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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 5.16.17

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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.

Good morning, especially to the lobbyists: At 11:59 last night was the deadline to submit 1st quarter compensation.

The latest reports, covering January-March, will capture roughly the first half of the 2017 Legislative Session. Many firms have already turned in theirs, and are posted on the state’s Florida Lobbyist website.

State law requires lobbying firms to report revenue, but it only requires them to do so in general ranges, not in precise amounts. Here’s a smattering:

Capital City Consulting posted $1 million in revenue, helped by a number of big ticket clients, including the Everglades Foundation ($30,000-$39,999), and insurers CIGNA ($20,000-$29,999) and Aetna ($40,000-$49,999).

Also reporting $1 million was lobbyist Brian Ballard’s Ballard Partners. Clients Tampa General Hospital, Uber, and slot machine manufacturer International Game Technology each helped move the needle at $40,000-$49,999 each.

Democratic operative Steve Schale’s Schale Communications put up $50,000 to $99,999 in total compensation, in part from clients AT&T, Mosaic Fertilizer and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, each at $10,000-$19,999.

At the opposite end of the lobbying pay scale was Capitol mainstay Barbara DeVane, longtime lobbyist for the Florida National Organization for Women. Her sole client paid somewhere between $1-$9,999, her report shows.

And veteran progressive influencer Karen Woodall reported $1-$9,999 each for the Florida Center for Fiscal & Economic Policy and Southern Poverty Law Center.

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— RICK SCOTT’S C.O.S. EXITS —

“Kim McDougal to depart as Rick Scott’s chief of staff” via Florida PoliticsMcDougal is leaving as Gov. Scott’s chief of staff effective July 1, according to a Monday press release. McDougal, who’s been in the position since April 2016, “will be pursuing opportunities in the private sector,” the release said. “Over the last year, Florida had its fair share of tragic events including two hurricanes, the terrorist attack at Pulse Nightclub, and the shooting at Ft. Lauderdale Airport,” Scott said in a statement. “During these tough events, Kim has led my team through crisis and helped ensure we did all we could to help Florida families during these dark hours” … McDougal was Scott’s fifth chief of staff since his 2010 election, following, in order: Mike Prendergast, Steve MacNamara, Adam Hollingsworth, and Melissa Sellers (now Stone).

— Flashback from Florida Politics in March 2016: “Capitol veteran Kim McDougal selected as Rick Scott’s next chief of staff.”

— Tweet, tweet: @MDixon55: And the EOG’s transformation into a total campaign arm is complete.

— The announcement about McDougal’s departure caught many lobbyists and lawmakers off guard, especially coming so soon after the end of the 2017 Legislative Session. “I wasn’t aware that she was going to make this departure. I’m disappointed that she is,” Sen. Bill Galvano told The News Service of Florida.

— Neither Scott nor McDougal gave any indication she is leaving because of the Governor’s legislative problems this Session.

I think Brian Ballard is wrong when he argues  there wasn’t ‘much a staff person could have done’ to deal with Scott’s issues vis-a-vis the House; didn’t Scott and McDougal turn down a blockbuster deal (offered by Carlos Trujillo) that would  have given the Governor a much betterresult than the one he ended Session with? McDougal’s job is to convince Scott to take that deal.

What does it say about the vaunted Florida Capitol Press Corps that no outlet, including this one, had an advance warning about Mcdougall’s departure? Some suggest the Scott administration’s aversion to the media is the reason the press knows so little about the Governor’s thinking and way of doing business, but Donald Trump isn’t very fond of the D.C. media and it seems like every day there is a tick-tock process story offering insight into how The White House operates. There’s very little of that kind of reporting in Tallahassee.

The question now for McDougal is Ballard Partners or Southern Strategy Group?

Brian Burgess of The Capitolist writes that Jackie Schultz is in line to succeed Mcdougall. But that could also be a case of Burgess doing a big favor for one of his key sources. Not that it matters; the people in charge of Rick Scott’s administration will continue to be political consultant Curt Anderson of On Message and Melissa Stone, his former Chief of Staff.

