Sunburn for 8/20 – 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: How rapidly has communications technology advanced? On this day in 1911, a New York Times dispatcher sent the first telegram around the world via commercial service. Exactly 66 years later, from Florida’s Cape Canaveral, NASA launched the Voyager 2 satellite, which carried a message about Earth beyond the boundaries of our solar system. The simple telegraph message traveled more than 28,000 miles before returning to the same operator 16.5 minutes later. Voyager 2 carried a 12-inch copper phonograph record called “Sounds of Earth,” a kind of introductory time capsule that included everything from samples of classical, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll music to messages from President Jimmy Carter and other world leaders. Unlike the telegraph operator, we’re still waiting for a response to Voyager 2’s recording. Patience, friends – the universe is timeless.

Now, on to the ‘burn…

OBAMA IS SEEN AS FRUSTRATING HIS OWN PARTY via Carl Hulse, Jeremy W. Peters and Michael D. Shear of the New York Times

The meeting in the Oval Office in late June was called to give President Obama and the four top members of Congress a chance to discuss the unraveling situation in Iraq.

But Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, wanted to press another point.

With Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, sitting a few feet away, Mr. Reid complained that Senate Republicans were spitefully blocking the confirmation of dozens of Mr. Obama’s nominees to serve as ambassadors. He expected that the president would back him up and urge Mr. McConnell to relent.

Mr. Obama quickly dismissed the matter.

Senator Claire McCaskill, the Missouri Democrat who was an early supporter of Mr. Obama’s presidential bid, said that if her fellow Democrats were hoping for Mr. Obama to transform into a Lyndon B. Johnson late in his second term, they should quit waiting.

“For him, eating his spinach is schmoozing with elected officials,” she said. “This is not something that he loves. He wasn’t that kind of senator.”

Aides also cite 18 meetings this year that the president has held with groups of lawmakers, not including one-on-one phone calls or meetings. They say administration advisers routinely consult Democrats when crafting policy on climate change, the Affordable Care Act and the economy.

But in interviews, several Democrats said that small talk at large, formal White House gatherings was not the kind of relationship they had in mind.

OBAMACARE LOSING ITS PUNCH AS A POLITICAL TOOL FOR REPUBLICANS Full blog post here

Obamacare appears to be losing its effectiveness as a political tool against Democrats, as Republicans looking to unseat the North Carolina U.S. Senate incumbent cut the ads citing the Affordable Care Act by half.

The same is happening in Arkansas and Louisiana, one indication that Republicans have backed off the strategy of criticizing Democrats over Obamacare, especially since many Americans are seeing benefits from the law.

“The Republican Party is realizing you can’t really hang your hat on it,” said North Carolina State University political science professor Andrew Taylor in an interview with Bloomberg. “It just isn’t the kind of issue it was.”

Previously, Republican hoped anti-Obamacare sentiment would boost turnout as the GOP seeks a majority in the U.S. Senate, just as it did in 2010 for the House. However, these are the first midterm elections since full implementation of the law.

Nevertheless, the GOP experience across the country is proving that Republicans can’t rely on the issue to provoke independent voters, who they need to oust Democrats in races in Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska. Moreover, ads against Senator Kay Hagan in North Carolina accentuate the limits of the health-care law as a political issue.

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FORMER ASSOCIATE OF EX-REP. DAVID RIVERA PLEADS GUILTY via Curt Anderson of the Associated Press

Less than a week before trial, a onetime close associate of former U.S. Rep. David Rivera pleaded guilty Tuesday to four charges in a long-running campaign finance investigation that also implicates Rivera.

Attorneys for Ana Alliegro announced in a surprise that she would plead guilty rather than go to trial Monday. Prosecutor Thomas Mulvihill said there was no plea agreement requiring Alliegro to cooperate as a government witness against Rivera.

Her attorney, Richard Klugh, said there was no written deal in place.

