Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – June 17

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Sunburn – The morning read of Florida politics.


A white man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside a historic black church in downtown Charleston on Wednesday night, killing nine people, including the pastor, in an assault that authorities described as a hate crime. The shooter remained at large Thursday morning.

Police Chief Greg Mullen said he believed the attack at the Emanuel AME Church was a hate crime, and police were looking for a white male in his early 20s. Mullen said the scene was chaotic when police arrived, and the officers thought they had the suspect tracked with a police dog, but he got away.

“We will put all effort, we will put all resources and we will put all of our energy into finding this individual who committed this crime tonight,” he said.

The FBI will aid the investigation, Mullen told a news conference that was attended by FBI Special Agent in Charge David A. Thomas.

Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley called the shooting “the most unspeakable and heartbreaking tragedy.”


In the wake of Wednesday’s mass church shootings, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush canceled a scheduled appearance Thursday in Charleston, South Carolina.

“Governor Bush’s thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and families affected by this tragedy,” according to a statement from his campaign.

Bush, who formally announced his candidacy earlier this week, was to appear Thursday at the Charleston Maritime Center as part of his tour of some of the nation’s early-primary states. The city has a special connection to his family: His mother, Barbara Bush, was a 1943 graduate of Ashley Hall School.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks, a trusted provider of industry-leading communications and networking services to businesses of all sizes, from startups to large, multi-site organizations. Our Enterprise Solutions provides the fiber connectivity, cloud and managed services  today’s large organizations demand, while our Business  Solutions team works with small- to mid-size companies to ensure they get the right services to fit their needs and their budget. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more at***


Rubio’s popularity surge since announcing his 2016 presidential campaign in April makes him the strongest Republican challenger in his home state of Florida — at least for now — against Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to a new public-opinion poll.

Clinton leads Rubio 47-44 percent in Florida, the survey by Quinnipiac University shows. Rubio also polls well in two other swing states, Ohio and Pennsylvania, even if he’s not the GOP candidate in the tightest match-ups against Clinton in those cases.

In Ohio, potential contender and Gov. John Kasich leads Clinton 47-44 percent. Rubio trails her 45-42 percent. In Pennsylvania, she ekes ahead of Rubio 44-43 percent.

With error margins of 3 percentage points in Florida, 2.8 percentage points in Ohio and 3.2 percentage points in Pennsylvania, most of the match-ups effectively show ties. So early in the 2016 race, the more important takeaway is the trend from several polls showing Rubio on the upswing, according to Peter A. Brown, the poll’s assistant director.

“It’s a long way until Election Day, but in the critical swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has a tiny edge over the GOP field,” Brown said in a statement.

Eight other hopefuls are “within striking distance” in at least one of the three states, he noted. That includes newly announced candidate Jeb Bush, whom Clinton leads 46-42 percent in Florida, 42-41 percent in Ohio and 45-41 percent in Pennsylvania.


A new national poll of all of the Republican presidential candidates from Public Policy Polling shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker with a slight lead over Bush, 17 percent to 15 percent. Rubio is third with 13 percent, followed by Dr. Ben Carson at 12 percent and Mike Huckabee with 11 percent.

Ted Cruz and Rand Paul show up next in the poll with 8 percent support each. Carly Fiorina gets 5 percent and Chris Christie is next at 4 percent.

The poll is a mixed bag for Bush. On one hand, he’s the only candidate who’s really gained in support over the last month, going from 11 to 15 percent. On the other hand, he actually starts out with a negative favorability rating among GOP primary voters — only 37 percent see him favorably to 40 percent with an unfavorable view. That’s largely due to his struggles with conservatives- just 32 percent of ‘very conservative’ primary voters have a positive opinion of him, while 51 percent see him negatively.

Bush does lead the field with moderates at 19 percent to 17 percent for Rubio. Paul gets 15 percent and 10 percent for Huckabee.

