Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.
The Florida Chamber Foundation is going international — at least for one day.
The Chamber is scheduled to kick-off its Florida International Trade and Investment Conference at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport, 9300 Jeff Fuqua Blvd. in Orlando at 8:30 a.m.
The one-day conference aims to connect trade experts, economists and industry professionals to discuss the international market as well as opportunities in foreign direct investment. This year’s conference is expected to include discussions about foreign direct investment strategies; trade markets access; and how Florida’s business climate and workforce position the state in the coming years.
Heading to the conference? Sen. Bill Galvano, Reps. Larry Lee and Frank White, Crystal Stiles, the director of economic development at Florida Power & Light; and Tim Giuliani, the president and CEO of the Orlando Economic Partnership, are among those scheduled to speak.
Florida Chamber: International jobs equal more jobs — The Florida Chamber of Commerce is boasting about the connection between international trade and jobs in a new video. The video, which comes as the Florida Chamber Foundation kicks off its Florida International Trade and Investment Conference in Orlando today, talks about the impact international trade has on Florida, pointing out that “2.5 million high wage Florida jobs depend on international trade.” “More international trade equals more Florida jobs,” an announcer says in the 90 second video. “When global trade increases, Florida wins.”
Click the image below to watch the video.
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— CAPITOL INSIGHT —
“He lacked experience, left the application mostly blank but got a $110,000 state job” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Before Gov. Rick Scott named Taylor Teepell to be the finance director of the New Republican Super PAC, the governor gave him a $110,000 job in Florida government for which he had no experience. For 14 months, the Louisiana native served in a top position in the Department of Economic Opportunity — as head of growth management oversight in Florida. When he left in May, he’d been given a raise — to $116,561— nearly three times the average state worker salary. Teepell, 34, had spent a decade working as a Republican political operative and was campaign manager for former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s campaign for president.
He had worked in the executive offices of Jindal and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, and worked campaigns in Louisiana and Mississippi. Teepell was also close with Scott’s former campaign manager, Melissa Sellers Stone, but he had no experience in development or land planning — which the director of the Division of Community Development oversees. Teepell filled out the standard application for the DEO job Feb. 9, 2016, but left most of it blank. Instead, he referred to a two-page resume that listed 10 years working in political jobs and one year as marketing director at a Colorado printing company.
“Insurers, trial lawyers spar in ‘bad faith’ case” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida – The insurance industry and plaintiffs’ attorneys are trying to help sway the Florida Supreme Court in a potentially high-stakes case stemming from a fatal auto accident in 2006 in Palm Beach County. Insurance-industry groups and the Florida Justice Association, which represents plaintiffs’ attorneys, have filed dueling briefs in recent weeks in the case centered on whether Geico General Insurance Co. acted in “bad faith” in handling a claim from the 2006 accident. The insurance-industry groups said in a brief filed last week that a Supreme Court ruling against Geico could expose insurers to “bad faith liability far beyond what has long been established by this court.” But the Florida Justice Association, in a brief filed last month, argued that the Supreme Court should overturn a 4th District Court of Appeal ruling in favor of Geico. The association’s friend-of-the-court brief said the appeals-court ruling would create “standards for insurer bad faith actions not previously recognized by Florida courts.”
“Bob Cortes blasts Public Service Commission” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising – “This decision, which doubles rates for western Seminole residents, demonstrates that the Public Service Commission is not standing on the side of consumers,” Cortes said of the decision the commission made Aug. 3. “Without a compelling case from Utilities Inc. and despite a public hearing where citizens expressed their concerns, the PSC moved ahead with a decision that would clearly impose an unfair burden, especially for seniors on fixed incomes.” The commission approved the new rate structure and some other issues for Utilities, Inc. of Florida, in a long-standing rate case that is complex because the company owned some water and sewer utilities around the state and brought in a comprehensive proposal.
Happening today – Aides to Gov. Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis will meet at 9 a.m. in the Capitol’s Cabinet meeting room in advance of an Aug. 16 Cabinet meeting.
