Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 9.27.17 – #FutureofFL gets underway; Dems plead for help to P.R.; American Bridge targets Rick Scott; Sen.-elect Annette Taddeo!; Scott Fennell’s new gig

in Peter by

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

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

By 2030, nearly 26 million Floridians will call Florida home. Is Florida ready to remain globally competitive, create high-wage jobs and economic opportunity, and fuel vibrant and sustainable communities?

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2017 Future of Florida Forum, kicking off today in Orlando, will bring together Florida’s business leaders, industry experts and elected officials to discuss the opportunities and challenges impacting Florida’s future between now and 2030. 

Topics such as workforce, education, prosperity, global competitiveness, innovation, economic development and more will be examined.

For the first time, the Florida Chamber Foundation will work alongside the Florida Commission on the Status of Women to host the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, to honor women who have made a significant contribution to Florida.

Here are highlights scheduled for the first day:

— Opening remarks by Doug Davidson, Market Executive for Bank of America and Chair of the Florida Chamber Foundation.   

— “Today’s Actions and the Future of Florida” with Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.   

— “State of the State: A Florida Scorecard Presentation” with Mark Wilson, President & CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce.   

— “Focusing on the Future” with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.   

— “Florida 2030: A Look At The Future” with Tony Carvajal, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber Foundation.  

— A welcome reception for Women’s Hall of Fame inductees, followed by the Women’s Hall of Fame Dinner and presentation.

The full agenda is here.


@MiamiHerald: U.S. does not believe Cuba is behind sonic attacks on American diplomats.

— @LedgeKing[email protected]SenBobCorker departure in 2018 gives [email protected]marcorubio chance to move up on Senate Foreign Relations ladder. Now #3 behind Corker, James Risch

@RepLoisFrankel: After #HurricaneMaria, millions still need help in Puerto Rico & USVI. @POTUS must act NOW and send disaster relief to our fellow Americans.

— @Fineout: Miami Beach mayor – and possible candidate for gov – @MayorLevine – is chartering a plane to take 7k of supplies to Puerto Rico

@CityofMiami: Mixed debris like this – wood, glass, plastics, styrofoam & tree debris is unacceptable! Help us help you by separating your debris

— @Fineout: So attn national media – a GOP candidate who once was on @realDonaldTrump tv show on verge of losing elex after Dems tied him to Trump

@ChrisSprowls: Congratulations to Danny Perez, the newest member of the Florida House. We are looking forward to serving with you.

— @MDixon55: In short, if two words could sum up this session’s entire appropriations process, they would be “Irma” and “opioid”

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Insurers request steep premium hikes for Florida, but Obamacare subsidies may offset the impact” via The Associated Press – Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation released the figures for the six health insurers who will sell “Obamacare” plans on the federal marketplace. The news comes as major insurers around the country have pulled out of the market amid dismal profits and growing uncertainty under President Donald Trump’s administration. But Florida Blue is offering plans in all 67 counties and is the sole provider in several mostly rural counties, largely in the Panhandle and along the Florida-Georgia border. In highly populated counties like Miami-Dade, Broward and Orange, residents will have several plans to choose from. All six insurers requested large double-digit rate hikes. The state has the power to negotiate those rates down to a lower price. The lowest increase went to Florida Health Care Plan Inc. with 26.5 percent, and the highest — 71 percent — went to Molina Healthcare of Florida, Inc., according to data from state insurance officials. Rates can be tricky to understand without context. Last year, for example, the average monthly premium with Florida Blue was $525. This year it jumps to $725. But those figures don’t include subsidies given by the federal government to help consumers pay for their plans. When premiums increase, the subsidies also increase.


Donald Trump: We’re getting ‘really good marks’ for Puerto Rico response” via Louis Nelson of POLITICO FloridaTrump said he plans to travel to Puerto Rico to survey the wreckage left behind by Hurricane Maria, and boasted that his administration is getting “really good marks” for its response to the devastating storm. “I mean I think we’re really getting really good marks for the work we’re doing,” Trump told reporters at the White House, also saying, “I grew up in New York so I know many people from Puerto Rico. I know many Puerto Ricans, and these are great people. And we have to help them.” He added, “We’ve gotten A-pluses on Texas and on Florida. And we will also on Puerto Rico.” Trump has come under fire for his relatively muted response to what some officials have called a “humanitarian crisis” in Puerto Rico, which is home to roughly 3.5 million U.S. citizens suffering from a lack of food, water and power. While Trump rushed to visit Texas and Florida in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the president went days without tweeting about Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, instead focusing on his feud with NFL players who kneel during the national anthem. “Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble,” Trump tweeted. “It’s old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities – and doing well. #FEMA.”