Rubio has the best favorability rating of the GOP hopefuls- 59 percent of primary voters have a positive opinion of him to only 16 percent with a negative one. Rubio is also the most frequently named second choice of GOP voters. Only three hopefuls are either the first or second choice of more than 20% of voters — Walker at 28 percent, Bush at 26 percent, and Rubio at 25 percent.

WHY BUSH’S GROWTH FORECAST IS A STRETCH via Josh Boak of the Associated Press

Bush says there’s “not a reason in the world” why the U.S. economy can’t grow at 4 percent annually … there are a bunch of reasons it probably can’t.

Many economists say the U.S. economy is ill equipped to grow consistently at even close to 4 percent. Current forecasts put growth averaging half that rate. Any president, Republican or Democrat, would have to overcome decades-long trends that are largely beyond the control of the Oval Office.

Those trends include the retirements of the vast generation of baby boomers — an exodus that limits the number of workers in the economy. Rising automation and low-wage competition overseas are among other factors. A result has been meager income growth, which has cut into the consumer spending that drives most economic growth.

In his campaign announcement … Bush said “there is not a reason in the world why we cannot grow at a rate of 4 percent a year. And that will be my goal as president – 4 percent growth, and the 19 million new jobs that come with it.”

BUSH BEGINS HIS BID TO LOCK UP NEW HAMPSHIRE via Tim Alberta of the National Journal

Bush began his first town hall meeting as a presidential candidate by professing his “love” for New Hampshire because its voters care about fiscal responsibility—then proceeded to spend an hour whispering sweet nothings about job growth, entitlement cuts, and regulatory reform.

Most notable, though, was Bush telling the crowd … his campaign is crafting a tax-code overhaul. “You can’t have high growth without reforming the tax code,” Bush said. “So we’re working on a proposal.”

Bush said the U.S. has “the strangest” tax code he’s seen, and said he would gladly do battle with “lobbyists in Washington” fighting to protect certain exemptions. Touting his recent trip to Estonia, where “you can fill out your taxes, and pay your taxes, in two minutes,” Bush promised that his proposal “will be intellectually honest.” But he did not elaborate on details or a timetable for releasing the plan.

The event showed why Bush, who is socially conservative but hardly adept at giving red-meat speeches, has identified this state as the cornerstone of his 2016 campaign. Bush made a point of saying New Hampshire — not Iowa, which holds its caucuses first on the primary calendar — is “the first stop for a candidate” after launching a campaign.

Bush said the U.S. can create “a field of dreams” for economic growth by doing two things: reforming the tax code and reining in excess regulations. “If we fix how we tax and how we regulate, don’t you think we can compete with anybody?” Bush asked, garnering applause. “I do.”

Taking one question about his commitment to balancing the budget, Bush emphasized that entitlement spending is the biggest barrier to doing so, and promised that if elected, he would resume the last Republican president’s push to restructure Social Security.

FLORIDA POLS BOOST BUSH’S SUPER PAC via Michael Beckel of the Center for Public Integrity

The earliest donors to Bush’s pre-presidential campaign machine include prominent Florida politicians, the state’s chamber of commerce and even a labor union … together, these Sunshine State lawmakers and special interests have donated nearly $250,000 to a controversial super PAC that Bush, a former Florida governor, controlled prior to his formal presidential announcement …

The pro-Bush Right to Rise super PAC has not yet filed reports with the Federal Election Commission detailing its funders, and it won’t until next month.

The state campaign finance disclosures … offer a preview, however limited, of who in a crowded presidential election field has already committed cash to Team Jeb.

Among the most generous Florida-based political groups already backing Bush: The Committee for a Stronger Florida, which is associated with former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford.

To date, it has given $75,000 to Bush’s Right to Rise super PAC. Weatherford has praised Bush for having “one of the most successful records as governor of anybody I’ve ever seen.” … Weatherford was also among the hosts of a fundraiser for the Right to Rise super PAC staged at the Grand Hyatt in Tampa, Florida, according to a copy of an invitation obtained by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit group that advocates for government transparency.

