Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray, and Jim Rosica.
A REMINDER THAT IT’S APRIL FOOLS’ DAY, so don’t fall for anything stupid. Especially on Twitter.
APRIL FOOLS’ DAY IS A GARBAGE HOLIDAY. HERE IS ITS TERRIBLE HISTORY. via Caitlin Gibson of The Washington Post – How did we get into this mess? We asked Alex Boese, curator of the online Museum of Hoaxes. He says you can blame the Dutch (who first referenced April Fools’ in a 16th-century text) or the French (who overhauled their annual calendar in the 1500s, confusing “fools” who didn’t adapt). Or maybe the U.K., home of the first April Fools’ Day prank on record, or Germany, which popularized fake April Fools’ news stories. And certainly the good ol’ U.S.A. — because who else would be tickled by the idea of renaming a national monument the “Taco Liberty Bell?” … 1698: The washing of the lions at the Tower of London … 1905: The robbery of the U.S. Treasury … 1957: The Swiss spaghetti harvest … 1977: The Republic of San Seriffe … 1984: Resurrecting the woolly mammoth … 1992: Nixon’s new presidential campaign … 1996: The Taco Liberty Bell … 1998: The Boston mayor’s car crash … 2000: Really, Romania? … 2004: The dead Chihuahua.
A JOURNALIST’S QUICK GUIDE TO SURVIVING APRIL FOOLS’ DAY via Kristen Hare of Poynter.org — Here are three quick tips on how to navigate the day: 1. Slow down. People are out to mess with you, perhaps more than on other days. 2. Do not trust college publications. Don’t do it. This is their day. They’re already at it. 3. Maybe don’t participate. Pulling jokes on readers can backfire. Do not mess with your readers tomorrow. On April 3 of 2014, Vincent Duffy wrote for the Radio Television Digital News Association about the perils the day provides for journalists. Lots of fellow journalists pointed out that our most important commodity is our credibility, especially in an age when too many media outlets report first and fact-check later, and some political organizations and activists purposefully spread misinformation through social media. If we want to be trusted, we shouldn’t be in the game of fooling people.
ONE OF THE BEST APRIL FOOLS PRESS RELEASES — “Impact Politics Teams with Bruce Springsteen to form Political Song Consulting Firm.” Read the very clever release here.
APRIL FOOL-ISH — EMAIL SCAM TARGETS LOTTERY PLAYERS via Florida Politics – “The email includes the Florida Lottery logo and uses the Florida Lottery headquarters’ address as part of the letterhead,” the statement said. The scam letter also refers to LinkedIn and Microsoft. “The email states that the recipient has won a prize and should contact the listed ‘Contact Person’ to claim his or her prize,” it says. Once someone reaches the “Contact Person,” scammers then ask for financial information or request that “a tax or fee be paid to claim the prize” … “The Florida Lottery does not contact players to inform them that they have won a prize unless they have entered a promotional game or second chance drawing on the official Florida Lottery website or social media pages,” the agency said.
NOT AN APRIL FOOLS’ DAY STORY — SEMINOLE COUNTY ELECTIONS OFFICIAL SAYS D.C. ORGANIZATION TRIED TO REGISTER DEAD CAT TO VOTE via Melissa Ross of Florida Politics – Pointing out that only live humans can cast ballots, Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Michael Ertel has set up a special website to help voters in Central Florida differentiate among all the election-related mailings they’re getting in this campaign season … the move stems from efforts by the Washington D.C.-based Voter Participation Center to increase voter registration along Florida’s crucial swing I-4 corridor. Ertel said he was sent a tweet about the mailer from a voter who stated the Voter Participation Center tried to register her dead cat to vote. “While some may chuckle at the thought of a dead cat being offered the opportunity to register to vote, this is a serious matter, as it causes many voters to believe our office would send this, as the mailer had the words ‘Government document enclosed. Do not discard.’ on it,” Ertel said.