— CAPITOL INSIGHT —

In feud with House over tourism money, Rick Scott hints at big education vetoes” via Marc Caputo and Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida – Scott dropped his strongest hint yet that he would veto a controversial education budget bill — and perhaps additional K-12 spending — because he doesn’t like how the GOP-led Legislature funded schools and tourism marketing. “This budget was done in secret. … I didn’t get to see anything until the end,” Scott said, noting he could veto the entire budget or parts of it as well as specialty types of legislation called “conforming bills.” As a likely candidate for U.S. Senate next year, Scott has used the fight over tourism marketing to campaign across the state, raise his profile and bash the “politicians in Tallahassee” — fellow Republicans, including House Speaker Corcoran — whom he labels job-killers for underfunding the Visit Florida agency. But if Scott wants to force Corcoran and the Legislature to the table to negotiate, he can’t veto the section of the budget that funds Visit Florida because then it would remain un-funded. Instead, Scott might veto education items that are chief priorities for Corcoran, who might run to succeed Scott in 2018, and force the Legislature to reconvene in a special session.

Jack Latvala was by Scott’s side when he made these comments via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – … “Wasn’t my call, or we’d still be sitting in Tallahassee today,” Latvala said. “I’m hopeful that the governor will exercise his prerogative, will call us back to Tallahassee and will make us do the right thing for economic development in Florida and for education in Florida.”

— What the Gov’s office is reading:As legislators cut job incentives, Tampa leaders fight perception Florida’s closed for business” via Robert Trigaux of the Tampa Bay Times

“Florida Family Action to followers: Tell Scott to veto ‘whiskey & Wheaties’ ” via Florida Politics – The group “is a cultural action organization that is a completely separate sister organization of the Florida Family Policy Council,” led by conservative morals activist John Stemberger of Orlando. It sent a ‘call to action’ email Monday, saying in part that the measure “would increase access to hard liquor which is likely to increase consumption, especially by alcoholics, teenagers, and others at-risk” and “hard liquor should not be sold on the shelves of ‘family-friendly’ stores,” such as Wal-Mart and Target. At last count, there were 2,572 emails, 173 phone calls and nine letters opposed to the bill. The legislation would allow retailers to remove the ‘wall of separation’ between hard liquor and other goods. Opponents—including independent liquor stores—are calling the proposal a job-killer and asking Scott to veto it. The governor has till May 24 to sign the bill into law, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature. His office has said Scott will “review” the legislation.

Assignment editors – Gov. Scott will attend the ribbon cutting of Anheuser-Busch’s expanded Metal Container Corporation manufacturing facility in Jacksonville. Event begins 10:15 a.m. at Anheuser-Busch, 1100 Ellis Road North in Jacksonville.

State, districts look to scuttle ‘opt out’ case” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The State Department of Education and school districts are asking the Florida Supreme Court to reject an appeal in a case filed by parents opposed to standardized tests — an issue that involves what is known as the “opt out” movement … The dispute stems from parents who told third-grade students to put their names on a standardized test, then refuse to answer questions. A Leon County circuit judge issued a decision last year that seemed to support the “opt out” movement. But the 1st District Court of Appeal in March overturned that decision, prompting the parents to take the case to the Supreme Court. They argued, at least in part, that lawsuits should have been filed against the school boards in their home counties, rather than in Leon County. But in a brief filed last month, an attorney for the parents pointed to the statewide issues involved and said litigating the issues in different counties would “create judicial chaos because, in this case, no less than six separate trial court jurisdictions and three district courts will be required to adjudicate claims that share identical issues of law.”

Richard Corcoran: Federal government needs to act now; mosquito season is here” via Florida Politics – As we enter into the warm summer months, the threat of another outbreak is looming. That is why I have and will continue to urge the federal government to quickly authorize new strategies that can be used to both curb the spread of the virus and prevent additional outbreaks. I believe we should be taking a multi-faceted approach to put an end to the threat of Zika. This must include spraying programs, education awareness efforts, and the search for a vaccine. But more importantly, we must also look at new and science-based solutions that can control the growing population of disease-carrying mosquitoes in Florida. One example of the technology I’ve advocated for is the Oxitec genetically engineered Aedes aegypti mosquito. When it is released into the wild, it doesn’t bite, it doesn’t transmit disease, but does transmit a self-limiting gene that makes its offspring die before reaching adulthood. This technology is being used successfully in some countries already. If we had it available in the U.S., many expectant mothers might have one less thing to be anxious about.

