A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
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START YOUR DAY WITH THESE TWO MUST-READS…
CBO: OUTLOOK ON DEBT REMAINS BLEAK via The Hill
The Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday that the long-term outlook for national debt remains negative, despite recent drops in the deficit. Federal debt held by the public, if left unchanged, will rise from 73 to 100 percent of gross domestic product from 2013 to 2038, which could spark the sort of fiscal crises seen in Europe. “The bottom line remains the same as last year: the federal budget is on a course that cannot be sustained indefinitely,” CBO Director Doug Elmendorf said. House Republicans, meanwhile, are still at odds over efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act at the risk of causing a government shutdown.
CENSUS FINDS INCOME, POVERTY LEVELS AT STEADY RATE IN 2012
A Census Bureau report released today paints a broad picture of well-being in the U.S. in 2012 and finds that the median household income and the poverty rate were unchanged from 2011, while the percentage of people without health insurance dipped. The numbers mark the first time in five years that income did not fall and poverty did not rise, but also show an economy failing to better conditions for some of the nation’s most needy. “The poverty and income numbers are a metaphor for the entire economy,” said Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution. “Everything’s on hold, but at a bad level.”
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RUBIO’S STANDING WITH CONSERVATIVES MIGHT HAVE TAKEN A HIT, BUT HIS FUNDRAISING HASN’T via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times
Sen. Marco Rubio has lost standing among conservative activists for his lead role in immigration reform but continues to collect millions in campaign dollars, emerging as one of the most prolific fundraisers in the country and underscoring his national ambitions.
Wednesday, the money chase continues when the Florida Republican appears at a barbecue restaurant alongside some of Washington’s top lobbyist-fundraisers. Admission ranges from $500 to $10,000.
Rubio this year alone has raised more than $5 million — a mix of small-dollar donations from average folks across the country to $5,000 checks from corporate interests — which he has poured into a team of strategists and to expand a national fundraising network.
“If you want to be president, you hire political consultants, fundraisers. People who work on your brand. That’s pretty clear what he’s done,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan authority on campaign finance.
Rubio’s operation has stoked such speculation because so little has been spent on supporting other candidates, the ostensible purpose of committees such as his Reclaim America PAC. In 2011-12, he gave candidates just 4 percent of the PAC’s collections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Rubio’s team counters that it took money and time to build the operation and pointed to an uptick in help to other politicians. In May, Reclaim America spent more than $100,000 on a TV ad defending New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte against gun-control critics (bonus: she’s from the first-in-the-nation primary state).
He also contributed $30,000 for ads against Sen. Mark Pryor, a vulnerable Democrat in Arkansas up for re-election next year. On Tuesday Rubio endorsed Tom Cotton, the Republican facing down Pryor, and emailed a fundraising solicitation.
Rubio plans to support four or five Senate candidates, said Terry Sullivan, an operative who oversees Reclaim America. He noted that Rubio’s support often comes in the form of appearances on behalf of other candidates, including dozens for Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee.
“This year he’s redoubled his efforts to help conservative candidates and causes,” Sullivan said. “You’ll continue to see him use the Reclaim America PAC to travel the country campaigning with and raising money for other conservative candidates.”
On Monday, Rubio raised money in Richmond, Va., for gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli. The payoff for Rubio is exposure in an important presidential battleground.
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CONTEXT FLORIDA — KAREN CYPHERS: PUBLIC DISAPPROVAL OF OBAMACARE REFLECTS LITTLE MORE THAN A FLAWED PLAN Op-ed here
As the Affordable Care Act fails to launch in most measures of public support, plan allies blame Republicans for tainting American opinion instead of looking reflectively at how the law may be intrinsically flawed.
To rehash the big points from this week’s USA TODAY/Pew poll on ObamaCare: 53 percent disapprove of the health care law, the highest level since it was signed; and 53 percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of health care policy, also an historic high. For the first time in the history of polling, Republicans are favored by Americans to deal with health care policy.
How did USA TODAY present these findings? Like a page out of the DNC’s playbook: “Republican lawmakers have failed in dozens of attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but a new … poll shows just how difficult they have made it for President Obama’s signature legislative achievement to succeed.” Notice how the word ‘failure’ appears first, and only, in reference to Republicans … not to the administration’s design of the law, its implementation, or ineffectiveness in boosting support.
DCCC LAUNCHING PAID GRASSROOTS EFFORT URGING STEVE SOUTHERLAND NOT TO SHUTDOWN GOV’T OVER OBAMACARE
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching a paid grassroots campaign to thousands of Florida constituents to urge Congressman Steve Southerland not to shut down the government over their Obamacare fight. The DCCC is paying for automated phone calls so the people of Florida can connect directly with Congressman Southerland and ask him to “stop the nonsense and focus on common sense solutions that protect our health care and grow our economy.”
Congressman Southerland’s House Republicans are threatening to shut down the government in order to eliminate provisions of the Affordable Care Act that, according to a release, “protect consumers and prevent insurance companies from taking free rein over health care.”
The calls begin today and continue through this week. Read the phone script here.
LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF FLORIDA AND BUSINESS COMMUNITY CALL FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION
The League of Women Voters of Florida, joined by distinguished business leaders, including the Presidents/CEOs of Tampa General Hospital and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, renewed their call today for the state to accept the federal money for Medicaid expansion, emphasizing the unprecedented economic benefits that expansion would provide to the state.
Representatives from the business and education communities, including CompassCare and the University of South Florida, highlighted the $51 billion in federal money that Medicaid expansion would bring into the state over the next 10 years, the estimated 120,000 new jobs that would be created, and a myriad of other economic benefits that the expansion of Medicaid would bring.
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ALAN GRAYSON GETS NEW REPUBLICAN OPPONENT via Mark Matthews of the Orlando Sentinel
Another Republican has jumped into the race to challenge U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson — and this time it’s Carol Platt, an executive with the Osceola County Association of Realtors with longstanding ties to the Bush political dynasty. Platt worked on both George W. Bush’s run for president and Jeb Bush’s run for governor and she was appointed by Jeb Bush to serve on one of Central Florida’s local community college Board of Trustees. In joining the fight for Florida’s 9th Congressional District, Platt joins at least two other Republicans — Jorge Bonilla Jr. and Peter Vivaldi — looking to defeat one of the most outspoken Democrats in the U.S. House.
She’ll have a tough hill to climb, however. The 9th Congressional District, which includes Osceola County and parts of Orange and Polk, is heavily Democratic and Grayson is a prolific fundraiser.
MORE OF THE SAME FOR 2014? via Charlie Cook
“The GOP’s brand is showing no sign of recovering from what led to the party’s thumping in 2012, and second-term fatigue does seem to be plaguing Democrats. We could be seeing an election in which the two forces cancel each other out, with little change in the House, and Republicans picking up three, four, or five Senate seats but still coming up short of the six they need to gain a majority. Under those circumstances, it might be questionable in 2016 whether the electorate would want a third Democratic term in the White house, but it is equally unclear whether voters would choose to turn the executive branch over to Republicans. At the very least, Americans might want to prepare themselves for Washington to muddle along for the next three years until the 2016 election.”
THE BEST POLITICAL AD I’VE SEEN IN A WHILE
In a new television ad for his special election for the House in Massachusetts, openly-gay Carl Sciortino underlines his liberal credentials in a playful back and forth with his father, who doesn’t share his left-of-center views. Watch here.
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GOVERNOR MAKING “MAJOR JOBS ANNOUNCEMENT” TODAY IN TAMPA via Bill Varian of the Tampa Bay Times
Gov. Scott will visit Tampa Wednesday to make a “major jobs announcement,” according to release from his office.
The release gives no other details other than the time of the news conference, 2:30 p.m., and the location, 6700 Lakeview Center Drive. That’s the location of a nearly 200,000-square-foot office building near the intersection of interstates 4 and 75.
The Lakeview Center web site indicates it is a three-story building initially constructed in 1984 as the back-office operations center for a Fortune 100 financial services firm. A portion of the building is being marketed on one on-line commercial real estate site as a possible regional or corporate headquarters or call center with space for up to 1,200 seats. The web site for the office building indicates it has additional space available.
KATHLEEN SHANAHAN CRITICIZES SCOTT FOR NOT ATTENDING HIS OWN SUMMIT via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel
Gov. Scott should have attended the education summit he called last month — or at least followed up with recommendations to the State Board of Education, said board member Kathleen Shanahan, who called the governor’s actions “embarrassing.”
“The governor never attended…We’ve yet to see a policy statement that came out of that…From my perspective…we’re still in the same mess,” said Shanahan during board member’s opening comments at today’s meeting in West Palm Beach.
That is frustrating, Shanahan said, given Florida is moving quickly to fully implement Common Core academic standards in language arts and math, must soon select new standardized exams to replace most FCAT exams and will need to revise its school grading system.
The summit was called to delve into those topics — all policy areas that are the responsibility of the State Board — but three weeks later there have been no recommendations, she said.
Several superintendents told her they’ve heard Scott plans an executive order but she said she has no knowledge of that.
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ON FIRST DOWNS, PLAYBOOKS, AND COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS via contributor Karen Cyphers
Someone I love dearly told me it is not that he’s against higher standards, but rather that he really, really hates violations of 10th Amendment. Well he can rest more easily tonight knowing that the 10th Amendment isn’t under attack by Common Core standards, no matter the folks who cry fire in the political theater. During a Tuesday morning media roundtable, the Foundation for Florida’s Future charted the logic behind the state’s adoption of these streamlined, elevated standards. Common Core wasn’t developed by the feds. Rather, it came to life through a consortia of state governors and state school chiefs who wanted to align their standards.
In Florida’s current K-20 system, there is a wide seam between requirements for graduating from high school and being successful in college, shared Joe Pickens, President of the St. Johns River State College and chair of the Florida College System. Rather than playing catch-up in 12th grade college prep, or worse, spending financial aid dollars on remedial college courses that don’t provide credit toward graduation, Common Core maps learning from kindergarten forward to arrive at a place where students can hit the ground running.
Here’s something that could very well be found within a high school vocabulary test: what is the difference between “standards” and “curriculum”? During the roundtable, teacher and policy advisor Cari Miller clarified. In the context of Common Core, standards are measurable end of year expectations, while curriculum is how we get there. But it was her analogy to football that really brought the distinction to life: the expectation for a team’s offense is to make it ten yards for a first down, while the playbook guides how the team gets there. Classroom playbooks are, and will continue to be, left to the states under Common Core.
Common Core reduces the number of benchmarks but expects more of essentials that remain. This permits teachers more time to dig into material, and facilitates deeper learning by students at intervals that are steady and achievable. By doing so, Pickens explained, Common Core will eliminate the “cycle of blame” in which colleges point fingers at high schools for unprepared students, high schools blame middle schools who blame elementary schools who blame parents, and so on until… our fingers point at babies.
And if babies could respond, I imagine they’d say, alright, well isn’t it your job to teach us?
Florida Association of Counties: Will hold the 2013-14 Policy Committee Conference today through Friday to discuss its agenda for the 2014 legislative session. Marriott West Palm Beach, 1001 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Meeting information and agenda here.
Florida Parole Commission: Meets 9:00 a.m. Wednesday at 4070 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee. The agenda here.
1000 Friends of Florida: Hots a free webinar on springshed planning and its implications for watershed planning in Florida. The webinar speakers are Jim Stevenson, former director of the Florida Springs Task Force, and Robert L. Knight, director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute. 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. Register here.
Agency for Persons with Disabilities: APD director Barbara Palmer to hold a town-hall meeting to discuss the 2013 legislative session and to answer questions. 6:00 p.m., Palm Beach Habilitation Center, 4522 South Congress Ave., Lake Worth.
Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources: To continue a series of meetings to review the state’s new comprehensive historic preservation plan. 3:00 p.m., Mission San Luis, Education Room, 2100 West Tennessee St., Tallahassee.
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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Representative Matt Hudson will testify before a joint meeting of the House Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements and the House Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation, and Regulatory Affairs regarding the federal implementation of Obamacare and the concerns of state governments. Rep. Hudson’s testimony will cover health workforce shortages, exchanges, premium increases and Florida’s decision not to expand Medicaid. 2154 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 10:00 a.m.
HOUSE LEADER ‘OCCASIONALLY’ LIVES OUTSIDE DISTRICT: PERRY THURSTON FOUND AT HOME IN PLANTATION via Ben Candea and Bob Norman with Local 10
Florida House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston, who Local 10 previously found appeared to live at a home outside his district, said last week he occasionally lives there. Thurston said he lives there “when he wants to.” State Rep. Hazelle Rogers was adamant that she lives in a small condominium while she maintains a home with her family outside her district.
“Honestly, I live in my condo,” she said. “My husband follows me whenever he feels like it.”
About noon on Labor Day, Local 10 stopped by Rogers’ condo but no one was home. She was found at her house. Rogers said she was there to pick up her family for the AFL-CIO Labor Ball.
“You can find me here because this is my husband’s property,” she said.
Local 10 has investigated six elected officials who are apparently living outside the districts they serve, which violates the Florida Constitution. Sen. Maria Sachs, who was seen on undercover video staying at her $1.5 million estate in Boca Raton outside her district, said she lived in a condominium in Fort Lauderdale that is owned by a campaign aide. She now says she lives in a condominium in Delray Beach.
State Rep. Jared Moskowitz said he lives in an apartment in Coral Springs rather than the townhome at Parkland Golf and Country Club where his wife and baby live. Moskowitz says he left the apartment and now rents a home for his family in Heron Bay. Moskowitz and Sachs may be feeling the pressure of a state residency review that resulted from Local 10’s investigation.
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BILL GUNTER BLOWS OUT RIVALS IN GOP PRIMARY FOR PASCO HOUSE SEAT via Kevin Derby of Sunshine State News
Bill Gunter, the pastor of Redeemer Community Church in New Port Richey, won the Republican primary on Tuesday in the special election to replace former Rep. Mike Fasano in the Florida House to represent parts of Pasco County on Tuesday.
Gunter defeated Jim Mathieu, who served as Port Richey city attorney and interim city manager and chaired the Pasco County GOP, and insurance agent Jeromy Keith Harding in the primary.
With 77 percent of the votes counted, Gunter had 63 percent, Mathieu had 20 percent and Harding 17 percent. Voting was light with less than 15 percent of Republicans casting their ballots in the primary. Most of the Republicans voted by absentee ballot in the primary.
Gunter will take on Democratic candidate Amanda Murphy, who is the vice president of investments for Raymond James, on Oct. 15 to determine who will replace Fasano, who was appointed Pasco County Tax Collector by Gov. Rick Scott in July, in represneting parts of Pasco County in the House.
FASANO REQUESTS HIS NAME NOT BE USED IN ANY CAMPAIGN ADS
Asked for a reaction to yesterday’s results, Fasano congratulated both Gunter and Murphy. “I wish them both well in the upcoming October general election.”
In addition to the congratulatory note, Fasano offered a more specific message.
“I would ask them to put the people of Pasco first and not the special interest of Tallahassee and the leadership of their respective party,” said Fasano. “I would also ask they run on their own merits and not use my name in their mailers and or TV commercials.”
Florida Dems’ Allison Tant: “Bill Gunter is the textbook example of a politician who’s bought and paid for by the wealthy Tallahassee interests. Only a paltry 5% of Bill Gunter’s campaign cash came from Pasco County, and he has raised more money from outside the state of Florida than he has from people in the district he is trying to represent. Amanda Murphy will represent Pasco County as a strong and independent voice committed to creating jobs and investing in education.”
Florid GOP’s Lenny Curry: “I am proud that Bill Gunter received his party’s nomination tonight. Bill understands the constituents of District 36 and is a real leader in his community. I know that he will represent our party well in the general election, and I look forward to seeing him elected to the Florida House of Representatives. The Republican Party of Florida looks forward to helping Bill secure a victory next month.”
TWEET, TWEET: @SteveCrisafulli: Congrats @ElectBillGunter on your big win in tonight’s primary election! Look forward to the general & serving w/ you in the House!
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MIAMI-DADE NEEDS TO GET BETTER AT LOBBYING TALLAHASSEE, COMMISSIONERS SAY via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald
The commission agreed Tuesday to limit priorities for its Washington D.C. and Tallahassee lobbyists to 10 per legislative session. More than that, commissioners said, and Miami-Dade’s wish list gets lost in the shuffle.
“They’re telling us they can be more effective if we can do that,” said Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa, citing conversations with lawmakers.
But the decision is also an effort to give the commission more power. By limiting the county’s priorities, county departments controlled by Mayor Carlos Gimenez will no longer have their wants and needs widely distributed to legislators.
Commissioners said rogue department heads in the past have lobbied for legislation in direct conflict with the board’s direction.
“They’d take a position for the county and then a department would come up and contradict it,” said Commissioner Sally Heyman, a former state representative.
Still, a lingering problem remains: On occasion, commissioners are also at odds over legislation. “Sometimes, some of us have agendas that might not line up,” CommissionerDennis Moss said.
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Daniel Allen: Los Angeles Capital Management and Equity Research, Inc.
Joel Overton, Larry Overton: Larry J. Overton & Associates: Mental Health Care, Inc. dba GracepointWellness
NEW ON THE TWITTERS: @paulmitchell196
WATCH OUT ORLANDO: FLORIDA LOBBYISTS TO CONVENE EN MASSE OUTSIDE OF THE CAPITOL
The Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists is gearing up for its 9th annual conference beginning today at the Loews Royal Pacific in Orlando. I’ll try to get this all out in one breath:
Hear from House Clerk Bob Ward and House General Counsel Dan Nordby, along with FAPL past chair Jennifer Green, who will discuss Florida’s new ethics statutes; Ryan Tyson, VP of the Associated Industries of Florida, who will surprise you with his forecast on upcoming elections; Sarah Bascom and Christina Johnson, with some issue management tips, and Ron Sachs who will dig in on crisis management in public relations; Matt Dixon of the Florida Times Union, one of Florida’s premier political reporters who will talk shop on how to work with media; CFO Jeff Atwater who knows a thing or two about how to lobby the Cabinet, joined by Reggie Garcia and Abby Vail, each with their own perspective; Darrick McGhee, Sen. Rene Garcia, Rep. Joe Saunders, Paul Fillmore-Mateo and Chris Moya on how to steer a safe course through Florida’s multicultural legislature; former Sen. Paula Dockery with some thoughts on working both sides of the aisle; some “Appropriations 1014” perspective from Appropriations Chair, Rep. Seth McKeel, and Senate Gov Ops Sub-chair, Sen. Alan Hays; and (just enough air left to get through this), Andy Corty, Dr. Ed Moore, Rod Duckworth, Joe Pickens and Dr. Peter Bath on the perceived disconnect between what businesses need from their workforce and what educational providers deliver.
To set the tone for all this big thinking to follow, the conference opens with a reception sponsored by Context Florida, a not-for-profit, online opinion network dedicated to driving the discussion about the issues, personalities and politics shaping Florida. And yes, “reception” means “drinks.”
