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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – November 4

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray, and Jim Rosica.

BUDDY DYER RE-ELECTED ORLANDO MAYOR, AS ST. PETE, MIAMI BEACH & VOTERS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY HEAD TO POLLS FOR OFF-YEAR ELECTIONS

In most states, the big elections will come next year. But on Tuesday, voters in a few cities states electing governors and legislators, some cities elected mayors, and a variety of major issues were settled at the ballot box.

The elections, although drawing fewer voters than next year’s presidential contest, provided a test of public opinion on such topics as marijuana, gay rights and the emerging “sharing economy,” which includes services that allow individuals to rent out rooms in their homes via the Internet.

– IN FLORIDA –

ORLANDO ELECTIONS: BUDDY DYER WINS AS INCUMBENTS SWEEP CITY COUNCIL RACES via Jeff Weiner of the Orlando Sentinel – Dyer comfortably held off big-spending challenger Paul Paulson … winning a fourth full term in office … Dyer carried 62.6 percent of the vote compared to 33.2 for Paulson … The race for District 6 was tighter, but Sam Ings held off a crowded field to win a third full term… Meanwhile, District 4 Commissioner Patty Sheehan cruised … The city’s longest-serving incumbent, she won a fifth term in office with 68.9 percent of the vote.

NEW DAY FOR RAYS? LISA WHEELER-BROWN BESTS WILL NEWTON; CHARLIE GERDES AND STEVE KORNELL WIN REELECTION TO ST. PETE CITY COUNCIL via Charlie Frago, Waveney Ann Moore and Tony Marrero of the Tampa Bay Times – Voter turnout … was anemic, but it was enough for … Kriseman to clinch City Council support to break a five-year stalemate with the Tampa Bay Rays. It was District 7, which covers Midtown, Childs Park and other southern neighborhoods, that Kriseman clinched the vote. For the past eight years, the district had been represented by Newton’s brother, Wengay, an outspoken critic of any offer allowing the Rays to leave Tropicana Field before 2028. Many voters … shrugged when asked about their role in deciding the team’s fate in the region. Others said the Rays motivated them to vote.

MIAMI BEACH MAYOR PHILIP LEVINE EASILY DEFEATS OPPONENTS via the Miami Herald – Levine handily defeated challenger David Wieder, a trial lawyer and chairman of the Historic Preservation Board, by garnering more than 60 percent of the vote. … The 53-year-old millionaire mayor spent about $896,000 on his campaign this year, nearly half the $2 million he spent in 2013 when he was first elected. Levine’s total, mostly coming from his own pocket, trumped the $34,900 Wieder spent.

MARK SENMARTIN RE-ELECTED TO THE MARATHON CITY COUNCIL, VOTERS GIVE MICHELLE COLDIRON THE NOD FOR THE OTHER OPEN SEAT via KEYSINFONET – Marathon voters … re-elected … Senmartin to the City Council and sent … Coldiron into office … Senmartin, owner of a gun shop and pawn shop, and Coldiron, owner of a medical supply business, were two of five candidates running for two at-large seats, meaning the two with the most votes won.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY SCHOOL SALES TAX APPEARS HEADED FOR VICTORY via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – St. Johns County’s half-cent sales tax referendum … looks to have overcome pockets of resistance to pass by a 22 percent margin … Kevin Sweeny, who directed the referendum effort, attributed the victory to political fundamentals: a strong ground game … sharp mailpieces … “It was a good night,” Sweeny said, attributing the success to “early work on the ground” by volunteers … “You’ve got to get out there and sweat … and knock on doors.”

– NATONALLY –

REPUBLICAN MATT BEVIN ELECTED GOVERNOR OF KENTUCKY via the Associated Press – Bevin … defeated Democrat Jack Conway to become only the second Republican governor in the state in four decades. Republicans have dominated federal elections in Kentucky, but moderate Democrats have maintained control of state government. Bevin’s election gives Republicans control of the executive branch along with a commanding majority in the state Senate. Democrats still have an eight-seat majority in the state House of Representatives.

OHIO VOTED DOWN LEGALIZING POT FOR MEDICAL, RECREATIONAL USE via Julie Smyth of the Associated Press – Ohio voters rejected a ballot proposal Tuesday that would have legalized both recreational and medical marijuana in a single stroke – a vote-getting strategy that was being watched as a potential test case for the nation. … Failure of the proposed state constitutional amendment followed an expensive campaign, a legal fight over its ballot wording, an investigation into petition signatures – and, predominantly, a counter campaign against a network of 10 exclusive growing sites it would have created. It was the only marijuana legalization question on the 2015 statewide ballots. About 65 percent of voters opposed the measure, compared to 35 percent in favor.