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WHAT WILL RICK SCOTT VERSION 5.0 LOOK LIKE? Via Gary Fineout of the Fine Print – Another era comes to a close for Scott … Melissa Sellers will give way to Kim McDougal … as McDougal takes on the sometimes overwhelming job as chief of staff for Scott. This much is clear: McDougal and Sellers have different backgrounds, different resumes and different styles. McDougal is a veteran state employee who has spent most of her career focused on education and only recently made a deep dive into the political realm. Because of her lengthy experience the expectation is that McDougal will retain her oversight of education matters for Scott. And that probably means no dramatic swings away from current policies or a need to make any big personnel changes. (Scott has been a pretty firm supporter of Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.)
Word is that after the departures of Sellers and General Counsel Tim Cerio other people working in the governor’s office – including Deputy Chief of Staff (and former Louisiana resident) Frank Collins will remain in their same roles. But the real big question for Capitol insiders – and ultimately Floridians – is whether or not Scott will pivot once again with a new chief of staff in place. Because one of the most interesting aspects of Scott’s five-plus years in office is that he has been willing to alter his style, his interactions and sometimes even his policies based on the input from those closest to him at the time. There are those who speculate that Sellers will remain a trusted voice and may be doing a warmup routine for a potential 2018 U.S. Senate run for Scott … The governor still has a tremendous amount of time left in his second term in office so there’s plenty of time for him to repair relations if he wants to. By tapping McDougal he has found someone who has a good idea about how the capital works – but is less familiar with the political ramifications of every decision that the governor makes.
Scott of course will continue to place a large part of his focus on the state’s economy and job creation since it’s the message that has helped him in two elections (and remains a top concern for most Floridians.) Will the next two and a half years be relatively quiet and will the governor and McDougal have a caretaker attitude, or will there be new initiatives, new promises, and new conflicts with the two incoming legislative leaders?
The next House speaker – Richard Corcoran – has a lengthy list of contentious items he wants to tackle that could prove challenging for Scott. Will Scott – who never had been a politician until running for governor – present Floridians with another version of himself? Or will he stick to what he’s given voters so far?
FLORIDA SUPREME COURT ORDERS ORAL ARGUMENT IN SLOTS CASE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The Florida Supreme Court has set June 7 as the date it will hear oral argument in a case on expanding slot machines in the state … “A maximum of 20 minutes to the side is allowed for the argument,” the entry says. Gretna Racing, the Gadsden County track seeking to add slot machines, brought the matter against state gambling regulators. The track is run by The Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The Creeks argue they should be allowed to offer slot machines because voters approved them in a local referendum in 2012 … A favorable ruling by the court could expand slot machines to all six counties where voters passed slots referendums: Brevard, Gadsden, Hamilton, Lee, Palm Beach and Washington. Opponents, such as No Casinos and former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, have said slots are illegal “lotteries” banned by the state constitution unless expressly permitted by law.
STATE DOESN’T HAVE TO PAY LEGAL FEES FOR BOTCHED CONGRESSIONAL MAP via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – The League of Women Voters … will have to bear their own costs for attorney fees, the Florida Supreme Court ruled … In a 4-3 decision, the court denied the League of Women Voters of Florida’s request to be compensated for years of attorney fees in their effort to uncover evidence that the Florida Legislature had violated the state constitution barring them from drawing congressional districts in a way to benefit incumbents or political parties. The League, which did not identify a specific dollar amount in court documents, argued that not awarding the fees would embolden recalcitrant legislatures to try to run up costs on their opponents to avoid constitutional violations from being uncovered like happened in their case. But justices Jorge Labarga, R. Fred Lewis, Charles T. Canady and Ricky Polston ruled against them. Justices Barbara J. Pariente, Peggy A. Quince, and James E.C. Perry ruled in favor of the League of Women Voters request.
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PLANNED PARENTHOOD CALLS FLORIDA’S LATEST ANTI-ABORTION BILL EXTREMELY DANGEROUS via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Scott signed the omnibus anti-abortion bill HB 1411 Friday, enacting a new law that denies public resources to women’s health clinics that provide abortion services … doesn’t eliminate state funding of abortion, a tactic that’s been illegal for decades. It does, however, now block money for preventive medical care at the same facilities where privately funded abortions occur. The bill also requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. “When abortion is not legally accessible, that’s when it becomes unsafe and in Texas, we’re seeing women induce their own abortion,” says Anna Eskamani, Director of Public Policy and Field Operations for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. Eskamani says that Planned Parenthood currently works with health departments in Orange and Osceola counties to provide about 30 vasectomies annually. In Collier County, it operates a health center with the department of health in Immokalee. “This is a community of great need,” she says. “These are our farmworkers who are working in difficult places and situations trying to make ends meet, and we’re basically telling these women, you have nowhere to go for care.”
