Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – November 21

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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: Happy birthday to one of Florida’s oldest grocery chains! Today Winn-Dixie celebrates the 89th anniversary of its first store in Miami, which opened on November 21, 1925. Then, after recent financial difficulties, the Jacksonville-based company emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on this same date in 2006. The company began when William Milton Davis moved from Idaho to Miami and bought the Rockmoor Grocery. After several acquisitions and name changes, the company became Winn-Dixie in 1955, and now has more than 48,000 employees at 530 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. And that’s nothing to beef (people) about!

Now, on to the ‘burn…

MANY 2016 HOPEFULS STILL RELATIVE UNKNOWNS — WSJ/NBC POLL via Beth Reinhard of the Wall Street Journal

Two of the frequently mentioned governors considering 2016 bids, John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, are unfamiliar to 61% and 54% of American adults, respectively, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

The survey offers an early preview of the challenges and opportunities facing the 2016 field. Fifty-eight percent don’t recognize Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon whose rousing speeches have made him a popular ticket at conservative gatherings.  Two heroes of the tea party movement, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, are unfamiliar to 39% and 40%, respectively.

The lower profiles of some of the GOP contenders contrasts with the universal recognition afforded Democrat Hillary Clinton. The former first lady is viewed positively by 43% and negatively by 40%.  Some Democrats are urging Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to challenge Ms. Clinton in 2016. Among those who know Ms. Warren and have an opinion about her, she is viewed positively by 23% and negatively by 17%.

The best-known Republican weighing a presidential bid, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, is viewed positively by 26% and negatively by 33%. Some Republicans say sharing the surname of two past presidents may complicate efforts by Mr. Bush to be seen as a leader with a vision for the future, though that problem could be canceled out if he faced Mrs. Clinton in the general election.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey boasts a slightly better image, but it is still recovering from allegations that allies orchestrated a massive traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge last year to get back at a political foe. After the scandal broke in January, negative views of Mr. Christie outweighed positive views, 29 to 22%. Now, after months of barnstorming the country on behalf of GOP candidates as chair of the Republican Governors Association, positive and negative views of Mr. Christie break evenly at 29 % in each category. Back in mid-2013, however, Mr. Christie was viewed positively by 41% and negatively by only 12%, an enviable difference of 29 points.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, whose father ran for president three times, is better known than his Senate colleagues eyeing 2016. Only 25% said they don’t know him or are not sure who he is. He is viewed positively by 26% and negatively by 23%. But despite his efforts to reach out to the minority voters and young people who traditional favor the Democratic Party, he is viewed more negatively than positively among those groups.


Spurning furious Republicans, President Barack Obama unveiled expansive executive actions on immigration Thursday night to spare nearly 5 million people in the U.S. illegally from deportation and refocus enforcement efforts on “felons, not families.”

The moves, affecting mostly parents and young people, marked the most sweeping changes to the nation’s fractured immigration laws in nearly three decades and set off a fierce fight with Republicans over the limits of presidential powers.

In a televised address to the nation, Obama defended the legality of his actions and challenged GOP lawmakers to focus their energy not on blocking his measures but on approving long-stalled legislation to take their place.

“To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill,” Obama said, flexing his presidential powers just two weeks after his political standing was challenged in the midterm elections.

As Obama spoke from the White House, immigration supporters with American flags draped over their shoulders marched on Pennsylvania Avenue outside carrying signs that read, “Gracias, Presidente Obama.”

The address marked the first step in the White House effort to promote the executive actions to the public. On Friday, Obama will speak at a campaign-style rally in Las Vegas.

Despite Obama’s challenge to Republicans to pass a broader immigration bill, his actions and the angry GOP response could largely stamp out those prospects for the remainder of his presidency, ensuring that the contentious debate will carry on into the 2016 elections.

Republicans, emboldened by their sweeping victories in the midterms, are weighing responses to the president’s actions that include lawsuits, a government shutdown, and in rare instances, even impeachment.

“The president will come to regret the chapter history writes if he does move forward,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who is soon to become the Senate majority leader, said before Obama’s address.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who has refused to have his members vote on broad immigration legislation passed by the Senate last year, said Obama’s decision to go it alone “cemented his legacy of lawlessness and squandered what little credibility he had left.”