Assignment editors – The Constitution Revision Commission’s Rules and Administration Committee will meet Wednesday in Senate Office Building room 401. The meeting is from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. On the agenda: “Scheduling and Deadlines” and “Administrative Policies.” The meeting will be livestreamed by The Florida Channel.
— DON GAETZ: STILL SERVING —
In a story for InWeekly, publisher Rick Outzen talked to former Senate President Don Gaetz about his decision to continue to stay active in public service, despite leaving the Florida Senate in 2016. He could not run for re-election because of term limits.
Since retiring from the Senate, Gaetz has been appointed to the state’s Constitutional Revision Commission and will take over as chairman of Triumph Gulf Coast in 2018. He joked with Outzen that his decision to stay involved is “a way of keeping me busy because I don’t have any skills. I can’t paint the house or anything like that.”
— Gaetz on the CRC: “We have the option of taking a clean sheet of paper out and starting out with ‘We the people.’ Or we can embroider some changes around the edges.”
He reminded Outzen that Florida is the only state with a constitutional revision process, and the commission tries to look ahead to what the next 20 years will look like. The commission will deliberate ideas for the next year, and then, no later than six months before the November general election will propose whatever rewrites it wants to put on the ballot.
“The voters can say, ‘Yep, that’s a good idea,’ or, ‘No, that’s a bad idea,” Twenty years ago, there were nine proposed amendments to the Constitution, eight of them passed,” Gaetz told Outzen. “It depends upon what the amendments are, what the subject matter is, and whether we’re really in tune with the people of the state. Everybody gets a chance to vote on our work product.”
Gaetz said he intends to “propose strengthening the ethics requirements for public officials, from the local level right up through the federal level.”
— Gaetz on Triumph: The former Senate president was appointed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran to the board of directors, which will manage the $1.5 billion pot of money earmarked for economic development.
He drafted legislation to make sure money went to the Panhandle, and told Outzen he wanted Triumph Gulf Coast to “to leverage the $1.5 billion through partnerships with local governments and the private sector, so the funds will attract another $1 billion in investments in the economy. He said, ‘Then, we’re talking about real money.”
“The funds coming through Triumph Gulf Coast will help build our economic infrastructure in a profound and transformational way,” he said. “We want to be able to strengthen our economy so that we can contribute, in a meaningful way, to the future.”
— STATEWIDE —
“Florida parcels out $50 million to help restore springs” via The Associated Press – Florida has picked 40 projects from across the state that will get a share of $50 million aimed at restoring some of the state’s springs. The list includes projects that call for extending sewer lines and connecting homes with septic tanks to central sewer lines. There are also several proposals to acquire land near existing springs. The projects are expected to help springs located through north and central Florida including Wakulla Springs and Silver Springs.
“Criminal defense lawyers argue to reverse FAMU hazing case” via Florida Politics – The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, in a friend-of-the-court brief filed this week, argued to set aside Dante Martin’s felony and misdemeanor hazing and manslaughter convictions in the 2011 death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion. Martin “did not strike anyone (but) was convicted … based upon the (hazing) statute’s amorphous and deficient language, because a bandmate died after participating in a” hazing ritual. His “action was not the cause of the death,” the brief says. Martin and Champion were both members of the school’s famed “Marching 100” band. Champion, 26, succumbed to internal injuries after a brutal beating with fists, mallets and drumsticks in a band bus that was parked outside a game in Orlando. Martin, now 30, was sentenced in 2015 to 6 years and 5 months in prison, according to the Department of Corrections website. His appeal is now in the state Supreme Court. A date for oral arguments is not yet set.
“Former Broward Health exec gets six-figure payout despite scathing report” via David Fleshler of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel – Doris Peek resigned July 20 as senior vice president of Broward Health, which runs five hospitals and various clinics, after a law firm hired by Broward Health accused her of improperly directing nearly $1.7 million to a company owned by a prominent Republican consultant. At the time of the report, Broward Health released a statement saying that it took the report “very seriously” and that “every individual at Broward Health is held accountable in order to uphold established legal and ethical standards.” Peek’s severance agreement, released by Broward Health … states that she will receive $214,008, most of which represents six months’ severance and the rest accrued leave. Under the agreement, signed by Broward Health interim chief executive officer Beverly Capasso, Peek may cooperate with any government investigators or regulators looking into Broward Health, a taxpayer-supported system legally known as the North Broward Hospital District. But she promised to not take Broward Health to court and “not engage in any activity either oral or written which disparage or adversely affect Broward Health.”
