinez, a Guatemala native who speaks the Mayan Mam language, along with some Spanish. The issue stemmed from Martin-Godinez being arrested in Duval County on allegations that he molested his niece, who was 8 or 9 years old at the time … Martin-Godinez told police he spoke only a little English but spoke Spanish. He was interviewed by a Spanish-speaking detective after signing a form waiving his Miranda rights to remain silent or have an attorney present. During an interview with the detective, Martin-Godinez provided incriminating statements. He later tried to suppress the statements in court, at least in part because the interview was conducted in Spanish instead of the Mayan language with an interpreter. But the appeals court upheld a ruling by a Duval County circuit judge that the statements were admissible.

State: Each school district must review teachers’ eligibility for ‘best & brightest’ bonuses” via Kristen Clark of the Tampa Bay TimesHershel Lyons, Florida’s chancellor of public schools, issued guidance to school district superintendents through a two-page memo last week that details how the revised and expanded program should be implemented. It’s the latest in a trickle of memos from the DOE that explain how school districts should make sure they comply with the plethora of new education policy in House Bill 7069. In addition to the original “Best and Brightest” bonus that was first enacted two years ago and is based on teachers’ own SAT/ACT scores, HB 7069 calls for top teachers to also get extra money each year for simply being evaluated as “effective” or “highly effective.” All “highly effective” teachers will now get $1,200 bonuses, while “effective” teachers can get “up to $800,” under the new law. “Highly effective” teachers can also still receive bonuses of $6,000 if they can show they scored in the 80th percentile or above when they took the SAT or ACT — either in high school or more recently, if they choose to retake the exam. “Each scholarship has its own eligibility requirements that districts must review and administer locally,” Lyons wrote to the districts Aug. 11.

Aviat Networks awarded microwave, router business in Broward County – Aviat Networks announced a new public safety project with Broward County consisting of microwave and router hardware, software and services to upgrade police, fire and emergency communications. Other Florida entities using Aviat’s solutions include the State Department of Transportation, the City of Ft. Lauderdale, the City of Miami Beach, and Collier, Lee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Saint Lucie Fire, Sarasota/Manatee, and Volusia counties. Aviat provides the backhaul network including microwave and routing solutions for Broward County’s Motorola Solutions ASTRO 25 system that will connect local first responders with agencies across the county for fast, efficient mission-critical communications. The backhaul network is designed to offer reliable connectivity between radio systems and dispatch locations.

PSC approves Duke $50 million request for paying for nuclear project” via Malena Carollo of the Tampa Bay Times – The costs come from an “uprate” project associated with the nuclear facility, which would have increased power from the plant. Though Duke formally filed for the recovery in May, the fixed amount was set as part of a 2013 settlement between Duke and the commission. The costs will take effect from January to December 2018. However, because consumers have already been paying off related costs in recent years, their overall bills are expected to go down by 4 cents to $1.52 per 1,000 kilowatt hours — the typical number of kilowatt hours used for an average home. However, several other costs such as fuel costs — which Duke will return to the commission to discuss over the next few months — could also affect customers’ bills. Customers won’t have a firm idea of what their 2018 bills will be until about November.

“Flags were at half-staff for Marine Sgt. Joseph J. Murray of Jacksonville” via Florida Politics – Gov. Scott ordered flags at half-staff Tuesday for Marine Sgt. Murray, who died last month with 15 others in a military plane crash in Mississippi. “As a mark of respect for Sgt. Murray, I hereby direct the flags of the United States and the State of Florida to be flown at half-staff at the City Hall in Jacksonville, the County Courthouse in Duval County, and at the State Capitol in Tallahassee, from sunrise to sunset on Tuesday, August 15,” Scott said. Murray was on a Marine Corps refueling plane that crashed and burned in a soybean field in the Mississippi Delta, killing all 16 military members aboard. The wreck scattered debris for miles and sent a pillar of black smoke rising over the countryside. It was the deadliest Marine crash — in the U.S. or abroad — since 2005.

