Sunburn for 8/14 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

Today’s Rise and Shine Fact-iversary is brought to you by Sachs Media Group, the state’s dominant public affairs PR firm: On this day in 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. . . and Florida has never been the same. Today, one in five Floridians receives Social Security benefits – more than 4.1 million Florida residents in all. By AARP’s estimate, Social Security pumps $54.7 billion into Florida’s economy each year – a lot of green from our ‘gray’ neighbors.

Now, on to the burn…

POLL: GOVERNMENT EFFICACY MORE IMPORTANT THAN IMMIGRATION via Jonathan Topaz for POLITICO

According to a Gallup poll released Wednesday, a plurality of Americans – 18 percent – say dissatisfaction with the government is the top issue in the U.S., up 2 percentage points from last month. Immigration ranked second, with 15 percent of Americans saying it is the country’s most important problem, followed by the economy at 14 percent, and unemployment and jobs at 12 percent. 

WITH BEGINNING OF EARLY VOTING, FORMER CONGRESSMAN DAVID RIVERA RETURNS TO CAMPAIGN TRAIL via Enrique Flor of the Miami Herald

After having announced a month ago that he would no longer run for office, former Congressman David Rivera apparently has changed his mind.

He said he would continue his electoral campaign for the Republican primaries in which he seeks to represent District 26.

On the first day of voting in Miami-Dade County, Rivera said he hopes to regain the seat currently occupied by Democrat Joe Garcia.

“What was announced [in July] was the suspension of campaign activities,” Rivera said by phone from Washington, D.C. “Meanwhile, the state Legislature dealt with the reconfiguration of electoral districts.”

Political opponents reacted to Rivera’s announcement, saying that his return will only confuse voters.

“I think that Rivera, who I like, has generated tremendous confusion within the community and that’s not helpful for District 26’s voters,” said Joe Martinez, former president of the Miami-Dade County Commission. “This affects the candidates who really aspire to gain that seat.”

Lorenzo Palomares, an attorney also seeking election, said he wasn’t surprised by Rivera’s actions, considering that he’s involved in a federal court case involving allegations of campaign finance fraud.

FINDTHEBEST LAUNCHES CONGRESSIONAL STAFF DIRECTORY via POLITICO Morning Huddle

Public records aggregator FindTheBest.com has launched a new congressional staff directory vertical with salary and expenditure data for congressional offices, committees, and leadership staffers all pulled from the Statement of Disbursements of the House and the Report of the Secretary of the Senate.

The for-profit company is ad supported and offering the service for free to the public – treading on the turf of subscription data-aggregators like Legistorm.com, which is currently paywalled. The new website also includes member voting history, campaign finance data and other contact information for members of Congress and staff. It also shows salary averages for various legislative positions and other aggregate data tools

“When we started building this topic, we thought that it would mostly be utilized by policy advocates who didn’t have the resources to pay for the current offerings out there or who wanted a better source for expenditure data,” the company said in blog post.

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AN ISSUE NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT IN THE FLORIDA GOVERNOR’S RACE via Brian Crowley of the CrowleyPoliticalReport.com

Either Republican Rick Scott or Democrat Charlie Crist will appoint 15 members to a new Constitutional Revision Commission. The last time the Ccmmission met was in 1997. When its work was done, nine constitutional amendments went to voters including one that reduced Florida’s elected Cabinet from six members to three – increasing the power of the governor.

Thirty days before the start of the 2017 Legislature, the members of the commission will be picked. The commission will hold hearings, examine ways to change the Florida Constitution, and then six months before the 2018 general election, place its proposed amendments on the ballot.

In addition to the 15 members chosen by the governor, the House Speaker and Senate President will each pick nine members. Three members will be chosen by Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court. The Attorney General is an automatic member.

The governor picks one of the 37 members to serve as chair of the commission.

In 2017, Democrats could have a huge problem.

The Legislature will remain in Republican hands so those 18 appointments will come from the GOP. Today’s legislative leadership is more conservative, less moderate.

Should Rick Scott win a second term, he would appoint 15 members, naming one of them chairman. That gives Republican overwhelming control of the next commission with 33 appointments. Add Pam Bondi, who is likely to win a second term as Attorney General, and the GOP total comes to 34. The remaining three commissioners would be appointed by the Chief Justice.

CHARLIE CRIST KICKS OFF THREE-DAY BUS TOUR FOCUSED ON EDUCATION via Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union

Marked by waving signs of support and jailhouse uniform-clad protesters in opposition, the first bus tour of Florida’s 2014 gubernatorial race kicked off Wednesday in Tallahassee.

… The theme of the first tour, education, has been a big issue for both Crist and Gov. Scott for months.

