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: “I am not a crook.” With those fateful words uttered in Orlando on this day in 1973, President Richard Nixon gave his critics and political cartoonists a phrase to encapsulate growing national doubts about his embattled administration. Denying any involvement in the mounting Watergate scandal, Nixon sought to assure the annual meeting of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association – and through them, the nation – that he had not profited from public service. Said Nixon: “People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I am not a crook.” Nine months later, Nixon became the only person in U.S. history to resign the presidency, avoiding possible criminal prosecution thanks to a pardon from his successor, President Gerald Ford.
Now, on to the ‘burn…
FIVE QUESTIONS FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
1. How soon until the Scott administration announces Melissa Sellers as the Governor’s new Chief of Staff?
2. If Seller is, in fact, named Scott’s new Chief of Staff, where does Adam Hollingsworth end up? Thrasherworld at FSU? Back to Jax? And what about the other name mentioned for C.O.S., Herschel Vineyard? The talk is he’s leaving as soon as the press release can be written, to be replaced at the Department of Environmental Protection by Matt Leipold, Cliff Davis or Jon Steverson?
3. How soon until incoming (we only have to use that word for one more day) Senate President Andy Gardiner announces Tom Lee as Appropriations Chairman?
4. How much longer will Rep. Dwayne Taylor continue his rebellion against incoming House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford?
5. Does Leslie Dougher win a second term as Florida GOP chair by acclimation? We’ll know soon if other big name county chairs, like Sarasota’s Joe Gruters, intend to challenge Dougher.
THE 2016 COUNTDOWN FOR JEB BUSH, MARCO RUBIO: WHO’S IN? via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times
Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush are seriously considering entering the race and either would stake a formidable claim to the Republican nomination. They will announce their intentions by early next year.
For Rubio, it’s a decision of whether to give up an almost sure shot of re-election. (By Florida law, he can’t go for both.) At 43, he has years ahead on the political stage. Bush, 61, would have to surrender the harbor of semi-private life for the grind and glare of a national campaign.
Add in their close relationship and the difficulty of two candidates hailing from Florida, a crucial swing-state reservoir of votes and campaign cash, and things get interesting.
Every move in the past year has been parsed for clues. The pebble of news last week that Rubio’s new book is coming out Jan. 13 was the latest kindling. He’s been hustling to improve his standing with grass roots conservatives and getting face time helping midterm candidates in early nominating states.
Bush began 2014 looking less likely to run but has moved closer to the possibility. He, too, hit the campaign trail for other candidates and a fundraising letter for his education foundation showed up recently in Iowa, stoking questions. But Bush hasn’t revealed anything to even his closest allies.
That sentiment is common among top Florida Republicans and many of the national party elite, who like Bush’s executive experience and intellectual bearing. The son and brother of former presidents, he would have little trouble raising money.
One big question is whether Rubio would defer to Bush, should Bush decide to enter the race. Many Florida political insiders think he would, but that’s less certain as Rubio has asserted himself as a national figure. People close to the senator think (pray?) Bush will ultimately decide against running.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA’S STATEWIDE SUPPORT DOESN’T MEAN LEGISLATURE WILL ACT via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times
We have heard a fair number of predictions that state lawmakers next year will pass laws to open the doors for legalized medical marijuana in Florida — but do it in a way that leaves fewer potential loopholes than the constitutional amendment initiative that failed to pass.
After all, the thinking goes, how could the Legislature ignore an idea that received an overwhelming 57 percent support from voters even if it failed to reach the 60 percent threshold for passage?
Tre’ Evers, an Orlando-based strategist who helped lead the successful “No on 2” campaign, makes a good case for why most legislators will have little incentive to make medical marijuana more accessible. What matters more than overall statewide public opinion is public opinion in individual legislative districts — and particularly among Republican primary voters in those districts.
“Legislators will look to their constituents,” Evers predicted in a memo about the campaign. “They will more closely look at primary voters within their districts — why? Because most legislative races are decided in primaries. Amendment 2 exceeded 60% in only 9 of Florida’s 67 counties. It will not be lost on Republican legislators (who now control 81 of 120 House seats) that conservatives opposed Amendment 2 by a 2-to-1 margin. As Tip O’Neill famously said, ‘All politics is local.’ And for most legislators, it makes little sense to them locally or within their primaries to liberalize drug laws.”