Rivera, a Republican, has not been charged and has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. Alliegro, 44, was accused of funneling about $80,000 to an unknown Democratic candidate, Justin Sternad, in the 2012 primary for the House seat then held by Rivera. Prosecutors say the goal was to weaken Democrat Joe Garcia, who won anyway and later defeated Rivera in the general election.

Mulvihill said Tuesday for the first time publicly that Rivera was part of the conspiracy when asked for the name by U.S. District Judge Robert Scola. In the past, Rivera was identified only as “co-conspirator A” in court documents.

NOT ME – MIAMI CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE ACCUSES POLITICAL BLOGGER OF PAY-TO-PLAY via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

Congressional candidate and Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo has accused a local political blogger of asking him to advertise on her website in exchange for friendly coverage.

Curbelo provided a cell phone text message from Elaine de Valle, who writes the Political Cortadito blog, in which she notes his campaign has paid to advertise on the conservative Shark Tank blog.

“So! $1,000 for Shark Tank and nothing for Political Cortadito?” says de Valle’s message. “I think that’s going to cost you… votes that is. Lol!”

De Valle, a former Miami Herald reporter, said she meant only what she wrote: that Curbelo will lose votes by not advertising to her readership. She says her blog has more than 100,000 monthly page views.

Bloggers have had to wrestle with how to report news, analyze politics and sell advertising, blurring the traditional divide between editorial and advertising content. De Valle said she has an advertising manager who handles sales, but acknowledged clients sometimes reach out to her.

That doesn’t slant her coverage, according to de Valle. Curbelo doesn’t answer her calls or texts, so she poked at him with her message: “I was being my flippant, sarcastic self,” she said.

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ON STEVE SOUTHERLAND AND KING RANCH, THE TAMPA BAY TIMES GETS IT WRONG Full blog post here

Regular readers of Sunburn know that I am a committed supporter of Gwen Graham, the Democrat challenging Republican Steve Southerland in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District. I champion her, I tweet about her campaign’s progress, and I have donated to her.

So when the headline, “Touting pro-sugar bill, Southerland first U.S. congressman to confirm King Ranch trip” popped, I knew Graham had just been given ammunition to fire at Southerland thanks to Times reporters Craig Pittman and Michael Van Sickler and their never ending quest to make a King Ranch story out of any odd bits and pieces that come to hand.

Unfortunately for Graham, who has not commented on the story, that ammunition is actually a booby trap, constructed of inexplicable factual errors and unsupportable inferences.

Pittman and Van Sickler report that on “Monday, Southerland became the first U.S. congressman to acknowledge he went to the U.S. Sugar lodge for a hunting trip.”

He admitted no such thing. They asked him if he had ever been hunting at the King Ranch, not if he had ever hunted on U.S. Sugar property on the King Ranch. And when Southerland, unaware of their agenda, gave a truthful, affirmative response, their bias and their ambition made them leap to the conclusion that he had hunted with U.S. Sugar executives on land leased by U.S. Sugar on the King Ranch, which fit their narrative nicely.

That leap would get you an ‘F’ in Journalism 101 and should result in a good old fashioned spanking for Van Sickler and Pittman in the Times woodshed, if there is one.

U.S. SUGAR DEMANDS CORRECTION FROM TAMPA BAY TIMES RE: STEVE SOUTHERLAND STORY Full blog post here

Citing the use of “blatant factual errors and misstatements that result in indefensible innuendo,” a press release from U.S. Sugar confirms the report above that U.S. Rep. Southerland has never visited the company’s leased lands at the King Ranch.

“While Congressman Steve Southerland may have been among the thousands of people who have hunted at King Ranch, he has never hunted on, or even set foot on, any property owned or leased by U.S. Sugar, whether in Texas or anywhere else,” reads the release. Times reporters Craig Pittman and Michael Van Sickler reported that on “Monday, Southerland became the first U.S. congressman to acknowledge he went to the U.S. Sugar lodge for a hunting trip.”

As for the Times’ implication that Southerland’s trip to King Ranch is connected to him sponsoring legislation concerning wetlands regulation that would benefit the sugar industry, U.S. Sugar makes it clear that it has never lobbied on this issue.