RICHARD CORCORAN, WILTON SIMPSON OPPOSE WATER RATE HIKE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Corcoran … slated to become House Speaker after the 2016 elections, and Simpson … who chairs the Community Affairs Committee, wrote a letter to the state’s Public Service Commission … Illinois-based Utilities Inc. had filed a request with the commission to increase its water rate by 33.8 percent in Marion County, 21.8 percent in Pasco County and 2 percent in Seminole County, according to its filing. The utility said it wants to recover lost revenue “due to irrigation customers installing their own wells and discontinuing irrigation service in Pasco County,” recover the cost of replaced lines in Marion County’s Golden Hills subdivision, Summertree “water quality improvements” in Pasco County, and the “Crystal Lake I Ravenna Park interconnection” in Seminole County. Corcoran and Simpson reminded commissioners of the Consumer Water Protection Act, which became law in 2014. “Our constituents had been subjected to multiple rate increases by this monopoly and there were serious issues with the secondary standards of the water coming into their homes,” the letter said. “The taste, color and smell were far from ideal and the prices were high when compared to the neighboring communities and the state average.”
LEGISLATORS EARN “A” ON FLORIDA CHAMBER’S 2016 LEGISLATIVE REPORT CARD via the Bradenton Herald –The Florida Chamber’s 2016 Legislative Report Card announced a list of 31 legislators who earned an “A” in the Tampa Bay area. The list includes Sen. Bill Galvano … Rep. Jim Boyd … and Rep. Greg Steube … the Distinguished Advocate award recognizes lawmakers who fought tirelessly for the passage of pro-business legislation — no matter how difficult — and furthered the Florida Chamber’s goals of securing Florida’s future through job creation and economic development. In total, 30 senators earned an “A,” which the chamber said is up from 20 in 2015; 80 representatives earned an “A” — up from 61 in 2015; and the grade-point average for representatives was 90 percent and 91 percent for senators — up from 83 percent and 89 percent respectively last year.
STATE OF FLORIDA LAUNCHES “HEALTH CARE COMPLAINT PORTAL” via Florida Politics – The Department of Health is providing a “new and improved” health care complaint portal, www.flhealthcomplaint.gov, developed with the Agency for Health Care Administration. “The enhanced portal serves as an example of successful collaboration between the Department and other entities across the state to ensure the safety of Florida’s residents and visitors,” said interim Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Phillip in a statement. The site also offers info “on which state or federal agency to contact for a variety of issues ranging from Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations to independent living facilities,” the news release said.
FLORIDA ZIKA VIRUS UPDATE via FloridaHealth.gov – No new cases reported as of Thursday morning. Of confirmed cases in Florida, three cases still exhibit symptoms. County (number of cases, all travel related): Miami Dade (32), Broward (11), Orange (5), Alachua (4), Osceola (4), Hillsborough (3), Lee (3), Brevard (2), Polk (2) and a single case each in Clay, Collier, Palm Beach, Santa Rosa, Seminole, and St. John’s. There were four cases involving pregnant women. Florida has activated a Zika Virus Information Hotline for current Florida residents and visitors, as well as anyone planning on traveling to Florida in the near future. The hotline, managed by the Department of Health, has assisted 1,237 callers since it launched. The number for the Zika Virus Information Hotline is 1-855-622-6735. According to the CDC, symptoms associated with the Zika virus last between seven to 10 days.