While Obama’s measures are sweeping in scope, they still leave more than half of the 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally in limbo. The president announced new deportation priorities that would compel law enforcement to focus its efforts on tracking down serious criminals and people who have recently crossed the border, while specifically placing a low priority on those who have been in the U.S. for more than 10 years.


For months, the premier political question haunting Democrats … has been whether Obama’s unprecedented support from young people, women and nonwhite voters will roll over into a new campaign, with a new candidate at the top of the ticket. After this week, senior Democrats say, it had better. The president’s decision to use his executive powers to protect some 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation is bound to draw a backlash from middle-of-the-road white voters. …

[T]he president’s wager is … that the voters with the longest memories will be those in the rapidly-growing, next-generation national electorate, heavily inflected by socially progressive young people and an growing Latino population. For all the predictable blowback Democrats will face across the South and even in areas of the Rust Belt, strategists hope the party will be rewarded handsomely in states that have swung rapidly toward their party in national elections thanks to accelerating demographic change. …

Though the GOP has struggled to assemble a viable, diverse coalition in national elections, the party is on a hot streak in large, traditionally Democratic states across the Midwest – big, blue-collar battlegrounds like Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan, where a certain segment of Democratic-leaning, populist white voters may recoil from what they perceive as overreach on the border.

OBAMA’S EVOLUTION ON IMMIGRATION via Juliet Eiperin of the Washington Post

Asked whether the administration considered waiting, [a senior administration] official said: ‘If we were ever going to consider it, that went out the window the day after the election when Boehner had a press conference and one of your colleagues asked, “If the president agrees to wait, would you promise to bring [a bill] up?” And he would not make that promise.




Undocumented immigrants won’t get Obamacare – Freed from deportation threats, more of the undocumented may be able to take regular jobs with health insurance for themselves and their families, instead of operating in shadow jobs without health insurance. They will not be covered by Obamacare, however. And Latinos who are already legal residents – millions of whom remain uninsured – may feel more comfortable signing up for subsidized Obamacare coverage.

Undocumented workers, meet the IRS – Almost of [the] 5 million will be adults with U.S.-born children, meaning they’ll theoretically be able to claim up to $1,000 per child for child tax credit, or several thousand dollars as part of another tax credit for the working poor … But the 5 million will also pay a modest amount of new taxes to Uncle Sam, which experts said will more than make up for the credits the government pays to them.


SOCIAL MEDIA’S REACTION: Geotagged Tweets mentioning key terms” around Obama’s speech here; Mentions of Pres. Obama’s speech by tweets per minute here


Congressman David Jolly has secured a prestigious appointment to the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations. The committee oversees the entire discretionary federal budget. Jolly will begin his new post next year when the 114th Congress convenes.

Jolly represents Pinellas County’s Congressional District 13. He’s only been in office 7 months. Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink in a special election against Democrat Alex Sink. He replaced the late Congressman Bill Young who served on Capitol Hill for more than 40-years.

“I am honored and humbled to be named to the Committee on Appropriations. It is the ultimate watchdog committee, scrutinizing virtually every federal program, identifying and eliminating duplicative federal services and areas of waste, fraud, and abuse. The Committee is also the body that identifies areas of critical national investment from national security, to early childhood education, to the environment, to transportation and infrastructure. And finally, the Committee is the place of first response within the Congress to national emergencies like hurricanes and natural disasters, and matters of international conflict and war,” Jolly said.

“Over the next two years, Congress and the President will be looking for areas to work together but will naturally face areas of strong but constructive disagreement. As a guardian of taxpayer dollars, I look forward to working with the other Committee members in a transparent way to protect taxpayers’ interests,” Jolly noted.

Appropriations is considered one of the most influential committee assignments. Four members have gone on to serve as Speaker of the House and one, James Garfield, has gone on to become president.

Kentucky Congressman Harold Rogers chair the committee. Rogers’ re-election was announced yesterday. He oversees the 51-member committee.


Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart released the following statement after the House Republican Steering Committee approved his appointment as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations in the 114th Congress.

“I am honored to have been chosen to chair the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development. I look forward to working with House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers and other committee members to best solve our nation’s transportation and housing issues. It is of utmost importance that we prioritize transportation initiatives that will improve our local communities, while also providing housing solutions for those most in need. I will work tirelessly to uphold the high standards established by former Subcommittee Chairmen, including the Honorable Tom Latham and our very own South Floridian, the Honorable Bill Lehman.

