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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 02.27.17

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

ABOUT LAST NIGHT…

It was one of the most awkward moments in the history of the Oscars, of television, in entertainment, heck maybe in American history.

And somehow Warren Beatty, Hollywood’s ultimate smooth leading man, was at the center of it, and the accounting firm that is responsible for the integrity of Oscar voting apologized and was vowing a full investigation.

The producers of “La La Land” were nearly done with their acceptance speeches for Best Picture, the Oscar broadcast’s credits sequence about to roll, when a stir of whispers began on stage. Moments later “La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz returned to the microphone and said “Moonlight won Best Picture” and insisting that “this is not a joke.”

 The collective jaw of the crowd at the Dolby Theatre — and of America — remained dropped long after they became convinced it was no joke, but what academy historians later called an apparently unprecedented Oscar error. The accounting firm PwC, formerly Price Waterhouse Coopers, said early Monday that Beatty and Dunaway had been given the wrong envelope.

“We sincerely apologize to ‘Moonlight,’ ‘La La Land,’ Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture,” a statement from the firm said. “The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.”

The statement came several hours after the chaotic ending, which featured Beatty returning to the mic to explain that he had opened the envelope and he was confused when it read “Emma Stone, La La Land.” He had shown it to co-presenter Faye Dunaway briefly, as though he wanted her to read it, which she did, apparently assuming the Emma Stone part was off but the “La La” part correct.

NOW ON TO POLITICS: THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM

With just one week until the gavel drops on 2017’s Legislative Session, it is — to use the shopworn expression — the calm before the storm.

No meetings, no committees, no talk; just a lull in the action before regular Session starts next Tuesday.

Before lawmakers assemble to do the people’s business, now would be a perfect opportunity to spend some time with the family, partake in a round (or two) of golf or cross a few things off the honey-do list. Maybe even fly a kite.

Since Spring Training began last week, supported by Florida’s perfect weather for such undertakings (spring is a relative term around here), nobody would fault the legislator who takes in a few ballgames before his or her re-emergence in Tallahassee.

Time to stop and smell the roses, so to speak.

Of course, everyone involved will need this period of rest and relaxation before the inevitable 60-day fracas over issues such as business incentives, gambling legislation and the 2017-18 Florida budget (the Legislature’s one constitutionally-mandated job).

And for those keen observers of The Process — present company included — it is the one week where we might reasonably expect to catch our collective breaths.

That is unless something interesting pops up during the week — which, undoubtedly, it will.

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DONALD TRUMP’S JOB APPROVAL STANDS AT JUST 44 PERCENT AS PARTISAN SPLITS REIGN via Carrie Dann of NBC News – A new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal: 44 percent approve of the job he’s doing, 48 percent disapprove … Trump begins his tenure in a dramatically less popular position than any of his predecessors. He is the only president in the history of modern polling to begin his first term with a net negative approval rating — and it’s not close. Compared to Trump’s net negative rating of -4 percent, Barack Obama began his presidency with a net positive 34 percent; George W. Bush and Bill Clinton enjoyed a similar advantage, and George H.W. Bush‘s score of popular goodwill pushed even higher to a net positive of 45 percent.

AFTER TRUMP’S IMMIGRATION ORDER, ANXIETY GROWS IN FLORIDA’S FARM FIELDS via Robert Samuels of The Washington Post – As Trump moves to turn the full force of the federal government toward deporting undocumented immigrants, a newfound fear of the future has already cast a pall over the tomato farms and strawberry fields in the largely undocumented migrant communities east of Tampa. Any day could be when deportations ramp up; that, to them, seemed certain. No one knew when or where. And so the community here is in a state of suspension. Children have stopped playing in parks and the streets and businesses have grown quieter, as many have receded into the background, where they feel safe. “It’s all gringos here,” said Maria Pimentel, owner of the community staple Taqueria El Sol, who said she had never heard so much English in her restaurant in her life. Business had plummeted, she said, because her Spanish-speaking customers were “scared to come out of their house.”

