A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
And good morning to Michael Van Sickler!
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YESTERDAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH
Congress took furtive steps toward a debt-ceiling deal Thursday, after House Republican leadership proposed a plan to lift the limit for six weeks. The deal would be conditional on President Obama promising negotiations over the budget and Obamacare, and it remains to be seen if John Boehner can convince his caucus to go along with it. Meanwhile, the shutdown impasse continues, as the House continued its process of sending doomed piecemeal funding bills to the Senate. But both chambers found something to agree on, when the Senate passed legislation funding military death benefits — a bill the House passed unanimously Wednesday.
A SHORT-TERM DEAL IS TAKING SHAPE. REALLY via National Journal
Ten days into the shutdown and prodded by Speaker Boehner, House Republicans intend to offer President Obama a deal increasing the debt limit for six weeks, through Nov. 22, during a late-afternoon summit at the White House. Though it’s close to the time when Americans will be feasting on turkey, the short-term resolution looks to have a good chance of getting done soon if Obama promises to agree to a work on a deal reducing long-term deficits and a tax overhaul.
AWESOME GRAPH SHOWING WHO THE GOVERNMENT OWES
Almost $17 trillion in debt, broken down in a handy, colorful chart. (Spoiler: Foreign countries own a sizeable chunk, but not all of it.) Check it out here.
RICHER THAN GOVERNMENT via David Yanofsky of Quartz
At least nine S&P 500 companies have more cash on hand than the federal government right now. Nobody panic.
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DRUNK DIAL CONGRESS
A new service randomly connects you to the office of a Member of Congress so you can yell at them.
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CHARLIE CRIST? NOT SO FAST via Kevin Derby of Sunshine State News
A new poll released Thursday finds Gov. Rick Scott at the heels of former Gov. Charlie Crist, the front-runner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, in a possible 2014 match-up. The University of North Florida (UNF) released a poll showing Crist taking 44 percent while Scott follows with 40 percent — within the margin of error. “Other candidates” take 2 percent while 14 percent of those surveyed are undecided.
In the UNF poll, Crist’s lead over Scott is based on his strength with independents. These voters break Crist’s way with 41 percent backing him and 33 percent favoring Scott. Crist had been a Republican until 2010 when he was caught by Marco Rubio in the GOP U.S. Senate primary. Crist continued his Senate bid with no party affiliation and lost to Rubio in the general election. After endorsing President Barack Obama in the presidential election, Crist joined the Democrats in December.
A majority of those surveyed — 54 percent — in the UNF poll agree that Medicaid should be expanded to cover more Floridians while 39 percent disagree and 7 percent were not sure. However a stronger majority — 55 percent — said they were not willing for their taxes to go up so that everyone in the state could get access to health care, while 41 percent said they would be willing to pay more.
DID YOU CATCH THAT? FLORIDIANS WANT EXPANDED MEDICAID BUT DON’T WANT TO PAY MORE TO GET THERE via contributor Karen Cyphers
In the Sunburn above, Kevin Derby of Sunshine State News reported on a UNF poll that showed a closer race between Crist and Scott. The poll had another interesting finding: 54% of Floridians agree that Medicaid should be expanded; yet 55% said they are not willing for the taxes to go up so that everyone in the state could get access to health care. I like it when polls do that … ask people what they would want ideally, and what they’d be willing to do to get there.
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BONDI’S CAMPAIGN ANNOUNCES LATEST FUNDRAISING via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune
The campaign manager for Attorney General Pam Bondi announced she had raised a total of $624,594 in the first three months of her re-election campaign. Her official fundraising report will be filed with the state’s Division of Elections later today, Pablo Diaz said.
“We appreciate all of the hard work from so many supporters that made this happen, and look forward to continuing to build Pam Bondi’s network of support in the months ahead,” Pablo Diaz wrote in a memo released to the news media.