Weatherford’s Committee for a Stronger Florida, in turn, has collected most of its money since its inception last July from the Florida Republican Party.

Meanwhile, the Treasure Coast Alliance, operated by influential Republican state Sen. Joe Negron — who is vying to be the next Senate president — has donated $51,000 to Bush’s Right to Rise super PAC, records show. And the PAC of Florida’s current GOP House Speaker Steve Crisafulli — known as Growing Florida’s Future — has donated $25,000. Additional donors to the pro-Bush super PAC include political groups run by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Professional Firefighters labor union and the health care industry.


The super PAC tied to … Bush has raised $17 million so far in the New York-area alone, according to a conference call between the super PAC officials and donors on WednesdayMike Murphy, the longtime Jeb Bush confidant and consultant who is heading the Right to Rise super PAC, told a group of donors on a conference call Wednesday that they had so far raised $17 million in the Tri-State area to support Bush’s campaign for the presidency. Telling the donors on the call they were ‘killers’ who he was going to ‘set loose,’ Murphy said the number the SuperPAC would be filing by the next July reporting deadline would give opponents ‘heart attacks’ and discourage their rivals’ donors from opening their wallets.


If anyone should be feeling an overwhelming sense of Groundhog Day this presidential election, c’est moi. Frankly, I’ve been covering Bushes for so long, I feel like I ought to be parachuting out of airplanes. In fact, the arc of my career parallels the so-called Bush Dynasty, beginning in 1980 when I was a young reporter for the Charleston (S.C.) Evening Post … That was the first year South Carolina held a Republican presidential primary, and it has been the “First in the South” ever since.

And now comes Jeb.

Though I’ve not met him, I formed an impression of Bush during the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa when I heard him speak at a small reception. Predisposed neither to like nor dislike him, I was immediately impressed. Without notes, he was eloquent, thoughtful, fluent in policy yet plainspoken, accessible and utterly free of artifice or guile. I remember thinking at the time: If the American people could hear him, they would like him.

They finally got to hear him … as he launched his presidential campaign. We’ll soon know whether my instincts were right. As to the dynasty question, Bush settled the issue, indirectly and cleverly: “The presidency,” he said, “should not be passed on from one liberal to the next.”

Classy. And the real point, after all.

MY TAKE: JEB BUSH = TIGER WOODS Full blog post here

For much of Woods storied golfing career, one of the bets offered was him vs. The Field, meaning you could wager either on Tiger winning or all of the other golfers playing in a tournament. That almost seems preposterous until you realize that going into most events The Field was only a slight favorite (a dollar bet would only earn you 50 cents, while a dollar bet on Woods would earn you a buck twenty).

Of course, the smart money would week in and week out bet on The Field, but it would not feel good about doing so because there was so much potential on the other side of the proposition.

The same can be said about the race for the GOP presidential nomination. With Rubio, Walker, John Kasich, and so many other talented golfers, err, candidates in the field, the smart money would probably take The Field versus Bush. Maybe.

PredictIt, an online political stock market that uses the marketplace to forecast events, currently has a share of stock in Bush winning the GOP nomination at 42 cents (were Bush to actually win, that share would pay out at a dollar). That feels about right. It’s still safer to take the rest of The Field, but not by much.

That’s how it was each weekend Tiger Woods played in a golf tournament. And that’s how the presidential race is shaping up in the early stages.


— “Bush announces Iowa endorsements” via Jason Noble of the Des Moines Register

— “Bush starting behind others and nearly from scratch in Iowa” via Thomas Beaumont and Catherine Lucey of the Associated Press

— “IJReview Partnering with ABC News for New Hampshire GOP Primary Debate” via Independent Journal Review

— “Typography is why Jeb’s logo is worse than a piece of crap” via Liz Stinson of Wired


The bid to have Florida join the growing number of states who have legalized medical marijuana languished for years, until Orlando attorney and Democratic Party fundraiser John Morgan organized an effort to get the measure passed last year.