ROMANO COLUMN: LOTS OF EXCUSES, LITTLE REAL MESSAGE IN FLORIDA DEMOCRATS’ PLAYBOOK via the Tampa Bay Times
Democrats in Florida are putting together another election task force.
Republicans in Florida are laughing hysterically.
That’s the simplified version of where we are in state politics today. Democrats continue to look for something that Republicans keep parading in front of them.
You might have heard that Democrats are whining about all the money spent by Gov. Rick Scott in the final days of the campaign. And I’m sure it did have some effect.
They’re also moaning about the voters in Miami who failed to show up at the polls. And that was certainly a factor, too.
In a state where Republicans make up only 34.9 percent of the registered voters, the GOP somehow has the Governor’s Mansion, the entire Cabinet, a majority of the state Senate and a supermajority in the state House. You don’t have to be a math expert to realize those numbers don’t add up.
Now I realize a good chunk of the equation involves crooked voting districts that almost guarantee Republicans an advantage in the Legislature. And the reality that corporations pour more money into GOP coffers is an undeniable factor.
Yet it is also true that Democrats contribute to their own demise by allowing Republicans to define them.
Democrats have allowed the opposition to paint them as the party of special interests. Meanwhile, Republicans make themselves look like the responsible ones. The ones looking out for the average Joe or Jane. The ones with a vision for the future instead of just a partisan agenda.
THE TALE OF THE TAIL: DAVID RIVERA CALLS COPS ON MYSTERIOUS FOLLOWER via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald
Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera is known in Florida political circles to be a bit… paranoid.
But, as the saying goes, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you. When Rivera left his home in a Miami suburb and thought somebody was following him, he turned out to be right. He had a shadow.
Here’s what happened, according to accounts pieced together by the Miami Herald.
As he pulled out of his driveway, Rivera spotted a middle-aged man in a white SUV inside his Doral gated community. The SUV followed him out the gate. It was still behind him when Rivera drove to a nearby SunTrust Bank branch. Alarmed, Rivera lined up someone to witness the tail. The witness was tasked with following the follower.
Rivera drove to a nearby Starbucks. So did the SUV. So did the witness. Convinced the man in the SUV was after him, Rivera dialed 911 on his way back home. This time, the SUV didn’t go into the gated community. But it did park by a side entrance.
Some of what happened next was recorded on cellphone video by Rivera’s witness — political blogger Elaine de Valle, who wrote her own version of the incident.
Two Doral police patrols showed up. They went up to the man in the SUV — and found out he was Manny Alvarez, a television news photographer from Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4.
False rumors had swirled — for the third time in recent months — that Rivera, a former Republican congressman and the target of a federal criminal investigation, might get arrested. Eager TV crews spent much of the day in satellite trucks parked outside the federal courthouse downtown and the FBI office in North Miami Beach.
FOR CARLOS CURBELO, A TIME TO WAIT AS HE LEARNS THE ROPES via Chris Adams of the Miami Herald
Carlos Curbelo is one of about five dozen new freshman to the U.S. House of Representatives, and he won’t take office until January. But as he waits, one of the pivotal issues for his district – immigration reform – is suddenly the biggest story of the week.
“I wish this would be happening in January, not now, because all I can do is give color commentary,” said Curbelo, the Miami Republican who beat sitting Rep. Joe Garcia, a Democrat, last week. “That’s frustrating.”
A few minutes later, Curbelo was on Fox News, asked about his views on the issue of the day, and he told host Gretchen Carlson that the president should give the new Congress time to act. If the president acts unilaterally, Curbelo said, it would poison the well and make it harder for Republicans and Democrats to get things done.
It’s a hectic schedule he’ll have to get used to, as the family plans to stay in Miami while he comes to Washington for the congressional workweek. He’s deciding whether to pay up for housing in Washington or do what other lawmakers do and sleep on a cot in his office during the work week.
Beyond that, the week was an exercise in “information overload,” he said in an interview. He learned about office staffing and budget guidelines and ethics rules.