Not sure what this is all about:

Assignment editors – Lake Worth Democrat Sen. Jeff Clemens will give a speech to the the Rusty Gordon LGBTA Democratic Caucus of Palm Beach County. Event begins 6:45 p.m. at the Compass GLCC, 201 North Dixie Highway in Lake Worth.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Ron DeSantis for Governor? Don’t rule it out” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – Sources very familiar with the thinking of DeSantis note that he is looking at a run for the state’s top job, with a decision to be made late in the summer. Were he to run, he would be a very serious candidate for the job — posing an existential threat to Putnam, as DeSantis could very quickly own the space to Putnam’s right. DeSantis, who was far and away the strongest fundraiser in the GOP primary race for Senate in 2016 (ended when Marco Rubio decided to run for re-election), has some advantages that others lack. Among them: name identification, as Team DeSantis asserts that the nationally-known Northeast Florida congressman has better name id than either Speaker Corcoran or Sen. Latvala. As well, DeSantis has $3M at his disposal already; were he to enter the race, that war chest would grow quickly. However, no decision is imminent — yet.

Spotted: Tallahassee Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, in a New York Times story on “Young Black Democrats, Eager to Lead.” Gillum, the story says, “has offered himself as a candidate of the left.”

Assignment editors – Adam Putnam will host an “Up & Adam” Breakfast for supporters from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at Wilke’s 14 Bones BBQ, 1500 US-1 In Vero Beach. RSVP here: bit.ly/PutnamVeroMay16. Later, Putnam will hold a meet-and-greet from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Eastmonte Civic Center, 830 Magnolia Dr. in Altamonte Springs. RSVP here:  bit.ly/PutnamORLMay16.

675 miles and counting: Adam Putnam bus tour highlights – Putnam kicked off week two of a 10-day, 22-city bus tour through Florida with an “Up & Adam” breakfast in Riviera Beach … Putnam hit the road to visit grassroots supporters, small businesses, veterans, and first responders throughout Florida and to learn about the opportunities and challenges that they face. Putnam has already covered 675 miles from Polk County to Tampa Bay to Southwest Florida and then the Heartland.

Putnam-linked committee takes in $235K in first five days of May” –  Florida Grown  brought in at least $235,000 In the first five days of May, according to the committee’s website. Before that, the committee had nearly $8.24 million on hand. Contributions in May include $100,000 from A. Duda & Sons, Inc. of Oviedo, and $50,000 from a committee supporting the phosphate industry. Remaining May fundraising will be reported to the state in June. Putnam opened his personal campaign account May 1.

“Matt Caldwell makes it official ” via Florida PoliticsState Rep. Caldwell formally announced his candidacy for Agriculture Commissioner in an event that was livestreamed on his Facebook page. “I’m thrilled to kick off my campaign with all of you in my hometown,” he told the crowd at Sun Harvest Citrus in Fort Myers … The Republican Caldwell burnished his conservative bona fides, which he said “puts a bull’s eye on your back every single day,” mentioning his support of term limits, tax cuts, but also “the needs of our environment and our farmers.” He also talked about the importance of gun rights and Cabinet duties: The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services oversees the issuance of concealed weapon licenses, and the commissioner sits on the Florida Cabinet with the state’s governor, attorney general and CFO. “With your help, and God’s blessing, we will come out ahead next year,” Caldwell said.

— STATEWIDE —

Tourists still coming to Florida in record numbers” via The Associated Press – Gov. Scott …  [announced] 31.1 million people visited the state during the first three months of the year. That’s a 2.5 percent jump over the same time period in 2016. Nearly 113 million tourists – most of them from the U.S. – visited last year. Scott, however, will warn that potential cuts to Florida’s tourism marketing agency could doom continued growth. State legislators recently voted to cut funding to Visit Florida by 67 percent.