You know what happened: the measure received overwhelming support, but 57 percent isn’t 60 percent – the margin required for passage by a citizen-led constitutional amendment drive.

After holding out hope that the Legislature might address the issue this past spring, United For Care, the group that worked to pass the measure in 2014, is now actively requesting signatures to get on a petition to get the measure on the 2016 ballot.

Officials with the group say that they’ve already been collecting “tens of thousands” of petitions since mid-January of this year, but they’ll ultimately need 683,149 valid petitions turned into the Florida Department of State’s office by February 1 of next year to obtain ballot placement for 2016.

Officials with the group say that the ballot language has been tweaked somewhat – clarifying issues related to parental consent and the kinds of conditions that would qualify a potential patient, with a doctor’s recommendation.

Supporters emphasize that previous citizens who signed the petition for last year’s ballot measure must sign again for the 2016 proposal.


Sandy Adams is making a comeback … The former state legislator and one-term congresswoman sent an email to supporters earlier today announcing her campaign for Florida’s 6th congressional district, being vacated by current Congressman Ron DeSantis as he makes a play for the U.S. Senate. The release, quoted Adams as saying Floridians have the opportunity to roll back the policies of President Barack Obama and liberals in Congress.

“I have a clear record of conservative leadership in Tallahassee and Washington.”

Adams spent seventeen years as a deputy sheriff and also served in the United States Air Force before serving 8 years in the Florida House. She has earned a reputation as a no-nonsense conservative and the New York Times called her “the toughest” member of the historic class of freshman Republicans elected in 2010. Kind words from two conservative icons in congress were also featured in the communiqué.

Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who serves as Chairman of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee issued a warm endorsement.

“We need good people like Sandy Adams who pour their heart and soul into doing the right thing in Congress. I’ve seen her up close and personal fight for our country. We need Sandy Adams back in Congress.”

One of the GOP primary opponents Adams will face is Adam Barringer, who was twice elected mayor of his hometown, New Smyrna Beach, where he also built a successful small business. Barringer welcomed Adams to the race in a statement.

“Democracy is beautiful,” he said in an email. “We welcome all candidates to this race. In talking to the people of our district, I believe they want a representative from our district who lives, works and plays here. Their votes are the only endorsements that matter.”

Adams is expected to be the early front-runner in the race to replace DeSantis, and strong support from conservatives in Congress will certainly help her gain street cred with GOP primary voters.

***Conversa is a women- and minority-owned, full-service public affairs, public relations, design and research firm, specializing in the development of campaigns that help you listen, understand, engage, and interact with local and global audiences. We’ve helped organizations ranging from Fortune 500 clients and national nonprofits to small businesses and international associations define messages, protect interests, influence opinion leaders, and create the conditions necessary for social change. To learn more about how we get people talking, visit***


A federal judge in Pensacola cancelled an evidentiary hearing scheduled for Friday that could have required Gov. Scott and Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell to appear in court.

Judge M. Casey Rodgers issued a one-page ruling … that lawyers for Scott had filed a notice with the federal court to withdraw their motion for a preliminary injunction. With no motion for preliminary injunction the evidentiary hearing isn’t necessary.

In her order, Rodgers said Scott’s attorneys noted that the injunction was no longer necessary because the Legislature has agreed on a budget that “appropriates sufficient state funds to compensate Florida healthcare providers in the coming months, which mitigates the threat of immediate harm.”

Rodgers last week issued an order rejecting Scott’s request for mediation, a request his attorneys made in hopes of keeping the Florida’s Low Income Pool program at the $2 billion level. In denying the motion, Rodgers acknowledged the state’s previous request for a preliminary injunction — that if granted would also force the government to continue funding at $2 billion — and committed to holding  an evidentiary hearing for June 19. The judge advised in the order that witnesses should be prepared to be in court.