CURT CLAWSON STAYS PUT ON TWO COMMITTEES HE SERVES ON via Ledyard King of the Tallahassee Democrat
When Rep. Curt Clawson arrived in Washington last summer after a special election victory, the Bonita Springs Republican was intent on getting on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
But no seat was available on the panel, which oversees federally funded water projects, an area important to the environmental and economic health of Southwest Florida.
Both his predecessors, Republicans Connie Mack IV and Trey Radel, served on the committee known informally as T&I, where they helped shepherd legislation involving Everglades restoration and water discharges that have befouled Southwest Florida waterways.
At the time, Clawson said he planned “to do everything I can” to get on the panel if he won election to a full term in November.
But after talking to constituents this fall and consulting Mack and Radel, among others, Clawson has opted to stay put on the two committees he serves on: Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs.
Not being on those panels doesn’t mean district priorities can’t be achieved. It’s just a matter of forging relationships with those that sit on T&I, he said.
STEVE SOUTHERLAND MOVING ON AFTER ELECTION, ASSESSING OPTIONS via Ledyard King of the Tallahassee Democrat
Steve Southerland took some downtime after a bruising, months-long campaign that saw him lose his North Florida congressional seat last week.
He convalesced with his family, went on a hunting trip in Alabama, and delivered a sermon at his Gulf Coast funeral home before returning to Capitol Hill for the lame duck session.
The respite helped ease the sting of defeat. But disappointment lingers.
The two-term Republican from Panama City lost to Democratic newcomer Gwen Graham by 2,837 votes, or 1.1 percentage points out of 249,327 cast, in one of the nation’s priciest and most watched House races of the 2014 campaign cycle.
Graham and her allies spent more than $7 million on the race, trying to define the blunt-spoken incumbent as a partisan bomb-thrower more interested in scoring political points than forging bipartisan consensus.
He also got branded as anti-woman, thanks to an all-male fundraiser thrown by a supporter (Southerland said he had no part in its planning) and his ensuing remark about Graham attending lingerie showers that he conceded Thursday “certainly factored into” the narrative of the race.
Southerland and his supporters spent almost as much trying to paint Graham as a partisan hack tied closely to Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi and President Obama. But without a record to run on – or away from – Graham was able to emphasize her partisan independence.
It was one of only two races in the nation where a Democratic challenger ousted a Republican incumbent from the House, in an election where Republicans gained seats in the House and Senate.
***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks. We provide voice, data, video, cloud and managed services to businesses of all sizes, from start-ups to large, multi-site organizations. With our privately-owned, leading edge, all fiber network we ensure reliability, flexibility, and accountability. We’re available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and we’re locally-based. Not many other providers can say that. Bright House Networks for Business – your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services.***
TWEET, TWEET: @NWSTallahassee: Severe weather possible Mon ahead of an approaching cold front; arctic airmass behind could bring hard freeze Wed
REPORT IS BULLISH ON FLORIDA GROWTH via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune
A new population estimate from the state Office of Economic and Demographic Research is more bullish on Florida’s growth rate – a critical factor in the state’s economy.
Population growth fuels development, as Florida relies on an influx of new residents. This 2007 aerial shows housing developments near the northern part of the Everglades in Palm Beach County.
The state’s population should grow by 1.38 percent this fiscal year, up from a July estimate of 1.35 percent, reaching a population of 19.71 million residents by the end of June. It will be the highest annual growth rate since the 2006-07 fiscal year, when the rate reached 1.75 percent before the Great Recession took its full effect.
The growth rate plummeted during the recession, reaching a low of .5 percent in 2008-09. In raw numbers, Florida’s population only grew by 92,500 residents that year, while the EDR is now projecting the growth at 268,000 new residents this year.
Projecting out, the state economists expect the growth rate to remain above 1.2 percent for the next decade. It won’t meet the robust levels of 2.5 percent that were achieved several times during the 1990s, but it will be steady growth that should support the economy of what will soon be the nation’s third-largest state.