“Jack Latvala wants more opioid money before next session” via Alexandra Glorioso of the Naples Daily News – Latvala didn’t go into details on how much of the $20.4 million gap in essential services he would work to fill but said his early impression is that Florida needs more detox and treatment beds. Latvala said he was in the process of creating a proposal for the additional money in preparation for a joint House-Senate budget meeting Sept. 15. The House said it was open to discussing the matter. “I think thanks to some of the reporting that has been done that we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, there’s a little bit more awareness of where we ended up in the budget in the drug abuse and mental health area,” said Latvala while speaking about the crisis at an event in Palm Beach County.
“Florida adds 10,000 medical marijuana patients since June” via Abe Aborava of WMFE – Florida had 16,760 patients June 7, according to state reports. Florida added more than 10,000 patients by July 27, for 26,978 on the books – that’s a 60 percent increase. At the same time, there’s also been a spike in the number of doctors authorized to recommend cannabis. During that same time, more than 130 new doctors have signed up to be able to recommend marijuana. Florida now has about 950 doctors who can recommend medical marijuana to treat conditions ranging from HIV-AIDS to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Remember him? – “Steve Crisafulli gets OK for town home project on Merritt Island despite neighbors’ opposition” via Dave Berman of FLORIDA TODAY – Despite neighborhood opposition, the Brevard County Commission has approved a zoning change to help clear the way for a town home project on north Merritt Island. The 48-unit project would be developed by Crisafulli Enterprises Inc. … It currently is an orange grove owned by the Crisafulli family. Crisafulli Enterprises Vice President Steve Crisafulli said his company still would need to get site plan approval from the county before construction could begin. Crisafulli, a former speaker of the Florida House, said he hopes construction would start within a year. One of the target markets for the town homes will be workers in the growing commercial space industry at such companies as Blue Origin, OneWeb and SpaceX, Crisafulli said.
— JEB BUSH, DR. OZ CALL ON TRUMP TO DECLARE STATE OF EMERGENCY ON OPIOID CRISIS —
In an op-ed this week on Huffington Post, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush joined Dr. Mehmet Oz, the host of “The Dr. Oz Show” and a professor at NYP/Columbia University, and other advocates in calling on President Donald Trump to “heed the advice of the bipartisan White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and Opioid Crisis and declare the opioid epidemic a National Emergency.”
The op-ed — which was also written by Ryan Hampton, a recovery advocate at Facing Addiction and someone in long-term recovery from a substance abuse disorder; Jim Hood, the CEO of Facing Addiction; and Linda Rosenberg, the CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health — states a national emergency would give the epidemic the “full attention it deserves and allow states to access federal resources to act swiftly and definitively to save the lives of more than 33,000 Americans annually through evidence-based treatments and programs that have been proven to work.”
“Each day, 142 people die in our country from a drug overdose. The number of opioid overdoses has quadrupled, along with the number of opioid prescriptions, over the last two decades. Today more people die from drug overdoses than from car accidents, guns or falls,” the coalition wrote. “More broadly, the addiction epidemic affects 1 in 3 American families in every town and city across the country and does not discriminate based on race or political affiliations. This critical public health situation demands extraordinary measures.”
According to the coalition, a national declaration would allow HHS Secretary Tom Price to pursue solutions to ensure Naloxone, which when rapidly administered reverses opioid overdoses and prevents death, “is affordable and accessible.”
It would also help “ensure that every person ready for help can get treated” and free up funding to add staff to emergency rooms who can intervene when with people rescued from overdoses.