— Airbnb Florida director Tom Martinelli was one of the first to congratulate Gov. Scott on yet another record-breaking quarter for Florida’s tourism industry: “On behalf of Airbnb Florida and our 35,000 Florida hosts, we congratulate Governor Scott and the Visit Florida team for infusing economic development and jobs through increased tourism. We are so proud to have contributed to this progress, having welcomed a record-setting 657,000 guests in Q1 via our home sharing platform, representing 69% growth over Q1 2016. Governor Scott has our commitment that we will continue doing our part to grow the pie and help elevate Florida’s brand as a global, family-friendly tourism destination.”

“DOH orders sales stopped on cannabis product” via the Associated Press – The Department of Health on Monday ordered a Quincy-based dispensary to quit selling a medical cannabis product that could potentially be broken down and made into pot that can be smoked. Trulieve began selling its first whole-flower cannabis product meant for vaping last week at five retail dispensaries and through home delivery. The buds in the Entourage Multi Indica vaporizer cup, however, could also be used in joints, pipes or bongs. The Department of Health authorized Trulieve to sell sealed vaporizer cups containing marijuana. However, Office of Compassionate Use Director Christian Bax said in a cease and desist letter to Trulieve that the mesh caps can be removed with minimal effort and cannot be reattached.

Trulieve’s Kim Rivers: “We were surprised by the letter, but are immediately and completely complying with the department’s wishes while evaluating our options.”

How religious mania changed the Corrine Brown jury” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – Speculation about what a discharged juror (“Juror 13”) said in a closed-court session in the trial of Brown can now end, as a transcript of the session was released … Juror 8, the juror who complained about the comments — relating that the discharged juror spoke of “higher beings” saying that Brown was guilty — kicked off proceedings in closed court by registering concerns. The discharged juror had made such comments on the first day of deliberations and did not reiterate such comments … However, “Some of the jurors are concerned that that’s affecting his — his decision,” Juror 8 said. The discharged juror, for his part, didn’t reassure the feds: “I told them that in all of this, in listening to all the information, taking it all down, I listen for the truth, and I know the truth when the truth is spoken. So I expressed that to them, and how I came to that conclusion … I told — I told them that — that I prayed about this, I have looked at the information, and that I received information as to what I was told to do in relation to what I heard here today — or this past two weeks.” The juror’s tipster? “My Father in Heaven.”

Pam Bondi to convene human trafficking council in Tampa – The AG announced she will call a meeting of the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking on Tuesday (May 16) at 1:00 p.m. Bondi chairs the 15-member council that “builds on existing state and local partnerships working to make Florida a zero-tolerance state for human trafficking,” a release said. The meeting will be held at the Tampa Law Center of the Stetson University College of Law, 1700 North Tampa St. in Tampa.

Watchdogs critique Constitution Revision Commission’s proposed rules” via Florida Politics — Proposed rules for the Constitution Revision Commission could let members deliberate in secret, limit public participation, bottle up ideas in committee, or bog down debating proposals with little support, government watchdog groups warned Monday. Sixteen organizations, including the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, Florida Consumer Action Network, and unions, including Florida AFL-CIO, critiqued the proposed rules in a letter to the commission’s rules committee. “Transparency and a clear set of ground rules are essential to the credibility of the CRC. As members of the Rules Working Group, you have an opportunity to enhance public confidence in the work of the CRC,” the organizations wrote. They warned of “the potential for leverage and influence over commission members” and an “unclear track for approval of proposals.”