Yet buried in the tables of EDR data is another looming milestone that represents a potential challenge to Florida’s continued growth. In a little more than a dozen years, state economists are forecasting that more Floridians will be dying each year than are born in the state
Of course, the bulk of Florida’s growth has always been what the economists call the “net migration,” the number of new residents moving into the state versus those who leave the state each year. But the “net natural increase” has been an important component of Florida’s growth – representing roughly 10 to 20 percent of the annual growth.
SINCE GILCHRIST TRAGEDY, DCF HAS ‘TURNED THE SHIP AROUND’ via Arek Sarkissian of the Gainesville Sun
The Florida Department of Children and Families was not built to handle families like Sarah Spirit’s.
But since September, when Spirit and her six young children were killed by her suicidal father, DCF has adopted a new approach to helping families. Rather than responding from crisis to crisis, case officers are being trained to view the entire arc of a family’s life.
The concept was developed in 2012 by former DCF Secretary David Wilkins but stalled amid leadership shuffles within the agency. The tragedy north of Bell, 50 miles west of Gainesville, prompted DCF to speed up its change in philosophy.
“Really, it’s like we’re turning around an entire ship,” said Todd Darling, of the DCF Office of Child Welfare in Tallahassee. “This is a whole new way we do things here at DCF.”
This week, DCF wrapped up training for its staffers assigned to the Chiefland office that served the Spirit family. One person in the room was responsible for identifying the bodies of Kaleb Kuhlmann, 11, Kylie Kuhlmann, 9, Jonathan Kuhlmann, 8, Destiny Stewart, 5, Brandon Stewart, 4, and infant Alanna Stewart after they were fatally shot by their grandfather, Don C. Spirit, in his single-wide trailer on the afternoon of Sept. 18.
During the training held at the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office, trainers from the DCF offices across the state provided scenarios drawn from real cases and fielded questions that led to longer discussions.
In other words, the agents were taught to use previous reports — what the agency already knows — to develop plans for action.
They were taught new methods to quickly determine when children are unsafe and how to inspire caregivers — stakeholders in the lives of the children — to achieve change.
FEE CAPS, DOCTORS AND LAWYERS: BOARD OF MEDICINE CONTINUES TO EXAMINE MEDICAL RECORD RULE via Christine Sexton for SaintPetersBlog
For more than a year, a proposed rule that would lift the cap on what doctors could charge patients and their attorneys for copying medical records has been lingering before the Florida Board of Medicine.
The proposed rule — 64B8-10.003 — will be center stage at least two more times before the end of the year, with the full board slated to “discuss” the rule at a teleconference meeting November 20 and the Rules and Legislative Committee taking public testimony on the proposal December 4 in St. Petersburg.
Charges for copying medical records in Florida have been bifurcated for the last five years. Doctors can charge patients and governmental entities $1 per page for the first 25 pages of medical records and .25 cents for each subsequent page.
Every other entity is charged $1 per page under the rule which was originally set in 1988 but amended in 2009 to also allow the higher charge for other entities.
For solo practitioners like Coral Gables-based internist Jason Goldman, M.D., the demand for medical records can put a strain on already strained resources. He has no physician assistants who work with him or other doctors. His office receives on average of three requests a day for records and each request takes about an hour — exclusive of his time — to process.
But the records must be reviewed to ensure their accuracy before they can be released to the patient so Goldman says he often works at home after he leaves his office until midnight. Sometimes he wakes up at 5 a.m. He estimates that it costs him tens of thousands of dollars annually to pay his staff — who earn between $15 and $20 an hour — to copy the records.
JUDGE TOSSES CHARLOTTE’S WEB RULES; DOH MUST REWRITE REGULATIONS via James Call for Politics of Pot
The Florida Department of Health will have to rewrite regulations for Charlotte’s Web. Administrative Judge W. David Watkins tossed out the proposed rules for implementing the state’s medicinal marijuana law as an invalid exercise of delegated legislative authority.
“Here’s the divorce papers for the lottery,” said Ron Watson of the Florida Medical Cannabis Association.
Watson had urged the Department to divorce a lottery from the licensing process, testifying that sometimes it is in the best interest of children for a couple to divorce.
“It looks like a slam dunk for those of us oppose to a lottery,” said Watson. “I look forward to working with DOH as we move to clarify the changes the judge ruled on.”