“In closing, these recommendations are a critical starting point to addressing the opioid epidemic, but we must also acknowledge the cultural and institutional failures that have contributed to this crisis and work to reverse them. This starts by recognizing our society has developed an over-reliance on prescription drugs in ways that far exceed the usage challenges other countries face. Preventing drug abuse, curbing addiction and increasing the number of successfully rehabilitated individuals requires a focus on education, criminal justice reform, and family and community engagement,” they wrote. “This isn’t just good policy, it’s our moral imperative to aggressively combat this dangerous epidemic before it threatens another generation of Americans.”
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Jeb Bush on Donald Trump’s first 200 days: ‘it’s exhausting’” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Bush also reacted to immigration policy, saying he does not support the proposal to significantly limit legal immigration. At the same time, Bush said moving to a merit-based system is a good idea — and one he’s supported before. “A merit-based system would be helpful for our country,” Bush said in a Univision interview, “but I think we ought to take full advantage of it and not just restrict the number of legal immigrants coming in.” Asked to grade Trump’s performance at 200 days, Bush said: “It’s exhausting. I mean it’s an incomplete grade in the sense that not much has been done. But it feels like the whole world has been turned upside down. He’s created controversy where there is no need for it. He should lead. All of this tweeting and the pushing down people to make himself look better is not helping … I hope and pray for him and his family and I pray for my country and I hope that he assumes the mantle of leadership that he has not yet done.”
“Marco Rubio maintains stable of consultants” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Rubio continues to spend money on longtime consultants while giving out a modest amount to candidates, campaign finance records show. His Reclaim America PAC donated $11,000 to three candidates this year: $5,000 to Ohio Treasurer and U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel; $5,000 to Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch; and $1,000 for New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. The bulk of Rubio’s spending through June of this year, $75,000, went toward consultants, fundraising and travel. Nearly $14,000 went to Clint Reed, who managed Rubio’s 2016 re-election campaign and is now his chief of staff. Longtime aide Todd Reid was paid $6,700 for “strategic consulting.” Something Else Strategies, the firm that includes Heath and Malorie Thompson and Todd Harris, was paid $16,000, also for consulting. All told, Reclaim America PAC took in $121,000 from an array of PACs and individuals, including members of the Fanjul family and lobbyist Brian Ballard, and spent $86,000. The committee had $211,000 in the bank as of June 30.
“MacDill and other Florida bases in good shape to weather closing efforts, says former BRAC boss” via Howard Altman of the Tampa Bay Times – Thanks to strong military-civilian partnerships, the presence of three major commands and key missions performed at its military facilities, Florida is in good shape to weather a new round of base closings, said Anthony Principi, speaking at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Military, Defense & Veterans Opportunities Summit in Orlando. But the state shouldn’t rest easy, warned Principi, a military veteran and former Veterans Affairs secretary who led the last Base Closing and Realignment Commission, held in 2005. The leadership of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee is floating the idea of calling for a new round of base closings in 2021, but with a big difference from previous versions. Committee chairman John McCain and ranking member Jack Reed are proposing closing bases without the kind of commission that Principi once led. Such a move, Principi said, would eliminate an important way for communities to make a case to keep their bases.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“Bill Nelson says he’ll campaign on saving Obamacare” via Florida Politics – Democratic U.S. Sen. Nelson on Tuesday said he will make saving Obamacare a focus of his 2018 re-election campaign. “Of course—it is the law,” he told reporters at a press conference at the Tallahassee International Airport. “I want the law to work. And it’s been working: 24 million people have health insurance that never had it before. But it needs some fixing,” he added about the Affordable Care Act. One of those fixes is putting money back in to help people afford co-pays, Nelson said. The state’s senior senator, who met with constituents before meeting with the press, also touched on tax reform, North Korea, and a looming challenge for his seat from current Gov. Scott. The Naples Republican is term-limited next year. “I know how to campaign,” Nelson said. “I’ll leave it at that.”
Scoop – Jack Latvala has retained media guru Fred Davis – The Pinellas Republican’s 2018 plans are not official yet, but his committee has retained the services of Fred Davis, the man once described as the GOP’s most feared ad man. In the last non-presidential cycle, Davis went 12-for-12 for his clients. Look for a full write-up today on FloridaPolitics.com.
