Sunburn for 8/19 – 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: Construction of Florida’s Capitol Building was declared completed on this day in 1977, six months before its official dedication by Governor Reubin Askew. The gleaming building, which has 22 stories above ground and three below, was built for $43 million – practically pocket change by today’s standards. Funding for the high-rise structure was approved amid a push to relocate Florida’s seat of government, leading lawmakers to order the following language on an oft-overlooked plaque near the Capitol rotunda: “This plaque is dedicated to Senator Lee Weissenborn, whose valiant effort to move the Capitol to Orlando was the prime motivation for construction of this building.” The view from Apalachee Parkway of an erect 22-story Capitol flanked by two five-story domed legislative buildings still creates wonder among architecture buffs.

Now, on to the burn…

OBAMA ON FAMILY VACATION WITH JUST PART OF FAMILY via Darlene Superville of the Associated Press

President Barack Obama started his vacation on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard with just one of his daughters, and he may leave with just one of his daughters when the two-week getaway ends next weekend. In a first for Obama family summer vacations, neither teenager is spending the entire holiday with her father.

Obama left Washington Aug. 9 with his wife, Michelle, daughter Malia, and the family’s two Portuguese water dogs. The White House said 13-year-old Sasha would join her parents at a later date for “part of their stay” on this quaint island of shingled homes. But Malia will not be around when her younger sister arrives.

The daughters essentially are trading places, and the vacation is boiling down to Obama getting about a week with each one.

Malia, 16, returned to Washington with her father early Monday and was not expected to go back to Martha’s Vineyard. The White House said Sasha will join her parents this week, without saying when she will arrive or what kept her away last week, or why Malia left the island.

Obama often draws chuckles from sympathetic parents who understand his complaints about his girls’ lack of interest in spending time with him.

Obama plans to return to Martha’s Vineyard on Tuesday evening, after leaving the island midway through the getaway to spend two days in meetings at the White House. Vacation ends Aug. 24.

The girls’ absence from the vacation is yet another reminder of the time that has passed since Obama became president. Ages 10 and 7, respectively, when they moved to the White House in 2009, Malia and Sasha are older now and increasingly leading busy lives apart from their parent.

REPUBLICANS ARE OKAY WITH VOTING FOR GAY CANDIDATES. THEY ARE LESS OKAY WITH THEIR CHILDREN BEING GAY via Aaron Blake of the Washington Post

A new poll from McClatchy and Marist College shows that 68 percent of Republicans say they would be no less likely to support a well-qualified gay candidate, and 59 percent say they prefer that states decide same-sex marriage rather than the federal government — a stance that effectively is allowing such unions to take hold across the country.

At the same time, a strong majority of Republicans still personally oppose same-sex marriage (63 percent), and a similar proportion remains concerned about these issues directly affecting their family. In fact, six in 10 say they would be upset if one of their children were gay. Thirty-seven percent say they would be upset if their child told them that he or she was gay, while 23 percent say they would be “very upset.” One-quarter of Republicans say they would not be upset at all.

To recap, two-thirds of Republicans say a gay candidate’s sexuality doesn’t make them less apt to support them, but 60 percent say they would be upset if they had a gay child.

Republicans are hardly the only ones who say they would be upset if their child came out as gay. About three in 10 Democrats and independents say the same. Clearly, many Americans remain apprehensive about such a prospect.

Overall, though, the percentage of Americans who say they would be upset if one of their children said they were gay has dropped significantly (as one might expect) in recent decades. While a 1985 poll for the Los Angeles Times showed that 89 percent of Americans said they would be upset — including 64 percent being “very upset” — today, 35 percent say they would be upset, and only 12 percent say “very upset.”

The GOP’s feelings on this, as with most GLBT issues, have evolved more slowly than others’. That’s especially true when it comes to their families — and that is going to prevent the party and its leaders from moving faster toward embracing same-sex marriage.

CONGRESSIONAL RE-ELECT MEASURE REMAINS NEAR ALL-TIME LOW via Frank Newport of Gallup

Nineteen percent of U.S. registered voters say most members of Congress deserve re-election, roughly the same as in two measures earlier this year. This is on pace to be the lowest such “re-elect” sentiment in a midterm election year over Gallup’s history of asking this question since 1992.

The latest update on this measure comes from Gallup’s Aug. 7-10 survey in which congressional job approval was 13%, just a few percentage points higher than the all-time low on that measure.

This congressional re-elect measure is related to overall congressional seat change in a midterm election and to the percentage of House members seeking re-election who are returned to Congress. Assuming that these attitudes remain similarly sour over the next 2 1/2 months, history would suggest above-average turnover in Congress in the November elections. Two other years in which this measure was relatively low — 1994 and 2010 — saw major shakeups, although the same party (Democrats) controlled the House and the Senate in both of those years, which may have made it easier for voters to take out their frustrations. Still, the 19% of American voters who on average this year say most members do not deserve re-election is significantly lower than in 1994 or 2010, providing a negative general context for the coming elections.

A separate question asks voters if “the U.S. representative in your congressional district” deserves to be re-elected. Currently, 50% of voters say yes, he or she does. This percentage essentially ties with the response to this question in 2010, and is just slightly higher than the 48% in 1992. So while this measure is historically low, it has not dropped to the record-low depths of the “most members” question.

The percentage of American voters who believe most members of Congress deserve re-election is at an all-time low. Their views of whether their own representative deserves re-election are also low, but not nearly as sour as their views of Congress more generally. These negative evaluations of Congress have historically been related to lower rates of incumbent re-election in midterm elections and a higher turnover of congressional seats.

ANALYSIS: CONGRESS CAN STILL DO DEALS WHEN IT MUST via Andrew Taylor of the Associated Press

Washington may be a sea of dysfunction, but the current Congress is offering a few reminders about how a bill becomes a law: compromise.

That’s been in short supply as lawmakers have tried to tackle a surge of Central American youths entering the U.S. from Mexico and find a long-term fix to funding the nation’s highways.

And more compromise will be needed to keep the government open past September, renew expired tax breaks, reauthorize the Export-Import Bank and extend the government’s terrorism insurance program. After that, the coming retirement of veteran dealmakers like Reps. Henry Waxman and Dave Camp may only make compromise tougher.

However, when it came to improving veterans’ health care, overhauling job-training programs, authorizing water projects and “unlocking” cellphones for use in other networks, Congress managed to get the job done.

The recent wave of lawmaking fell into two broad categories: bills Congress had to do to avoid embarrassment and less controversial measures lawmakers decided they wanted.

The must-do bills included $16 billion to improve veterans’ access to health care and a short-term $11 billion measure to prevent federal funding for highway projects and transit systems from drying up this month. Voting against either effort could have cost lawmakers in November’s elections.

The veterans bill came together when Democrats agreed to lower the price tag and Republicans accepted adding the additional cost to the national debt. On the highway bill, Senate Democrats bowed to House Republicans on financing it through anticipated revenues the government might or might not reap a decade from now.

GUS BILIRAKIS TO HOST HEALTH ROUNDTABLE

U.S. Rep. Bilirakis is scheduled to host a roundtable with patients and patient advocates to discuss ideas for getting better treatments to patients. Bethany Center, 18150 Bethany Center Dr., Lutz. 1:30 p.m.

GWEN GRAHAM CAMPAIGN RELEASES NEW AD TITLED “SUCCEED” 

Gwen Graham released a new TV ad entitled “Succeed,” highlighting how Graham plans to bring “the North Florida Way back to Congress in order to get Washington focused on priorities that will help North Floridians succeed – like job growth, economic development, education and protecting vital programs that our seniors have earned.”

“I know neither Republicans nor Democrats are right 99 percent of the time. We need to be working together and developing the right policies – policies that allow everybody to succeed,” says Graham in the new ad.

The ads begins airing the week after the announcement of a new poll showing Gwen with a two point lead over Congressman Southerland and after new pre-primary finance reports show Graham outraising Southerland nearly two-to-one with $212,000 raised to Southerland’s $107,000.

PATRICK MURPHY TO OPEN CAMPAIGN OFFICE

U.S. Rep. Murphy is expected to take part in the opening of a campaign office in Royal Palm Beach. 1159 Royal Palm Beach Blvd., Royal Palm Beach. 7 p.m.

MITT ROMNEY CAMPAIGNS, FUNDRAISES FOR CARLOS CURBELO via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

Sweltering heat, protesters and key-lime pie cupcakes greeted former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Mondaywhen he campaigned in Miami’s West Kendall suburb for congressional hopeful Carlos Curbelo.