“No employee of U.S. Sugar, nor anyone under contract with U.S. Sugar, has ever communicated with any member of Congress or their staff, or any other elected officials or their staffs, about this legislation,” reads the release, which does acknowledge that U.S. Sugar is a member of the Florida Sugar Cane League, which signed off on a letter supporting the legislation that was sent to all members of Congress by the Waters Advocacy Coalition, a national coalition of affected interests, including agriculture.

At the end of its release, U.S. Sugar asks that the Times make a public correction and display said correction on the front page of its newspaper.

CORRECTION OF THE DAY via The Tampa Bay Times: “NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the following correction: U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland said he took a hunting trip to King Ranch in Texas, but he did not stay at the U.S. Sugar lodge there, company officials said. A story in Monday’s Times was incorrect about his lodging.”

RIDICULOUS KING RANCH-RELATED PARAGRAPH OF THE DAY: “Putnam said he stayed at the lodge built by U.S. Sugar on its King Ranch lease. ‘I’m not a decorator,’’ he said when asked to describe it. ‘It looks like a hunting lodge.’ “

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RICK SCOTT LEADS CHARLIE CRIST IN NEW WFLA POLL Full blog post here

One week until primary elections and a new poll gives Gov. Rick Scott a 3-point lead over Charlie Crist.

The latest News Channel 8 poll gives Scott 44 percent of the vote, and 41 percent for Crist, the former governor trying to get his old job back as a Democrat.

First, Crist must take on former state Sen. Nan Rich in the Aug. 26 primary, although he says the focus of his campaign continues to be on Scott.

Scott’s advantage over Crist expanded slightly from an Aug. 5 poll, which put it at a 2-point race

In Central Florida, including Orlando, Scott has an 8-point lead over Crist. He also maintains a 4-point lead over Crist in Southwest Florida, which covers much of the Tampa Bay area.

Crist leads by 8 points in Southeast Florida, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, as Scott takes the lead in both Northeast and Northwest Florida.

Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie takes four percent of the vote, and eight percent say they would vote for someone else; four percent remain undecided.

SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE WITH RICK SCOTT, SAYS NEW FDP AD Full blog post here

With Rick Scott, some things never change.

That’s the theme of “Important,” a new digital spot released Tuesday by the Florida Democratic Party. The 30-second ad features how, in 1995, the future Florida governor had to answer for secret files kept by his hospital company.

The FDP is calling out Scott to answer once again for secret email accounts, this time used to conduct official state business outside of public scrutiny.

What’s important, asks the ad, is that the governor of Florida should not break the law.

“What’s clear for all Floridians to see is that Rick Scott has spent his entire career breaking the rules and then pleading the fifth when he gets caught,” says the FDP statement announcing the ad, which is now available on YouTube.

EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN: “We have to turn the internet off” via the Charlie Crist campaign.

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CATCHING HEAT ON ENVIRONMENTAL RECORD, SCOTT LISTENS ON GLOBAL WARMING via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

Gov. Scott sought to cool some of the rising political heat he is drawing for downplaying the impact of climate change by meeting with a handful of Florida environmental scientists at his Capitol office.

But the half-hour meeting turned out to be a largely one-sided affair. The five scientists presented evidence of increased carbon levels in the atmosphere, polar ice melt and rising oceans while Scott listened, but said little.

When time was up, Scott rose and exited quickly for another office meeting. The scientists, however, said they were pleased to get the huddle with the governor, even though it was unclear where it will lead.

With the environment becoming a battleground in his re-election contest with likely Democratic nominee Charlie Crist, Scott agreed to the meeting after rejecting overtures from the scientists earlier this summer.

They reached out to him after Scott downplayed the threat of global warming, saying “I’m not a scientist.” Trying to draw a distinction with his rival, Crist did meet with Jeffrey Chanton, an oceanographer at Florida State University, who was among those who met Tuesday with Scott.