“Adam Putnam pushes Florida Forever funding as helping Florida on multiple levels” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Putnam said in Orlando that lands acquired through Florida Forever purchases not only help all the conservation causes but bolster the state’s economic strength, in particular when its used to develop buffers around military bases. He expressed strong disappointment that the Florida Legislature allotted no money for Florida Forever this year, and said later, speaking to the press, that even $50 million a year might not be enough. “I’m pretty disappointed on a lot of levels that that funding was zeroed out this year,” Putnam said. “I’m not ready to roll out a policy paper, but historically, for the last seven years Florida Forever, I don’t know if it’s ever been above $50 million,” he said later to reporters.
– “Putnam calls wide-ranging education bill ‘a bridge too far’” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune
“Andrew Gillum cleared in email software investigation” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat – The grand jury found that Gillum never personally used the software from NGP Van, which provides technology to Democratic campaigns. It also found that Gillum’s chief of staff, not the mayor himself, directed payment of nearly $5,000 in city funds for the software from January 2016 to January 2017. “We, the grand jury for Leon County, conclude that there is simply no evidence of official misconduct as defined by Florida statutes,” the panel said in its report … The grand jury’s 11-page report was good news for Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign, which has seen sluggish fundraising over the summer.
Evan Power never cedes an inch: “While the Grand Jury did not file an indictment in this criminal investigation into Mayor Andrew Gillum they did confirm what we have long said that the Mayor and his office used a taxpayer funded email system that sent emails outside ‘the duties of the Mayor of Tallahassee and served no public interest.’ The Citizens of Tallahassee deserve better than a Mayor who violates their trust and then takes a victory lap simply because a criminal indictment was not leveled.”
Gillum to supporters: “The attacks are going to keep coming” — Gillum released a new video Tuesday after a Leon County grand jury cleared him and his office for using software to send a handful of political emails. In the nearly 90 second video, Gillum reiterates why he is running for governor and urged Floridians to back his campaign. “It’s gonna be hard,” he said. “But I want you to know I’m going to get up every day, and as hard as I would fight for myself, I’m going to fight for you and your families because it’s time.”
Click the image below to watch the video.
“Ben & Jerry’s backs Florida felon voting rights restoration” via Troy Kinsey of Bay News 9 – The Vermont-based company has activated its Florida email list, calling on supporters to “join the grassroots movement to restore voting in Florida.” A recent message directed readers to PeoplePower.org, a website run by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is pledging to spend at least $5 million to gather the nearly 700,000 valid voter signatures needed to get the amendment on the ballot. The new support could prove critical to the amendment drive. With less than six months remaining before the state’s signature collection deadline, organizers are behind the curve. The ACLU projects that a million signatures will need to be collected to account for scores of disqualifications. Florida is one of three states that don’t automatically restore felons’ voting rights after they’ve fulfilled their sentences.
“Carlos Lopez-Cantera backs Scott Sturgill to take on Stephanie Murphy” via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – Lopez-Cantera praised Sturgill who had chaired the board of the Greater Sanford Regional Chamber of Commerce and served on the Seminole County Soil and Water Commission. “Scott Sturgill has a proven record of success in the private sector and this experience will serve him well when he represents the residents of Central Florida in Congress,” Lopez-Cantera said. “He will be an effective leader for lower taxes and a strong economy in the U.S. House of Representatives. I am proud to support him” … “Lt. Governor Lopez-Cantera is one of our great conservative leaders,” Sturgill said about his new endorsement. “I am happy to have his support as I seek to return CD 7 to Republican control.” Murphy, who edged longtime U.S. Rep. John Mica last year in an upset, is considered a top target for Republicans next year.
“Wilton Simpson committee tops $371K in July” via the News Service of Florida – The Jobs for Florida committee had about $1.55 million in cash on hand as of July 31. Among its big contributors in July were U.S. Sugar Corp., which gave $40,000 and Florida Power & Light and a Florida Transportation Builders Association PAC, which each gave $25,000, according to the report posted on the state Division of Elections website. Simpson, expected to become Senate president in 2020, also had about $259,000 in cash on hand in his campaign account as of July 31.