Report: Lack of command stymied response to airport shooting” via Terry Spencer of The Associated Press – The Broward County report, prepared by an outside consulting firm, shows the extent of the chaos that reigned at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in the minutes and hours after the Jan. 6 shooting that left five people dead and six wounded. About 2,600 law enforcement officers from throughout South Florida rushed to the airport, but the Broward Sheriff’s Office didn’t take adequate control of the response, the 82-page report says. Without a plan or system to deploy them, most deputies and officers were stranded outside the airport and their presence overwhelmed the radio and cellphone systems. “Most of the law enforcement personnel who responded lacked clear instructions, objectives and roles,” the report says. It also said there was initial confusion about what role the FBI played in the investigation — shootings at airports are a federal crime. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel strongly disputed the report, saying he, airport manager Mark Gale and the FBI agent in charge quickly took command of the situation shortly after the shooting. He conceded he hadn’t read the report, saying he had received it Monday night.

Shark protection laws not deterring anglers from catching sharks illegally, study finds” via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times –A viral video of Florida anglers dragging a shark behind their boat drew suggestions from both Gov. Scott and state Rep. Alexandra “Alex” Miller, that the laws might need to be changed to discourage this kind of animal cruelty. The problem with the response by Gov. Scott and Rep. Miller is that it assumes shark fishermen will abide by the law. According to a study just published by the scientific journal “Fisheries Research,” that’s not exactly a sure thing. Apparently a lot of shark fishermen knowingly break the law, and even give each other tips on how to get away with it. The study by noted shark expert David Shiffman looked at more than 1,000 postings on the online message board of the South Florida Shark Club, the largest such club in Florida, between 2010 and 2015. Many of the postings were complaints about state laws intended to protect certain shark species, and how to get around those laws. “I won’t stop fishing because of this law, and I hope no one else stops either,” one user wrote. “We are outlaws now,” wrote another.

Tear down AHCA’s roadblocks to health centers’ delivery of quality care” via Florida Politics – Last week, the Trump administration approved Florida’s request for the long-anticipated Medicaid 1115 waiver. The waiver increases funding in the Low Income Pool to $1.5 billion, which will help cover the costs of uncompensated care in our state. Tucked into that significant budget is a comparatively small – but incredibly important – budget crumb of $50 million per year for the next five years. This budget item goes to help provide funds for the state’s 40-plus federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), which provide health care to the poorest of the poor in Florida, with a requirement to take all comers. The Legislature has identified community health centers as a key part of the health care safety net, and they operate on razor-thin margins. For many health centers, accessing these additional dollars is crucial to being able to provide quality care and a reliable medical home to more patients – for some, it could tip the scales on whether they are able to continue serving communities at all. But the state Agency for Health Care Administration has erected an impossible obstacle in the FQHCs’ ability to access this money by injecting managed care organizations as a funding hurdle.


Oops? Trump retweets critic saying ‘he’s a fascist’” via The Associated PressTrump appears to have mistakenly retweeted a message from one of his critics saying “he’s a fascist.” Trump deleted his retweet after about five minutes, but not before the message sent to his 35 million followers racked up a big response. A Twitter handle identified as “@MikeHolden42” tweeted to Trump “He’s a fascist, so not unusual.” Trump retweeted the message to his massive following, triggering an avalanche of replies. @MikeHolden42 responded: “I’m announcing my retirement from Twitter. I’ll never top this RT.” He later updated his description on Twitter as “Officially Endorsed by the President of the United States.”

“Marco Rubio: Trump provided white supremacists with a win” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Rubio pointedly criticized President Trump for not placing all blame on the white nationalists who provoked violence in Charlottesville. “The organizers of events which inspired & led to #charlottesvilleterroristattack are 100% to blame for a number of reasons,” Rubio began a series of tweets after Trump’s remarks today in which he again said both sides of the conflict share in the blame. Rubio on Saturday also criticized Trump for not calling out the KKK and other white nationalist groups. Sen. Bill Nelson also condemned Trump’s comments today. “There is no defending white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK,” he wrote on Twitter.

Carlos Curbelo: After Charlottesville, Trump should marginalize Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami HeraldTrump should stop listening to two top White House aides who want to “accommodate” white nationalist groups, Miami Republican Rep. Curbelo said after the weekend’s deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Curbelo did not go as far as to call for Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor, and Miller, Trump’s senior adviser for policy, to be fired. But he told CNN the two men should be “marginalized,” and the president should give more weight to other advisers, such as new Chief of Staff John Kelly. “‘Alt-right’ is about white nationalism. It’s about racism. It is about dividing this country,” Curbelo said on CNN’s “Out Front” with Erin Burnett Monday. “And regrettably, there are members of the president’s staff who at least believe that this movement should be accommodated … I’m not saying these people are racists … I’m not saying they want to advance a racist agenda. But it is pretty clear they think these people should be accommodated.”