The underlying lawsuit still remains. Scott sued the Obama Administration in federal court in Pensacola alleging that it violated the U.S. Constitution by threatening to withhold Low Income Pool funding if Florida did not expand Medicaid under the federal health care law.


State utility regulators will decide Thursday whether Florida Power & Light’s 4 million customers — or its shareholders — will finance the company’s expansion into oil and natural gas reserves.

The Florida Public Service Commission gave the company approval to get into the controversial fracking business in December. It now must decide whether to approve guidelines proposed by FPL that would let the company spend up to $750 million a year more on gas exploration without regulatory approval.

In a rare pushback to the powerful utility, PSC staff members recommended against having customers foot the bill for the untested venture.

Their argument: the success of FPL’s natural gas exploration — including gas fracking and “wildcatting” in untested territories — is risky because it depends on the ability of the state’s largest utility to do something no utility company has ever done at a time when natural gas prices are volatile.

“The distribution of benefits to FPL and its customers is not equitable,” the staff concluded. While customers have to wait decades to see any drop in fuel costs resulting from the investment, there would be an immediate benefit to the company and its shareholders because it would “grow earnings” by expanding the rate base.

FPL counters that the risk is worth the reward.

“The guidelines we proposed are designed to enable us to take advantage of future opportunities to obtain more essential clean natural gas directly from the source, generating additional savings for our customers and helping protect them from the risk of fuel market volatility,’’ said Mark Bubriski, FPL spokesman.


Sometimes, decisions made in the Legislature are nauseatingly selfish. … Sometimes, they are fanatical. Phony. Outlandish. Cruel. … And sometimes, they are none of those things.

They are simply wrong.

The state budget that was agreed upon earlier this week has plenty of fodder no matter where you reside philosophically. You can say legislators spent recklessly or you can say they skimped foolishly, and there is truth to both arguments.

So I understand the damned-if-you-do predicament lawmakers face with every budget, and I appreciate the balance struck between quality of life and cost of services. And, still, I fear legislators failed some of the most vulnerable among us.

At the apparent insistence of Sen. Don Gaetz … legislators agreed to completely destroy a long-standing program for cognitively disabled adults. To be fair, that sounds worse than it really is.

Senate president Andy Gardiner … has made providing opportunities for the developmentally challenged a priority during his tenure, and his office says proposed funding will still exceed last year’s budget for assisting people with disabilities.

At issue, is how the money will be spent. … With lawmakers meeting privately to hammer out a budget … the entire $10 million program was wiped from existence. The Senate’s justification? That money could be better spent on other programs with more oversight and a greater emphasis on job placement.

There are more than 12,000 adults currently being served by AWD, and many have been in the program for years. This is the only life they know, and abrupt change could be devastating. Maybe the state will find better programs for them, but that is no guarantee.

FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Jonathan Kilman: “More news later, but for those of you who have been following my efforts to make equity crowdfunding legal in Florida, the Governor Signed HB 275, Intrastate Crowdfunding today! Could not have been done without bill sponsors Rep. David Santiago and Sen. Garrett Richter. My partner in the effort, colleague Paul Lowell, was a master at drafting and idea development. Eric Raimundo was more than a legislative staffer, he was a champion. Thanks also to Office of Financial Regulation who were collaborative and helped refine the bill. Thank you also to Carlos Carbonell and Matthew Huggins who through FounderSource were champions of the cause!”


The resolution of a recent legislative ‘food fight’ in this year’s budget ended with an incumbent law enforcement radios vendor winning $7 million in state dollars to purchase new equipment that they manufacture, but Harris Corporation‘s effort to position itself as a permanent partner may not have been as successful as it appears at first glance.

The Brevard County-based telecommunications firm was able to secure state dollars to replace existing police radio systems — a vendor-driven move to essentially “upsell” the state equipment not requested by law enforcement agencies in the first place — but upon further examination, Harris may not have “won” the day in their quest to entrench themselves as Florida’s long-term radio partner and avoid a looming competitive bidding process after all.