“Special election results certified for SD 40, HD 116” via Florida Politics – The state’s Elections Canvassing Commission, made up of Gov. Scott, Attorney General Bondi, and CFO Patronis, officially certified the July 25 results for special elections in South Florida. Republican Jose Felix Diaz and Democrat Annette Taddeo won the party primaries in the Senate district. Republican Daniel Perez won the primary for the House district. Bondi made the motion to approve the results, with Patronis seconding. The meeting lasted less than two minutes.
“Voter turnout in HD 44 special election primary favoring central precincts” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – With a week left before voters in Florida’s House District 44 decide who will be the Republican nominee seeking to fill the vacant seat, nearly 3,000 votes have been cast, with a large portion of them coming from the Dr. Phillips and Windermere areas of the sprawling southwest Orange County district. Those six high-vote precincts spread through the central part of HD 44, around the Windermere/Lake Butler area and the adjacent Dr. Phillips community, largely affluent neighborhoods, which are homes to three of the four candidates, John Newstreet, Bruno Portigliatti and Usha Jain. The fourth Republican candidate, Bobby Olszewski, hails from the northern part of HD 44, from the areas of the western Orange County suburbs of Winter Garden (his hometown), Oakland and Ocoee. Voting has been slower there so far, with turnouts mostly ranging from 5-7 percent combining early-voting and mail voting. The combined turnouts mostly have been in the 8-11 percent range in the Windermere/Lake Butler and Dr. Phillips precincts, according to the Supervisor of Elections Office data.
“Poll: Rick Baker leads Rick Kriseman 46 to 39 percent” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – … despite most voters saying that their city is heading in the right direction. The survey of 862 city residents conducted and paid for by StPetePolls.org showed Baker leading the field with 45.7 percent support, Kriseman with 39.3 percent, Paul Congemi with 3.9 percent, Theresa Lassiter with 2.7 percent, Jesse Nevel with 1.6 percent, Anthony Cates with 1.4 percent, and 5.3 percent of voters unsure. Baker was leading Kriseman in the Midtown area by 13 percentage points, northeast St. Petersburg by 11, and west by nearly 7, while Baker and Kriseman were effectively tied in southern St. Petersburg, and Kriseman led downtown by nearly 12 points. The race is officially nonpartisan, but Democrat Kriseman was pulling more than 16 percent of Republicans, while Republican Baker was winning 30 percent of Democrats. They were effectively tied among independents.
“Florida Democrats launch TV ad linking Rick Baker to Donald Trump, Rick Kriseman to Barack Obama” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – The Florida Democratic Party is paying for a new ad airing in Pinellas County aimed at reminding Democratic-leaning St. Petersburg that incumbent Mayor Kriseman is a loyal Democrat and his leading challenger, Baker, a loyal Republican. “Rick Baker is on the extreme team – siding with climate change deniers, silent on Trump‘s countless discriminatory policies,” says the female narrator, over images depicting Baker on a baseball team with Trump, Rick Scott and Mitt Romney. “Baker is weak. And out of touch with our values. But Mayor Rick Kriseman has taken strong stands, working with President Obama and Joe Biden. Taking action on climate change. Working with Charlie Crist to stop offshore drilling. Kriseman, moving St. Pete forward.”
Click on the image below to watch the video.
— OPINIONS —
“Democrats need a better plan, better pitch” via Adam Goodman for the Tampa Bay Times – In America a great slogan is far more powerful, especially when it drives us to do something, buy something or believe in something. While creating images that are durable and memorable, slogans distill life’s complexity into simple shorthand. Democrats in Washington have decided to get back in the game with a slogan of their own, “a better deal.” Where is the call for America’s public schools to reclaim the mantle of being best in the world? Where are the ideas for health care reform that don’t punish our families, or for children with college debt they can’t possibly repay? Where is the core message that ultimately we are not Republicans or Democrats first, but Americans? The problem here is that the leaders behind it, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, with more than 65 years in office between them, are out-of-date in an out-of-touch town. Did they sleep through the 2016 election, a change election, where the status quo championed by Hillary Clinton was no match for “system is broken” mantra of the challenger? The difference here is Pelosi and Schumer are not Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Harry Truman. The time has come for Democrats some bravado of their own, or the “better deal” slogan they’re peddling will be replaced by a more compelling one coined by the American people: “Deal them out.”