LOOK WHAT I FOUND … ECO’S FOR PAM BONDI’S, ADAM PUTNAM’S RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGNS, FLUSH WITH HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS
While Governor Rick Scott’s re-election committee garners all of the media attention, two political committees have been quietly established to bolster the re-election prospects of Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — and have already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition to the $624,594 Bondi raised for her campaign, her re-election campaign has the support of an Electioneering Communication Organization called “… And Justice for All” that is showing a HAUL of MORE THAN $850K in cash that should make any challenger very nervous. (Paging, George Sheldon.)
This ECO, which is managed by uber political accountant Nancy Watkins and chaired by Carlos Alfonso, is showing a single contribution of $500K from the Republican State Leadership Committee out of Washington, making it clear that keeping Bondi as Florida’s AG is a priority for the national GOP. There is even a $25K check from Donald Trump!
As for Putnam, the Commish also has his own committee and is showing almost $200K raised. His committee is called “Sunshine State Leadership Project.” Putnam has not posted his campaign numbers yet for this quarter but he kicked off his campaign with MORE THAN $600K raised in the first quarter. That’s a lot of produce!
JEFF ATWATER RAISES SERIOUS BUCKS AS DEMOCRAT WILLIAM RANKIN ENTERS FLORIDA CFO RACE via Kevin Derby of Sunshine State News
Florida CFO Jeff Atwater raised some serious cash in the third quarter of 2013, bringing in more than $343,000 during that period and kept most of it in the bank, spending less than $7,900. Atwater’s campaign relied on more than $75,600 through in-kind donations in the third quarter. So far, Atwater has raised almost $538,250, relied on more than $442,270 through in-kind donations and spent around $22,200.
Atwater does have a new opponent. While Allie Braswell flopped and abandoned his campaign after less than a week, there is a new Democrat in the race. William Rankin jumped in the race to run as a Democrat on Wednesday. Sunshine State News talked to Rankin’s staff on Thursday and was told their candidate has a background in the military in which he investigated government fraud and helped lead the Florida census effort back in 2000. Rankin also has a background in business and auditing the Ohio state government. A staffer informed Sunshine State News that Rankin supports medical marijuana and high-speed rail projects in Florida.
SUDDEN TURNOVER AT THE TOP, FINANCIAL DOWNGRADE RAISE FLAGS ABOUT STATE PRISON PROVIDER CORIZON via Dan Christensen of Broward Bulldog
The two top executives of a state vendor who negotiated a $1.2 billion contract with the Florida Department of Corrections to provide medical care for thousands of state prisoners were abruptly dismissed on Wednesday. Tennessee-based Corizon, operating subsidiary of Valitas Health Services, declined to discuss the reason for the departures of Chief Executive Officer Rich Hallworth and President Stuart Campbell. The move, however, followed a Sept. 23 announcement by Moody’s Investors Service that it had downgraded approximately $360 million in Valitas’s corporate debt securities – changing the company’s rating outlook from stable to negative and increasing the likelihood of default.
Among the reasons cited by Moody’s for Valitas’s deteriorating financial position are the recent loss of prison health contracts with Maine, Maryland, Tennessee and Pennsylvania, as well as “competitive pricing pressure” elsewhere.
While there is concern that history might be repeating itself, a Corizon spokesman offered reassurance that was not the case. Florida Corrections spokeswoman Misty Cash said the state is not concerned about Corizon’s future performance.
TODAY ON CONTEXT FLORIDA: VETERANS, VOTER PURGE, IT MISHAPS AND MORE
On Context Florida, Jeff Kottkamp shared his personal experience of joining WWII veterans in their Honor Flight to illustrate why veterans should have access to memorials despite the government shutdown. Then, Daniel Tilson states how it is “worth noting that some citizens still don’t know or believe” that Republicans engaged in a voter suppression conspiracy leading up to the 2012 elections. He ties this history to the ongoing, reinitiated voter purge. Did you know that Florida just earned a “D” rating, the lowest of all states, in a review of the information technology effectiveness of state governments? Chuck Cliburn shares this fact and argues that Florida should have an authoritative IT agency that sets enterprise IT policy. Then, Gary Mormino wraps up a four-part series on the 1944 election of Florida Gov. Millard Caldwell. Mormino shares that Caldwell was considered a long shot and how he handled former foes after victory.