DID BOARD MEMBERS BREAK LAW WHEN OUSTING OOCEA HEAD MAX CRUMIT via WESH 2 News
Toll road drivers are getting a new boss after yet another shake-up at the region’s biggest toll road agency, and a WESH 2 News investigation reveals evidence that the board members who voted to oust the Expressway Authority’s boss last month may have violated Sunshine Laws.
WESH 2 News obtained the text messages that show what was happening behind the scenes leading up to a controversial vote, and the state attorney is now investigating a complaint by the chairman of the Expressway Authority.
The texts show that all three Expressway Board members who voted August 28 to replace Executive Director Max Crumit were texting and calling the secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation.
We may never know what happened in those phone conversations, but the text messages raise a question that the State Attorney’s Office hopes to answer: Do publicly-appointed officials violate Florida’s open meetings law by discussing a vote before the meeting?
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON AT THE ORLANDO-ORANGE COUNTY EXPRESSWAY AUTHORITY? Full blog post here.
Billions of dollars funnel through the OOCEA, which is responsible for the tolling and maintenance of five expressways in Orlando, and for the development of a sixth: the Wekiva Parkway, a 27-mile toll road completing the beltway around metro Orlando. Therein lies some fertile ground for corruption. Without cracking open the whole coconut, let’s take some sips from its sweet shell.
Rewind a few years to Chris Dorworth’s glory days as Speaker Designate. There’s no need to rehash in its entirety the work of Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell who suspected that Dorworth’s financial ties were less than kosher for a person in his role. Maxwell relentlessly detailed Dorworth’s relationship with mega-developer Jim Palmer, and these reports played a central role in his unforeseen loss at the polls. Upon leaving office, Dorworth has gone about confirming the smell Maxwell followed on his trail. And this is where it leads.
Max Crumit, executive director of the OOCEO who ran the agency “to rave reviews for almost two years” was told in a private August 26 meeting with board member Scott Batterson that he needed to resign immediately. Batterson warned that he had the three votes necessary to fire Crumit at the board meeting that would take place two days later. Crumit did not resign.
The three votes to remove Crumit were to come from Batterson, an engineer and investor who slaloms between conflicts of interest in making official votes; Noranne Downs , who works for Florida’s Department of Transportation and runs and runs the agency in Central Florida; and the board’s newest member, Marco Pena, who had been appointed by Gov. Rick Scott just a month prior and had attended just one board meeting to date.
How would these three members be able to coordinate the ousting of Crumit without even so much of a whisper being made in the sunshine at a board meeting? A torturously narrow path without breaking Florida’s Sunshine Laws which forbid private communication between members and forbid the use of conduits to achieve such communication.
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GET WELL: Former Speaker Allen Bense, who is being treated at Shands Hospital in Gainesville after getting admitted Monday. Bense, who served in the Florida House from 1998 to 2006 and was Speaker from 2004 to 2006, had a “serious bout with a pancreatic disease a few years ago” but there was no word on whether this current hospital stay was related.
Speaker Weatherford: “Speaker Bense is recovering at Shands. Tonie, Courtney, the entire Bense family and I are grateful for the tremendous care and expertise he is receiving. We hope that everyone will respect the family’s privacy as he makes an expected full recovery. Let me tell you, Allan Bense is one tough man, and God is with him. Everyone’s prayers are appreciated.”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to House candidate Bob Cortes.
REMEMBERING DEXTER DOUGLAS via Ron Sachs of Sachs Media Group
“Dexter Douglass was a great and brilliant gentleman lawyer who was as elegant as he was eloquent — in his legal arguments, writings and conversations. As General Counsel to Gov. Lawton Chiles, one of his biggest legacies was though leadership to conceive, get passed, execute and successfully shepherd a Quixotic new law that helped Florida sue for, and recover, $13 billion, in an historic settlement from ‘Big Tobacco.’ Even his adversaries loved Dexter — which is quite a wonderful reflection and testament to fighting for principles but avoiding the pitfall of ever making it personal. His passing is sad as much for the loss of an era in Florida history that was truly golden as for the loss of a kind and gentle man who fought for the most important principles.”