— MOVEMENTS —
Appointed – Kristine Van Vorst to the Alachua County Court; Jamie Rutland Grosshans to the Orange County Court; Keith Williams to Jackson County Hospital District; Pamela Vowels to DeSoto County Hospital Board and Howard Phillips (reappointed) to Madison County Health and Hospital Board.
New and renewed lobby registrations: Joanna Bonfanti, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: American Pharmacy Cooperative, Inc
Personnel note: Leah Courtney joins Florida TaxWatch as comms coordinator via Florida Politics – Courtney “will be responsible for sharing Florida TaxWatch’s independent research findings with policymakers and members of the media, as well as engaging supporters and outside organizations,” the organization said in a Tuesday press release. Her “experience in digital outreach and the policy arena will help Florida TaxWatch increase the reach of its high-quality, independent research,” said Dominic M. Calabro, the president and CEO. Courtney graduated from the University of West Florida, where she double-majored in Political Science and International Studies. “Her professional experience includes grassroots engagement, lobbying, message/brand development, digital outreach, and Gubernatorial and Presidential campaigns,” according to the release. “She has also helped train 500+ grassroots activists on how to run for office and how to hold government officials accountable.”
“The end of typing: The next billion mobile users will rely on video and voice” via Eric Bellman of the Wall Street Journal – Instead of typing searches and emails, a wave of newcomers—“the next billion,” the tech industry calls them—is avoiding text, using voice activation and communicating with images. They are a swath of the world’s less-educated, online for the first time thanks to low-end smartphones, cheap data plans and intuitive apps that let them navigate despite poor literacy. Incumbent tech companies are finding they must rethink their products for these newcomers and face local competitors that have been quicker to figure them out. “We are seeing a new kind of internet user,” said Caesar Sengupta, who heads a group at Alphabet Inc.’s Google trying to adapt to the new wave. “The new users are very different from the first billion.”
“Jacksonville’s Mayo Clinic ranked best hospital in Florida by U.S. News & World Report” via Charlie Patton of the Florida Times-Union – The top ranking, released in U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best Hospitals rankings, comes at a time of rapid expansion at the Mayo Clinic. Since Gianrico Farrugia arrived as CEO in Jacksonville in 2015, the Mayo Clinic committed to spending more than $300 million on construction, essentially doubling the medical center’s square footage with the goal of doubling the number of patients who can be seen. The goal is to make the hospital a medical destination for the Southeast region of the United States. “We will continue to invest in people, and space and technology,” said Farrugia. “We’re hiring the best and making sure we have the best technology.”
“SeaWorld reports loss as ‘Blackfish’ and competition continue to haunt fortunes” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times – SeaWorld Entertainment reported a second-quarter loss and blamed its attendance woes on reduced national advertising, its persistent “perception issues” over its treatment of orcas and competitive pressures from rival theme parks. The company reported a second-quarter loss of $175.9 million, after reporting a profit in the same period a year earlier. SeaWorld’s stock has fallen 28 percent since the beginning of the year. In a conference call, CEO Joel Manby noted that the five-point plan he unveiled when he was hired in 2015 to turn the company around was a “three-year effort. He said he sees signs of hope. “While we are making progress in key areas of our plan, we are not satisfied with our results for the quarter,” Manby said. “This quarter provided us with an understanding of what is working and where we need to make adjustments. We are increasing our investment in national advertising to generate sufficient awareness of our brand attributes and strong new rides and attractions, developing a new national marketing campaign emphasizing our distinct experiences, and reinvesting in our reputation messaging to target perceptions in key markets, particularly California.”
Happy birthday to the gentle giant of Florida politics, Emmett Reed of the Florida Health Care Association. Put aside how impactful he is on The Process and just enjoy his family-first Facebook account, which always shows him with loved ones, usually on some new adventure. I am proud to call him my friend. Also celebrating today is Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman.