Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – November 14

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

Today’s Rise and Shine Fact-iversary is brought to you by Sachs Media Group, the public affairs firm known for unparalleled relationships and winning strategies: America did it once, but could we do it again? The importance of the Apollo 12 mission was underscored by the presence of President Richard Nixon at Cape Canaveral for the launch on this date in 1969, the first time a president had come to Florida to attend the launch of a manned space flight. The spacecraft was struck by lightning just 36 seconds after launch, temporarily knocking out all onboard systems, but this second mission to the moon – to the Ocean of Storms – was nevertheless a tremendous success.


Sen. Bill Nelson and former Orlando police chief Val Demings will chair an effort to evaluate the shortcomings of the Florida Democratic Party, which is further in the tank following last week’s election.

Called LEAD, or Leadership Expansion to Advance Democrats, the task force “will work to retool and strengthen the Party’s brand, bolster candidate recruitment efforts, and improve field and outreach performance heading into the pivotal 2016 presidential election,” according to a release.

Other members include Amanda Murphy — State Representative, Pasco County; Ana Cruz — Tampa Bay and Hispanic community leader; Ashley Walker — Former Florida OFA State Director, 2012; Dwight Bullard — State Senator & Miami-Dade DEC Chair; Jeff Wright — FEA Policy Director; Joe Falk — LGBT community leader; Jose Javier Rodriguez — State Representative, Miami; Monica Russo — SEIU State Council President; Nick Maddox — Commissioner, Leon County; Patricia Byrd — FDP Congressional District 2 Representative; Rod Smith — Former State Senator and former FDP Chair; and Terrie Rizzo — Palm Beach DEC Chair. According to the release: “The LEAD Task Force will analyze the 2014 election results and deliver recommendations on steps Florida Democrats must take to compete in the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 gubernatorial race.

The LEAD Task Force will have 3 strategic goals when completing its review and offering recommendations.

>>> Review best practices for candidate recruitment for local, state and federal offices.

>>> Examine data and digital footprint to ensure new technologies are being utilized.

>>> Assess field and turnout operations and recommend steps to improve performance.

The Task Force will host a series of in person and conference call meetings to discuss the 2014 election results and go over each strategic objective, and will deliver its recommendations at the 2015 Leadership Blue weekend.”

TWEET, TWEET: @MiamiNewTimes: 72-year-old @SenBillNelson charged with reinvigorating @FlaDems for a new age.


I have to agree with Republican Rick Wilson — half the people on this task force are exactly why the Florida Democratic Party sucks.

But it’s not who is on the committee that is my first issue with the task force; it’s who IS NOT listed here.

How can there be a task force about how to right the Florida Democrat’s ship without it including either Steve Vancore or his business partner Screven Watson?

No one — NO ONE — on the Democratic side, save maybe Tom Eldon, but his public statements weren’t public until the end of the campaign, better understood the composition and mood of the electorate than Vancore.

To not invite him onto this task force is a sin of omission.


Rep. Dwayne Taylor of Daytona Beach continued his campaign this week to unseat Rep. Mark Pafford of West Palm as Florida House minority leader by writing a letter to members that said the Democratic party had failed to raise adequate money in 2014.

That shortfall in money led to Democrats losing six seats in the House, relegating them to a 39-81 disadvantage with Republicans in the lower chamber, Taylor said.

But the main premise of Taylor’s letter, and his challenge to Pafford, is wrong, according to party officials.

Taylor said Pafford raised $3.5 million in 2014 House races, which is $500,000 less than in 2012, $600,000 less than in 2010, and $1.7 million less than 2008.

The numbers, Taylor said, are “indisputable indicators of the ineffectiveness of the fundraising strategy that was in place this year.”

But Taylor’s estimate of how much Democrats raised is off quite a bit, said Scott Arceneaux, the executive director of the Florida Democratic Party. Pafford actually helped raise a total of $5,261,724, a record total for the party, not the $3.5 million Taylor said was raised.

“It exceeded expectations,” Arceneaux said. “This year was difficult to do that. But we did, and Pafford played the major role. He was the chief fundraiser.”