“It’s nice to be out campaigning for other people,” Romney told reporters at Vicky Bakery, where he went behind the serving counter to try the cupcakes. He appeared relaxed in jeans, shirt-sleeves and a loose tie.

When asked if he would consider a third presidential run, he said, “No, I’m not doing that.”

The Obama administration, Romney said, “has a good heart but doesn’t understand what’s needed to get America working for the middle class.”

Romney had already endorsed Curbelo. The brief campaign appearance preceded an evening Coconut Grove fundraiser for the Miami-Dade School Board member, who’s running in the 26th congressional district GOP primary along with Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall, former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Joe Martinez, attorney Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck and ex-Congressman David Rivera.

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GOOD READ – A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A CAMPAIGN FOR GOVERNOR via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday ramped up an asphalt agenda, calling for more lanes on I-295 in Jacksonville and millions more for airports and seaports.

Charlie Crist voted early in his hometown of St. Petersburg, welcoming President Barack Obama’s future help on the trail.

And both candidates for governor launched new TV ads that for sheer viciousness drowned out anything either man said or did to start off the week before Florida’s primary.

It may have seemed like just another day in the long, brutal slog to the Governor’s Mansion, but no two days are alike.

SCOTT JOBS AD FEATURES TAMPA SHOP OWNER CONVICTED OF HUMAN SMUGGLING Full blog post here

One of the stars of Gov. Scott’s Spanish-language television campaign ad plugging the governor’s job creation record is a Cuban-born grocery store owner featured as a Florida success story.

Maikel Duarte-Torres, seen hugging Scott in the 30-second digital ad, was also convicted in St. Maarten four years ago on human smuggling charges.

Francisco Alvarado, reporting in Browardbulldog.org, writes that neither Scott, his staff nor the Republican Party of Florida was aware that Duarte-Torres was arrested in the Caribbean nation on Nov. 14, 2010, for an alleged role in a smuggling ring trying to ferry 10 Cuban migrants from St. Maarten to Miami.

Five months later, a St. Maarten criminal court judge convicted Duarte-Torres, sentencing him to two years in prison.

However, due to prison overcrowding, Duarte-Torres only served two days, St. Maarten Attorney General’s office spokesperson Tineka Kampfe, told BrowardBulldog.org. Duarte-Torres was permitted to return to Tampa on the condition he never returns to St. Maarten.

A member of the “Small Business for Scott” Coalition, Duarte-Torres is one of 100 business owners from 67 counties supporting the governor’s re-election bid. During a campaign stop in May, Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera visited MD Food Market, standing with Duarte-Torres as the answered questions from the local press.

During the photo-op, a film crew took footage for the commercial, which became a spot paid by the Republican Party of Florida. Duarte-Torres, 32, is shown stocking shelves, interacting with employees, and interviewing in Spanish.

TAXPAYERS SPENT MORE THAN $2.46 MIL ON SECURITY FOR SCOTT’S DIGNITARIES via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

Florida taxpayers spent more than $2.46 million to provide security for Gov. Rick Scott as well as governors from other states.

A new report showed the state spent that much on security between July 2013 and June 2014.

That’s a slightly lower total than the previous fiscal year when Florida provided extra security during the Republican National Convention held in Tampa.

But the amount spent providing security for Scott and First Lady Ann Scott has gotten larger.

The state spent $2.36 million to provide around-the-clock protection for the governor and his wife. That includes the salaries and travel expenses for the agents who guard Scott.

Taxpayers also paid for 58 protective details of other elected officials including three trips by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

SCOTT AND CRIST TO DEBATE IN OCTOBER via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat

Gov. Scott and Charlie Crist have agreed to debate Oct. 15 at Broward College’s main campus in Davie.

The one-hour debate will be produced by WFOR-TV/CBS 4, the Miami-Dade/Broward counties CBS affiliate, and broadcast live 7-8 p.m. through a “Before You Vote” network of broadcasters in Florida’s 11 media markets. It will also be broadcast on Florida’s public radio stations.

The debate’s sponsors are Broward College, the Florida Association of Insurance Agents/Trusted Choice, AARP, the Florida League of Cities, the Claude Pepper Foundation, and Florida Credit Unions.