MUST-READ: HERE’S WHY IT’S SO DIFFICULT TO BE A SYRIAN REFUGEE IN SOUTH FLORIDA via Patricia Mazzei, Nicholas Nehamas and Kara Dapena of the Miami Herald – The number of Syrian refugees coming to Florida has spiked in recent years, as the U.S. has started to accept more people escaping the war-torn Middle Eastern nation. But resettling these newest immigrants has proven challenging for aid agencies, charities and volunteers who help the new arrivals. Syrians don’t have a large community of their countrymen awaiting them — or many Arabic speakers with whom they can communicate. “Life without language is very hard,” Kamar Byrkdar, a 27-year-old Syrian refugee who arrived in Broward County five months ago with her husband and two children, said through an interpreter. “We want to be able to improve our English so that we’re able to stand on our own two feet.” … it took three months, Byrkdar said, for anyone to show them how to enroll their kids in school. She and her husband didn’t know how to buy bus fare, much less how to navigate routes. Byrkdar learned where she could sign up for English classes only three weeks ago. Her children remain anxious around the police, whom they associate with war.

ANOTHER MUST-READ FROM THE HERALD: SLAIN SEAL’S DAD WANTS ANSWERS: ‘DON’T HIDE BEHIND MY SON’S DEATH’ via Julie Brown of the Miami Herald – When they brought William “Ryan” Owens home, the Navy SEAL was carried from a C-17 military plane in a flag-draped casket, onto the tarmac at Dover Air Force Base, as President Trump, his daughter, Ivanka, and Owens’ family paid their respects. Owens’ father, Bill, had learned only a short time before the ceremony that Trump was coming … “I’m sorry, I don’t want to see him,’’ Owens recalled telling the chaplain who informed him that Trump was on his way from Washington. “I told them I don’t want to meet the president” … “I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” Owens said. “Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration? Why? For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen — everything was missiles and drones — because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?’’

TRUMP TALKS OBAMACARE OVER LUNCH WITH RICK SCOTT, SCOTT WALKER via Jordan Fabian of The Hill – The trio discussed “how best to solve the problems of ObamaCare, with a special emphasis on the states’ role in health care” … The two governors are in Washington for the National Governors Association winter meeting. The lunch was not listed on Trump’s public schedule and was closed to the press. What to do about Medicaid has emerged as a thorny issue in the debate over ObamaCare repeal.

RICK SCOTT: I’LL HELP TRUMP ON CUBA POLICY via Aidan Quigley of POLITICO Florida – “I’ve been very vocal that Raul Castro does not believe in democracy and freedom and things like that,” Scott said. “I don’t believe it’s good for our country to be coddling a dictator like that. So I’m going to work with the Trump administration on what’s the right policy.” Scott said he was hopeful Trump would soon renegotiate with Cuba and he sounded confident that Trump would make good on his word. However, the Florida governor didn’t want to specify what approach he would advise the Trump administration to take. “My impression is they’re working on what they are going to do, so I don’t want to second-guess what they’re going to do,” he said. “I want to be helpful.”

IT’S OFFICIAL: SCOTT SELECTED AS VICE CHAIR OF RGA via POLITICO Florida – Scott was chosen as the new vice chair of the Republican Governors Association, putting him in line to lead the organization during the crucial 2018 gubernatorial elections. The RGA’s 11-member executive committee voted Friday in Washington, D.C. to name the two-term governor to the post vacated by former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. Scott is now the odds-on favorite to take over the chairmanship from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in 2018, when 36 governor’s mansions around the country are up for grabs.

MARCO RUBIO: I WON’T ATTEND TOWN HALLS FULL OF ‘LIBERAL ACTIVISTS’ via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – The Florida Republican said that the much-ballyhooed events organized last week by Indivisible Miami, a group that opposes Trump, aren’t real forums to exchange ideas. “They are not town halls anymore,” Rubio told WFOR-CBS 4 … “And I wish they were, because I enjoy that process very much, going back to my time as [Florida] speaker of the House.” Indivisible Miami put together several “empty-chair” town halls for Rubio’s constituents last week. The senator was never expected to show up. “These are real people. They are real liberal activists, and I respect their right to do it,” Rubio said of the crowds who showed up to last week’s events, estimating that “80-90 percent” were liberal activists. “But it is not a productive exercise. It’s all designed to have news coverage at night.”

PROTESTERS: CONGRESSMAN BLEW RED LIGHT TO AVOID US via the Tallahassee Democrat – A video has surfaced that protesters say show Congressman Neal Dunn … ran a red light Thursday to avoid talking to them about health care. About 60 constituents had gathered outside of Dunn’s Tallahassee office seeking a meeting. Dunn declined an opportunity to talk to the group and instead left the office through an underground garage. Michael Nair-Collins, a professor at the Florida State University College of Medicine, and others ran to the garage to catch Dunn. They told the Democrat he left with an aide in the Chevy Tahoe caught on video.

BRIAN MAST GETS EARFUL AS HUNDREDS PACK TOWN HALL MEETING IN FORT PIERCE via Wayne Washington of the Palm Beach Post – Mast, a double amputee Army veteran … held the meeting to address the concerns of military veterans, but he got an earful on a host of other issues, particularly the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Most of those in the audience seemed intent on tearing into Mast, though the congressman had plenty of supporters among the nearly 500 people who showed up. Unlike some in his party who returned to their districts, Mast did not cancel the town hall meeting, nor did he lose his temper as angry audience members booed some of his answers or shouted at him in fury.

POTENTIAL GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES LAY OUT AGENDAS IN ORLANDO via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – … occasionally sparring over education and economic development agencies. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and House Speaker Richard Corcoran all outlined potential platforms in speeches to the Central Florida Urban League. Gillum … spoke at length about the importance of education, drawing on childhood memories of his grandmother telling him to go to school, pay attention, “and one day bring that education home” for the good of his family and community. Corcoran spoke at length about his “battle with the governor” over the Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida development agencies, a priority for Rick Scott. By contrast, Levine, a cruise industry entrepreneur, praised the importance of Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida for the power they have to attract businesses and tourists to the state.

LISA EDGAR STEPS DOWN FROM STATE PARKS POST via Florida Politics – Edgar notified Gary Clark, the Department of Environmental Protection’s deputy secretary for land and recreation … “Gary. Thank you for the opportunity to work for you and the Florida Park Service. It has been an honor. Unfortunately, an immediate family emergency requires my full attention. As such, I regretfully must resign at this time,” Edgar wrote. Edgar, a three-term member of the state’s Public Service Commission, previously was deputy secretary of DEP. She decided not to seek another term on the PSC and was replaced by water use engineer Donald Polmann of Dunedin.

RICHARD CORCORAN SAYS PHILOSOPHY, FACTS DRIVE HIS EFI, VISIT FLORIDA AXE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – “I’m telling you we’re right. We’re absolutely right,” Corcoran declared in a speech before the Central Florida Urban League. Corcoran described Enterprise Florida as an organization that serves the top 1 percent of companies and most of them did not deliver and belittled VISIT Florida for paying for Pitbull‘s video that he said essentially declared, “Come to Florida and have sex … Here is what we know about VISIT Florida and Enterprise Florida. First, Enterprise Florida and VISIT Florida didn’t exist in this state until the mid-90s. Guess what we had before that? I’m going to shock you. We had visitors. I’m going to shock you. We had businesses that came to this state.” He said he was not offended by Pitbull’s video, saying he went to the University of Florida for three years, “all of them freshmen … That’s not offensive to me. But it’s the philosophy behind that,” he added. “And all of that money that goes to those things that are gratuitous waste of money, is money that could go to education, that could go to infrastructure, or creating a fair and equitable tax structure.”

SENATE COULD VOTE ON HIGHER ED REFORMS DURING FIRST WEEK OF 2017 SESSION via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – The higher education package — formerly two bills now blended into one (SB 2) — includes a variety of reforms intended to elevate Florida’s State University System and its state colleges to a more competitive level, nationally and internationally. “We should be at the very top of our game in our state university and college system,” said Bradenton Republican Sen. Bill Galvano, the higher ed budget chairman who spearheaded the legislation. “We should raise expectations, and that’s what we’re doing.” SB 2 — dubbed the “Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2017” — advanced unanimously out of the Senate’s full budget committee with some additional revisions … the bill will be among the first considered by the chamber during the first week of session next month.

ANITERE FLORES WANTS TO REPLACE ONE TAX CUT WITH ANOTHER via Florida Politics –Flores, the Senate President pro Tempore, said she was filing legislation (SB 378) to swap the insurance break for a 2 percent reduction in the state’s communications services tax (CST). The proposal is a priority of Senate President Joe Negron …  The move also aligns with Gov. Scott‘s and the Florida House’s appetite for continued tax relief. Flores’ proposal “could provide $300 million in recurring tax relief for families and businesses” … “Florida’s CST is one of the highest in the nation,” said Flores. “In 2015, we made great progress by permanently reducing Florida’s CST by 1.73 percent. This year, we can reduce this burdensome tax even further and provide additional monthly savings to every Floridian with a cellphone or cable or satellite TV.”

BOB CORTES, EX-TOWING COMPANY OWNER, PUSHES BILL TO HELP TOWING COMPANIES via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – Cortes … said he doesn’t believe it’s a conflict of interest for him to sponsor HB 193 because he sold Cortes Towing Service last year. Yet, he still owns the property used by the company and receives rent from it. He also is a consultant for the company. “I’m no longer in the business of towing; I sold it last year,” Cortes said. Ben Wilcox, executive director of Integrity Florida, a Tallahassee-based ethics watchdog group, said the situation seems like a conflict, but under the letter of the law there is none because the bill doesn’t specifically benefit Cortes or his old company. The bill would nullify local governments’ fees, fines and penalties imposed on vehicle owners when tow truck companies haul away vehicles in relation to various infractions. In Winter Springs, for instance, the city issues a $550 fee on owners of vehicles impounded after they’ve been cited for 12 offenses ranging from prostitution to littering, but the fee can be reduced to $250 if owners waive their right to a hearing.

INSIDE ABC CEO’S STRATEGY FOR DEFEATING BOOZE IN GROCERY STORES via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal – Charles Bailes III is the CEO of Florida-based ABC Fine Wine & Spirits … His strategy for beating the so-called “whiskey to Wheaties” bill is a bit different: appeal to the heartstrings of moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas. “I’ve been in the business for 41 years and we work really, really hard to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors,” Bailes said. Bailes points to a trove of articles he’s compiled into a well-cited document. A news report in the Oregonian blames Washington’s privatization on a spike in booster-related liquor sales, where professional shoplifters walk off with sometimes thousands of dollars’ worth of booze and sell it to others. “When I hear these arguments about grocery stores being well-trained in spotting theft, I would say they haven’t read these articles,” Bailes said.

REALTORS AND BUILDERS HAVE BUSY AGENDAS FOR LEGISLATIVE SESSION via Clifford Davis of the Jacksonville Financial News & Daily Record – Realtors and homebuilder associations are busy laying the foundation for the agendas they’ll promote. The chief concerns in the state’s real estate and construction industries focus on taxes, workforce and regulations. “Workers’ Comp. Workers’ Comp. Workers’ Comp,” said Douglas Buck, the director of governmental affairs for the Florida Home Builders Association. “Any insurance rate increases are a real, direct cost to everyone.” Since 2003, the construction industry has seen its workers’ compensation rates trend downward after the Legislature passed a bill to base lawyer fees in cases on the amount of the defendant’s award. But that changed after an April ruling by the Florida Supreme Court that awarded attorneys an hourly rate for their work.

WORKERS’ COMP JUDGE TOSSED FROM CASE OVER COMMENT CAUGHT ON OPEN MICROPHONE via Michael Moline of Florida Politics –Following a lengthy video teleconference hearing, the 1st District Court of Appeal said in its ruling, Judge Edward Almeyda turned to someone off camera and said, “Was I nice and sweet and patient to let the attorney talk on and on and on ad nauseam?” The attorney overheard the remark and sought to have the judge disqualified. In an unsigned opinion, the court said the motion was “legally insufficient” because the judge “did not specifically single out petitioner’s attorney as the loquacious one.” However, the court pulled the judge from the case anyway, based on an objection the Office of Judge of Compensation Claims filed refuting the motion “by asserting — without any record support — that JCC ‘did not interrupt or raise his voice to counsel’ and that he ‘allowed both sides to fully make their arguments, resulting in what would normally be a five to 10-minute hearing lasting over an hour.”