Hillary Clinton pressed Trump to deploy hospital ship comfort to Puerto Rico. Now it’s preparing to go.” via Dan Lamothe of The Washington Post – As the devastation from Hurricane Maria became more apparent Sunday, the former Democratic presidential candidate implored President Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to help the people of Puerto Rico. Send the Navy, she tweeted, especially the hospital ship USNS Comfort. Two days later, Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Brock Long announced that the Navy will soon do exactly that … It comes after days of critics saying that the U.S. government isn’t doing enough to support hurricane relief in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory of nearly 3.5 million people that faces months without electricity and a long rebuilding process. Navy Cmdr. Mike Kafka, a service spokesman, said that the ship will leave within the next four days, and it will take up to five additional days to reach Puerto Rico. He called the move a “prudent decision in light of current conditions on ground.”

Democrats beg Trump to appoint a general in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald – Rep. Nydia Velázquez, a New York Democrat and one of the longest-serving Puerto Ricans in Congress, nearly broke down in tears as she responded to Trump’s tweet that Puerto Rico was in “deep trouble” and burdened with debt after Hurricane Maria. After 11 seconds of silence, during which Velázquez was consoled by Rep. Yvette Clarke of New York, she tore into the president’s first series of tweets on Puerto Rico that came after Trump spent days blasting the National Football League. “I feel offended and insulted to see a type of tweet from the president blaming the people of Puerto Rico for a natural disaster and then the public debt,” Velázquez said. “We are better than that and I expect more from our president. Right now this is a matter of life and death. Democrats had a clear message for the Trump administration nearly one week after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands: Appoint a general and send in the troops. “We’re looking for a more robust response,” said Democratic Caucus chairman Rep. Joe Crowley.

– “Linda Stewart, Victor Torres, Randolph Bracy urging U.S. senators to help Puerto Rico” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

– “Emily Bonilla asking Orange County to prepare for huge influx of displaced Puerto Ricans” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising

Jose Garcia Vicente holds a piece of plumbing he picked up as he shows his destroyed home in Aibonito, Puerto Rico yesterday. Photo credit: Gerald Herbert.

“Rick Scott: Florida is ready to help Puerto Rico” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Gov. Scott has “reaffirmed Florida’s commitment to supporting Puerto Rico following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria,” according to a Tuesday news release. Scott “has notified the Florida National Guard and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) to be on standby for deployment following an official request for assistance from Puerto Rico, and the Florida National Guard is already actively assisting Puerto Rico with organizing and submitting relief requests,” it said. Further, the governor “is asking Florida state colleges and universities to allow students displaced by the storm in Puerto Rico to be offered in-state tuition.” More than 3.4 million U.S. citizens there still lack adequate food, water and fuel five days after Maria pounded the island as a Category 4 hurricane.

Helping Puerto Rico families isn’t simple after Maria” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel – Many Puerto Ricans living in the Orlando area are filled with worry as they try to reconnect with family members back home after Hurricane Maria destroyed the island. But it’s difficult. Inside San Juan’s major airport, some passengers are stranded as the Federal Aviation Administration prioritizes and decides how many commercial flights are allowed to operate. The FAA said about 36 flights are flying in and out every hour, which is almost back to normal. Those flights include a mix of military, commercial and humanitarian flights carrying supplies. Some U.S. airline carriers advertised ticket prices that cost well beyond $1,000 and many expressed outrage. The Florida attorney general’s office has received 12 complaints in connection with the Puerto Rican airline prices … U.S. Department of Transportation, which handles airline consumer complaints, also received complaints after the hurricane but a spokeswoman did not say how many. The price-jumps for the earlier flights didn’t surprise George Hobica, who founded the flight booking site “They always are going to have higher fares closer to travel,” Hobica said.