CHARLIE CRIST SAYS HE’S WILLING TO EXAMINE RIGHT-TO-WORK via James Call for SaintPetersBlog.com

Crist once got the students at his junior high school to stand up, literally. Forty-five years later, he is asking working people to stand up and the public policy ramifications could be significant for workers in Florida and across the nation.

Crist thinks right-to-work laws are undemocratic if they prevent people from organizing effectively to address workplace issues.

“Unions have been very good for our country and very good for working people and the notion that we wouldn’t support what unions have tried to do to help unify people simply defies logic to me,” said Crist.

The comment came during a discussion about working conditions in Florida prompted by a judge’s ruling that the state’s worker compensation system violates “fundamental rights.” Crist was traveling the state in a school bus on what his campaign called a “Restore the Cuts” bus ride to contrast his education record with that of Gov. Rick Scott. At news conferences in five cities over three days, Crist repeatedly drew a contrast between himself and Scott; saying on spending for public schools the distinction between the two was crystal clear.

Ideas surrounding jobs also offers a clear distinction in the governing philosophies of the two candidates.

When the ruling Republican Party talks about cutting regulations it usually is referring to freeing capital and businesses of rules in order to enhance the market forces. In this view, workers’ rights are a controllable expense if government cooperates. Right to work, favored by business and investors regulate the contract between unions and companies. It prohibits membership in a union which negotiates benefits on behalf of all workers as a condition for employment. Labor says it pits worker against worker.

CRISTS WANTS OBAMA TO CAMPAIGN FOR HIM via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

With Barack Obama’s approval ratings lately barely cracking 40 percent, plenty of Democrats will keep their distance from the president heading into the midterms, just as Alex Sink did she when ran for governor in 2010. Not Crist, who said he hopes to be campaigning side by side with the president.

“I hope so,” he said when asked about campaigning with Obama. “I hope everybody does.”

His comments came as he, Carole Crist, and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman left the Supervisor of Elections office in downtown St. Petersburg, after casting their ballots early.

“It’s so convenient, it’s nice and quiet. You have the opportunity to really think it through,” Crist said about voting early. We’re not sure how long it took him to think through the Democratic gubernatorial primary choice, but “I voted for Charlie Crist,” he said.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Crist is expected to take part in the opening of a campaign field office in Boca Raton. 9045 La Fontana Blvd., #120, Boca Raton. 2:30 p.m.

ACTUAL SUBJECT LINE: “At midnight on Thursday, we turn into a pumpkin” via Greg Goddard of Charlie Crist’s campaign.

TWEET, TWEET: @erinfaye: Hate to, but I’m unsubscribing from @CharlieCrist mailing list. Too much lame begging, zero substance/content. #email101fail

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FIRST IN SUNBURN – AARP POLL: COST OF LIVING OUTSTRIPS INCOME FOR FLORIDA’S OLDER WORKERS Full blog post here

Nearly 60 percent of Floridians age 50 and over say expenses are outstripping income and more than half say they will have to delay retirement because they can’t afford to stop working, according to an AARP survey.

The June survey found that the economy is delivering twin blows to non-retirees that are producing financial insecurity; income is not keeping up with expenses and jobs that do not provide a pension or access to a pre-tax retirement plan.

Respondents were divided between retirees over the age of 50 and non-retirees over the age of 50. The non-retirees scored a 57 on the economic index anxiety while retirees posted a 40. The partisan split was a 54 for Democrats and 57 for Republicans.

Among non-retirees, 64 percent said their income is not keeping pace the cost of living. Ninety-one percent of all respondents said it is important for candidates to address economic issues.

Here are the top issues the AARP survey identified: 73 percent cited helping older people live independently; 71 percent address jobs and the economy; 71 percent affordable utilities; 68 percent support family caregivers.

CABINET MEETS

Gov. Scott and the Florida Cabinet are expected to take up a series of issues, including a discussion with Citizens Property Insurance Corp. President Barry Gilway about international travel by officials from the state-backed insurer. Scott has sought to halt such travel. Cabinet meeting room, the Capitol. 9 a.m.

SOUTH FLORIDA’S NEWEST CASINO WANTS TO CLOSE FOR A YEAR via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times 

Six months after opening, Dania Casino and Jai-Alai announced that it will close for a year starting in October, putting an estimated 300 people out of work.

