Sunburn for 1/17 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

***Sunburn is sponsored by Tucker/Hall – one of Florida’s leading public affairs and public relations firms.***

ALARM – U.S. WILL PROBABLY HIT THE DEBT CEILING EARLIER THAN PREDICTED

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned lawmakers that the country is more likely to hit its debt limit next month than in March.

REPUBLICANS MAY TRY TO REPLACE THE HEALTH-CARE LAW IN 2014 via Russell Berman of The Hill

House Speaker John Boehner predicted that Republicans would come up with a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with another bill sometime this year. Boehner called for a plan that will “actually reduce costs for the American people and make health insurance more accessible.”

BAD NEWS FOR FLORIDA ROM D.C. – BOEHNER SAYS HOUSE WON’T TAKE UP SWEEPING FLOOD INSURANCE BILL via The Associated Press

Speaker John Boehner says the GOP-controlled House won’t take up legislation aimed at neutering a 2012 overhaul of the federal flood insurance program that is hitting homeowners who have long paid below-market rates with big premium hikes. The Ohio Republican said “we’re not going to do that” when the topic was broached in a hallway exchange with The Associated Press in the Capitol complex.

But … In a statement issued later by his office, the Ohio Republican said: “While I don’t support repealing the 2012 law, we’re listening to members and the alternative ideas they are offering on this issue. There have been ongoing discussions with members, and the House may consider changes to the law in the weeks and months ahead that both help homeowners and protect taxpayers.”

Yesterday, the House passed a spending plan that included shorter-term fixes on flood insurance, which are described here.

The broader bill is pending approval in the Senate, and lawmakers in the upper chamber knew the more conservative House would be an issue. So Boehner’s words aren’t as juicy as they may appear. Bills always go through changes.

TWEET, TWEET: @AlexSinkFlorida: Today, #Congress again refused to act on the #FloodInsurance bill. We need action now!

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BARBARA BUSH SAYS (AGAIN) SHE DOESNT WANT JEB TO RUN FOR PREZ

Bush told C-SPAN that she hopes Jeb Bush doesn’t run for president in 2016. Here’s the video.

TWEET, TWEET: @learyreports: .@JebBush did you get coal in your stocking, too?

MARCO RUBIO TO CO-HEADLINE CPAC via National Journal

Rubio and Rand Paul of Kentucky will be among the headliners at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, the conservative movement’s annual pep rally and popularity contest for the Republican Party’s likely presidential contenders.

Too early to be talking about 2016? Not really. The Iowa caucus is two years away, and if past cycles are any indication, candidates typically launch their campaigns more than six months before then. That means 2014 is the year when would-be candidates start securing big donors and laying the groundwork in early-voting states.

“This presidential cycle for Republicans starts earlier than ever, in part because it’s the first time in a while we have an open seat without a leading candidate who has run before,” said Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which sponsors CPAC. “We’re almost off and running, and CPAC is the beginning of that journey.”

Indeed, in contrast to Hillary Clinton’s dominance on the Democratic side, the Republican field is wide open, featuring a slew of fast-rising newcomers and, possibly, a couple of also-rans from 2012. Paul won CPAC’s straw poll in 2013, while Rubio came in a close second.

***The 2014 Florida Health Care Affordability Summit, taking place in Orlando on January 29-31, 2014, will once again bring some of the most knowledgeable stakeholders in health care to the table – from experts on health plans, hospitals and providers, to our elected officials and some of Florida’s best employers – to participate in an open forum and continue the conversation on how we can make Florida healthier based on the guiding principle that quality health care should be affordable and accessible to all.***

CD 13 SPECIAL ELECTION

DAVID JOLLY BEGINS SPECIAL ELECTION WITH FOUR-POINT LEAD OVER ALEX SINK, NEW POLL SAYS

Jolly, a virtual unknown just four months ago, leads Sink, who served as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, 47 to 43 percent, according to a survey conducted by St. Pete Polls and commissioned by this blog. Libertarian Lucas Overby takes 4 percent of the vote, while undecided voters make up 6 percent of the responses.

Fueling Jolly’s lead are his favorability numbers. Voters in this Pinellas seat hold a 46 to 35 percent favorable rating of Jolly, while Sink is a mixed bag at 48 to 43 percent favorable.

Jolly’s edge over Sink is accompanied by relatively moderate survey results about the Affordable Care Act. Voters in the 13th Congressional District are split about whether Obamacare should be left alone (34 percent), repealed without a replacement (36 percent), or repealed with a replacement (27 percent).

Regardless of voters’ positions on Obamacare, 68 percent say that where the candidates stand on Obamacare will influence their vote.

Asked about immigration, CD 13 voters were of two minds, with 32 percent supporting deportation and 49 percent favoring a path to citizenship.

With that kind of result — half the district supporting the moderate idea of a path to citizenship — it’s interesting that Jolly is leading Sink.  Yes, there were more Republican respondents than Democrats, but pollster Matt Florell says that reflects the fact that GOP voters in CD 13 were more active in 2010 and 2012.

LARRY SABATO MOVES CD 13 FROM TOSS-UP TO LEAN DEMOCRAT via Kyle Kondik of Sabato’s Crystal Ball

The matchup is now set in the closely-watched special election for a Tampa-area congressional district: David Jolly, a former lobbyist and aide to the late Rep. Bill Young , comfortably won the GOP primary on Tuesday over two others. He will face Alex Sink, the state’s former chief financial officer and 2010 Democratic nominee for governor.

Now that the primary is over, we’re changing the rating in the FL-13 special election from Toss-up to Leans Democratic. Unless national factors become so unfavorable for Democrats that they lift Jolly, we think this race is Sink’s to lose.

Sink is by far the better-known candidate, owing to her previous time in office and narrow gubernatorial loss, and she has raised much more money than Jolly — according to the most recent campaign finance reports, Sink had more than $1 million cash on hand compared to Jolly’s $140,000, which presumably was used at least in part to win the primary. Democrats also preferred to face Jolly in this race because of his past work as a lobbyist.

Part of our ratings change here is based on the incentives for this special: Democrats really need to win this seat if they have any hope of regaining a House majority. It’s a politically marginal seat that President Obama won 50% to 49% over Mitt Romney in 2012, and it’s the kind of seat upon which a future Democratic House majority would be built as Democrats lose their remaining conservative redoubts in the South and Appalachia.

It’s possible that we’re overestimating Democratic chances here. Sink, after all, is not the world’s best campaigner, as Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times helpfully reminds us. And the national climate could play a role, too, and tip this race in Jolly’s favor. We’ll be watching closely. But at this point, Sink seems like a pretty clear favorite, and we felt it was reasonable to change our rating to reflect that.

RACE ALREADY HEATING UP via Kate Bradshaw of the Tampa Tribune

Out of the gates, campaigning has been nasty in the race to fill Congressman C.W. Bill Young’s seat.

The National Republican Congressional Committee released a video earlier accusing Sink of wasting $400,000 in taxpayer money to fly to the Bahamas in a corporate jet as well as to campaign events when she was still state CFO.

Yesterday, Democrats sent out a blast accusing Jolly of spending most of his time in Washington, DC, where he launched his consulting firm.

“First Washington lobbyist David Jolly didn’t tell the truth about his record of lobbying for offshore drilling – now Jolly is trying to mislead residents about his laughably weak ties to Pinellas,” wrote Florida Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Karp. “From his lobbyist profession, to his 202 area code, to his downtown D.C. office, David Jolly is Washington.”

“Are the Democrats really playing this card with their candidate admittedly moving into the district just to run for this seat?” Bascom said in an email. “Maybe they are a bit confused?”

MEANWHILE … DENNIS ROSS WILL KICK-OFF RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN ON JAN. 21 Full blog post here

U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross will seek a third term in Congress representing Central Florida’s Congressional District 15.

The Lakeland Republican will host two campaign kick-off events on Tuesday, January 21 — at 1:00 p.m. in Lakeland at the Florida Citrus Mutual building and in Plant City 3:00 p.m. at the American Legion Post 26. CD 15 covers much of the northern parts of Hillsborough and Polk Counties.

In announcing this latest campaign, Ross says he is a “conservative Republican who has a proven track record of fighting for lower taxes, individual freedoms, and less government mandates in the lives of central Floridians.”

In 2012, Ross’ voting record received a 96 percent positive rating from the Washington D.C.-based American Conservative Union, the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots conservative lobbying group.

VERN BUCHANAN RAISING MONEY WITH BOEHNER via Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

For the third time in four years, Boehner is spending part of his winter in Sarasota and raising a few bucks while doing so.

Boehner is scheduled to be in Sarasota for a private fundraiser with U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan on Feb. 15. Also scheduled to attend the event is U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican who is chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The Feb. 15 fundraiser will be at the penthouse home of Sarasota entrepreneur Jesse Biter, who has also hosted fundraisers for Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, and former Presidential candidate Rick Santorum, among others.

The event is to raise money for a committee called Boehner for Speaker. That account routinely transfers money to the NRCC to help elect other Republicans to Congress.

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APPOINTED: James Gabbert to the Sarasota County Charter Review Board.

ASSIGNMENT EDITOR: Gov. Scott will attend the grand opening of O’Reilly Auto Parts’ distribution center and warehouse in Polk County. 3300 County Line Road, Lakeland. 9:30 a.m.

ASSIGNMENT EDITOR: Gov. Scott and a panel of state lawmakers are expected to take part in the final day of the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s annual insurance summit. A legislative panel is slated to include Sen. Alan Hays, David Simmons and Reps. Bill Hager, Bryan Nelson, and Rep. David Santiago. Disney’s Contemporary Resort, 4600 North World Dr., Lake Buena Vista. 8:30 a.m.

AS PREDICTED: @Fineout: .@FLGovScott on Friday will name @melsell27 Melissa Sellers his campaign manager. Her last day in Governor’s office is Friday

ALSO: Matt Moon, the communications director for the Republican Party of Florida, will become the main spokesman for Scott’s re-election campaign. Tim Saler, a deputy executive director for the state party, will become deputy campaign manager. Susan Hepworth will take’s Moon’s job with the party.

HAPPENING THIS WEEKEND: CHRIS CHRISTIE COMING TO FLORIDA TO RAISE MONEY FOR SCOTT

Christie is scheduled to attend multiple fundraisers across the state including stops in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Orlando. It will be Christie’s first major fundraising since the scandal over lane closures on the George Washington Bridge erupted in New Jersey.

The role of Christie’s office and how much he may have known about the shutting down of lanes on the GW Bridge that created four days of traffic gridlock is still being determined. Documents and emails have cost several top Christie aides their jobs and the closure, which looks like political payback, is hurting Christie’s carefully cultivated image.

Depending on what happens with Christie, his appearance at fundraisers with Scott will either be political gold for Republicans or give plenty of political fodder for Democrats.

Speaking of Democrats, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman as the Democratic National Committee, is expected to tail Christie around the state and will attack both his and Scott’s records, according to Politico.

TWEET, TWEET: @gbennettpost: RGA “media advisory” tonight advises media that weekend fundraisers in Fla with @GovChristie and @FLGovScott are all “closed-press events”

SCOTT TO PITCH 10-DAY TAX CUT via Tia Mitchell of the Tampa Bay Times

Scott will propose a 10-day back-to-school sales tax holiday in a speech Friday.

Florida families would save an estimated $60 million in state and local taxes under the proposal.

Scott will make the pitch during a speech at the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s annual Insurance Summit. He has been rolling out portions of his “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget” in recent days.

WHAT THE GOV’S OFFICE IS READING – FLORIDA’S REBOUND FROM GREAT RECESSION STRENGTHENS via Scott Blake of Miami Today

Florida’s economy is expected to continue to rebound in 2014 – albeit very fragilely – from the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009.

And unemployment rates have fallen to their lowest levels since 2008 but, economists note, much of the drop is because many Floridians have stopped looking for work and are no longer counted as unemployed.

Data recently released by Florida realtors suggests a housing market that is getting hotter, if not overheating. Statewide, the median sale price for single-family homes rose to $169,900 in November, up $19,900 from a year earlier. Also, the median price for condominiums and townhomes rose to $131,299 in November, up $19,299 from a year earlier.

Distressed sales of single-family homes in Florida in the form of short sales fell 46.6% in November from a year earlier and traditional sales were up 10.9%, but foreclosures were up 10.7%.

Meanwhile, Florida’s job market continues to grow faster than the national job market. In 2012, job growth in Florida was 1.8% and, by the time the final numbers are tallied for 2013, job growth is expected to be about the same for last year. The institute is projecting that payroll job growth will inch up to 2% statewide in 2014.

Leisure and hospitality is projected to have job growth of 2.4%; trade, transportation and utilities is projected to grow 1.8%; education and health services 1.6%, the information sector 0.9%, and financial activities is expected to be nearly flat with 0.1% job growth.

The problem of underemployment and marginally attached workers – those who are working part-time but not by their choice, and those that are neither working or looking for work, but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past year – remains significant. When adding those workers to the top-level unemployment figure, that broader measure of unemployment averaged 14.6% statewide from the fourth quarter of 2012 through the third quarter of last year, according to the institute.

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CRIST SAYS SCOTT HAS BEEN A ‘NIGHTMARE’ Video here

rist talked with reporters outside a fundraiser in Tallahassee Thursday night and offered his thoughts on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie coming to Florida this weekend to help raise money for Gov. Scott’s campaign. Crist said, “For them, it’s all about the money.”

Crist also reacted to comments from some Republicans, saying they will raise so much in the race for governor that Crist won’t know what hit him. Crist called that a “heckuva attitude” and chided Republicans for having a “callous attitude.”

“I’m not interested in hitting people. What kind of attitude is that? What kind of heart gives that kind of message? Not the kind of heart people want in Florida.”

Crist was asked about Gov. Scott’s selection of Carlos Lopez-Cantera as lieutenant governor as well as his views on the issue of allowing voters to decide if Florida should make marijuana legal for medical purposes.

Crist also explained how he will counter criticism of his handling of the economy, which tanked while he was governor, while during Gov. Scott’s term, the economy has steadily improved and unemployment has dropped a lot.

“Just tell the truth. Tell people that the turnaround started when we were still here. Tell people that it’s important to understand that we can do better, we can be more innovative. We can actually help people in education.”

“It was a global economic meltdown and the notion that any one person, or any one governor certainly, brought that on is absurd. It’s laughable. If they try to sell that to people, people are smarter than that.”

ENVIRONMENTAL LAND-BUYING AMENDMENT GETS ENOUGH SIGNATURES TO MAKE NOVEMBER BALLOT via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times

Backers of a constitutional amendment to set aside billions of dollars in tax money for purchasing environmentally sensitive land and protecting of wildlife and water resources said Thursday that they have passed the threshold to get the measure on the November 2014 ballot.

They obtained 686,000 verified petition signatures from 15 of Florida’s congressional districts, according to Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation, part of a coalition of environmental groups backing the measure. They needed at least 683,000 signatures from 14 districts, he said.

If it passes, “this will be the largest state-based conservation initiative in United States history,” Fuller said. So far, he said, “we have seen no organized opposition.”

The Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment requires no new taxes. Instead, it calls for one-third of the documentary tax paid on real estate transactions to be set aside for conservation spending programs such as land purchases and protecting drinking water sources.

The amendment’s backers, which include such groups as Audubon Florida, the Sierra Club and 1000 Friends of Florida, estimate the measure could raise as much as $10 billion over 20 years.

If approved, it would go into effect on July 1, 2015, and would expire in 2035.

SHELDON, THURSTON AT TIGER BAY OF TAMPA BAY: Democratic attorney general candidates George Sheldon and Perry Thurston will speak at the Tiger Bay Club of Tampa Bay. Maestro’s, David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 North Macinnes Place, Tampa. Noon.

***The Florida Smart Justice Alliances invites you to its third Annual Justice Summit from January 27th – 29th at the Hilton Altamonte Springs. The Summit’s theme is “Smart Alternatives for a Safer Florida.” The line-up of speakers includes Attorney General Pam Bondi, Florida Sheriff’s Association President and Polk Couty Sheriff Grady Judd, and nationally-renown criminal justice expert Prof. Ed Latessa from the University of Cincinnati. Panelists include Chief Judge Belvin Perry who oversaw the Casey Anthony case, among many other state officials and experts including about 20 legislators. Discussion panels will be held on incarceration levels, mental illness, juvenile justice, substance abuse treatment, recidivism, legislation, and more. Visit here for more information and to register.***

FLORIDA NEWSMAKERS PROGRAM FEATURES MATT GAETZ Watch here

On this week’s “Florida NewsMakers” program, state Rep. Matt Gaetz sits down with Trimmel Gomes to discuss his push to legalize “Charlotte’s Web,” a non-euphoric strain of medical marijuana that can help ease the suffering of children suffering from epileptic seizures.

“As a limited government conservative, I don’t want the government standing between parents and the care they need for their children,” said Gaetz, whose House Criminal Justice Subcommittee recently heard testimony from parents saying this is their best hope for helping their children.

“We just have to get past some of the fear with the word ‘marijuana’,” Gaetz tells Gomes, “and get to where we can appropriately tailor its application where we don’t have abuse but where we can really do for people who haven’t chosen to have disabilities.”

Gaetz remains opposed to a medical marijuana constitutional amendment, asserting that the referendum could lead to marijuana dispensaries on every corner. Gaetz also discusses the Legislature’s comprehensive review of the state’s sexual predator laws, as well stricter penalties for people who torture and abuse animals.

SPEED LIMIT BILL ZOOMS THROUGH SENATE TRANSPORTATION BUT ROADBLOCKS STILL AHEAD

Many weeks ago, Sen. Jeff Clemens asked via a Context Florida post, “What’s the purpose of speeding tickets on interstates?” This question foreshadowed his sponsorship of SB 392, with Sen. Jeff Brandes, to raise the maximum allowable speeds on certain state roads and interstates. The move would bring Florida laws in line with those shared by 16 other states. It would mean fewer tickets on highways, and fewer arbitrarily raised auto insurance premiums to consumers who received tickets but never caused an accident. On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Transportation bought this argument and voted 6-1 to pass Brandes and Clemens measure.

To Brandes, the issue is one means a move away from arbitrary, meaningless standards.

“I believe that speed limits matched to road conditions and motorist behavior will restore respect for the law and increase compliance, which is a viewpoint shared by 16 other states and consumer safety groups,” Brandes said. “This bill calls for traffic safety engineers rather than politicians to set speed limits.”

There are two more committee stops prior to SB 392 making its way to the Senate Floor: Community Affairs, and Appropriations. But these two committees may not prove to be as speedy in approval as was Transportation today, whose committee includes both bill sponsors. As of now, the House has no companion measure.

TWEET, TWEET:  @GrayRohrer: Possible FL political activity this yr: more beer, medical marijuana, higher speed limits.

***Representatives from Florida’s aerospace industry will visit Tallahassee on March 12, 2014, to participate in Florida Space Day and share with legislators the opportunities the industry brings to Florida and the nation’s space program. During Space Day, industry leaders and other aerospace supporters will meet with House and Senate members and Governor Scott, to discuss  growing areas of the state’s $8 billion dollar space industry, and determine the best strategies for leveraging these markets for Florida’s benefit in the years ahead.***

INDEPENDENT SPECIAL DISTRICTS: WHERE LOBBYISTS RIDE FREE AND THE PUBLIC IS IN THE DARK via Dan Christensen of BrowardBulldog.com

Nearly 1,000 special-purpose governments across Florida that raise and spend billions of dollars in public funds every year do not require lobbyists who appear before them to register, pay fees or disclose any information about themselves or their clients.

Lobbyist registration and disclosure have been mandatory for years in Tallahassee and in many city and county halls across the state, where lawmakers found it necessary to preserve the integrity of the decision-making process. Violators can be fined and barred from lobbying for up to two years.

But Florida’s independent special districts are a separate class of government – a hodgepodge of obscure taxing and other authorities that, with few exceptions, offer the public no information about lobbyists or what they’re up to at their agencies.