Scott’s willingness to listen comes after California hedge fund manager and environmentalist Tom Steyer has pledged to spend millions of dollars to defeat the Republican governor, who he tars as a friend of utilities and polluters.

BOCA ROCK DUO, WOLFCAT, WRITE PAM BONDI A SONG ABOUT GAY MARRIAGE via Deirdra Funcheon of the Broward/Palm Beach New Times

The Sex Pistols railed, “God save the queen/She ain’t no human being.”

The Dead Kennedys sang, “Blow it out your ass, Ronald Reagan.”

And now, here comes Wolfcat, getting all up in the face of our twice-divorced, thrice-married, yet gay-marriage-denying attorney general, asking her (more tunefully than their punk predecessors): “Pam Bondi (Is There Any Love in Your Heart)?”

Wolfcat is a husband-and-wife duo that, like an ultracool and remarkably high-pitched phoenix, rose from the ashes of superfun but now-defunct South Florida bands Freakin’ Hott and Zombies! Organize!!

Aaron Gentry, one-half of Wolfcat, says his wife and bandmate, Mary Ruth Sheffield Gentry, has a sister who is openly gay and “very very close to us.” This July, a Monroe County judge ruled that Florida’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional and ordered the local clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses. Gentry’s sister-in-law, who “had been with her partner for years, was superexcited. The day that was announced, she said, ‘Let’s meet at a bar and celebrate! We’re going to go to Monroe County, get a marriage certificate!’ They’d been waiting for years.”

Then Bondi delivered a buzzkill. “We were literally sitting in the bar celebrating when someone looked at their phone and saw that Pam Bondi ordered a stay. The disappointment and frustration in the bar was so strong, so powerful, I felt that somebody should say something about this. Bondi issued a statement like, ‘It’s not personal,’ but I know that scene of us was replicated hundreds and hundreds of times over the state.”

Gentry says that gathering was on a Friday, and the song just poured out of him the next Tuesday.

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STATE PENSION FUND POSTS STRONGER THAN EXPECTED EARNINGS via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune 

The state’s pension fund beat expectations last fiscal year, earning a 17.4 percent return on investments and ending 2013-14 with a market value of $149.1 billion, the State Board of Administration announced Tuesday.

That return was stronger than the previous fiscal year’s 13 percent return in 2012-13.

All of the fund’s investments paid off last year, the board’s press release said. That resulted in a $16.7 billion reserve, even after paying out $5.9 billion in benefits last year.

The board manages and invests funds for the Florida Retirement System, to which about 900,000 current employees and retirees are members.

House Republicans, most notably outgoing Speaker Will Weatherford, have wanted to close the pension plan to new hires and shift them to a 401(k)-style “investment” retirement plan.

The system is now 87 percent funded, up 1 percent from last year. Financial experts generally agree that pension plans are healthy if they’re at least 80 percent funded.

Weatherford has said the fund still requires an infusion of $500 million per year from general revenue, money that could be used elsewhere.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Speaker Designate Steve Crisafulli and Rep. Mike Hill to speak at James Madison Institute luncheon in Pensacola. The event begins with an 11:00 a.m. reception; lunch begins at 12:00 p.m. at the Pensacola Little Theatre/Cultural Center on 400 S. Jefferson St. in Pensacola.

15 FLORIDA SCIENTISTS NAMED ‘MOST INFLUENTIAL’ via Carol Gentry of Health News Florida

A list of “cutting-edge” scientists who have the most influence on their fields — using citations by other scholars as the yardstick — includes 15 researchers based in Florida.

The Floridians are among 3,200 individuals on Thomson Reuters’ 2014 list of The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds, which includes the top 1 percent of scientists named as references by others in scholarly papers in the years 2002 to 2012. The list covers 21 broad fields, from pure math or physics to applied sciences such as medicine or psychology.

Of the Floridians on the top-1-percent list, one is a hot author of another sort. He is Roy Baumeister, Ph.D, co-author of the bestseller Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.