Crist … spoke at a downtown Tallahassee park with both a small group of supporters and opponents. Many waving signs of support were staff or volunteers from the Florida Education Association, the state’s top teachers union, which has endorsed Crist.

… Crist has focused on Scott’s first budget, which cut public education by roughly $1.3 billion. Of that, about $200 million was from the state-controlled pot of money. The biggest cut came from the federal portion of the education budget, which had been bolstered by money flowing from the federal stimulus program. The previous two education budgets relied on more than $1.5 billion in education funding from that program.

Republicans have hit Crist for shrinking the education budget during his time in office, which spanned from 2007-11. His first budget included record funding per-student, a point Crist touts on the campaign trail. In his following two spending plans, though, the state’s share of public school funding was cut by $1.6 billion.

Crist says that the tanking economy forced cuts, while emphasizing his administration’s per-student funding levels.

“We invested in children,” Crist said.

Before the event, state Rep. Matt Gaetz met with reporters to give his party’s take on Crist’s education policies. In a new line of attack, he said that record funding levels in Crist’s first budget are the result of policies put in place by former Gov. Jeb Bush, Crist’s Republican predecessor.

“We were riding high in the Jeb Bush years,” he said.

HOW CRIST’S BUS TOUR IS PLAYING

Sunshine State NewsCharlie Crist Rides School Bus Across State for Education Tour – We don’t have a revenue problem … We have a priority problem. Orlando SentinelCrist launches ‘restore the cuts’ bus tour – The school-funding math is complicated … When Crist became governor in January 2007, Florida was still six months away from the real-estate-market implosion that would send state taxes into a nose-dive.  Palm Beach PostCrist begins three-day school bus tour as Republicans dig potholes – Although Scott slashed school spending his first year as governor, he followed that by getting the Legislature to increase classroom spending by $2.5 billion the past three years. Bay News 9Crist boards a school bus to rip Scott on education – Although Crist is expected to easily win the primary, a solid showing by (Nan) Rich could raise questions about whether Democrats will turn out in force for Crist in the general election. Miami HeraldCrist kicks off education tour in Tallahassee – A dozen Scott supporters were also on hand … Another wore a chicken suit. “Stop ducking Nan Rich,” his sign said. News 4 JaxCrist looks past Rich in Democratic primary – Hearing Crist hammer Scott on education makes Rich see red. She criticized Crist for supporting school vouchers …  a cornerstone of Jeb Bush’s education reforms.

TWEET, TWEET: @adamsmithtimes: Public bus?RT @senatornanrich: @adamsmithtimes kicked off of the @CharlieCrist bus tour? You can always come campn with me! #FreeAdamSmith

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Crist continues his three-day school bus tour to “highlight Rick Scott’s $1.3 billion cut to education – including $20 million to pre-K,” according to a release – in Orlando and Tampa on Thursday. Mayor Carl T. Langford Park, 1808 E. Central Blvd, Orlando. 11:15 a.m; Al Lopez Park, 4810 N. Himes Ave, Tampa. 3:30 p.m.

INTERESTING BLOG POST – THE FLORIDA SQUEEZE IS NOT ENDORSING IN GUV’S RACE Full blog post here

It is quite possible that Crist is one of the most qualified candidates to ever run for Governor, no matter how you feel about him.  However, we would be lying to our readers if we did not state openly that we bent over backwards looking for a reason to endorse Crist. After all it is almost assured that he will win the nomination and while we support good public policy above all, we are Democrats and realize defeating Rick Scott is more important than anything else this campaign season. But time and again, Crist has failed to deliver anything meaningful to progressives. He has failed to win the hearts and minds of those who care more about policy than partisanship.”

MEANWHILE… LIBERTARIAN ADRIAN WYLLIE SHOWCASES RUNNING MATE GREG ROE via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News

Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie will be showcasing his new running mate — businessman Greg Roe, who has spent more than 30 years in the insurance industry — at campaign stops in Largo and Clearwater. Wyllie is spending August touring craft breweries across the Sunshine State.

“Political wisdom would say I should be looking for a person from the right geographical region or a certain demographic,” Wyllie said when he announced Roe being added to the ticket. “However, I decided to choose the right person to serve the people of Florida instead. Insurance, property, flood and especially health insurance, is going to be vital in the upcoming years and something that will be tasked upon us should we win this election. I am honored to have someone who can address these important issues as my running mate.”

“I am proud to stand behind Adrian Wyllie,” Roe insisted after being named. “I am honored to join this team and send out a strong message that the people are fed up with the two-party system. We are just getting started.”

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GOV. RICK SCOTT APPROVES NEW CONGRESSIONAL MAP via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

Gov. Scott on Wednesday signed off on new maps that will alter several congressional districts in the state, but it doesn’t appear the changes will end the legal tussle over them.