Assignment editors – Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine will travel with state Rep. Robert Asencio to San Juan in response to the growing humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. Levine will hold a news conference at 8 a.m. at the Opa-Locka Airport’s Orion Jet Center, 15000 NW. 44th Ave. in Opa-Locka. At 11:30 a.m., the mayor will meet with San Juan’s mayor at the Isla Grande Airport, Hangers 4 Southwest End, FBO Signature Flight School in San Juan.


Assignment editors – Gov. Scott will attend the Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance Roundtable to discuss disaster recovery efforts in Florida. Event begins 9 a.m. at the Latin Chamber of Commerce, 1401 W. Flagler St., in Miami.

Hmmm …Rick Scott replaces head of emergency operations with political operative” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami HeraldScott announced the abrupt departure of the head of the state Department of Emergency Management, Bryan Koon, and replaced him with Scott’s former campaign aide and Republican Party of Florida operative Wes Maul, who has just over a year of emergency operations experience. The governor asked Koon to stay until Oct. 1 and he agreed. Maul, 29, will be promoted from chief of staff to interim director. Maul, who graduated from the University of Florida School of Law in 2013, first worked as a travel aide in the governor’s 2014 re-election campaign, and the state Division of Elections shows he was paid more than $84,000 by the party and the governor’s campaign. According to Maul’s application for work in the governor’s office, he then came to work doing similar duties with the title “special assistant to the governor.” This is the second time in two years Scott has elevated Maul. In May 2016, Scott named Maul chief of staff reporting to Koon.

Tweet shot: @Fineout: By the way there may be a guy in Gainesville who worked for @JebBush & @BarackObama that could probably take over @FLSERT mid-storm season

Tweet chaser: @JebBush: With his eyes closed! (They’re both talking about Craig Fugate.)

Sue ‘em, fine ‘em, resolve Irma debris pickup war” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board – Capitalism is trumping cooperation as communities compete for cleanup crews needed to clear mountains of tree limbs, toppled fences and other storm debris. Hollywood, Plantation, Dania Beach and other Broward County cities say they can’t get the help they lined up before the storm because Miami-Dade County, the Keys and other states are paying more — more than double, in some cases — in contracts negotiated after the storm. In other words, communities that planned ahead are finding themselves at the back of the cleanup line. Also, equipment and crews from out of state, which could provide reinforcements, are in high demand because of Irma’s far-reaching effects and the ongoing Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts in Texas. That adds to the cleanup costs and delays. For starters, debris pickup companies should be held responsible for the contracts they signed before the storm.

The Florida House of Representatives graphics team has done it again, putting together an uplifting 5-minute clip of the state’s recovery after Hurricane Irma. It features shots of Gov. Rick Scott (“We will make it through this together”), first responders saving people and volunteers handing out food. And it features various House members helping after the storm, including Tampa Republican Shawn Harrison, Jacksonville Democrat Kim Daniels, and Miami-Dade Republican Manny Diaz, to name just a few. “Through the destruction and chaos … came the best of America,” one of the titles says.

Click on the link to watch the video.


Nursing homes look for answers on generator costs” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida – With time running out to comply with what could be a $240 million generator mandate handed down by Gov. Scott, nursing-home administrators and long-term care lobbyists left a meeting without an indication of what, if anything the state will do to help offset the costs. Members of a nursing-home payment workgroup may have to wait until November before state Medicaid officials discuss generators and whether the facilities can be reimbursed under an existing cost-based reimbursement system that has been in effect for more than 20 years or through a prospective payment system that starts in October 2018. Under a prospective payment system, facilities receive prepaid fixed amounts. Florida Health Care Association chief lobbyist Bob Azstalos asked Medicaid staff during the meeting to provide the workgroup members with background information that shows how generators would be reimbursed under the existing cost-based system compared to under the prospective payment system, which was passed by the Legislature during the 2017 session. “I would kind of like some background understanding,” Azstalos told Tom Wallace, the Agency for Health Care Administration’s interim assistant deputy secretary for Medicaid finance and analytics. Wallace made no promises but said Medicaid officials would “talk internally” and see what could be done.

American Bridge, the progressive super PAC founded by David Brock in 2010, on Tuesday released a video “holding Gov. Rick Scott accountable for his role in a growing controversy over the heat-related deaths of 11 senior citizens living in a Florida nursing home.” The video features Florida and national news coverage of the controversy. “Instead of admitting his mishandling of the tragic situation at a Florida nursing home, Rick Scott is trying to pass the buck onto his own government employees,” said American Bridge spokesperson Joshua Karp. “As usual, Rick Scott refuses to take personal responsibility for anything, even with Floridians’ lives at stake.” Scott deleted voicemails left by the home’s administrators on a personal cell phone, but said he passed the messages along to other state officials.