Doctors may order a cannabis oil to treat seizure patients starting Jan. 1, 2015. However, none of the five licenses authorized by the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act has been awarded.
The proposed rules for the law were challenged on the grounds that DOH did not have the authority to insert a lottery in the process and expanded the pool of eligible applicants beyond what lawmakers had specified. The proposed rule is here. DOH laid out its reasoning for it here.
Watkins acknowledged that the DOH’s interpretation of the law was due great deference but on the question of a lottery to select a medicinal provider he sided with Costa Farms, Plants of Ruskin and the Florida Medical Cannabis Association.
LEGISLATURE MIGHT HOLD FIRST MEETING WITH LOCAL SEAT EMPTY via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune
When lawmakers enter the Capitol this week to organize themselves for next year’s legislative session, state Rep. Jamie Grant may not be among them.
Grant, a Republican, has represented House District 64 since 2010. It includes part of eastern Pinellas County and the northwest corner of Hillsborough County.
Lawmakers will be in Tallahassee on Tuesday for the constitutionally mandated meeting held 14 days after a general election “for the exclusive purpose of organization and selection of officers.”
But because of a protracted legal struggle involving a write-in candidate, a valid election has yet to be held for the seat, meaning more than 157,000 people don’t have a state representative.
As of Friday, the Florida House of Representatives’ website still showed no one listed as member for District 64.
By 5 p.m. Friday, there was no announcement from incoming House Speaker Steve Crisafulli’s office on Grant’s status.
NEW STATE SENATE HEAD PUTS SEMINOLE GAMING’S FUTURE INTO QUESTION via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune
Time is running out to renew a revenue- sharing deal between the state and the Seminole Tribe, but the new head of the Florida Senate isn’t so sure it’s needed.
Andy Gardiner, the Orlando Republican set to take over as Senate president, says the state government shouldn’t necessarily rush into another deal with the tribe over the money it makes on gambling.
Gov. Scott will lead the negotiations, Gardiner said in a prepared statement, “but I think we need to take a step back and not assume that this has to be done.”
His position bears out one expert’s prediction about the “increasing independence of the Legislature from the governor” after the Nov. 4 election.
A section of the agreement, known as the Seminole Compact, restricts anyone but the tribe from offering certain card games in Florida. The five-year provision expires automatically on May 1 unless renewed by the Legislature, which meets March 3 to May 1.
The Seminoles offer blackjack and other card games at locations including the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa in return for kicking back a part of the take.
For 2013-14, that was worth around $237 million, with $230 million going to the state and $7 million to local governments, according to figures released Thursday by the Legislature’s economists.
Failure to renew the compact means no more card games for the Seminoles — and no more guaranteed money to state coffers.
PROPOSED LONG-TERM CARE RULE CAUSES CONCERNS via Christine Sexton for SaintPetersBlog
A proposed rule outlining how the poor, elderly and disabled will qualify for community-based services in a new Medicaid managed care environment is getting a chilly review from some advocates, as well as the managed care plans that will serve them.
The proposal — 59G-4.193 — lays out how the state will assign people into the statewide Medicaid managed long term care program. The rule requires the Department of Elder Affairs to screen all applicants for the program using its tracking and referral system which will automatically generate a placement order.
However, the rule exempts three categories of people from having to go through the screening process, allowing them to enter the long term care program immediately.
Those who can immediately be placed into the program without a DOEA screening include nursing facility residents who have lived in a nursing facility for 60 days; certain medically complex people, and individuals who have been referred by state Adult Protective Services for being at risk.
The language was not in the first iteration of the rule released in June but appeared in a version the Agency for Health Care Administration released late October.
The Florida Association of Health Plans, among others, expressed concerns that the exemption violates the 2011 law that established the program. The law requires the DOEA to screen all individuals before they enter the program.
LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND
On: Anne Bell is Sen. Denise Grimsley’s new legislative assistant.
On: Jim Browne is the new legislative assistant for Sen. John Legg.
On: Carol Preston is back on the the staff of the Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs as a legislative analyst.
On: Todd McKay, former assistant general counsel to the Florida Department of Management Services, is replacing Jennifer Hrdlicka as the staff director for the Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism.