Company officials say closing the brand new casino is necessary to expedite the company’s $50 million in renovations needed to help Broward’s newest casino compete in the rigorous South Florida gaming market. But the move also comes after the company’s revenue performance was the worst in the region, and its owners were forced to write a check to the state for nearly $400,000 after it under-reported its taxes for three months because of an alleged software glitch.

“We are not shutting down because there are any money problems,’’ said John Lockwood, Tallahassee-based lawyer for the company. “It’s about speeding up our investment in the property. This has nothing to do with the performance of the facility.”

Meanwhile, the Division of Parimutuel Wagering could have a say on whether the facility will be allowed to close at all.

The company needs the agency’s approval before it can alter its jai alai schedule and the division is “still reviewing it,’’ said Tajiana Ancora-Brown, spokeswoman for the agency. State law requires that the facility perform a certain number of performances to maintain its permit.

The Dania Beach-based casino has struggled to compete with its more established competitors since it opened for business in February. State records show that the company reported that the average revenue per machine was $12 in May, $30 in April and $50 in March, compared to the average revenue for its competitors during those months of between $192 per machine at Gulfstream Casino in March and $127 per machine at the Mardi Gras casino in May.

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COALITION ASKS JUDGE TO REDRAW CONGRESSIONAL MAPS via Matt Dixon of PoliticalFixFlorida.com

A handful of voter-groups has asked a Tallahassee judge to redraw the state’s congressional map, and implement those maps for the 2014 midterms.

That request came from a coalition of plaintiffs led by the League of Women Voters of Florida that successfully challenged the state’s congressional maps in court.

Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis ruled in July that two of the state’s 27 congressional districts were drawn to favor Republicans, which is not allowed under Fair Districts, anti-gerrymandering provisions in the state constitution.

As a result, lawmakers held a five-day special session to redraw the congressional lines. Those redrawn maps are opposed by the plaintiffs, which formalized their concern in a 35-page objection filed with the court.

“Despite being given the opportunity to right the wrong they committed…Legislative defendants have squandered that opportunity by adopting a revised plan with minimal changes,” read the objection.

They are asking Lewis to redraw the maps and call special election dates so the new maps can be put in place so that the unconstitutional maps are not used during the 2014 midterm elections.

The plaintiffs take issue with the new maps because they were drawn in closed meetings by state Rep. Richard Corcoran of Trinity and state Sen. Bill Glavano of Bradenton, both Republicans. They were picked by Legislative leadership to lead their respective chamber’s redistricting efforts.

EX-SEN. DAWSON GETS REHAB FOR DRUG VIOLATION via the Associated Press

Former state Sen. Mandy Dawson has been ordered into a residential treatment program after violating probation because of cocaine use.

U.S. District Judge Robert Scola also sentenced Dawson on Monday to time served for violating her probation. Dawson spent 67 days in jail since testing positive in June for cocaine in a urine sample test.

Dawson was on probation at the time for a 2012 tax evasion conviction. Scola ordered a new probation term of just over seven months.

Dawson in 1992 became the first black woman elected to the state Legislature from Broward County and served for 16 years in both the House and Senate until term limits forced her out in 2008.

Dawson had a previous drug-related probation violation. That time, Scola ordered counseling for addiction.

RECORDS: MATT GAETZ PLEADED WITH GOP NOT TO CRITICIZE POLITICAL EFFORTS LINKED TO HIM via Tom Mclaughlin of NWFDailyNews.com

Publicly, state Rep. Matt Gaetz shrugged off the importance of last week’s press conference, at which Okaloosa County Republicans and Democrats joined to criticize what they considered unsavory tactics employed to influence local elections.

Privately though, it appears Gaetz had worked beforehand to prevent fellow Republicans from holding the press conference for fear their doing so could stymie his own political ambitions.

Minutes obtained by the Daily News from a special meeting of Okaloosa County’s Republican Executive Committee state Gaetz “was pleading with OCREC not to hold the press conference.”

The minutes say Gaetz “went on to say if the conference took place he would end up with a challenger out of Bay County and may not win the race.”