REPUBLICANS MAINTAIN CONTROL IN VIRGINIA 

Republicans held off an attempt by Democrats to win a majority of the state Senate and maintained their 21-19 edge. A gain of just one seat by Democrats could have flipped control because Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam would serve as the tiebreaker.

BIG CITY MAYORS

In Houston’s nonpartisan election, seven candidates campaigned to succeed term-limited Mayor Annise Parker, with two moving on to a Dec. 12 runoff. State Rep. Sylvester Turner, the top vote-getter, will face businessman Bill King.

In Philadelphia, where Democrats hold a 7-to-1 voter registration edge over Republicans, Democrat Jim Kenney, a former city councilman, defeated a Republican business executive to succeed term-limited Mayor Michael Nutter. Kenney had pledged to step up the fight on poverty and provide universal pre-kindergarten.

GAY RIGHTS

Houston voters rejected a city ordinance that sought to provide non-discrimination protections for gay and transgender people. The City Council approved the ordinance in May 2014, but a legal challenge led to Tuesday’s ballot question. Opponents included a coalition of conservative pastors who said it infringed on their religious beliefs against homosexuality. With same-sex marriage now legal nationwide, nondiscrimination laws have become the new priority for many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups.

MEASURE TO RESTRICT AIRBNB RENTALS LOSES IN SAN FRANCISCO via Matt Hamilton of the Los Angeles Times – Proposition F, the contentious San Francisco ballot measure that would impose tighter restrictions on short-term housing rental services such as Airbnb, lost by a sizable margin Tuesday night. According to the city’s election website, the measure was defeated,  55% to 45%, with about 133,000 votes cast and all precincts reporting. … Airbnb raised more than $8 million to oppose Proposition F and put up a series of controversial billboards that touted the $12 million the company has generated in city hotel tax revenue.

AFTER 7 YEARS IN PRISON, FORMER CT MAYOR WINS RE-ELECTION

Joe Ganim claimed victory in the race for Bridgeport, CT mayor, WFSB reports. Ganim spent 7 years behind bars for embezzling taxpayer dollars during his last term as mayor.

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THE BEST THREE PARAGRAPHS I READ TUESDAY via Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone – When we reporters are introduced to a politician, the first thing we ask ourselves is if he or she is acceptable to the political establishment. We don’t admit that we ask this as a prerequisite, but we do. Anyone who’s survived without felony conviction a few terms as a senator, governor or congressperson, has an expensive enough haircut, and has never once said anything interesting will likely be judged a potentially ‘serious’ candidate. … If you’re wondering why no Mozarts or Einsteins ever end up running for president in America, but an endless succession of blockheads like Rick Perry are sold to us on the cover of Time magazine as contenders, it’s because of this absurd prerequisite. … Ultimately, what we’re looking for is someone who’s enough of a morally flexible gasbag to get over with the money people, and then also charming enough on some politically irrelevant level to attract voters.

DONALD TRUMP KNOCKS RIVALS, GETS LITERARY IN NEW YORK via Ben Schreckinger of POLITICO – Other candidates go on book tours … Trump brings the book tour to him … pooh-poohed surging Republican rivals Rubio and Carson to an overflow press conference then signed books for legions of his fans … all from his home turf of Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan … “Marco is overrated … For years, I’ve been hearing that his credit cards are a disaster´… downplayed Republican mega-donor Paul Singer’s recent endorsement of Rubio, saying that some candidates might not even want his endorsement and that voters will have reservations about Singer as they learn more about him. “People are going to say, ‘Whoa, we didn’t know that,’” predicted Trump. Singer, a vocal advocate of Israel and gay marriage, has identified himself as a Goldwater conservative.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “You listen to the politicians and it’s as if they are speaking from a script titled ‘How Boring Can I Possibly Be?’” — Donald Trump, in his new book Crippled America.

TRUMP UP BY 20 PERCENTAGE POINTS IN FLORIDA IN NEW BAY NEWS 9 SURVEY via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Trump continues to dominate the field – including Rubio and Bush … In his best showing yet in the Sunshine State … poll shows Trump with 37 percent support. Carson is in second, with only 17 percent … Rubio is right behind at 16 percent … Cruz is at 10 percent. And Bush? He’s in fifth place, with just 7 percent support. No one else gets more than 3 percent.

JEB BUSH’S POLL NUMBERS IN FLORIDA ARE UNPRECEDENTEDLY BAD via David Weigel of the Washington Post – Bay News 9/News 13 Florida Decides Poll was released … Bush in a staggeringly weak position back home …  Support of only 7 percent of Florida GOP primary voters … 30 points behind front-runner … Trump … less than half the support of Rubio … In almost every demographic breakdown, he staggered into fifth place  … it is exceedingly rare for a home-state favorite to fall so low.