“I would like to thank Chairman Rogers for this opportunity and am grateful for his continued friendship and leadership.”

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GUNMAN IDENTIFIED AS LAWYER AND FSU GRAD via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune

Something in Myron De’Shawn May snapped, turning the “quiet young man” into yet another campus shooter.

May, the 31-year-old Florida State University graduate identified as the gunman in early Thursday’s shooting at the school’s main library, was “in a state of crisis,” Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo told reporters.

Social media posts illustrate a series of hard times: Three aunts and an uncle died in recent months, he was undergoing financial hardships, and he felt “targeted” by unknown forces.

May, a lawyer, also joined a Facebook group called “Targeted Individuals International,” whose members are concerned with government surveillance and conspiracies.

Whatever pressure he felt – police had no motive – culminated in pistol shots and the wounding of at least three students before officers quickly confronted May and shot him dead. It wasn’t clear how or when he acquired the .380-semiautomatic.

The victims had not been identified, though one was reported in critical condition and another was grazed by a bullet then treated and released.

According to a Las Cruces, New Mexico, police report last month, May was a subject of a harassment complaint after a former girlfriend called to report he came to her home uninvited and claimed police were bugging his house and car.

Danielle Nixon told police May recently developed “a severe mental disorder,” saying he “began to ramble and handed her a piece to a car and asked her to keep it because this was a camera that police had put in his vehicle.”

FLORIDA STATE SHOOTER WAS WELL-LIKED BUT TROUBLED via Brendan Farrington and Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

Authorities don’t know why Myron May targeted his alma mater when he opened fire on students at Florida State University’s library, but they do know he thought the government was watching him and out to get him.

Or, as Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo said, his sense of being was not normal.

“Mr. May had a written journal and videos where he expressed fears of being targeted and that he wanted to bring attention to this issue of targeting,” DeLeo said. “Mr. May was in a state of crisis.”

Police killed May, a 2005 graduate who later earned a law degree from Texas Tech University, early Thursday. Officers had responded to a 12:30 a.m. call about shots being fired at the library, where about 450 students were studying. When police arrived, May had wounded two students and an employee and reloaded a .380 semi-automatic pistol. He refused to put the gun down and they opened fire. More than 30 rounds were fired by May and the officers.

Police said May didn’t get past the lobby, but the sound of gunfire set off screams among students, who scrambled for cover among the bookshelves and barricaded themselves in rooms.

One person was in critical condition at a local hospital. Another, library staffer Nathan Scott, in good condition at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. A third person was treated and released.

***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.***


On the heels of her landslide re-election victory this month, Bondi was elected chairwoman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, whose big donors include corporations and the law firms that lobby for them. The association then funnels that money to members such as Bondi in the form of campaign contributions as well as meals and travel to association meetings. Those events are often held in resort locations, where attorneys general rub elbows with corporate lobbyists.

Bondi collected $750,000 from the association for her re-election campaign. She has accepted at least $25,000 worth of meals and travel for association meetings since taking office…

… The conflict is as plain as day. Yet when asked about it recently, Bondi indignantly declared: “No lobbyist, no person, no corporation, no individual, will ever compromise what we do in our office regarding unfair and deceptive trade practices, nor how we protect the consumers in the state of Florida.”

As Groucho Marx famously said, “Who are you going to believe — me or your own eyes?”


ttorneys for a Republican political consultant have turned to the U.S. Supreme Court in their effort to block the release of emails and documents from Florida’s redistricting process.

Lawyers for Pat Bainter and his Gainesville-based firm Data Targeting filed an emergency petition on Thursday to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas asking that the documents remain sealed until at least February.

The documents were cited by a circuit judge as a reason why he ruled this summer the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature violated a state law that says congressional districts cannot be drawn to favor any political party or incumbent. State legislators were forced to hold a special session in August to redraw the districts although the changes won’t take effect until the 2016 elections.

But the emails and documents have remained sealed as lawyers paid by the Republican Party of Florida have asserted that disclosing them would violate First Amendment rights and trade secrets.

The state Supreme Court earlier this month ruled that the documents should be released to the public and chastised the consultants for not raising First Amendment questions until six months after the documents were first requested.