Scott approved a new map that was agreed to just two days earlier by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The map will be presented to a Florida judge who ruled that the state’s current congressional map included districts that were illegally drawn to help the GOP. Judge Terry Lewis had given legislators until Aug. 15 to come up with a valid map.

But the groups that challenged the existing map said they will ask Lewis to reject the one approved by this week. The judge has a hearing scheduled for next week to go over the revised districts.

Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, said the new map “looks suspiciously like the map” that had previously been ruled unconstitutional.

She also faulted lawmakers because the proposal ultimately approved was initially drawn up in closed-door meetings between two top GOP legislators, attorneys and legislative staff.

“The Legislature continues to make a mockery of the process, destroying public trust and confidence in our democracy,” Macnab said in a statement. “Until the Legislature can restore that trust, Floridians must continue to look to the courts to hold lawmakers accountable.”

The new map approved this week reshapes the boundaries of seven of the state’s 27 congressional districts. The districts are located in central and north Florida.

JUDGE RULES AGAINST SCOTT IN RECORDS LAWSUIT via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

A Florida judge is ruling against Gov. Scott in an ongoing lawsuit over public records.

Chief Circuit Judge Charles Francis on Wednesday granted a request from a critic of the Republican governor to subpoena records from Google and Yahoo. Attorney Steven Andrews wants information on private email accounts that may have been used by the Scott administration.

Francis made the ruling over the objections of Jacksonville attorney Thomas Bishop. Bishop maintained the records were irrelevant and part of a “fishing expedition.”

But Andrews said during a brief hearing that former aides to Scott maintain the governor uses private emails to conduct state business.

Andrews is suing Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi over whether they hid records related to a dispute over land located near the governor’s mansion.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: “Floridians for Fair Rates,” a coalition of Duke Energy ratepayers from the Tampa Bay area, supported by the Florida Consumer Action Network (FCAN), Progress Florida and NextGen Climate, will host a press conference. During the press conference, St. Petersburg City Councilman Karl Nurse and representatives from Floridians for Fair Rates will discuss “Gov. Scott’s record of policies that benefit the powerful few,” not the people of Florida, according to a releaseWilliams Park, 299 1st Ave North, St. Petersburg. 10:30 a.m.

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JEFF ATWATER RAMPS UP ON SOCIAL MEDIA via Tia Mitchell of the Tampa Bay Times

Atwater is already way ahead of his competition as he seeks re-election. For every $1 his Democratic challenger collected in campaign cash, Atwater has raised $166.

Still, Atwater is campaigning in earnest. In recent weeks, he has taken advantage of the power of the incumbency by traveling the state to talk about fire prevention and unclaimed property — part of his official duties — in between campaign stops. He chronicles everything on his Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages.

Last week, Atwater stepped it up a notch by launching a smartphone app to allow even more direct contact with voters — and their cash if they so chose. The app links to his social media accounts, allows voters to send the campaign a message and has a donation button.

As far as we can tell, none of the other candidates for statewide office have smartphone apps.

MEANWHILE … GEORGE SHELDON, PERRY THURSTON AT PALM BEACH FORUM

George Sheldon and Perry Thurston, who are running for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, are expected to take part in a Palm Beach County Democratic Party forum. Airport Hilton Hotel, 150 Australian Ave., West Palm Beach. 6:30 p.m.

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ELLYN BOGDANOFF WINS SECOND PUBLIC SAFETY ENDORSEMENT IN A WEEK via Buddy Nevins of BrowardBeat.com

Bogdanoff has snared her second major public safety endorsement in a week in her quest to win back her state Senate seat.

The Professional Firefighters/Paramedics of Broward County endorsed her, following last week’s endorsement by the Professional Firefighters/Paramedics of Palm Beach County.

The Broward group represents over 750 firefighters and paramedics.

“Ellyn Bogdanoff is a dedicated public servant and a friend to those of us who serve and protect the residents of Broward County,” said Walter Dix, president of the Broward firefighters and paramedics organization.

She also has the endorsement of the Florida State Fraternal Order of Police.

MARCO RUBIO PROMOTES “GOOD FRIEND” JULIO GONZALEZ IN HD 74 PRIMARY Full blog post here

In a campaign marked by negativity and competing attack ads, Rubio’s 30-second digital spot represents one of the more positive advertisements to come in recent weeks, focusing on Gonzalez “living the American Dream,” which has been one of the key talking points in the Miami senator’s political career.

Like Rubio, Gonzalez was born in Miami after his parents fled Cuba’s communist government in the early 1960s.