Gaetz has pre-filed to run in 2016 for the state Senate’s District 1 seat currently held by his father, Don Gaetz. District 1 encompasses half of Okaloosa County and all of Walton, Bay, Washington, Holmes and Jackson counties.

The press conference discussed was ultimately held Aug. 8. At the event OCREC chair Gaye Ellis stood with Democrats and spoke against efforts by political action committees “with no local ties at all” to influence county elections.

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NATIONAL GUN GROUP SENDS MAILERS ATTACKING THAD ALTMAN via Matt Dixon of PoliticalFixFlorida.com

A national gun-rights group has started sending mailers attacking state Sen. Thad Altman on what it says is his bad record on guns.

The mailers are being funded by the National Association on Gun Rights, a Virginia-based group that works to “educate gun owners about state and federal legislation that affects their gun rights,” according to its website.

The group hammers Altman for voting for a bill, SB 1355, in 2013 that banned gun sales to those who have been committed to a mental health facilities. The bill, which was supported by the National Rifle Association, passed the Senate on a unanimous vote, and had just one opposing vote in the House.

“Thad Altman voted to strip veterans, and other law abiding citizens of their right to bear arms without due process or trial,” reads the mailer, which has hit the mailboxes in Indian River County.

Altman, whose district includes Indian River County, says he was in surprised at the line of attack.

“It’s outrageous, I’ve never seen such blatant, flat out lies,” Altman said.

He stressed that the bill was not aimed at veterans and that it’s “insulting to generalize that’s a condition they have.”

FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION ENDORSES ED NARAIN FOR FLORIDA HOUSE

The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) announced it is endorsing Ed Narain for the House of Representatives. FRF issues its endorsements based on candidate interviews and a review of their positions on issues of importance to Florida retailers and the state business climate.

Narain, a Democrat, is running in House District 61 in Hillsborough County. FRF based its endorsement on his strong record of community leadership, and his leadership in the retail industry. Narain works for AT&T, is a three-time Florida Top Performance Manager of the Year, and has earned two AT&T Summit Awards – given to performers within the top two percent of the company.

“We are proud to endorse Ed Narain for the Florida House. He’s a retailer who will use his business experience to help Florida create jobs,” said FRF Director of Government Affairs Melissa Joiner Ramba, who manages FRF’s political activities. “Ed Narain is committed to helping our small retailers grow their businesses, and he will have a positive impact on the retail industry, one of Florida’s top job creators.”

ACTUAL PRESS RELEASE HEADLINE: “Music Legend Pat Boone Sings Praises of (HD 74 candidate) Julio Gonzalez”

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BACK TO SCHOOL TWEETS

@Alan4Florida: As parents are putting final touches on 1st day of school packs-my family wishes all the families in Leon&Gadsden County Schools the best yr

@dennisbaxley: Happy first day of school! Hope that everyone has a wonderful day, especially my granddaughter Hazel

@DwightDudleyFL: Saying goodbye to our wonderful daughter Mady after moving her in  to her new Tallahassee digs.

@josefelixdiaz: First day of school for Dominick AND Christian – time flies!  #StBrendan

@RepFitzenhagen: It’s the first day of school! Such an exciting time for our students, teachers and parents, good luck to everyone…

@mattgaetz: Happy first day of school to all of our outstanding students, teachers and parents!

@repdanayoung: BACK TO SCHOOL! Tampa drivers, please take extra care as our kids walk, bike, and ride school buses back to school this week.

@SenatorJohnLegg: Here is to a successful school year for our students and teachers! Intelligence + Character; that’s the true goal of education. MLK

@SenReneGarcia: Hope that everyone had a great first day of school. Wishing all the parents, teachers, support personnel

@willweatherford: First day of school! Nothing more exciting for my precious 1st grader! #dadlife

CONTEXT FLORIDA: FERGUSON, JEWISH VOTE, EDUCATION POLICY AND BLUE RIBBON COMMISSION

On Context FloridaJulie Delegal notes that the police-shooting death of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, continues to be a painful lesson not only about renewed racial strife in America, and not only about alleged police misconduct, but also about what happens when the people’s right to know is abridged. After the latest Gaza campaign, Steven Kurlander asks whether a “Jewish vote” loyal to Israel can be truly defined as such anymore and, if so, whether Jewish voters still have the impact in the four states with the largest Jewish populations, which account for 127 of the 240 Electoral College votes needed to secure the White House. Daniel Tilsonis deeply troubled about the undue pressures being put on schoolteachers, staffs, students, families and public education policy in Florida. The sham that is Amendment 2 continues to evolve, says Barney Bishop, who adds that the latest iteration is the so-called Blue Ribbon Commission. Why? Because this group is nothing more than a kangaroo court.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