Marco Pahor, MD, professor at University of Florida and director of UF’s Institute on Aging, works on the epidemiology of aging and disability. John Newcomer, MD, is a psychiatrist who studies memory impairment and psychosis, especially schizophrenia; in recent years, he has become well-known for research on mental illness as a risk factor for obesity, diabetes and death that is premature by 25 to 30 years. Shu-Feng Zhou, MD, Ph.D, is a professor and associate vice president for global medical development at University of South Florida’s College of Pharmacy and a researcher at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. Another researcher from China is Liwei Gu, Ph.D., associate professor at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Vladimir Uversky, Ph.D., DSc., an associate professor of molecular medicine at USF, studies the science of proteins. Dmitry Gabrilovich, MD, Ph.D. studies ways to harness the immune system to fight cancer. He made the list based on his research while at USF and Moffitt, but left in 2013 for the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. Dominick Angiolillo, MD, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at the UF and medical director of the UF Cardiovascular Research Program at the UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville.

Angela Laird, Ph.D., associate professor at Florida International University, is an authority on brain mapping.

Other scientists on the list conduct research in fields that have less direct application to human health. They include George Christou, Ph.D., UF professor of chemistry. Originally from Cyprus, Christou studies nanoscale magnetic materials that have applications in information storage and quantum computing.

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FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION ENDORSES ELLYN BOGDANOFF, CHRIS LATVALA Full blog post here

Florida’s largest advocacy organization for retailers — the state’s No. 2 industry— announced two key endorsements: former state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff in her bid to return to Tallahassee and Chris Latvala in his first campaign for elected office.

The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) announced today that it is endorsing Bogdanoff, a Fort Lauderdale Republican, in the Florida Senate District 34 race. Bogdanoff is seeking a rematch with Democrat Sen. Maria Sachs in the district that includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach County.

FRF is also backing Latvala, a Largo Republican looking to succeed term-limited GOP State Rep. Ed Hooper in northeast Pinellas County.

“As a legislator, Ellyn Bogdanoff proved herself as a champion of Florida’s job creators time and time again,” said Melissa Joiner Ramba, FRF Director of Government Affairs.“Ellyn is a leader we can trust to work in the Florida Senate to help our retailers create jobs and grow.”

“As a Pinellas native and businessman, Chris Latvala is familiar with the economic needs of his community and is committed to creating new jobs at home,” Ramba added. “Not only is Chris pro-business, but he is also already acquainted with the constituent interests of his legislative districts.”

SECY. OF STATE ASKS COURT TO DISMISS REGGIE FULLWOOD CANDIDACY SUIT Full blog post here

Secretary of State Ken Detzner is asking a judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Democratic State Rep. Reggie Fullwood, who failed to qualify during the election qualification period elections due to errors by two notaries public.

Fullwood would have ran unopposed for re-election in Jacksonville House District 13, filed a lawsuit in Leon County circuit court on July 29. His contention is the state was improper in deciding against allowing Fullwood to qualify.

Attorneys for Detzner, who filed a response last week, said the state could not accept incomplete qualifying paperwork.

According to the response, “Despite petitioner’s (Fullwood’s) contention to the contrary, the secretary does not have a ministerial duty to accept facially incomplete items as complete … Nor does the secretary have the authority, much less a ministerial duty, to judge whether a candidate has substantially complied with the qualifying statute. The petition should, therefore, be denied and this action dismissed.”

Fullwood submitted forms on June 19 to elections officials without a notary’s required signature. After learning of the clerical error, he presented revised forms the next day, which was the deadline for qualifying for November’s elections.

However, a second notary failed to mark the required check box on the form.

TRIAL LAWYER-FUNDED MAILER ATTACKS CANDIDATE FOR BEING A, UM, “TRIAL LAWYER” Full blog post here

A new mailer from supporters of former banker Jay Fant has begun to hit mailboxes this week in the GOP primary for House District 15.

The contentious race pits Fant, a “small businessman” who served as CEO of Jacksonville’s First Guaranty Bank for nine years before federal regulators shut it down for mismanagement, against attorney Paul Renner to succeed State Rep. Daniel Davis for the region covering western Jacksonville and much of Duval County.