Click on the image to watch the video:

Hospital linked to nursing-home deaths was paid $48M to care for Florida prisoners” via Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily News – Dr. Jack Michel, owner of Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, owns a Miami hospital that has received $48 million in taxpayer money since 2006 to treat state prisoners. The payments to Larkin Community Hospital started the same year Michel settled a federal fraud lawsuit that accused him of bilking taxpayers. They continued after the state barred one of his assisted-living homes from taking new patients. And state officials are giving no indication that the payments will stop now despite Florida Gov. Scott’s comments that the owner is unfit to care for patients after deaths at his nursing home. Larkin provides the prison hospital care under no-bid agreements that the Florida Department of Corrections approved, according to agency contract and finance records. The hospital has served as a subcontractor to the state’s prison health care vendors with approval from corrections officials.


Rick Scott wants time limit on opioid prescriptions” via Sara Nealeigh of the Bradenton Herald – Scott proposes a three-day limit on prescribed opioids in an effort to step up the state’s fight against the powerful drugs. In addition to the limit, there also would be a required use of a prescription drug monitoring program. He also proposes $50 million toward substance abuse treatment programs and money going toward drug enforcement councils.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran: “I’m proud to join Gov. Scott in this aggressive approach to tackling this public health crisis. We’ve all seen the heartbreaking images of parents passed out in a car while their kids sit in the backseat. It is shocking but it is avoidable. This proposal goes directly at the source of the addiction – the initial prescription – and places serious restrictions on providers. It also addresses doctor shopping and state cross-border abuse. None of us wants another child to lose a parent or another parent to bury a child. I sincerely hope the medical community will join in addressing this prescription abuse and help us save lives.”

Florida Retail Federation’s R. Scott Shalley: “We applaud Governor Scott and Speaker Corcoran for presenting this vital framework to protect Florida families and enhance the education and responsibilities of prescribers. FRF represents thousands of pharmacy stores in Florida and the recommendations provided by the Governor and Speaker today will serve as significant steps to reducing both the current abuse of opioids as well as preventing future addictions. Specifically, limiting the frequency of prescribing controlled substances and mandating that prescribers check the PDMP will help to curtail any abuses.”

Tweet, tweet:


Supreme Court rejects appeal in upcoming execution” via the News Service of Florida – The Florida Supreme Court unanimously turned down an appeal by Death Row inmate Cary Michael Lambrix, who is scheduled to be executed Oct. 5 for killing two people in 1983 near LaBelle. The appeal, filed Aug. 31, contended, in part, that Lambrix was innocent because he killed in self-defense. Lambrix was convicted of murdering Aleisha Bryant and Clarence Moore after meeting them at a bar and inviting them to his mobile home for a spaghetti dinner. Lambrix argued that Moore assaulted and killed Bryant. Lambrix said he tried to intervene and killed Moore in self-defense. But the Supreme Court, in a 14-page opinion Tuesday, rejected Lambrix’s contention. The opinion said the self-defense argument first emerged three years after Lambrix’s trial.

“Faith leaders call for payday lending interest cap” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A group of clergy is asking the Constitution Revision Commission to adopt a proposal capping payday loan interest rates at 30 percent per year. The proposed constitutional amendment was filed last Friday, records show, by Bishop Adam Jefferson Richardson Jr. of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Proponents, who held a Tuesday news conference at the Capitol, said it was modeled after a similar initiative in New Mexico. “We think that it’s immoral,” said the Rev. James T. Golden, also of the AME Church in Sarasota County … The issue of interest on payday loans, defined as “usually a short-term, high cost loan, generally for $500 or less, that is typically due on your next payday,” has long caused angst among consumer advocates, regulators and others.