DEP’T OF AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER SERVICES TO ATTEND NATIONAL ZIKA ACTION SUMMIT – Dr. Davis Daiker, Bureau Chief of Scientific Evaluation and Technical Assistance with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, will attend the national Zika Action Plan Summit hosted by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta … The Department is supporting response efforts by: Regularly communicating with local mosquito control districts to discuss mosquito surveillance and control efforts; Providing technical assistance to mosquito control districts and the Department of Health regarding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s arbovirus guidelines; and obtaining and disseminating traps specifically for the Aedes Aegypti mosquito and preparing the Bronson Animal Disease and Diagnostic Laboratory to be able to test mosquito pools for the Zika virus.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: On Sunday, April 3, Congressman Patrick Murphy visits Scripps Florida to meet with local scientists studying the Zika virus. The Jupiter Democrat’s visit follows a recent bipartisan meeting between Murphy and CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat to discuss the federal government’s readiness and response efforts. Murphy also partnered with Florida Republican Congressman Curt Clawson to introduce a legislative package that includes a 10 percent research tax credit for any company developing a vaccine for the Zika virus and a $200 million grant program to fight against mosquito-borne diseases. Event begins 11 a.m. at Scripps Florida, 130 Scripps Way in Jupiter. RSVP with Erin.Moffet@mail.house.gov by noon Saturday.
***LECRAE is heading back to school in 2016. The two-time Grammy® Award-winning hip-hop artist, known for his music message frequently at odds with his hip-hop peers, has fans buzzing with excitement at the announcement that he’ll be hitting the road in February 2016 for his HIGHER LEARNING TOUR including a Friday, April 8 show at Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. Joining Lecrae in Tallahassee will be DJ Promote and Swoope. Tickets are on sale now at TuckerCivicCenter.com!***
UTILITY BACKED SOLAR INITIATIVE APPROVED FOR BALLOT via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – It will appear on the ballot in November’s election as “Amendment 1,” and 60 percent of voters must approve it in order for it to go into effect. Under the proposed amendment — called Consumers for Smart Solar — local and state regulators would maintain control over solar energy. “We are pleased that the Supreme Court will allow the people of Florida to have a voice on our amendment to advance solar energy in the Sunshine State,” Consumers for Smart Solar co-chair Dick Batchelor said in a written statement. “We look forward to making our case to the people of Florida – that we must advance solar energy – and do it the right way – a way that protects all consumers, whether they choose solar or not.”
GOOD PRESS DAY — “Carlos Beruff: A Florida Senate candidate in the mold of Rick Scott” via Andrea Drusch of National Journal; “Carlos Beruff touring the state to rally support for U.S. Senate bid” via Jenna Buzzacco Foerster of Florida Politics.
ALAN GRAYSON ENDORSED BY PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – “As a member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Grayson has stood out as a fiercely independent fighter who can get things done in the face of continued GOP obstruction,” PFAW President Michael Keegan stated in a news release … “He’ll be a strong progressive voice in the U.S. Senate for critical issues like campaign finance reform, protecting Social Security and Medicare, and much more. PFAW is proud to endorse such a progressive champion as Rep. Grayson.” People for the American Way was founded by television producer Norman Lear in 1981 as a progressive advocacy organization balance to rising right-wing conservative groups such as Moral Majority. Grayson cited the organization’s founder when he expressed appreciation for the endorsement.
SARASOTA DEMOCRAT JAN SCHNEIDER AGAIN WEIGHING CONGRESSIONAL BID via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Schneider, 68, has filed paperwork with the state to run against U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan. But Schneider said last week she’s only “laying the groundwork” for a potential run and hasn’t fully committed to the race yet. She has not filed with the Federal Elections Commission. Schneider ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2002, 2004 and 2006. She won the primary in 2002 and 2004 but lost the general election both years to former U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris. Schneider says she knows Buchanan … will be tough to beat as a five-term incumbent but she wants to make sure he doesn’t get a “free ride.” Another Democrat – Lakewood Ranch pilot Brent King – has filed to run, but Schneider said primaries are healthy and she has questions about where King stands on the issues.
REBECCA NEGRON WINS PALM BEACH COUNTY POLICE BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION ENDORSEMENT via Florida Politics – Negron has picked up an endorsement from the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association in her bid for Florida’s 18th Congressional District … “The Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association is proud to inform you of its endorsement of your candidacy for U.S. Representative District 18,” PBA President John Kazanjian said. “We will ask our members, their friends and families – and all citizens of the Palm Beach County who represent the strong and efficient enforcement of our laws, to cast their ballots in support of Rebecca Negron.” Negron, called the law enforcement group an “integral aspect of our Palm Beach County community” and that she was “gracious for its endorsement.”