Visit Context Florida to dig in.
THE EARLY EFFECTS OF GOV. SCOTT’S SPRING TRAINING HANDOUTS
Noah Pransky’s been tracking the issue of state funds earmarked by Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature for spring training stadiums and found that the Minnesota Twins are the first to step up to the place. He writes:
“The Twins were the first team to take advantage, getting a $48.5 million refurbishment in Ft. Myers.
It looks like the team will pay $6 million, the state will pick up $15 million of the tab, which would leave $27+ million for Lee County. In exchange for the $42 million in subsidies, the Twins agreed to extend their lease for another 30 years. Meanwhile, it looks like the Blue Jays will be the next to take advantage, using the state dollars to leave Dunedin in favor of Palm Beach Gardens, even though their lease in Pinellas County runs through 2017. One has to wonder if the state is making it too easy for teams to leverage cities against each other… and if taxpayers are paying for stadium upgrades that the teams could have ultimately just paid for themselves. That is, unless you’re the legislature and governor, who get a regular earful from pro teams’ lobbyists.”
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FLA. SENATE WANTS TO HEAR FROM FLORIDIANS ON GAMBLING via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post
In advance of public hearings on gambling planned around the state, the Florida Senate has set up a website for Floridians to air their views on the issue currently — and the prospects of bringing full-scale casinos to the state.
The first hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m., Oct. 23, at the Broward College North Campus in Coconut Creek. Other hearings are scheduled for Lakeland, Pensacola and Jacksonville stretching into mid-November. The website for submitting comments or signing up to speak at a hearing is here.
The site has plenty more information, including a downloadable copy of the “Florida Gambling Impact Study,” now before lawmakers.
“Understanding local perspectives and personal impacts is an instrumental component of public policy decisions that could impact the future of gaming in our state for generations,” said Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, chairman of the Senate Committee on Gaming.
RITCH WORKMAN: TAX CUT MIGHT NOT BE $500 M via Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida
The chairman of the House subcommittee overseeing the state’s tax laws said Thursday that the panel isn’t necessarily bound by the $500 million cut in taxes and fees that Gov. Rick Scott has proposed.
Speaking after an initial meeting to discuss tax-cut ideas, House Finance and Tax Chairman Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, said the final number would depend at least in part on the size of the estimated state budget surplus when lawmakers sit down to craft a final package.
“I appreciate what the governor put out there,” Workman said. “I think he’s got a good round number. But we could see a tax break bigger than that, or, depending on what’s available when the final numbers come out, it may very well be smaller.”
Workman said that, at least for now, he is working with the $500 million figure in mind. But he said a final decision on the size of any tax package would be made later. Scott has made reaching the number the centerpiece of his agenda for the 2014 legislative session, the last one before he faces re-election.
State economists have projected a surplus of $845.7 million for the budget year that begins July 1, though $449 million of that is expected to be one-time money. Also, the most recent estimate was calculated before the partial shutdown of the federal government.
Workman said he would like to find a way to lower several taxes instead of trying to eliminate one or two levies.
“At some point, I want some kind of breakdown where four or five or six different taxes are lowered so that every single citizen can be touched by it,” Workman said.
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REP. MARYLYNN MAGAR ADDS NAME TO THOSE SUPPORTING BLAISE INGOGLIA FOR HD 35
Rep. MaryLynn Magar announced her endorsement of Blaise Ingoglia for the Florida House. “I am pleased to offer my endorsement of Blaise Ingoglia”, said Representative Magar. “Blaise is a natural born leader, committed to ensuring Florida continues to grow and thrive. His conservative values along with his private sector experience will be a great asset to the Florida House.” Magar joins 16 current senators and representatives in her support for Ingoglia.