As Mel Brooks once said, “It’s good to be the king.”

It is definitely good to be on top of your game, especially if you are Republican Party of Florida chair Leslie Dougher.

Nov. 4 was a “historical night” for the GOP, says Dougher in an email to members of the state Executive Committee. “With all of the blood, sweat, and tears that we put in, we won’t forget it anytime soon.”

Dougher praises the state’s Republicans, who fought (and earned) every one of those victories.

Although Dougher remains a true believer to the cause, and honored by being in charge during such a successful election cycle, her work is not yet finished – starting with her running for re-election.

Therefore, instead of an email money blast, something pervasive during the elections, her pitch is to garner support for another term as RPOF chair.

After the near-blowout elections of 2014, with the GOP grabbing a supermajority in the Florida House, who can argue against giving Dougher a second term.

TRAVIS HUTSON MOVES $300K INTO FLORIDA SENATE BID via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News

Calling himself the “true conservative,” Palm Coast Republican Travis Hutson is moving his money from his current Florida House accounts to a Florida Senate campaign. Hutson will take on Rep. Doc Renuart in a special primary on Jan. 27 to see who replaces former Sen. John Thrasher in Tallahassee.

On Thursday, Hutson announced he was moving $300,000 into his Senate campaign.

“We are excited to hit the ground running in my special election campaign for Senate District 6,” said Hutson. “I look forward to delivering the message to Northeast Florida that I am the true conservative in this race who is committed to reducing government waste and spending, improving our education system, and growing the economy and job base in Northeast Florida. I am passionate about our district, and it is important to me to help us continue to thrive, as well as enhance the future of Northeast Florida.”

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After successfully guiding Gov. Scott’s re-election victory, campaign manager Melissa Sellers is a leading candidate to be Scott’s new chief of staff in a second term, running state government on a day-to-day basis.

Multiple Capitol sources say Sellers is at the top of a very short list of candidates to succeed Adam Hollingsworth, who will soon return to private life after two-and-a-half years in the high-pressure position.

Speaking to reporters after a Cabinet meeting, Scott said: “She did a very good job on the campaign.” Asked what’s next for Sellers, Scott said: “I don’t know.”

One question about Sellers concerns timing and whether she might take a job as an adviser to a presidential campaign of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or her former boss, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Christie is chairman of the Republican Governors Association that raised a reported $22 million for Scott’s re-election.

Sellers, 32, is a driven and disciplined Scott loyalist who joined his staff as communications director in 2012 and was appointed campaign manager last January.


In a stinging rebuke, the state’s Supreme Court ordered a top Republican political consultant to make public 538 pages of documents stemming from the Legislature’s redrawing of congressional district boundaries later ruled unconstitutional.

Gainesville’s Pat Bainter and his company, Data Targeting, Inc., fought disclosure of the documents, which included email, maps and other data, saying they contained trade secrets.

Bainter also argued through his lawyers that making public the documents would violate his right to free speech and that he had First Amendment authority to contact legislators drawing congressional district lines.

Justices, however, ruled, that Bainter was just attempting to set up roadblocks to disclosing the documents.

The Florida League of Women Voters and Florida news organizations sued to have the documents made public. The documents in question did make their way into a 12-day congressional redistricting trial, which ended in June, but only after the courtroom was closed to the press and public.

TWEET, TWEET: @crowleyreport: Pat Bainter is about to be a best-selling author in Tallahassee


The closing of Dania Casino & Jai-Alai’s gaming operation is expected to cost the state an estimated $3 million in tax revenue, a state committee reported.

The Revenue Estimating Conference looked at money received from slot machines and Indian gaming in one of its three meetings of the year — the last gaming forecast meeting was in July.

Gaming revenues grow about 1.5 percent per year, said Amy Baker, coordinator of the state Office of Economic & Demographic Research. The forecast is slightly lower for the upcoming year because of the loss of the Dania Beach gambling. The state revenue from slot machines is an estimated $181.7 million though figures were adjusted slightly at Thursday’s meeting and the final numbers aren’t yet available.