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Donald Trump drags down GOP ‘apprentice’ in special Miami state Senate race won by Democrat” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – In a special Florida Senate election where Trump was a drag, a Republican state House member who was once a contestant on “The Apprentice” lost to Democrat Annette Taddeo, bolstering the minority party’s hopes that it can win close elections after an embarrassing November loss statewide. Though Taddeo’s victory over state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in the Miami-area swing district won’t change control of the state Senate … it gives the once-dispirited party a badly needed lift heading into the 2018 elections. National Democrats pointed out that Democrats have now flipped seven legislative seats in seven states during “the Trump era.” Taddeo’s win wasn’t just about Trump, however. She ran against the GOP-led Republican Legislature that she said favors big business over the common Floridian when it comes to tax policy, health care and homeowners’ insurance, a big issue after Hurricane Irma ripped through Florida earlier this month. “There’s no doubt, though, that voters felt the deep anxiety coming from President Trump and his divisive policies that are causing much pain,” said Christian Ulvert, Taddeo’s political adviser. “This election was about a strong candidate who spoke directly to the voters on why we need to shake up Tallahassee. Annette Taddeo spoke to the very heart of why so many feel left behind and left out.”

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez “Today’s election is just the latest example of how Democrats can win when we lead with our values and organize in every zip code. As we’ve seen in recent elections in Oklahoma, New Hampshire, and other states across the country, the American people are hungry for Democratic leadership that will expand opportunities for all and put a stop to the divisive Republican agenda.”

Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel: “Congratulations to Annette Taddeo on this major victory for Miami-Dade and our entire state. This is a win for all of Florida. Democrats represent 16 of 40 state Senate seats. Annette will head to Tallahassee ready to fight for higher paying jobs, affordable healthcare and fully funded public schools. Democrats across the state are energized and mobilizing to flip Florida blue.”

Senate Democratic Leader-Designate Jeff Clemens: “I am thrilled to congratulate Annette Taddeo on her great victory. The Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee committed to righting a wrong in this district and electing a proven champion who will join our caucus to fight for an agenda that puts working families first.”

House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz: “Senator-elect Taddeo’s win tonight is not only a step forward for Floridians, it is a step forward for Florida Democrats looking to bring progressive change to Tallahassee and prevent more harmful Republican gerrymandering in 2020.”

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee Executive Director Jessica Post: “This crucial win tonight is a great representation of Democrats’ winning momentum and increased engagement in the Trump era.”

Daniel Perez cruises to win in House race” via News Service of Florida – With 42 of 47 precincts reporting in House District 116, Perez, an attorney, had 65.8 percent of the vote, while Democrat Gabriela Mayaudon had 34.2 percent, according to results posted on the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections website. … While Perez won a tough July primary against fellow Republican Jose Mallea, the special general election held little suspense. Mayaudon raised only $1,950 from June 5 through Aug. 18, and the state Division of Elections website does not include a finance report for her after that point. Perez, by comparison, raised $320,988 for the race.


“Andrew Gillum embraces Bernie Sanders health care proposal” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach PostGillum — who raised early campaign cash from liberal luminaries George Soros, Jane Fonda and Norman Lear — has tried to position himself as the most progressive candidate in a three-way Democratic primary field that includes former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and Winter Park businessman Chris King. “As we move forward with ensuring every American has affordable health care coverage, I stand with Senator Sanders ‘Medicare for All’ proposal. It moves us closer to affordable health care as a right for everyone in Florida and this country, and I’m proud to support it,” Gillum said in a statement timed to coincide with the latest collapse of Republican efforts to overhaul Obamacare.

Gwen Graham wants Florida to sue Big Pharma ‘for fueling opioid crisis’” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times – On an addiction-treatment Workday in Boca Raton, Democrat Graham called on Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi to sue pharmaceutical companies for their role in fueling Florida’s opioid crisis and she pledged to take them on as governor if the current administration didn’t act. “There’s a crisis all across Florida, impacting Floridians rich and poor, young and old. It’s a public health crisis, it’s a family crisis, it’s a human crisis, it’s even an economic crisis. And the current state government is failing to do all it can to address it — in this case, holding the powerful prescription drug companies accountable for their role in creating this crisis,” Graham said.

“Chris King talks big ideas with FSU students” via James Call of the Tallahassee DemocratKing wants the 2018 campaign to be about economics. And his big idea is to see some of the state’s biggest challenges as triggers for economic development. Especially in the areas of climate change, affordable housing and health care. “What we fundamentally got wrong as a party here in Florida is being able to talk about pocketbook issues,” said the 38-year-old lawyer from Orlando. “People talk about them. Florida is becoming increasingly unaffordable to live here. Some of you will have to leave the state to find work after you graduate.” He told the group as a political outsider, someone who has never held office, he was the person who could tackle the big issues of the day and build a Florida economy “more fair and homegrown.” It was the kind of talk that made Alexander Adams, a political science student, nervous. Adams told King there was a first-time officeholder in the White House and in the governor’s mansion and he didn’t like how things have turned out. King flashed a smile, nodded his head, as if to signal showtime, and told Adams the only thing he had in common with the president and governor is that he too was a businessman.