Florida Department of Revenue data obtained in response to a public records request identified 93 independent special districts with annual budgets of more than $10 million in 2012.

There are 992 active independent special districts, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s special districts database. They outnumber Florida’s counties, cities, towns and villages better than two to one yet operate largely in the shadows of their better-known municipal counterparts.

The Uniform Special District Accountability Act of 1989 obliges special districts to comply with many of the same accountability standards that apply to state and local governments, like open meetings and public records. But state anti-corruption laws requiring lobbyists before the Legislature and the Executive Branch to annually register, pay fees and disclose their clients and compensation don’t extend to special districts.

The information they collect and its accessibility to the public varies. Lobbyists generally have little interest in those small-money districts. Yet a small district with a contract worth a million dollars a year is another matter.

NOT REALLY NEW ON THE TWITTERS: @StephSmithGA

OSCAR-GRUBBING MOVIES AND LOBBYISTS DEPLOY SIMILAR TACTICS, SAYS NEW STUDY

Lobbyists seeking pork and Oscar-hopeful filmmakers share the same risk-and-reward structure, according to a study released a day before the Academy of Motion Pictures releases the 2014 Oscar nominees. UCLA sociologists Gabriel Rossman and Oliver Schilke analyzed records of 3,000 Oscar-nominated films released between 1985 and 2009 using the same models used to analyze political lobbying.

In this, they find that filmmakers decide early on whether they will “take the bait” and go for a movie that will garner the Academy’s attention, despite the costs of doing so. Similarly, lobbyists have their eye on a specific prize when they make political contributions.

“Just like an industry seeking favorable legislation either does or does not get the legislation but first has to provide campaign contributions and the like, a movie studio has to commit to making a movie that follows an Oscar strategy before finding out if it will actually get nominations,” Russman said of this study, published in the American Sociological Review.

If the lobbyist or filmmaker does not get the legislation or nomination, they don’t get their money back. But if they do, the results are valuable.  The Tullock lottery, the economic model used in this study and studies of lobbyists, is illustrated by the “all pay auction”.  In these, every bidder pays regardless of whether he wins — yet only the highest bidder is awarded the prize. Bids are typically hidden from other bidders. Because of this, over-bidding is more common than in straight auctions.

For example, if an auction were held for $100, and you bid $30 for it but your competitor bids $31, you lose both your $30 and the prize itself. To researchers, the all-pay lottery exemplifies decision-making by K Street firms… and, apparently, the choices made in Hollywood, too.

PERSONNEL NOTE: JASON GONZALEZ, FORMER COUNSEL TO RPOF, SCOTT, JOINS SHUTTS & BOWEN

Jason Gonzalez, former general counsel to Rick Scott and to the Republican Party of Florida, has joined the law firm Shutts & Bowen as a partner in its Tallahassee office.

“Jason has already made a great impact both as a public servant and as a litigator,” said Bowman Brown, chairman of Shutts & Bowen’s executive committee. “We expect that his energy, legal ability and knowledge of state government will add fresh power to our firm and our clients for years to come.”

In Tallahassee, Gonzalez, 40, joins former Lieutenant Gov. Bobby Brantley, Shutts & Bowen’s government law consultant and a former member of the Florida House of Representatives, Secretary of the Florida Department of Commerce and Secretary of the Florida Lottery.

“I’m thrilled to team with a firm with a strong statewide presence, impact, resources and depth, and I look forward to broadening my practice,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez was most recently a shareholder in the Tallahassee law firm Ausley McMullen

RSA CONSULTING HIRES SARA GROSS

Tampa Bay-based RSA Consulting has hired Sara Gross to be its new Community and Government Affairs representative.

Prior to joining RSA Consulting, Gross was a Political Representative with the Florida Realtors, a statewide association with more than 115,000 members in Tallahassee. Her responsibilities included coordinating and administering fundraising activities for the benefit of the Florida Realtors PAC and issues mobilization and assisting in state and federal lobbying efforts.