While jai-alai games are continuing at the longtime Dania Beach facility until Dec. 30th, the slots have already been shut down. The casino has announced that it would close for at least a year for a $50 million renovation. The Miami Herald reported in August the facility had the worst revenue performance in the South Florida gaming market.

The Dania Beach facility competes with seven other casinos offering slot machines and attached to either horse or dog tracks and jai-alai frontons in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Baker said the casino has “given some indications of re-opening a year from now” but hasn’t taken any official action.

The Dania facility has formed a partnership with West Flagler Associates, which owns the Magic City Casino in Miami.


State Public Service Commission staffers largely backed proposals by Florida’s utilities to gut their energy-efficiency goals by more than 90 percent in recommendations, a move that angered environmentalists.

In a more-than-100-page filing, the commission’s staff members presented their analysis of the hotly debated utility proposals, which also include elimination of rebates for installation of rooftop solar.

The state’s utilities — including Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric and Florida Power & Light — argued during hearings this summer that energy-efficiency programs have become too costly to continue. The utilities said it’s cheaper for them now to produce a kilowatt of electricity than to save it.

In their recommendations Thursday, commission staff members agreed. The “utilities correctly calculated the costs and benefits to the customers participating in the energy savings and demand reduction measures,” the staff wrote.

In addition, the staff said the solar rebate programs should be allowed to expire in December 2015 because they “represent a large subsidy from the general body of ratepayers to a very small segment of each utility’s customers.”

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy disagreed, saying rooftop solar would prove its value over building more power plants that increase all ratepayers’ costs.

As for energy efficiency, the Southern Alliance and other environmental groups said the utilities simply calculated high costs to kill the programs.


Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation announced an overall decrease in workers-compensation insurance rates of 5.2 percent for next year.

Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty rejected a proposal last week by the National Council on Compensation Insurance’s for a 3.3 percent rate decrease. As an alternative, McCarty gave NCCI until Tuesday to re-file with a larger cut, as part of its yearly rate proposals.

According to McCarty, the initial NCCI filing was “excessive and unsupported” due to increases in underwriting-profit and contingency delivery.

NCCI acts on behalf of about 250 insurers. New scheduled rates will go into effect in January and follows several years of increases, capped by an overall rate growth of 0.7 percent last year. In the previous  three years, the increases were 6.1, 8.9 and 7.8 percent.

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On Context Florida: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) issues permits to people who like to “hunt” by setting packs of dogs loose on unsuspecting deer. Dogs scare the deer out of the woods and into the waiting gaze of a riflescope, called “deer-dog hunting.” Peter Schorsch notes that these permits are also for inside the Blackwater Wildlife Management Area (BWMA) where some individuals own large parcels of private property, and are harassed by dogs on the hunt. Kevin Cate says that after Republicans have dominated state government for two-plus decades, Florida Democrats should change the rules, just as they did in 1961, when Democrats were scared of presidential election cycles screwing up their dominance of state government, specifically Nixon vs. Kennedy. Florida Election 2014 number crunching and tealeaf reading may be essential information for political parties, campaigns and outside organizations decide which voters to target; a lifeblood for field directors identifying “win numbers” and trying to stitch various voting blocs together into victory. However, Daniel Tilson says it does not take the place of gut-level empathy and finger-on-the-pulse insight into how people are feeling and doing in the real world, outside politics. President Barack Obama held a news conference the day after the embarrassing Democratic defeat on Election Day. Reporters said they were surprised that he was not “repentant” and showed no “contrition.” What is with the Catholic coda, asks Rachel Patron. Losing an election, even by such awful margins, is a defeat — but not a sin!

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

HOW AIRBNB AND UBER ARE CHANGING THE NATURE OF WORK via Fawn Johnson of the National Journal

Sandra Levine had 27 tenants in her spare apartment this summer. Most stayed for two or three nights. Some stayed only one night. One blessed guest stayed for 10 days, which gave her a long break from washing the sheets and cleaning the bathroom.  It was lucrative, too. She charged three times what she would have for a monthly rental.