FLAGLER SHERIFF BECOMES FIRST COPE TO BACK MEDICAL MARIJUANA AMENDMENT via Marc Caputo of POLITICO — In a major boost for medical marijuana advocates, a Florida sheriff for the first time has endorsed a proposed state constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis for people with debilitating medical conditions. “I believe fundamentally that government has no place between a physician and a patient,” Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre said. “And clearly in 23 [states and Washington, D.C.] there are medical marijuana laws that are working, and there are people who are being helped by medical marijuana for debilitating conditions from epilepsy to PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] to Crohn’s disease to the terrible effects of nausea that chemotherapy brings on.”
IN STATE SENATE RACE, A POTENTIAL FINANCE PROBLEM EMERGES FOR GREG STEUBE via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Folks who donated to Greg Steube‘s state House campaign received letters … letting them know that now he is running for the Senate instead, and they can either get a refund or let him shift it to his new campaign. He hopes to roll over more than $200,000 from his House campaign to his Senate campaign. The problem? Steube filed paperwork with the Division of Elections Feb. 11 changing from a state House candidate to the state Senate, and Florida requires campaigns to inform donors in writing of such a switch within 15 days. Those voters then have 30 days to request a refund. Steube … brushed off the issue, noting that anyone who wants a refund will get one and that he left it to his campaign team to handle the paperwork. His treasurer Joe Gruters similarly dismissed the prospect of a challenge over the timing of Steube’s refund letters. “I signed them on the date of the letter and they were timely mailed. Not sure why there was any delay if any with the mail delivery.”
HAPPENING TONIGHT: Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala is inviting friends and supporters for a fundraising event at the 4G Ranch, 22501 FL-52 in Land O Lakes. A spot on Latvala’s Florida Leadership Committee is $5,000, which offers a private VIP reception beginning 5:30 p.m. An invite to the general reception, which begins 6 p.m., is $1,000.
HAPPENING THIS WEEKEND — ADAM PUTNAM & FRIENDS OF FLORIDA AGRICULTURE BBQ via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Florida Grown, the fundraising committee that will likely fuel Putnam’s 2018 gubernatorial bid, is hosting a Friends of Florida Agriculture barbecue April 2. The event is meant to honor Putnam, and will feature U.S. Senate hopefuls Ron DeSantis, Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Todd Wilcox. The barbecue will be held at Ben Hill Griffin’s Peace River Ranch in Zolfo Springs.
SPOTTED at a fundraiser for Rep. Kathleen Peters, hosted by Bill Edwards at his 16th floor office overlooking St. Petersburg’s waterfront: Mel Sembler, former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, Mayor Travis Palladeno, Councilwoman Doreen Dipolito (now Doreen Caudell), Greg Holden, Helen Levine, John LaBudde.
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Drew Smith, Smith & Smith Consulting: Home Care Association of America, Florida Chapter
Frank Tsamoutales, Tsamoutales Strategies: Pulte Home Corporation
PERSONNEL NOTE – PABLO DIAZ, LORI HUTTO JOIN FRONT LINE STRATEGIES via a press release – Brett Doster announced that Pablo Diaz and Lori Hutto have joined the Front Line Strategies team. Diaz will serve as a senior strategist and Hutto as the Director of Communications. Most recently, Diaz was the Florida State Director of the Jeb Bush Presidential Campaign. … Hutto previously served as Deputy District Director in the Tallahassee office of former Congressman Steve Southerland.
SPOTTED: Keyna Cory is holding a National Grassroots training program for Keep America Beautiful. She started in North Carolina this week, other states to follow. Public Affairs Consultants has developed a One Hour Legislative Grassroots Program to train clients on what they can accomplish in one hour, and how to follow up with Legislative Grassroots in one hour or less per week.
APPOINTED: Francisco “Frank” Bango, Andrew Clark, Powell Helm, Jean Anderson to the Board of Funeral, Cemetery, and Consumer Services. Stuart Williams to the Second Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission.
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JAVIER MANJARRES POSTS BAIL, RETURNS TO BLOGGING via Florida Politics – Manjarres has evidently returned from a stint in jail and returned to blogging about Florida politics on his site, the The Shark Tank. The blog was on hiatus over the weekend, with no posts published between Friday and Monday. Manjarres was processed and released from the Palm Beach County jail after his arrest Saturday on attempted murder charges. Manjarres was being held on $100,000 bail on multiple felony charges after an altercation at a shopping plaza with his sister’s former boyfriend, Jason Holowinski. Police said Mangarres broke the 36-year-old’s nose and fired multiple gunshots at his car as he drove away. The 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference Blogger of the Year returned to writing … posting stories about Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign and a veterans-oriented bill signed by Scott.
Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: Psychiatrist Dr. Eddy Regnier on the debate over the prohibition on openly carried weapons at the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Facing Florida with Mike Vasilinda: Pete Dunbar, former Chief of Staff for Gov. Bob Martinez, and Screven Watson, Tallahassee lobbyist and former Executive Director of the Florida Democratic Party.
Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS Miami: Republican state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and outgoing Democratic state Sen. Chris Smith.
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.
On Point with Shannon Ogden on WFCN in Jacksonville: A preview of the World Cup quarterfinal match to be held in Jax, Rena Coughlin with Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida on the ongoing Wounded Warriors controversy, and Hunter Miller of the St. Augustine Environmental Youth Council, who is pushing a petition that would ban seismic testing for oil and gas exploration on the Atlantic Coast.
Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa Bay: An in-depth interview with Rep. Kathleen Peters on her recent mental health legislation, while host Al Ruechel takes a look at the delegate counts and upcoming contests in the 2016 presidential primaries. Plus, PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter rates a claim made by Democratic National Committee Chair and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz about her party’s “superdelegates” and how they’re operating in the nomination process.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: A discussion of the makeup of the Florida Supreme Court, with Chief Justice Jorge Labarga on upcoming changes and his take on mandatory retirement. Labarga will also discuss the Court’s embracing of social media, and the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. This week’s “Common Ground with Alex Sink and Chris Ingram” segment explores the medical marijuana issue, and hears from both sides of the debate, including an interview with attorney John Morgan.
The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Sean Pittman and Gary Yordon speak with James Madison Institute’s Bob McClure about the 2018 Florida Governor’s race and the new 2016 presidential paradigm.
This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Conversations with U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho and Donna Orender, Founder of Generation W and former head of the WNBA.
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WHAT JEFF SHARKED & TAYLOR BIEHL ARE READING — AFTER THE TESLA MODEL THREE LAUNCHES THIS WEEK, THE WORLD WILL KNOW IF ELON MUSK CALLED THE ELECTRIC-CAR FUTURE CORRECTLY via Steve LeVine of Quartz – Despite being chronically late to deliver his cars, Musk has attracted a fanatical base of owners: mainly rich, green-minded clients who wish to make a statement, whether politically, aesthetically or both. It’s a decidedly limited group. Last year, Tesla sold about 51,000 cars. Musk hopes to deliver another 93,000 vehicles this year, which, while an impressive jump, isn’t quite there if you’re thinking like a big carmaker: It would equal a mere 4 percent of the approximately 1.9 million cars sold in 2015 by both BMW and Mercedes, elegant brands that Musk regards as his true competition. It is not an industry, and Musk knows it. The stakes are the highest ever for Musk. If motorists buy the Model 3 in the hundreds of thousands, he will have delivered on his vow to make an electric for the general public. The consequences of all this turning out well could be considerable profit for Musk and his investors, not to mention a new upheaval in geopolitics. If electrics become the norm for autos, then the future appetite for oil will be far less than forecast—and a softer bout of climate change perhaps is in the offing.
A GUIDE TO THE FINAL FOUR IN HOUSTON via John Marshall of The Associated Press – Oklahoma versus Villanova: These teams met earlier in the season and the Sooners turned it into a laugher behind a barrage of 3-pointers, making 14 behind the arc in the 78-55 win. Expect this one to be much closer and more entertaining. … Syracuse versus North Carolina: Round 3 for the ACC rivals. The Tar Heels won both regular-season meetings by wrecking Orange’s zone with their strong post play. Fail to figure out how to stop North Carolina inside and the Tar Heels could sweep into the title game.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Ryder Rudd and our friends Neil Brickfield and Chandra Tracy. Celebrating this weekend are more friends, including Lynn Aronberg, Brian Burgess (uh-oh, did I just out us as friends?), Danny Kanner, Billy Schmidt, and Gary Yordon.