***Capital City Consulting, LLC is a full-service government and public affairs firm located in Tallahassee, Florida. At Capital City Consulting, our team of professionals specialize in developing unique government relations and public affairs strategies and delivering unrivaled results for our clients before the Florida Legislature and Executive Branch Agencies. Capital City Consulting has the experience, contacts and winning strategies to help our clients stand out in the capital city. Learn more at www.capcityconsult.com.***

With the All Aboard Florida lawsuit dismissed, what’s next for the Treasure Coast?” via Lisa Broadt of TCPalm – A major chapter in the Treasure Coast’s fight against All Aboard Florida ended when a U.S. District Court judge dismissed the legal challenges to the passenger railroad filed by Martin and Indian River counties more than two years ago. All Aboard Florida praised Judge Christopher Cooper’s decision as a “thoughtful review” of the law, and emphasized it still fully intends to run passenger rail between West Palm Beach and Orlando. But Martin and Indian River counties had a very different take on the court decision. Having the case dismissed is, in fact, a definitive victory in preventing Brightline service through the Treasure Coast, according to county officials and attorneys. Steven Ryan, Martin County’s outside legal counsel, said the counties’ cases were dismissed because All Aboard Florida’s financing plan changed, and that change only occurred because of the counties’ efforts. “You have to say we’re winning, because they don’t have the bonds,” Ryan said. “We got exactly what we sought. The case has been an enormous victory for us.”

Assignment editors – The State Board of Education will meet in Miami-Dade County; agenda includes performance-funding reports on Pensacola State College and Polk State College. Meeting begins 9 a.m. at Miami Senior High School, 2450 S.W. First St. In Miami.

— MOVEMENTS — 

“George Sheldon now taken to task by hometown paper” via Florida PoliticsSheldon‘s hometown newspaper now has weighed in on the former Florida politico, putting in newsprint the latest ethics woes of the now-director of Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services. The Tallahassee Democrat, with help from the Chicago Tribune’s estimable reporting of the last few weeks, documented Sheldon’s travails as head of Illinois’ DCFS. The lede, by the nearly 20-year Democrat veteran Jeff Burlew: “George Sheldon, a well-known figure in Florida politics who took over Illinois’ troubled child welfare agency in 2015, is embroiled in ongoing state ethics probes and facing scrutiny over contracts given to past campaign donors and consultants.” Sheldon, a Democrat who lost a challenge to incumbent GOP Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2014, was secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families from 2008-2011 under then-Gov. Charlie Crist.

On this week’s edition of The Rotunda — The wait continues as Gov. Scott reviews the Legislature’s $82.4 billion state spending plan. Despite passing a balanced budget, why is Florida still $9.9 billion in debt? On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, Truth and Accounting, a nonprofit that aims to educate taxpayers on government finances, releases the first analysis of Florida’s latest financial report showing each taxpayer would have to cough up $1,600 to help pay the bills. Gomes interviews Truth in Accounting founder, Sheila Weinberg. Also, what’s next for former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown?

Appointed – Randy Schwartz to the Florida Real Estate Commission. Samuel Garrison to the District Board of Trustees, St. Johns River State College. Dr. Peter A. Wish and John Stafford to the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority. David “Hunt” Hawkins and Thomas “Mac” McGehee to the District Board of Trustees, Florida State College at Jacksonville.

Reappointed – Francisco Pines to the Florida Citrus Commission.

Personnel note: Florida Virtual School gets a new president — The next president of the Florida Virtual School is Jodi Marshall, a veteran academic and administrator. She replaces Ronald Blocker, effective July 1, the school’s board of trustees announced. Marshall joined the school as a 10th grade English teacher in 2002 and rose through the ranks to become executive vice president for business and academic affairs. The state-sponsored school offers online courses to public, private, and homeschool students.

***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***

Spotted at the 21st annual Phil Galvano Classic at the Legacy Golf Club at Lakewood Ranch: Sen. Aaron and Abby BeanLaura Boehmer, Sen. Rob BradleyChana CannonDean and Ellen Cannon, Speaker Richard CorcoranAlex Diaz de la PortillaMarty FiorentinoNichole GarganellaEd HooperRon LaFace, Sen. Jack LatvalaFrank and Tracy Mayernick, President Joe NegronTeye Reeves, Sen. Darryl RousonNancy Texeria and Katie Webb.

Spotted at this past weekend’s Mom 2.0 conference: Salter Mitchell’s Chris Cate, up for an award for his podcast, The Parent Normal.

— TOOT, TOOT —

Extensive Enterprises Media is up for three major journalism honors from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sunshine State Awards.