Sen. Jack Latvala last week expressed concern that the request, if granted, was tantamount to a “back door extension” of the contract.

The move does indeed raise questions about transparency, but it may not have bought Harris as much of an advantage as it planned.

The $7 million line item, assuming it is not axed by Gov. Scott‘s veto pen, only amounts to 8 percent of their original $84 million request, fulfilled by Speaker Steve Crisafulli of Brevard’s Merritt Island. And it comes with significant strings attached.

According to the proviso language, funds for the radio purchase will be placed in reserves and disbursed at the discretion of the of the Department of Management Services and its Joint Task Force on State Law Enforcement Radios. The task force issued a report back in January that recommended a competitive procurement process to upgrade the state’s radio infrastructure, something Harris sought to circumvent by embedding more funding for themselves in the state budget.

The budget item also includes $800,000 for DMS to prepare for a competitive procurement process set to go ahead when the current contract expires in 2021 regardless of the replenished stock of radios. Harris reportedly fought that move to no avail.

Harris also reportedly offered to upgrade existing radio towers at no cost, but the Legislature did not take them up on it. That signals an desire to go ahead with the current plan to shop around for new technology from other vendors, such as Motorola Solutions and Airbus, both of whom are expected to make bids when the request for competitive proposals begins.

The last-minute budget item was a jump ball that may have fallen Harris’ way in the short term, but ultimately it may well leave lawmakers and administrators wondering, “Harris forced the state to buy millions of dollars worth of radios it didn’t ask for. What’s stopping them from doing it again if they win the next contract?”

In any case, this fascinating intra-industry battle is clearly far from over. The spirit of competitiveness won out in this year’s budget, and looks likely to continue to define the process despite the best efforts of those on the inside track.


A $1 million ask by the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority will not be funded in the state’s 2015 budget.

The Legislature agreed on an $80 billion budget … but it did not include proposed funding for a Bus Rapid Transit study for a Central Avenue route connecting downtown St. Pete and the beaches. The money would have funded a feasibility study for BRT lines running east to west along First Avenues North and South.

The PSTA board is set to discuss the funding miss during a committee meeting … There are several ideas likely to come up on alternative ways to fund a study. Those include things like asking the county or the Metropolitan Planning Organizations to help fund the study.


Two Florida House Republicans were selected Wednesday for the Republican State Leadership Committee’s (RSLC) Future Majority Project (FMP). Reps. Jose Felix Diaz of Miami and Jose Oliva of Hialeah are now part of a select group from the country’s largest caucus of Republican state leaders to engage minority voters in the 2016 election cycle. The pair joins more than 25 other Republican political leaders selected from across the nation.

In the 2013-2014 election cycle, FMP recruited hundreds of candidates, with 43 winning office. In 2016, the FMP goal is to recruit 250 new, diverse candidates and get 50 of them either appointed or elected to office.


Jacksonville, “America’s logistics center,” has the chance to be a state leader, with a new Florida bill that prioritizes funding for areas deemed “freight logistics zones.”… introduced by local state Rep. Lake Ray and state Senator Wilton Simpson of Trilby, is the first of two phases which will emphasize the importance of such zones — which by definition, Ray said, are areas within the state connected to ports.

A study on Florida’s trade flow by the state’s Chamber of Commerce, Ray said, revealed that Florida has a connectivity problem. The report discusses the need for intermodal logistics centers, or inland ports, which connect marine ports to intermodal access.

The issue, Ray said, is that there was a lack of engagement from some municipalities and counties within the state, who were not permitting opportunities to invest in ports.

With this bill, logistics freight zones will be prioritized for funding from Florida Department of Transportation and embraced by local municipalities.

With the first phase passed — it was one of the few that made it through this legislative session, Ray said, and became law a few days ago — the next step is to get a bigger, better, stronger commitment to the zones and provide specific funding for them.