REP. HOLLY RASCHEIN BRINGS IN $45,605 IN THIRD QUARTER
Raschein raised $45,605 in the third quarter of 2013, along with $402.98 in in-kind donations. She spent $4,781, bringing her cumulative cash on hand to $59,187.
REP. MIKE CLELLAND FUNDRAISING REFLECTS A STRONG, RELEVANT CANDIDATE
Many people thought that freshman Democrat Mike Clelland won in 2012 because of Chris Dorworth’s issues. Yet his contribution reports tell a different story: one of a well-organized, strong and relevant candidate. Clelland raised $44,000 this quarter. This followed a second quarter in which he raised more than any other incumbent House member of either party. He is the first incumbent Democratic member of the House or Senate to pierce the important $100,000 mark and did so early, by Sept. 30th.
RICHARD DeNAPOLI RAISES OVER $33,000 IN 2 MONTHS & INVESTS IN HIS CAMPAIGN
Businessman, former prosecutor, and Republican Party leader Richard DeNapoli announced he has raised over $33,000 in just two months and personally invested $150,000 into his race, bringing his two month fundraising total to over$183,000.
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COUNTING DOWN FLORIDA’S TOP LOBBYING FIRMS: JOHNSON & BLANTON Full story here
The small lobbying firm of Johnson & Blanton ranks at No. 6 on Sunshine State News’ Top Lobbying Firms in Florida. With only four lobbyists, Tallahassee-based Johnson & Blanton is one of the smaller lobbying firms on SSN’s list of top lobbyists, but don’t let their size fool you: in 2012, the firm brought in $2.4 million in legislative fees, or about $589,000 per lobbyist.
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AMAZON BRINGING 1,000 JOBS, NEW DISTRIBUTION CENTER TO HILLSBOROUGH via the Tampa Bay Times
Amazon has closed on a deal to create a distribution center in south Hillsborough County, county officials announced Thursday. Construction on the 1.1 million-square-foot warehouse facility in Ruskin is expected to start immediately.
“This is bigger than landing the Super Bowl, a National Convention or the Olympics,” said Commissioner Sandy Murman, who represents Ruskin. “Because this is bringing more than 1,000 permanent jobs to south Hillsborough County, with nearly that many seasonal jobs every year, along with the construction jobs. It’s a mega-storm of growth that’s hitting our county with feeder bands that will create economic growth all over this area.”
The new center at Interstate 75 and State Road 674 in Ruskin will create 1,000 permanent jobs, including 375 positions that pay more than the state’s average wage, according to county economic development staff. The package also indicates that the improvements and equipment required for the project will result in a $200 million investment.
D.C. SHUTDOWN PUTS CRIMP IN TAMPA BAY AREA CRAFT BEER BUSINESS via Laura Riley of the Tampa Bay Times
The federal government shutdown has closed the Statue of Liberty, the panda cam at the National Zoo and now this: craft beer. Tampa Bay area bars and restaurants are pouring suds as usual, but the shutdown has meant an obscure agency has suspended approval of new breweries, recipes and labels.
In the Tampa Bay area, the closure of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB, could have big consequences. One of the nation’s epicenters of craft brewing innovation, Tampa Bay is poised to welcome a number of new breweries and a raft of seasonal brews from the area’s established brewers.
The openings may be postponed and the seasonal beers scuttled.
Mike Harting, co-owner of BellaBrava in St. Petersburg and owner of downtown’s upcoming 3 Daughters Brewing, has already been affected.
“I had a call a week ago Tuesday with Judy, a nice lady with the TTB who is processing my Brewer’s Notice application. She said jokingly, ‘If I don’t get furloughed, I’ll get it done.’ “
The next time he called, he got a recording. He anticipated he would have had final approval last week. “If all goes well, we should be able to begin brewing in the middle of November. If this goes on two more weeks, there is a very good chance that is the thing that will hold us up from opening.”