The mailer puts photos of “small businessman” Fant side-by-side with “trial lawyer” Renner, asking voters to decide. Prominently featured are Fant’s endorsements: 40 small business leaders, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the Florida Retail Federation.

The pro-Fant flyer comes from an outside group called Conservative Leadership Fund — chaired by Republican political consultant Mike Hanna.

Conservative Leadership Fund, which apparently believes trial lawyers are about as bad as you can get, is itself heavily supported by — you guessed it — trial lawyers.

On Aug. 8, Conservative Leadership Fund received $10,000 from One on One Communications, a Miami-based firm led by Joe Navas, which in turn has received thousands of dollars in contributions from a third group, Citizens for Florida Prosperity.

According to the Florida Division of Elections, Citizens for Florida Prosperity, which is headed by Venice Republican activists Eric and Christine Robinson, has benefited from years of support — and tens of thousands of dollars – from several high profile law firms from all over Florida, such as Orlando’s Morgan & Morgan and Abbot Law Group in Tallahassee.

However, some of the largest contributions to Citizens for Florida Prosperity have come from Florida Justice PAC, the state’s leading political arm representing trial lawyers.

THIS IS A DANGEROUS AD FOR HD 74 CANDIDATE RICHARD DENAPOLI Full blog post here

The latest polls suggest that the GOP primary in House District 74 pitting Julio Gonzalez versus Richard DeNapoli will go down to the wire. In a race that could be decided by a handful of votes, every decision made by the candidates is all the more important. There is no room for a miscalculation.

That’s why, in this environment, the latest television ad from supporters of DeNapoli could be dangerous for him. They may be playing with fire.

The ad also says “pro-amnesty” groups have bought Gonzalez, which is a reference to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which did support giving a tuition break to undocumented immigrants. But it’s quite a leap to describe the Florida Chamber or the U.S. Chamber as “pro-amnesty.”

With this ad, DeNapoli’s camp has poked a stick in the other eye of the FMA and the Chamber.

“I guess I’ve seen it all,” said Stapleton. “A group funded by the trial lawyers supporting a liberal Republican manages in the space of 30 seconds to get nearly every fact wrong.”

DeNapoli’s camp will tell you that the FMA and the Chamber were already stirred up, so what difference does it make if, as opposed to other attack ads DeNapoli’s allies have aired, the FMA and the Chamber is called out by name.

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FORMER OBAMA ADVISER DAVID PLOUFFE JOINS UBER Full blog post here

David Plouffe, former adviser to the Obama administration, is joining on-demand luxury towncar service Uber to lead policy and political efforts.

In a statement Tuesday, Plouffe, who headed the president’s 2008 campaign and left the White House in 2013, said he “could not be more excited to join such a vibrant company and its people who will be at the absolute leading edge of tomorrow’s innovations.”

Plouffe’s hiring comes soon after the Republican Party embraced Uber through an emailed petition supporting the tech company’s mission.

Uber was being “choked by government regulations” championed by taxi unions, the petition says. Plouffe reaffirmed the message, acknowledging regulatory struggle between Uber and taxi interests.

“This controversy exists because we are in the middle of a political campaign and it turns out the candidate is Uber,” Plouffe wrote on the Uber blog. “Our opponent—the Big Taxi cartel—has used decades of political contributions and influence to restrict competition, reduce choice for consumers, and put a stranglehold on economic opportunity for its drivers.”

MIKE HIGHTOWER RETIRING FROM FLORIDA BLUE via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News

Familiar Tallahassee figure Michael Hightower, Florida Blue’s vice president of government and legislative relations, is retiring. Hightower, who has chaired both the Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, will leave Florida Blue.

“For more than 30 years, Mike Hightower has been the government relations face of our company, working on behalf of the organization and our stakeholders with virtually every facet of local and state government,” said Jason Altmire,  the senior vice president of public policy and community engagement for Florida Blue. “We deeply appreciate his many years of service and wish him the best in his retirement.”