Ray said he was in conversations to set that up, including within Jacksonville to prepare its freight logistics zones.

“I believe we should embrace [zones] for a number of reasons, and at minimum create freight logistics zones for Nassau, Duval, Clay and St. Johns counties.”


At just 25, Sarasota native Edward James III already has worked on two major political campaigns and spent time in Silicon Valley as an employee for Google … now … is setting his sights on the Florida Legislature. James filed paperwork Tuesday to run for the District 72 state House seat covering much of northern Sarasota County.

With James, Sarasota Democrats appear to have one of their stronger candidates for state office in recent years. Academically accomplished and politically savvy, James has deep roots in the community and comes into the race with a number of assets despite his young age.

James is a fourth generation Sarasota resident. His great grandmother endured having rocks and bottles thrown at her at Lido Beach before integration. His grandmother taught at Sarasota County schools for 42 years and wrote a book about black history in Sarasota.

James’ father is the producer and host of the Black Almanac television show on the local ABC station. His mother is a long-time employee of the Sarasota County court system. Both have been politically active. James tagged along with his father to city council and school board meetings as a child.

James is selling himself as a fresh face who understands the local community and will bring a bi-partisan approach to a state Capitol that has been racked by highly-charged partisan fighting over expanding health insurance coverage.

The Medicaid expansion debate “was really a motivating factor for me to get in this race,” he said, adding that accepting federal funds to provide more low-income people with health coverage is a “common sense thing.”


Sam Mousa, a former top mayoral staffer known for a no-nonsense demeanor that can kick start bureaucratic sluggishness, will return to City Hall as Mayor-elect Lenny Curry’s chief administrative officer … the first announced spot in Curry’s administration, is not a surprise: Curry spoke highly of Mousa’s abilities during the campaign and eventually tapped him to head his mayoral transition.

And this week, Mousa has been leading a packed series of in-depth meetings with city departments and agencies to help the Curry administration with the fast-track, daunting task of building a city budget, which must be submitted July 20.

“From the start of our transition process, I have been witness to Sam’s ability to get his arms around the budget challenges and financial disarray our city faces,” Curry said in a statement. “It has become abundantly clear to me that as a loyal friend, a trusted advisor, and a city leader imminently qualified to serve, that there is no one better positioned to work with me to help lead our team setting our city on a path for fiscal certainty. I know that Sam will accomplish big things for Jacksonville as we restore public safety to ushering in a new era of economic prosperity for every neighborhood.”

Mousa, an engineer, ran the day-to-day operations of City Hall as former Mayor John Delaney’s chief administrative officer. He also oversaw one of Delaney’s legacy achievements: The $2.2 billion Better Jacksonville Plan. He is a managing principal at JBC Planning & Engineering LLC.

Under Curry, Mousa will make $300,000 a year, according to transition spokesman Brian Hughes.

APPOINTED: Patrick T. Hogan to the Board of Directors of Florida ABLE, Inc.


Rudy Garcia, Florida Governmental Affairs: Topp Solutions, Inc.

Ken Granger, Nick Iarossi, Chris Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: Tyler’s Hope for a Dystonia Cure, Inc.


Veteran lobbyist Harold “Trey” Price is announcing the formation of Price Point Strategies, LLC, an advocacy firm focusing on state and local government in Florida.

“After working nearly 20 years with state and local governments and political campaigns across Florida, I’m very excited to announce the launch of Price Point Strategies,” said Price. “Responsive, knowledgeable advocacy is something that is always in demand, and I am excited to put my skills to work for my clients.”

Price Point Strategies will focus on the diverse areas of state and local taxation, property rights, housing and development, health care policy, and appropriation procurement.  With contacts and allies throughout Florida, Price Point Strategies will offer a wide range of services to organizations, associations, and companies who seek representation before state and local government.