Levine and her husband, Sam, ran their rental business through Airbnb, a website that enables people to rent out their spare rooms, apartments, or even whole houses to travelers looking for an alternative to a hotel. The pervasiveness of Wi-Fi and smartphone apps now allows individuals to sell commodities like spare rooms or transportation that previously were relegated to licensed professionals. For some, Airbnb and the ride-sharing service Uber are moonlighting projects that supplement more-traditional incomes. For others, these new DIY services are full-time gigs.

Airbnb provides a neutral interface for managing monetary exchanges, but the actual provision of goods and services to the tenants is entirely up to the hosts. Levine initially hired a cleaning person to ready the apartment for renters, but she eventually wound up doing it herself. That saved money, but it also meant her schedule was erratic.

In some industries, even the physical office is becoming antiquated, just like one-job careers and pension plans (remember those?). It can be hard to know when someone is “at work” or not. Soon that question may be irrelevant. When Levine is cleaning her apartment for her next Airbnb guest, she is working even though her primary employer considers her “off.” If she responds to a text requesting a room reservation while strolling along the Charles River, she’s both on and off at the same time.

Work happens everywhere and at all times. Human resources professionals have moved away from the term “work-life balance,” because it implies that there is a direct divide between work and life, and that work activities take away from life activities—and vice versa.

Many office cultures haven’t moved past the assumption that for every worker there is another person at home (usually a woman) who is taking care of the domestic aspect of the family’s life. But this Cleaver-like model hasn’t been the case for two generations. In 1970, two-fifths of married women were in the workforce and nearly three-fifths of single women (57 percent) were employed, according to the Census Bureau. By 2010, employment of married women had jumped to nearly two-thirds (61 percent), essentially on par with single women’s work rates (63 percent).

It’s hard to overstate how much an employee’s control over his schedule, even if it’s a small amount of leeway, changes the work experience. Almost three-quarters of adult workers (73 percent) said flexibility is “one of the most important factors they consider” when looking for a new job, according to a survey commissioned last year by the employment firm Mom Corps. (Other surveys put that figure as high as 87 percent.) Nearly half of the respondents in the Mom Corps survey (45 percent) said they would even be willing to relinquish some of their salaries for more flexibility.


Imagine that in your retirement you set up a remote homestead and you buy – yes, you buy – 60 acres of solitude where you can live peacefully and raise your horses and dogs. Sounds like you found your own slice of heaven.

But then again, this is Florid-duh.

Along comes the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC), which issues permits to people who like to “hunt” by setting packs of dogs loose on unsuspecting deer. These dogs set out into the woods and, as one can imagine, wreak havoc in their paths while in pursuit of game. The theory is that the dogs scare the deer out of the woods and into the waiting gaze of a rifle scope.  It’s called “deer-dog hunting.”

This is normally not a major problem, except when the area where these permits are issued is inside the Blackwater Wildlife Management Area (BWMA). What makes this area relatively unique is that it also happens to contain large parcels of land where people, like Bill Daws and his wife Sherrie, reside. (Did I mention that they OWN their property?)  Apparently, and this may come as a shock to some, the crazed deer cannot read and will often jump fences and leave state-owned land in fear for their lives – and no surprise, the dogs can’t read either and they will follow. The dogs and the deer rarely stop and ask for permission to enter the property, but the deer will try to hide among the horses.

It’s bad enough that these people have to deal with ravenous packs of dogs charging across their PRIVATE PROPERTY and harassing their livestock and tearing up property, but according to a lawsuit being brought against the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the owners of those dogs aren’t exactly behaving like Orvis catalogue gentlemen. With “random” fires set near their property, fences torn down, and convoys of trucks parking outside their fence-line, while firing so-called “warning shots,” it is safe to say that the Daws don’t look forward to the upcoming deer-dog hunting season.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to former House Speaker Will Weatherford, smartest woman in the room Karen Cyphers, and 30-under-30 rising star Victoria Kirby.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.