RSA Consulting Group, founded in 2009 by Ron Pierce, represents a wide variety of clients and issues statewide, including the Tampa Bay Lightning, Pepin Distributing Company, Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute, Pepin Academies, Tampa Port Authority, Florida Association of Community Health Centers and Uber Technologies.

***Madison Social – Tallahassee’s Hottest Spot – is your location for lunch, happy hour, and dinner. Catering for your meetings are also available. For lunch service, complementary valet is available so you can leave the office and return within one hour. To see our menu, please visit here.***

CONTEXT FLORIDA: GUNS AT THE MOVIES, ELECTION FALLACIES, SPECIALIZED LOTTERY TICKETS AND VOLUNTEERING

In Context Florida, retired Tampa police captain Curtis Reeves should have never brought the gun into the Wesley Chapel theater where he shot moviegoer Chad Oulson after an altercation, says Cary McMullen. “More guns mean less gun violence” is not the answer. Daniel Tilsonis eagerly awaiting Florida’s 2014 midterm elections, where he expects several closely held beliefs to fall, like Gov. Rick Scott’s assertion that the GOP will “win big” in the fall. A special State Lottery ticket to promote and fund breast cancer research is an “interesting idea,” says Karen Cyphers, but one with little chance for success. Maritza Martinez calls for everyone to add volunteering to the “short list” of things to accomplish during the year. Exercising good citizenship will lead to a happy, more “exclamation-centric” life.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

JEROME FERSON, PUBLISHER OF LEDGER MEDIA GROUP, RESIGNS via Kyle Kennedy of the Lakeland Ledger

Jerome Ferson has resigned as publisher of Ledger Media Group, company officials announced Tuesday.

Ferson, 41, joined The Ledger in June 2007, becoming its 11th publisher. He continued to lead the newspaper after its acquisition by Daytona-based Halifax Media Group from The New York Times Co. in 2012.

Allen Parsons has been named interim publisher of Ledger Media Group. He is the former publisher of the Ocala Star-Banner, which is owned by Halifax Media.

“I am grateful for the time I was able to serve as Ledger Media Group publisher, for the many people I have met, for the friends I have made and for numerous accomplishments we achieved and challenges we worked through over the past six plus years. There are many talented employees at The Ledger that I am confident will continue to do extraordinary work,” Ferson said in a prepared statement.

During Ferson’s tenure, The Ledger saw substantial growth in its online operations and readership, and implemented a digital subscription plan. He supported The Ledger newsroom during an intensive legal battle with city of Lakeland officials over access to public records.

Under his leadership, The Ledger acquired the News Chief newspaper in Winter Haven in 2008. The combined businesses and their related properties now operate as Ledger Media Group.

WEEKEND TV

Facing Florida with Mike Vasalinda: Peter Dunbar, Screven Watson and Senator Jeff Brandes

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Michael Guju, Janet Long, Angie Drobnic Holan, and Mike Deeson.

Political Connections on Tampa Bay’s BayNews 9: Saint Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman

Political Connections on Orlando’s CF 13: Doug Guetzloe

The Usual Suspects which airs on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Steve Vancore, Gary Yordon, and Sean Pittman.

***SUNBURN is sponsored in part by Strategic Image Management – Florida’s premier one-stop shop for political campaigns, issue advocacy, legislative initiatives, & public relations. Visit www.simwins.com or follow us on twitter @SIMWINS and start winning today.***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the AARP’s Jeff Johnson.

TALLAHASSEE named here 8th drunkest city in America.

WEBSITE OF PINELLAS ELECTIONS SUPERVISOR NOW IN KLINGON! Full blog post here

In Florida, election supervisors often provide information about voting in a variety of languages other than English.

In South Florida, for example, it almost goes without saying that government websites need to be built in both English and Spanish. Many government websites, such as the one built for the Miami-Dade elections supervisor, are designed by developers so that they can be easily translated into more than two dozen languages, from Afrikaans to Zulu.

But Pinellas elections supervisor Deborah Clark has gotten one step further and madeher department’s website is available in Klingon.

Supervisor Clark should be commended for reaching out, not just to different ethnicities and races, but across the Neutral Zone, to ensure all voters, regardless of planet of origin, have the information they need to vote.

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.