EEM’s INFLUENCE is among three finalists for best magazine single issue, up against the Sun Sentinel’s City & Shore Magazine, and Mirror Magazine.

Peter Schorsch is a finalist for best blog writing for his “SaintPetersBlog,” along with finalists from the Sun Sentinel’s “The Eat Beat Blog,” and the Tampa Bay Times‘ “The Buzz.”

FloridaPolitics.com’s Scott Powers is a finalist for best blog in-depth writing, along with two entries from Florida Bulldog.

Winners will be announced at a later date.

— ALOE — 

“Anheuser-Busch introduces the Office Bud-e” via Florida Politics – Don’t tell Matt Dixon, but the King of Beers is rolling out what it calls the latest in “bev tech”: a “smart, hassle-free beer refrigerator designed to enhance any office kitchen or common space,” according to a press release. Big Beer keeps rolling after its loss this Legislative Session in trying to get a free beer glass bill passed. Alas, for now, the Bud-e is only available in the Metro New York and Chicago areas. But oh, what a beer cooler it is (holds up to 180 bottles!), running on the ‘internet of things.’ It uses “vending machine-like sensored springs and a simple wi-fi connection to monitor the quantity of beers in stock at any given time.” It’s free to lease, but of course one has to stock it with A-B beers (Stella Artois, anyone?) … Is this available for home offices too?

***Smith, Bryan & Myers is an all-inclusive governmental relations firm located in Tallahassee. For more than three decades, SBM has been working with our clients to deliver their priorities through strategic and effective government relations consulting that has led us to become one of Tallahassee’s premier governmental relations firms today.***

Government scientist from DC wins Miss USA title” via Regina Garcia Cano of The Associated Press – Kara McCullough, a scientist working for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has been crowned Miss USA. McCullough, who represented the District of Columbia in the decades-old pageant, was born in Naples, Italy and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She said she wants to inspire children to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “I love science,” McCullough said after the event. “I look at this as a great opportunity to … get to experience worldwide culture, as well as just having the opportunity to be impacted by so many children, hopefully in the math and sciences.” This year’s top five finalists were asked questions that touched on the pros and cons of social media, women’s rights and issues affecting teenagers. McCullough was asked whether she thinks that affordable health care for all U.S. citizens is a right or a privilege. She said it is a privilege. “As a government employee, I’m granted health care and I see firsthand that for one to have health care, you need to have jobs.”

Marvel Universe LIVE!: Superheroes save the day in new show” via Tamara Lush of The Associated Press – For the first time, fans of Marvel comic book characters can see their favorite superheroes in one place in this live show, which will tour the U.S. and Canada through 2019. This is Feld Entertainment’s first new show since announcing the end of its iconic Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Feld Entertainment, the show’s producer, says audiences will be treated to characters from Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man and the Avengers, as they defend the universe from evil. Among the villains: Nebula, Loki, Yondu and Green Goblin. All of the fan favorites are showcased, too: Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther, Wasp, Hulk and Black Widow. Captain America rides a motorcycle. Note to parents: there will be lots of explosions and grand battles to engage the 3-to-10 age set. “It’s sort of our modern Aesop’s fables. They’re the heroes of our time. Even though they have these unlimited powers, they are always fighting for what’s right and for what’s good,” [show director JamesHadley said. “That’s the message that’s important now. Even when it looks like they’re not going to succeed, they just keep pushing.”

Stone crab rebound continues as catch nears 3 million pounds” via Thomas Becnel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – The end of stone crab season marks the second year of a rebound with a harvest of about 3 million pounds of claws valued at $30 million. “This year, the preliminary data through April was that we’re approaching 2.5 million pounds,” said Ryan Gandy, a research scientist with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission in St. Petersburg. “So, we’re on track for this season to be pretty close to last year.” That estimate surprised Karen Bell at the A.P. Bell Fish Company in Cortez. “I think we had a better year this year,” she said. “This was a good year. It was pretty steady. One of the holidays, we didn’t have much — Christmas or New Year’s, I forget which one.”

Happy birthday to Matthew Ubben and Rick Watson.

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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