PRIVATE PRISON DEPRIVED INMATES OF HEAT AND HOT WATER FOR MONTHS, DAVID RICHARDSON FINDS via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The 284 women housed in C-dorm at Gadsden Correctional Facility lived for months without hot water or heat, faced flooded bathrooms daily and endured water rations when the septic tanks were jammed with food waste. After state Rep. Richardson demanded action following a series of surprise visits over the past 18 months, the private prison operator that runs the facility — Management Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah — received approval from the state to repair and replace the water heater, at a cost to taxpayers of nearly $10,000. But Warden Shelly Sonberg never authorized the work. Richardson … announced another inspection this month, this time with Chad Poppell, the head of the Department of Management Services, the state agency that oversees private prisons, and two other state legislators. In the two days before they arrived, four work crews descended on the prison and made many of the repairs.

CHILD ABUSE DEATH REVIEW COMMITTEE TO EXAMINE FATALITY EMERGENCY CALLS via Les Neuhaus of Florida Politics – A total of 931 combined child deaths were reported in Florida in both 2015 and 2016, according to the state’s Child Abuse Death Review Committee (CADR), which met in Tampa to discuss the issue. Broken down, 474 of those reviewable fatalities were in 2015, with another 457 reviewable notifications made in 2016. More than 200 of those are still open cases — 29 from 2015 and 175 from 2016, per graphs compiled in documents by the committee … Among the 20 circuit districts the judicial courts and the Department of Children and Families (DCF) offices fall under across the Sunshine State, only three had completed, and closed, all of their investigations in 2015:  Circuits 3, 7 and 18. One, Miami’s 16th Circuit Court, had not completed or closed a single investigation into the deaths of minors, as said in a CADR review.

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— REGIONAL READS —

LENNY CURRY BACKS ENTERPRISE FLORIDA via Florida Politics — Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said Friday that while he recognized that “reforms” of Enterprise Florida were being discussed in Tallahassee, state economic incentives have been good for the city. “We use incentives — local incentives and state incentives through Enterprise Florida — and we use them successfully … Without the state funding, we would have had trouble closing some of the big deals that we closed … We use our tax dollars in a way that’s responsible to taxpayers, and we’ve been able to use the state incentives the same way. I hope they can figure out a way to continue to give us the opportunity to have access to state incentives.”

AFTER LIFE ON ORLANDO STREETS, ALOMA CHARTER HIGH GIVES TEEN RENEWED FOCUS via Larry Griffin of Florida Politics – Six months ago, 18-year-old Joseph Tello was homeless and living without much thought or hope for his future. But after finally finding a friend willing to provide him a stable residence and being referred to Aloma Charter High School, his hope is being restored and he is getting back on track to earning a high school diploma and accomplishing aspirations of going on to college. “I would talk to people about my life, and they’d try to provide help,” Tello said. “Someone took me in and gave me shelter, they care about my education and goals.” Aloma High is helping him out in ways his previous schools just couldn’t— a more personal style which suits him. Traditional high school, by contrast (and design), could not accommodate the pressure and stress of Tello’s home life the way Aloma High does. “At Aloma, everyone helps you plan to get somewhere with your education. It’s changed my view on charter schools.”

THE GRIMM TRUTH ABOUT ALBERTO CARVALHO’S ASSAULT ON WLRN via Florence Snyder of Florida Politics – Friends of the First Amendment have their hands full with the War in the White House Pressroom. That may explain why Miami Dade School Superintendent Alberto (Rico Suave) Carvalho thought his attempted hostile takeover of the highly respected and ferociously independent WLRN newsroom might pass unnoticed. Thankfully, fans of the free press have taken notice, and are rallying to the support of the high-quality journalism this public radio station produces with a small staff and a tight budget. The Miami Herald’s veteran columnist, Fred Grimm, explains that “Reporters who’ve dealt with the notoriously prickly Miami-Dade School District … [learned] Carvalho and company can hardly abide critical stories [such as the recent] series of stories exploring problems with the school district’s alternative school for suspended students.”