Justices on Thursday reaffirmed that decision, although they said they would agree to keep the 538 pages of documents sealed until Dec. 1 in order for an appeal to be filed.

JOBS COMING BACK, BUT CONSTRUCTION NOT WHAT IT USED TO BE via Marcia Heroux Pounds via the South Florida Sun Sentinel

Florida is well on its way to recovering all jobs lost during the recession, says Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner. But the state’s home building and construction sector is adding less growth than usual.

Despite major strides, the state’s construction industry is still 226,100 jobs under its pre-recession level and 277,300 jobs below the peak in 2006.

Florida’s job recovery has been broad-based, with strong growth in education services and tourism sectors, Vitner said. Even with retail and tourism jobs taken out of the mix, Florida is outpacing the nation on job growth, Vitner said.

In South Florida, future job growth will come mostly from business and professional services, a wide category that incudes legal services, management, consulting, engineering and technology-related jobs, Vitner said.

Low-paying jobs remain an issue in the state and the region.

“In sheer number of jobs, most jobs will be added in industries with relative low wages — retail trade and tourism,” Vitner said.

The state’s housing market continues to recover, and inventories have risen, which should entice more potential buyers into the market. Also, above-average population growth should ultimately boost demand for single-family homes and condominiums, Vitner said.


Rejuvenated Florida shoppers are expected to increase spending on gifts this season at a faster pace than the rest of the country, according to the Florida Retail Federation’s annual forecast.

The federation predicted a 5 percent jump in holiday shopping statewide, which would be the biggest increase since 2008 and better than the 4.1 percent increase forecast nationwide.

Rick McAllister, president and CEO of the state trade group, dismissed concerns over wage stagnation and still-high unemployment making cash-strapped consumers reluctant to spend. “We’re looking forward to a robust year,” McAllister said in a media conference call. “We’re going to do well. … The indicators tell us that.”

Among those indicators bolstering his confidence: job creation in Florida is up 2.7 percent; the stock market is surging, making consumers feel better about their retirement savings; and the housing market continues to improve, with inventories falling and sales prices rising.

In a sign of housing’s rebound, retailers in the home furnishings category reported up to a 25 percent increase in sales over last year.

McAllister offered two reasons Florida will do better than the national norm: seasonal residents and tourists.

Out of 100 million Florida visitors, roughly 20 million will come to the state in the last quarter of the year, driving up retail spending, he said. “The Sunshine State has a real advantage when it compares to other folks.”


The Board of Medicine is steering clear of the ongoing legal fight between attorneys and release of information companies.

The board met via teleconference to discuss October 31 correspondence from defense attorney Michael Fox Orr advising the board  that rule 64B8-10.003 would be challenged if it wasn’t changed by the end of the year.

Upon Board of Medicine legal counsel Ed Tellechea’s advice, the board voted unanimously not to defend the rule in circuit court if it is challenged. Given the fact the rule is in flux and likely to be changed in the next month, Tellechea said, defending the constitutionality would be “moot.”

Tellechea did say, though, there could be an administrative challenge and–if that is the case–the board would have to defend its rule in administrative court. Tellechea maintained, though, that the rule wasn’t vague as Orr advised in the letter and that he didn’t think it was unconstitutional.

The board’s teleconference meeting came one day after the judge in the class action suit–Webber v Bactes Imaging Solutions, Inc–issued an injunction banning release of information companies from charging attorneys more than patients if the attorneys are seeking the records for patients. Here is the order.

Charges for copying medical records in Florida have been bifurcated for the last five years. Under the rule patients and government entities can be charged $1 per page for the first 25 pages and .25 cents thereafter.

TWEET, TWEET: @AARPJeff: @SaintPetersblog TY for giving @christinesexton a place to do what she does well. Need this kind of coverage. Don’t get it elsewhere.

***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.***


Mayor Alvin Brown’s campaign said Thursday it will return money it received from a September fundraiser in New York headlined by Bill Cosby, who has recently come under intense national scrutiny following the resurgence sexual assault allegations against the 77-year-old comic.

The fundraiser — held at the high-end mid-Manhattan Harvard Club of New York — had already caused local headaches for Brown. He attended the event the same evening the City Council worked for more than nine hours into the night to finalize the city’s $1 billion budget, igniting harsh criticism from council members and Lenny Curry, his well-financed Republican challenger in the 2015 mayoral election.