“Julio isn’t a politician,” Rubio says. “He’s a principled conservative, a veteran, a medical doctor who served his country and community.”

“Julio has lived the American dream,” Rubio added. “And he knows how to keep that dream alive.”

Gonzalez is “the only conservative in this race,” he concludes.

FMA PAC ENDORSES TWO REPUBLICAN INCUMBENTS FOR STATE HOUSE SEATS Full blog post here

Florida’s leading pro-medical alliance, representing more than 20,000 practicing physicians statewide, is endorsing two more Republican state House incumbents for re-election.

Florida Medical Association PAC (FMA PAC) announced today its support of State Reps. Larry Ahern and Jose Felix Diaz in their re-election bids. Ahern is facing Democrat Lorena Grizzle for House District 66, which includes part of Pinellas County; Diaz faces Democrat Juan Carlos Cuba in House District 116, covering part of Miami-Dade County.

“We are proud to endorse State Representative Larry Ahern in his re-election efforts to the Florida House,” said FMA PAC President Dr. Ralph Nobo. “His unwavering support of our key issues in making health care affordable and accessible to all Floridians allows physicians the ability to practice in a professional and pro-business environment.”

As for Diaz, Nobo calls him a “friend of medicine and FMA-members.

“We have worked together on the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee and we appreciate his leadership and unwavering commitment on many of our key issues,” Nobo added.

CAMPAIGN PROFILES

The Daytona Beach News-Journal takes a look at the primary in SD 6 here.

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CONTEXT FLORIDA: FUTURE NEWSROOM, HURRICANES, DUKE ENERGY AND ERIC BRODY

On Context Florida: Gannett Company announced the “Newsroom of the Future,” where reporting will be driven by digital metrics, such as page views, clicks, traffic source referral patterns and social boost. Rick Outzen questions the wisdom of such a strategy, pointing out that journalism is more than catering to a community and luring readers to retweet articles and like them on Facebook. When it comes to hurricanes, sometimes our memories are shorter than they ought to be, says Bill Newton, Executive Director of the Florida Consumer Action Network. Duke Energy Florida State President Alex Glenn counters an article in Sunday’s Tampa Bay Times, by noting how it failed to take in account a proposed state-of-the-art, highly efficient combined-cycle natural gas plant in Citrus County. Tallahassee-based journalist Adam Weinstein takes issue with efforts by public relations expert Ron Sachs to receive compensation for “substantial work to enhance public awareness and elected official awareness” over four legislative sessions for a claim bill on behalf Eric Brody, a young man seriously injured in 1998 when his car was crumpled by a speeding Broward Sheriff’s Office cruiser.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

THROWBACK THURSDAY – GOOD RIDDANCE ANDREW, CAMILLE,  AND CHARLEY  

Today commemorates the 22nd anniversary of what became Hurricane Andrew. On Aug. 14, 1992, a tropical wave formed off the coast of Africa and began to move westward. The next day, meteorologists began to classify the system, thunderstorm activity became more concentrated, and narrow spiral rain bands developed around a small but growing center of circulation. Named Tropical Depression Three at the time, the system was still 1,630 miles east-southeast of Barbados, and tracking west-northwestward at 20 mph.

By Aug. 18, winds were increased to 50 mph but thunderstorms decreased substantially. On the 19th, a hurricane research flight into the storm was unable to locate a well-defined center and the next day it appeared that the system was withering. But a strong high pressure cell developing over the southeastern U.S. said otherwise, causing the storm to trail westward with renewed vigor. An eye formed, and one week later, on Aug. 22, Andrew attained its hurricane status. At the time it was only 650 miles off of the Bahamas, and was predicted to make landfall near Jupiter, Fla. The rest, we all know too well.

Going back 45 years ago today, to Aug. 14, 1969, Hurricane Camille formed just west of the Cayman Islands. Unlike Andrew, this system intensified quite quickly, and reached western Cuba the next day as a Category 3 hurricane. It didn’t stop there. Camille came across the Gulf of Mexico and entered Category 5 status on Aug. 16, making landfall along the coast of Mississippi with winds in the 200 mph range. Even Columbia, Miss., located 75 miles inland, recorded sustained winds of 120 mph.  Through winds, floods, and surges, 256 people died and $1.421 billion was reported in damage.

This week also marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Charley, which began as a tropical depression off of Barbados on Aug. 9, 2004, and hit Florida on Aug. 13. While the storm had lost strength after its passage over Cuba, it gained speed in the Gulf, accelerating into Category 4 status as it passed over Captiva Island with 150 mph winds.

Charley was small in size, but powerful, producing violent winds that devastated Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte, produced at least 16 tornadoes, and racking up about $15 billion in damages.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, 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.