FROM THE SHADOW OF PILL MILLS, A NEW DRUG CRISIS EMERGES IN TAMPA BAY via John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times – We are six years past the peak of the pill mill epidemic, and Pinellas County is going through another killer drug crisis. The statistics are still preliminary but the number of fatal overdoses in Pinellas jumped at least 53 percent from 2015 to 2016. There were 274 confirmed overdoses and, with seven cases still pending, the final tally could eclipse the 280 deaths in 2010 when oxycodone abuse was rampant. This time around, it is being driven by a combination of heroin and fentanyl. The potency is higher and the cost cheaper, and so the results are tragically familiar. “It astonishes me that people are shocked by this,” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. “We cannot, and we will never, solve this problem at the law enforcement level. This needs to be treated as an addiction problem, a mental health problem. We may have had great success beating back the pill mills, but all that meant is we were going to see a switch to different drugs and different dealers.”

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SENATOR SEEKS PROBE INTO WHETHER LOBBYIST LISA MILLER POSED AS ‘CONCERNED CITIZEN’ DURING CALL via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – Sen. Kevin Rader is asking Gov. Scott to investigate whether Tallahassee lobbyist Lisa Miller posed as a “concerned citizen” to mislead participants in a conference call with a company that rates Florida insurers. “I know you understand that matters such as these must be completely in the sunshine and all principals must play by the rules. This is crucial to the integrity and transparency of the insurance market,” Rader wrote in a letter … “The citizens of our state have had a difficult time with their insurance matters over the last decade and they deserve to have a full accounting of this incident. We are talking about peoples’ homes, and it is absolutely critical to get to the bottom of this. Insurers and their rating companies must play by the rules and not orchestrate false or misleading presentations with impersonations of ‘concerned citizens’ intended to deceive government officials and the public.” Miller denied posing as someone named Mary Beth Wilson to praise Ohio-based Demotech Inc. during the call Feb. 10.

PERSONNEL NOTE: SUSKEY CONSULTING HIRES ROB FIELDS FOR GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS VP – Fields joins Suskey as a Florida government veteran with over 20 years of public and private sector experience. He most recently served as a government affairs consultant representing Fortune 500 and other various technology companies before the Legislature and various Florida agencies. Fields served as the Chief Information Officer of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which has primary responsibility for the state’s Medicaid program, the licensure of 48,000 health care facilities, and sharing health care data. Fields then became Chief Information Officer with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles where he oversaw technology operations for the Florida Highway Patrol and the State Driver’s License and Motor Vehicle Registration divisions.

WHERE GEEK MEETS GAIT: ALL CALL FOR LOBBYISTS WITH FITBITS – Sachs Media Group is looking for volunteers who wear Fitbits to participate in a “steps in the day of a Florida lobbyist” data collection project during a typical week of session. Results will be featured in the “Geek Out” section in Sixty Days. For more details, email karen@sachsmedia.com by Friday.

TRIPADVISOR: 7 OF TOP 10 BEACHES ARE IN FLORIDA via The Associated Press – The sand at Siesta Key outside Sarasota was the best rated beach in the nation. St. Pete Beach was No. 3, followed by Clearwater Beach and Panama City Beach. Hollywood’s beach in South Florida was ranked sixth, followed by Pensacola Beach and St. Augustine Beach near Jacksonville. TripAdvisor says the rankings were based on the number and quality of the traveler reviews written on its website.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Joel Brown, Ballard Partners’ Ana Cruz, POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon, former Rep. Jerry Paul, Samantha Jane Sachs, editor of Capitol Soup, and U.S. Rep. Darren Soto. Celebrating today is our very own Logan McFaddin, Mitch Perry, Rep. Kathleen Peters, Kathleen Haughney Rohrer,

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.

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