THE MOSAIC COMPANY’S STREAMSONG RESORT COURSES RECOGNIZED BY GOLF MAGAZINE via Megan Godfrey in WorldGolf.com

Since opening to the public in December 2012, Streamsong Resort has gained national and international media exposure, quickly becoming known as one of the best modern golf resorts in the country. Its two courses, Streamsong Red and Streamsong Blue, have added another prominent ranking to their growing list of accolades as both courses have been named to GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses You Can Play list for the first time. Streamsong Red debuts at No. 12, while Streamsong Blue ranks No. 16 among the finest public-access golf courses in America, making them the highest-debuting courses on the 2014 list.

The GOLF magazine list, compiled biennially based on input from a group of panelists, is published in the September 2014 issue.

“It’s rewarding that our vision for an authentic golf experience at Streamsong Resort is being recognized through such prestigious accolades as this ranking from GOLF magazine,” said Rich Mack, CFO and executive vice president for The Mosaic Company. “We could not be more proud for Streamsong Red and Streamsong Blue to make such a high debut alongside some of the greatest golf courses in the nation. We are fortunate and honored to be in this company, and intend to work hard to make Streamsong a special golf experience.”

Streamsong Resort is built on approximately 16,000 acres of former phosphate mining land and includes the extraordinary terrain where Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw of Coore & Crenshaw and Tom Doak of Renaissance Golf Design leveraged their architectural talents to create two unparalleled, intersecting golf courses unlike any other in Florida.

THE PHONY WAR OVER CAMPAIGN SIGNS via Pierre Tristam of FlaglerLive.com

Every election season glaciers and polar ice caps melt a bit more from the hot air. But nothing rivals the pollution of political signs. Those things take over properties at the busiest intersections, spiking up from the ground in the shape of stunted billboards or deranged nametags. They assault the eyes, soil the landscape, mock the First Amendment and serve almost no purpose.

The signs say nothing. A name is just a name. It doesn’t tell you whether the candidate is smart, compassionate, inquisitive, honest, ethical. It doesn’t tell you anything about the candidate’s history, the candidate’s voting record, the candidate’s work ethic. It may tell you a lot about the candidate’s ego. The larger the sign, the more the candidate is trying to compensate for something. The more frequent the sign, the more insecure its peddler. And the more colorful or dazzling the sign, the more empty-headed the man or woman behind it, as dazzle usually compensates for missing substance.

For all that, I never thought I’d see the day when I’d hear anyone actually advocating for this blight. But in Flagler County, hell has a habit of freezing over.

The Supervisor of Elections wants more election signs. Not only that. But Kimberle Weeks and a couple of mercenary candidates from the Ronald Reagan Republican Assemblies claim that county government is trying to manipulate the election, silence political expression and keep voters from voting by, get this, forbidding political signs from being planted on public property, like at the public library.

And yes, the supervisor does have a point: the county is being a little heavy-handed by forbidding all signs all the time, even at polling stations. Half of us have Alzheimer’s these days, and a little reminder of the usual suspects on the ballot isn’t a bad idea before we walk into the torture booth. Palm Coast, surprisingly, which usually acts like North Korea on all matters of code enforcement, is the more tolerant one in this case. So it’s not as if the supervisor and the county couldn’t compromise a little on this one. But just a little, keeping in mind that signs don’t make for better elections. Better candidates do.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you in part by the Florida Medical Association: Affordable, safe, patient-centered health care in Florida starts with a physician-led team, with all health care professionals playing valuable and appropriate roles. Learn more here.***

CONGRATULATIONS: Celebrating wedding nuptials this past weekend were Chelsea d’Hemecourt of Adams St. Advocates and BG Murphy of Rep. Halsey Beshears Office.

MORE CONGRATULATIONS: Leslie and Rep. Clay Ingram on the birth of their 9 lbs, 6 oz. baby girl, Lydia Kathleen.

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.