On: Allison Rudd is a new administrative assistant to the Senate Committee on Governmental Oversight and Accountability.
On: Cissy DuBose is a new administrative assistant to the Senate Committee on Rules.
Off: Sue Mullins is no longer with the Senate Minority Office.
APPOINTED: Susan Miller Jones to the Alachua County Court.
APPOINTED: Kelly Paige Butz to the Polk County Court
CITY OF WELLINGTON PARTS WAYS WITH LOBBYIST OVER COMMUNICATION ISSUES via Kristen Clark of the Palm Beach Post
Wellington Council members are firing their lobbyist in Tallahassee because of what they said was a lack of communication about what’s going on in the Florida Legislature.
But in his defense, Dave Ramba of Ramba Consulting Group told the council that they have “a lot of misconceptions about how the legislative process works” and their lack of focused priorities didn’t help.
“You guys need to decide what you want out of your lobbyist,” Ramba said.
He said Wellington’s goals weren’t distinct from the general issues that the Palm Beach County League of Cities already lobbies for on behalf of area communities.
Ramba’s $60,000 contract was up for renewal, but in a 3-2 vote on Tuesday, council members said they want to seek the services of Coker Consulting for their future needs.
Ramba had been Wellington’s lobbyist since late January. Without the renewal, his contract expires Dec. 31.
Mayor Bob Margolis said he wasn’t “comfortable” with the results the village was getting from Ramba. Vice Mayor John Greene and Councilman Howard Coates agreed.
Village Manager Paul Schofield said Ramba didn’t live up to the terms of his contract when it came to how often he reported to the council.
Ramba added that because he was hired after the past legislative session started, it was more difficult to be proactive to the village’s needs.
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
George Anderson, David Browning, Mercer Fearington, Jim Smith, Southern Strategy Group: I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless, Inc.
Brian Ballard, Chris Hansen, Ballard Partners: TG United
Chris Carmody, Freed Leonhardt, Robert Stuart, GrayRobinson: Aquafiber Technologies Corporation
Carole Duncanson, CLD & Associates: Florida Alliance of Information & Referral Services
Steve Geller, Greenspoon Marder: Law Office of Russel Lazenga; Village of El Portal
Jon Johnson, Travis Blanton, Johnson & Blanton: Manatee Management Ventures, Inc.
Frank Mayernick, Tracy Mayernick, Jodi Stevens: Jacksonville Armada Football Club
Theo Prodromitis, Out Front brands: Energy Systems Group
David Ramba, Allison Carvajal, Ramba Consulting Group: Cedar Hammock Fire Control District
PERSONNEL NOTE: VETERAN LOBBYIST TIM STANFIELD MOVES TO PENNINGTON Full blog post here
Veteran Florida insurance lobbyist Tim Stanfield has moved to Tallahassee-based Pennington P.A. to become part of its Insurance and Legislative Practice.
Formerly of the Colodny Fass lobbying house, Stanfield joins Pennington’s advocacy team of Doug Bell, Mike Harrell, Jim DeBeaugrine, Marnie George, Gene Adams, and Steve Roddenberry. Stanfield’s hire is just the latest in Pennington’s efforts to expand its legislative team, which comes with the merger of Harrell’s and Bell’s client roster.
With ten years of lobbying experience, Stanfield’s role at will be to boost the firm’s presence in both the legislative and executive branches.
TOM SLADE MEMORIAL
Former Republican Party of Florida Chair Tom Slade will be honored at a memorial service at 4:30 p.m. in the Old Capitol Senate Chamber. Slade, who died last month, also served in both the House and the Senate.