HALFWAY THROUGH A PILGRIMAGE, FROM THE EL CAMINO TO FLORIDA WITH LOVE via contributor Karen Cyphers
You may already be following Mike Fernandez’s journey as he embarks on 3 million steps to raise $3 million for Miami Children’s Hospital. His route takes him more than 500 miles across the Pyrenees, from St. Jean Pied de Port, France, through Spain to Santiago de Compostela — a mountainous pilgrimage known as The Way of St. James, or El Camino. Fernandez’s walk is a debt of gratitude following the life-saving open-heart surgery of his 19-month old granddaughter Daniella earlier this year. And it is also a redefinition of what it means to give.
In April, Fernandez was named “Florida’s newest billionaire” by Florida Trend, and he has long been an avid philanthropist. Fernandez estimates that he has donated more than $100 million to charities in South Florida — $5 million of which was to MCH for the creation of a new trauma center.
“Writing a check is a lot easier than this,” Fernandez said of his walk in a Miami Herald interview. “But now I’m giving my time and that’s what’s most valuable to me at this point in my life.” He set out on Sept. 20, joined for the first week by Cesar Alverez, chairman of Greenberg Traurig.
This week, Fernandez’ is passing through Burgos, Spain. As of this morning, his fundraising ticker shows $1.23 million raised — nearly his halfway point in dollars and miles walked. Yet from following his path via Facebook, it seems that the spiritual intake of his days has already exceeded what Fernandez anticipated. He writes of meeting exceptional fellow travelers, and what it has meant to share stories of the children at MCH.He stops at churches along the way and asks priests for guidance in prayer; he meditates on the bravery of the children at MCH, and spreads the message of the hospital’s “amazing doctors and nurses who care for our children every day.”
His pilgrimage is not just for his granddaughter but for all MCH families who endure the emotional and financial stresses of a child’s illness. Join Fernandez in your own way by following his journey and lending support here.
LOVE THE BAND, HATE THE FANS? STUDY SUGGESTS PEOPLE DIG CAUSES, NOT ACTIVISTS via contributor Karen Cyphers
Activists might be getting in way of their causes, according to a new report by Canadian researchers. Researchers from the Universities of Toronto and Waterloo found that peoples’ reluctance to associate with political or social activists lowers the likelihood of changing behaviors… even when people agree with the cause. The paper, titled “The ironic influence of activists: Negative stereotypes reduce social change influence” examined the possibility that people resist adopting certain behaviors because of negative stereotypes of those who most publicly promote them.
“Despite recognizing the need for social change in areas such as social equality and environmental protection, individuals often avoid supporting such change,” the paper begins. Regardless of the domain of activism, environmentalists and feminists were seen by study participants as eccentric and militant. In turn, this reduced participants’ willingness to adopt behaviors that activists promoted.
This reminds me of something that happened many years ago while meeting with a professor. An activist with Florida PIRG came by wanting us to sign a petition. He said that coal burning power plants emit too much mercury into water, which in turn is bad for fish. My professor asked whether mercury kills the fish, to which the activist said, “No.”
My professor shrugged, “Well, in that case, I suppose mercury is great for fish, since it keeps us humans from wanting to eat them. If I am pro-fish, I believe that also makes me pro-coal.” The activist left, befuddled, with no signatures for his time. My classmate and I were puzzled, too, and asked if he was just being an ass.
“Of course,” he answered. “Of course mercury is bad and I’m not crazy about more coal. But those guys put me off as messengers.” Quite the conundrum for people who want to effect social change.
Florida Face-to-Face with Mike Vasalinda: Pete Dunbar and Screven Watson
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Mike Fasano, Rita Ferrandina, Ernest Hooper of the Tampa Bay Times, and Jodie Tillman from the Tampa Bay Times
Political Connections on Tampa Bay’s BayNews 9: Amanda Murphy
The Usual Suspects on Tallahassee’s WCTV: Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the one and only Lucy Morgan.