Price has a rich depth of experience in government and politics, serving the last 14 years as an in-house lobbyist for the state’s largest trade organization, Florida Realtors. He also has worked as a campaign manager for several legislative and local campaigns, a general campaign consultant, and a legislative assistant in the Florida House.


Silicon Valley billionaire Sean Parker is taking the wraps off his long-awaited social network for politics, Brigade, saying it is one step toward tackling a problem that his former company, Facebook, hasn’t managed to solve.

Parker said he’s been thinking about how technology can help better engage Americans in political life since about the time he started helping Mark Zuckerberg turn Facebook from a bare-bones website into the mammoth social platform it is now. Now he’s decided that the first step is getting people comfortable taking political stands online.

Parker, the co-founder of Napster and former Facebook president, perhaps best known from Justin Timberlake’s portrayal in “The Social Network,” has been getting more involved in politics in recent years. Brigade opened up shop in April of last year, with $9 million in funding, including from famed Silicon Valley investor Ron Conway and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. The company says it now has some 50 people on staff, including 30 engineers, with offices in San Francisco and Washington.

Brigade is doing its own version of Facebook’s launch with a pared down set of features and an invitation-only beta stage. The app offers a kind of micro-transaction that asks users to make judgment calls on all sorts of issues in the news, and then dive into how their thinking matches up with that of their friends. “Snappy,” is how Parker describes the experience, with users consuming position statements that are “snackable and simple, so I can agree or disagree quickly.” Rather than encouraging shallow thinking, that approach forces Brigade users to be transparent about where they stand.

Some topics bubbling up on Brigade right now? “The government should make tuition free to those students who work to cover their living expenses,” “Desalination could solve California’s water shortage,” and “Major airlines’ push to reduce the size of carry-on bags would be a burden to business travelers.”


Twitter says it’s talked with the Cuban government about expanding access to its service, the latest sign of U.S. tech companies exploring digital possibilities on the island after President Barack Obama’s announcement of a historic thaw in relations.

While the tech conversation around Cuba has thus far been about building the basic network infrastructure the country lacks, Twitter says it has a simple, short-term ask: Let Cubans tweet by text message.

Cuba lacks the sort of four- or five-digit number shortcut that allows users to tweet via SMS, often quite cheaply and even from rudimentary cellphones. (In much of the world, that short code is “40404,” but it varies; Mexico’s short code is, for example, “6464.”)

Twitter says its director of global public policy, Colin Crowell, has met with officials from the Cuban Interests Section in Washington — the country’s current diplomatic outpost in the U.S. — to discuss the issue.

“We don’t have a short code deal with Cuba, and it’s one of the few places in the world where we don’t,” says Crowell. “We’ve broached our desire with Cuban officials and they’re open to it, but we haven’t made a trip down there to effectuate that deal.


The same lucky lottery numbers, 7-1-5, that won a Florida man tens of thousands of dollars over the years banked him another $92,000 payout last month. And then his luck ran out: the 184 winning tickets, each worth $500, were nowhere to be found.

Walid Aboroomi searched high and low, even calling his garbage hauler to see if he might try to salvage the Florida Cash 3 tickets. (He couldn’t – his trash is taken to an incinerator.)

“Finally, I gave up. I was crying, crying like a baby,” said the 50-year-old man.

Aboroomi … has a ticket from the lottery machine showing 184 tickets were sold on May 28. But lottery officials told him he must have the tickets to get the cash.

Aboroomi has had a lucky streak over the years, winning well over $1.5 million from various lottery games. In fall 2004, he won $500,000 in a scratch-off jackpot. The next year, he won $1 million playing the Virginia Million Dollar Madness scratch game. He later won $71,000 in the Virginia Pick 3 with his lucky numbers, and another $100,000 with those same numbers in 2007.

“Yeah,” Aboroomi said, “I’m not hungry.”

VIDEO DU JOUR: Sen. Bill Nelson, born Sept. 29, 1942, dropping and doing 46 pushups to make good on a bet over the Stanley Cup with Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois. Video here. H/t to Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

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.