John Morgan to address Suncoast Tiger Bay Club” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – The roguishly charming “For the People” lawyer is scheduled to address the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. If past is prologue, he will sound as if he wants to run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, but make no commitment. Many Democrats think a blunt, politically incorrect populist is just the ticket for Democrats in 2018.

Save the date:

He says he quit Beach election for family. It was actually a criminal investigation” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald – Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco said he was dropping his re-election bid because of the “sacrifices” he’s made for his family — but he’s actually quitting the race because he’s negotiating with state prosecutors over possible criminal charges from a campaign-finance scandal. The Miami-Dade state attorney’s office has uncovered evidence that Grieco used a straw donor to conceal at least one illegal contribution from a foreign national, according to sources familiar with a public corruption investigation that began in late June. The donation was made to a political committee secretly tied to his campaign. Federal law prohibits foreigners who do not hold a green card from contributing to elections in the United States. The origin of the money was unexpectedly discovered by investigators as they interviewed donors to People for Better Leaders, a committee that took in about $200,000 from Beach bigwigs, including city vendors, lobbyists and real estate developers.


“Personnel note: Scott Fennell named Deputy Chief Financial Officer” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis on Tuesday announced Fennell as Deputy Chief Financial Officer over operations. Fennell will oversee the state’s accounting and auditing responsibilities, as well as the Department of Financial Services’ $299 million-dollar budget, according to a press release. He most recently served as chief operating officer of Enterprise Florida, the state’s public-private economic development organization. “Scott brings years of experience in managing multi-million dollar budgets to our Department, as well as vast knowledge of state government and the legislative process, making him a valued addition to our team,” Patronis said in a statement. “His skills will undoubtedly help carry our agency into the future on solid financial footing.”

New lobbying registrations:

Jon Costello, Rutledge Ecenia: Innovative Emergency Management

Ron Greenstein: Risk and Alternative Data Solutions, Ohana Solutions, TransUnion

Natalie King, RSA Consulting: Community Champions

Matthew Sacco, The Rubin Group: Thompson Construction Group

— ALOE —

Disney gator attack victim’s family to help kids awaiting organ transplants” via WESH – In June 2016, an alligator grabbed 2-year-old Lane Graves, who was playing along the Seven Seas Lagoon beach outside Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Lane’s parents, Matt and Melissa Graves, launched the Lane Thomas Foundation in honor of their son. The organization will work with Children’s Hospital and Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine to help cover transportation, lodging, and other nonmedical expenses incurred by families who have children awaiting transplants. “Melissa and I created the Foundation in honor of our beautiful boy, Lane, in order to do something positive for other families,” said Matt Graves. “We have been overwhelmed by the support and love we have been shown from across the country. We believe we have found an impactful way for us to help others in similar circumstances and ease some of their burdens so these parents can focus on their child.”

Twitter is testing longer tweets” via Kia Kokalitcheva of Axios – The company said it’s experimenting with allowing all languages except Chinese, Japanese, and Korean to have twice as many characters as its signature length. Of course, this is still a small test, so it may not be a permanent change … Twitter says that a lot of users are frustrated with the tweet length limit, which seems to make it harder to express themselves (except in Chinese, Japanese and Korean). Rumors of this change have been around for some time. Last year, for example, the company was said to be considering letting users tweet up to a staggering 10,000 characters. Twitter found that 9 percent of English tweets have 140 characters (most have around 34 characters), compared to only 0.4 percent of Japanese tweets that have 140 characters.

Spotted on the Oct. 2 cover of Sports Illustrated: Shad Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, related to a story on the NFL’s ‘take a knee for the anthem’ controversy this past weekend. From the story: “The protests of today are not about the anthem or the flag or the troops, or even about Donald Trump. The protestors are high-profile African-American athletes raising awareness of how lower-profile African-Americans are often mistreated by police officers.”

Happy birthday to Monica Russo.

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

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