Jeff Sessions in Miami for ‘sanctuary city’ event” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times Sessions will visit PortMiami [to] “give remarks highlighting jurisdictions like Miami-Dade that have increased their cooperation and information sharing with federal immigration authorities and have demonstrated a fundamental commitment to the rule of law and lowering violent crime,” the Justice Department said in a release. Sessions will be joined by Tom Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for a speech on “the growing trend of violent crime in sanctuary cities.” (That assertion does not hold up, according to PolitiFact).

Assignment editors Adam Putnam will join U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue at the 2017 Citrus Expo Dinner. Event begins 6:30 p.m. at the Alico Arena, 12181 FGCU Lake Parkway E, in Fort Myers.


Personnel note: Jordan Russell joins Marco Rubio ‘s leadership PAC Russell, communications director for Strategic Partners & Media, is leaving the Republican consulting firm to join Rubio’s PAC. Russell is also an alum of Sen. Thad Cochran‘s re-election campaign.

WUSF’s Carol Gentry retiring from Health News Florida” via Florida PoliticsGentry single-handedly created Health News Florida in 2006 as an independent nonprofit health journalism publication, and in 2012, Gentry joined the WUSF family when she brought Health News Florida into the fold of WUSF Public Media. Since the publication’s beginning, Gentry has asked the tough questions and informed consumers about the health care systems that impact people’s lives. “It’s been a privilege to have Carol as part of the WUSF family,” said WUSF General Manager JoAnn Urofsky. “For years, she has been a trailblazer in the realm of nonprofit health journalism. She not only helped shed light on the exceptionally complex topic of health care, she was able to untangle and explain how this important subject affected the lives of our audience. We will miss her wealth of knowledge and passion for investigative reporting, and we wish Carol only the best in her next chapter. Congratulations on a truly wonderful career.”

AppointedMike Bell to Florida State College at Jacksonville district board of trustees; Ron Duell (re-appointed) to Jackson County Hospital District; Jim Holton, Melanie Griffin, and Cliff Manuel to the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority; Brigadier General (Ret) Arthur “Chip” Diehl III and Gary Harrod to the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority.

— ALOE —

Alligator hunting season begins in Florida” via FOX 13 News – Licensed hunters began applying for permits back in May and are permitted to harvest nearly 13,000 alligators from all over the state, except Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, which do not participate. Every year, more than 10,000 people apply for the 5,000 available permits, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, and permits sold out for the 10th straight year … Each permit allows hunters to take up to two alligators on a specific hunt date from a specific harvest area and the hunters must report their harvest to FWC. The goal is to help cut down on Florida’s gator population, which is now estimated at 1.3 million.

Taking a solar eclipse day? School districts say students can stay home” via Thomas Tobin of the Tampa Bay Times – A notice on Hillsborough district website says parents can keep their children in school for a half day and pick them up early, or keep them out all day, provided they follow up with a note. The other option: Keep them in school and allow them to take part in “exciting educational plans” for watching the eclipse. The district also urges parents to let their school know if they don’t want their child to participate in eclipse activities while at school. “A special total solar eclipse is coming up,” the notice says. “This eclipse is special because people can only see it from inside the United States of America.” Pinellas officials also said students can be excused with a note, and they are taking extra precautions during the eclipse. In Pasco County, the district said today that it too would allow students to be at home all or part of the day to watch the eclipse, provided they bring in a note from a parent.

Associated PressSchoolchildren in London watch a solar eclipse on March 20, 2015. Photo credit: AP.

Halloween Horror Nights announces new haunted house” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – The house of horrors will bring guests face-to-face with traps from the SAW film series including its latest installment, “Jigsaw,” which is scheduled to open in theaters Oct. 27, just days before Halloween. “SAW: The Games of Jigsaw” will encompass the greatest collection of traps featured in all eight SAW movies to bring to life the most twisted SAW maze ever produced, and we can’t wait for our fans to relive moments from the films,” said John Murdy, creative director at Universal Studios Hollywood and executive producer of Halloween Horror Nights (HHN). “Saw” is the fourth haunted house announced for the annual Halloween event. The other mazes are based on “The Shining,” FX’s “American Horror Story” and the Starz series “Ash vs. Evil Dead.”

Happy birthday to Matthew Choy, my friend Ben Kirby, and the man I almost worked for (right Zubaly?), Rocky Pennington.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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