David Beattie, a senior advisor for Brown’s re-election, told the Times-Union Thursday the money will be returned. He did not immediately know the amount of money the event raised for Taking Jacksonville to the Next Level, the political action committee supporting Brown’s re-election.

Beattie said the decision was made “in light of the revelations of what’s gone on in the news coverage” surrounding Cosby. Earlier Thursday, a St. Petersburg political blogger had called for Brown to return the money.



Beall’s CEO Steve Knopik has been elected as the new chair of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, according to a Chamber statement released.

Knopik’s one-year term began November 1, and he replaces outgoing Chamber Chair Eric Silagy, President and CEO of Florida Power and Light Company.

“Steve Knopik is an experienced business leader who understands that the private-sector plays an important role in making Florida more competitive,” said Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson. “Steve will volunteer his time and talent to support our mission of uniting the business community and championing free enterprise principles and solutions to secure Florida’s future.”

“It’s an honor for me to Chair the Florida Chamber Board. I am committed to working hard with the Florida Chamber team to build upon the successes that we’ve achieved,” Knopik said. “I firmly believe that the Florida Chamber will continue to play a vital role in shaping a bright future for all Floridians.”

Knopik, who has been with Beall’s Inc. since 1984, became CEO of the Florida-based company in August 2006, after serving as Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President and President.


Veteran Florida insurance lobbyist Tim Stanfield has moved to Tallahassee-based Pennington 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 10 years of lobbying experience, Stanfield will boost the firm’s presence in both the legislative and executive branches.

As a leading figure in the Florida Capitol, known for his expertise and work ethic, Stanfield has played a crucial role in promoting legislation on a wide range of subjects. His specialties include sovereign immunity; budget; transportation and highway safety; insurance; law enforcement; education; and health care. He has also developed strong relationships with the Department of Financial Services, Office of Insurance Regulation, Department of Economic Opportunity, Department of Transportation, Department of Health, Agency of Health Care Administration and the Department of Management Services.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you in part by the Florida Medical Association: Affordable, safe, patient-centered health care in Florida starts with a physician-led team, with all health care professionals playing valuable and appropriate roles. Learn more here.***


On Context Florida: An anniversary of one of the most significant moments in our history slipped by, says Martin Dyckman, one largely overlooked by those of us preoccupied with a worrisome future. It was on Nov. 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Gettysburg battlefield cemetery, that President Abraham Lincoln expressed the purpose of America as we like to think of it today, pledging himself and the nation to honor the fallen heroes by ensuring that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” This concept of “Six Degrees of Separation” is actually more than just a game or song; it has been studied by scientists for the past 50 years, writes UCF Forum columnist Alaina Bernard.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.


Whoever said no news is good news was wrong. Turns out drinking red wine is better for you than going to the gym! How’s that for good news? Jason Dyck and other science researchers in the University of Alberta in Canada found that red wine, nuts and grapes have a complex called resveratrol, which improves heart, muscle, and bone functions; the same way they’re improved when one goes to the gym. Resveratrol proved to be an effective antioxidant when tested on rodents which is why scientists are planning on testing it with diabetics. If results are positive for the benefits of the complex, patient’s heart health could be improved just as much as it does when they work out vigorously.

While scientists and wine lovers are rejoicing over this news, doctors are still unlikely to recommend their patients to start drinking any type of alcohol as it can have harmful effects on your body. People should keep in mind that these benefits can be enjoyed only when having one glass of wine with your evening meal, at the most. Resveratrol is specifically found in red wine as are some of the beneficial antioxidants referred to when talking about heart health. Red wine is also known to reduce ‘bad cholesterol’ and prevent blood clots.

Other benefits red wine is known for (when consumed in moderation, constantly) are: promoting longevity, cutting risk of cataracts and colon cancer, reducing risk of Type 2 Diabetes and slowing down brain decline (which beer is known for, too.) We think these are good excuses to kick back and relax with a glass of vino every single night. Bottoms up!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY THIS HOLIDAY WEEKEND to Chip Case, Jennifer Davis, Rochelle Dudley, former state Rep. Rich Glorioso, Aelon Suskey (Alan’s better half), Todd Thomson, Screven Watson.

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.