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

William Rubin, Melissa Akeson, Heather Turnbull, The Rubin Group: International Atlantic, LLC

Derek Bruce, Lila Jaber, Gunster: BAG Enterprises, Inc.

Jose Boscan: Florida Health Privilege

Patsy Eccles: Lower Keys Medical Center

Georgia McKeown: Ashbaugh & Associates

Jon Rawlson, Armory Hill Advocates: Physician Specialty Compounding

Nate Strickland, Colody Fass: Property Casualty Insurers Association of America

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CONTEXT FLORIDA: FLORIDA REDUX, MIAMI, HIGHER EDUCATION AND A BIGGER BRIDGE

On Context Florida: Ferguson is Florida redux, says Stephen Goldstein. In Miami, in 1980, after four white police officers were acquitted by an all-male, all-white jury of killing Arthur McDuffie, an African-American, some of the worst race riots in America occurred. ‘Miami Grows Up. A Little’ was the snarky putdown that headlined an opinion piece in The New York Times last week, writes Doug Clifton. The piece was filled with half-true generalizations based on wafer-thin reporting, but one paragraph hit home. Ed Moore notes a blatant amount of hypocrisy and doublespeak out of Washington D.C., when it comes to higher education. To make a meaningful dent in crime prevention, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office in Northwest Florida is trying to do its part to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community they are sworn to protect. Shannon Nickinson says we are going to need a bigger bridge.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

MADDEN RATINGS GURU HAS THE PLAYERS’ ATTENTION via Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press

Donny Moore can be the most reviled man in NFL locker rooms.

Moore is the “ratings czar” for “Madden NFL,” the man responsible for making sure the popular video game’s virtual avatars accurately reflect their real-life counterparts.

Moore uses all sorts of metrics and measurements to come up with ratings. Then, he tweaks the numbers weekly after watching all the games and pondering feedback from fans and even the players themselves.

Sometimes aging stars first recognize their careers are on the downslopes when the new Madden game arrives in August and their ratings have slipped.

They’ll let Moore know they disagree, often using Twitter or even sending him a YouTube video.

Moore started at Electronic Arts in 1999 as a game tester after winning a one-day tournament of the college football game, “NCAA 99.” He was eating lunch at the student union at the University of Central Florida — where he was studying political science with dreams of getting into law school — when he noticed a banner announcing the tourney and decided to skip class that afternoon.

A few months later, he was offered a full-time gig, so he put his schooling on hold. He took over Madden ratings in 2009.

SPEAKING UP FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES via Random Pixels

At some point Miami Herald reporter Carol Marbin Miller made a call to the Department of Children and Families in Tallahassee.

She wanted to know if the agency had any history of dealing with the parents of Javon Dade Jr., the 4-year-old boy whose body had been discovered a few hours earlier in some overgrown grass outside his father’s South Miami-Dade home.

The boy had been savagely mauled by his father’s dogs: Two adult female terrier-boxer mixes, an adult male pit bull.

At about the same time Miami TV reporters were breaking down their live shots in front of the home and moving on to the next story, Miller was on the phone with someone at DCF requesting records that might show the agency’s past contact with Javon’s parents.

Miller got the records. And in the paper, she documents yet another story of DCF incompetence that ends with another innocent child losing his life:

Three years before Javon Dade Jr. was mauled to death by his father’s dogs, state child protection workers were warned about “the smell and danger” of the six “untrained dogs” living in an apartment with Javon’s family. Two of the dogs were pit bull terriers, which are banned in Miami-Dade County, a caller said.

“The dogs have not really been trained,” an unidentified caller told the Department of Children & Families’ child abuse hotline. “There is concern for the safe care of the children in the home.”

Miller reports that “after his son’s death, Javon Dade was fined a total of $1,040 by the county for violating its ordinance on dangerous dogs.”

***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.***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my friend, Mark Bubriski, and nice gal/tough pro Janell Hendren. 

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.