***The Fiorentino Group is a full service government relations and business development firm providing a broad range of consulting services to clients looking to influence public policy and create new business opportunities. The Fiorentino Group’s team of advocates is one of the largest in the state and has decades of experience in state, local and federal government relations and new business development.***
CONTEXT FLORIDA: PIPES VS. PARKS, LAME DUCKS, GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE AND MIDDLE EAST TURMOIL
On Context Florida: Pipes vs. parks could be the focus of debate over Amendment 1, the conservation lands amendment approved by 75 percent of voters on Nov. 4, writes Bruce Ritchie. Congress still has a lot of important work to take care of before defeated or retired lawmakers go home at year’s end and the newly elected ones take office in January, says Sal Nuzzio. At the top of the “lame duck” to-do list should be addressing an urgent and ongoing problem with Medicare, the most costly federal program and largest driver of national debt. There is nothing like catching up on the last few issues of “Government Executive,” writes Mark O’Brien. It’s a morale-booster for those of us worn down by Florida’s national reputation for dumb people doing dumb things. Julie Harbin reports on a panel of Duke experts, convened by the ISLAMiCommentary and Sanford School of Public Policy last month, for a broad public conversation on “The Middle East in Turmoil.”
ANOTHER FLORIDA STATE COMEBACK: NOLES ATOP AP POLL AGAIN Full blog post here
Florida State is No. 1 again in The Associated Press college football poll in another comeback of sorts for a team with a season full of remarkable rallies.
The Seminoles (10-0) were preseason No. 1 before being replaced by Mississippi State in October. The Bulldogs (9-1) had a run of six weeks at No. 1 stopped by a 25-20 loss at Alabama.
The Crimson Tide moved up four spots to No. 2. The Bulldogs dropped to fourth.
The Seminoles received 43 first-place votes from the media panel. Alabama got 16 and No. 3 Oregon got one.
Florida State is the only unbeaten team remaining from the Big Five conferences after Jameis Winston and the `Noles erased a halftime deficit for the fifth time this season in a 30-24 victory at Miami.
Florida State becomes the first preseason No. 1 team to drop out of the top spot and regain it during the season since Penn State in 1997. The Nittany Lions slipped to No. 2 for three weeks, jumped back to No. 1 for a week in October, but finished the season ranked No. 16.
The last AP preseason No. 1 to lose the top ranking and still go on to win the national title was Florida State in 1993. Coach Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles lost at Notre Dame in early November to fall to No. 2. When Notre Dame was upset by Boston College a week later, Florida State went back to No. 1 and went on to win it all.
WILL MUSCHAMP OUT AS FLORIDA COACH via the Associated Press
Will Muschamp is out as Florida’s coach, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the school has not made the announcement official.
Muschamp will coach the last two games of the regular season against Eastern Kentucky and Florida State. He is 27-20, including 17-15 in conference play, in three-plus seasons at Florida.
Sports Illustrated first reported Muschamp was being let go.
The decision came less than 24 hours after a 23-20 loss to South Carolina in overtime, and ends Muschamp’s four-year tenure that will be remembered for inept offense, conservative play-calling and nearly as many losses as wins in the Southeastern Conference.
The last two were debacles that sealed Muschamp’s fate.
TURKEY PRODUCTION DOWN, WHOLESALE PRICES UP via Bill Draper of the Associated Press
Turkey production is at its lowest level in nearly three decades and wholesale prices are at an all-time high, but Thanksgiving cooks probably won’t see much difference in the price they pay at the stores for their frozen birds.
This year’s anticipated stock is 235 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service — the lowest since 1986, when U.S. farmers produced roughly 207 million birds.
While the estimated 2014 number doesn’t indicate a shortage of turkeys, which can remain in cold storage for a year or longer, it does reflect a pullback in recent years by poultry producers who were forced to reduce their flocks to remain afloat.
All areas of livestock production — poultry included — were drastically cut after the widespread 2012 drought in an attempt to stifle losses, says Corinne Alexander, a Purdue University agricultural economist. Plus, many farmers are using feed that they bought in the wake of the drought, which cost more than the current market price.
October wholesale prices for live turkeys jumped 12 percent from 2013, from 72 cents per pound to 81 cents, NASS commodities statistician Michael Klamm said. And frozen turkey wholesale prices were expected to be between $1.12 and $1.16 per pound in the fourth quarter — up from $1.05 per pound at this time last year, the USDA said.
But consumers won’t necessarily see that reflected in the price of their Thanksgiving meal centerpiece.
Turkey numbers peaked in 1996, with nearly 303 million birds.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Wayne Bertsch, Darrick McGhee, Trimmel Gomes, Max Steele, and Angela Rouson. Celebrating today is Attorney General Pam Bondi.