TWEET, TWEET: @DaveWeigel: The last time Jeb! led a GOP primary poll in Florida? July.

— “Texas man snaps up JebCanFixIt.com” via Nick Gass of POLITICO

BUSH CANCELLED TAILGATING AT THE BAMA VS. LSU GAME BUT HE’S DOING THIS? – “Jeb is planning a pop art-themed fundraiser at Art Basel” via Ben Mathis-Lilley of Slate

MANY BUSH BACKERS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE HAVE ‘MOVED ON’ FROM JEB via Kathleen Ronayne of the Associated Press – Bush sought to revive a sagging campaign for president in New Hampshire … committing anew to a state with deep ties to his family. He’ll start from a position of weakness that some family loyalists say is of his own making … Bush failed to tap the support of many longtime friends … Many in the old Bush network now say they’ve picked another candidate to support or are staying out of the primary process altogether. “Folks who had historically been with his father and his brother and were looking to maybe participate in his campaign were basically ignored,” said former Sen. Judd Gregg … “A lot of those people moved on.”

TO SAVE CAMPAIGN, BUSH HIRES TV WIZARD WHO TRAINS FOX NEWS ANCHORS via New York Magazine – According to a source close to the campaign, Bush will be media-coached by Jon Kraushar, a legendary image-maker who’s worked with Ailes for decades. In the 1980s, Ailes and Kraushar were business partners at Ailes Communications, the political-consulting shop Ailes founded. It was during this time that Ailes and Krashaur famously coached Jeb’s father and Dan Quayle to the White House in 1988. … A spokesperson for Bush declined to respond. When reached for comment, Kraushar told me: “I don’t talk about my work.”

MONTANA SEN. ENDORSES MARCO RUBIO via Daniel Strauss of POLITICO – Sen. Steve Daines of Montana endorsed … Rubio for president … day after [Colorado Sen. Corey Gardner] gave his own endorsement … “Marco represents the next generation of conservative leadership and is a leader who will inspire and unite our country.”

RUBIO’S SPENDING UNDER SCRUTINY AGAIN via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times –  It has become legend in Florida political circles, a missing chapter in Marco Rubio’s convoluted financial story: two years of credit card transactions from his time in the state House, when he and other Republican leaders freely spent party money. … Details about the spending, which included repairs for Rubio’s family minivan, emerged in his 2010 U.S. Senate race. But voters got only half the story because the candidate refused to disclose additional records. Now Sen. Rubio’s past is under fresh scrutiny as he emerges as a top presidential prospect.

NEW RUBIO SUPER PAC AD via Politico – The Conservative Solutions super PAC backing Rubio put up a new ad, “Believe” that splices shots of Rubio and old photos of his family

BEN CARSON SIGNS HIS BOOK, MEETS VOTERS IN CARROLLWOOD via Tracey McManus and Katie Mettler of the Tampa Bay Times – Carson steered clear of talking politics at the YMCA of the Suncoast’s 10th annual prayer breakfast and instead reflected on his life story and personal values that have driven his success … comes a day after an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed him leading the Republican field with 29 percent of support from GOP primary voters, ahead of … Trump‘s 23 percent. Carson was paid $25,000 for his appearance, which sold out its 552 tickets in the summer … Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos told the audience the purpose of the event was to come together in faith and not to push a political agenda.

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IN PITCH TO SUPPORTERS, ALAN GRAYSON ACCUSES DAVID JOLLY OF WANTING TO “DISMANTLE” THE VA via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics  Florida Democratic Senate candidate Alan Grayson has sent out a mass e-mail to supporters, asking them to sign a petition denouncing GOP Senate candidate David Jolly for proposing to dismantle the Department of Veteran Affairs. … On a Boston radio program last week, Jolly… appeared for a moment he was open to the idea, though a full listening of that exchange of the interview makes it clear he wasn’t committed. “Say you won’t let him dishonor our veterans like this by adding your name to our petition right now,” the Grayson missive said.

Jolly has previously been name-checked by Grayson in speeches, indicating that he believes the GOP representative from Pinellas could be the strongest Republican that he’d have to encounter if he defeats Patrick Murphy.

DARREN SOTO BACKED BY EVA LONGORIA’S PAC via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News — Latino Victory Fund, a PAC founded by actress Eva Longoria … was backing Soto … in the race to replace Alan Grayson … Cristóbal Alex, the president of Latino Victory Fund, praised Soto … pointing to his record of support giving illegals in-state tuition and on other issues.

DANIEL WEBSTER ‘EXPLORING’ RUN FOR RICH NUGENT SEAT via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – A day after his friend and fellow conservative announced he will leave Congress … Webster signaled that he’s “exploring” whether to run for his newly drawn seat … didn’t explicitly say he’ll run for … Nugent’s Republican-heavy 11th Congressional District seat, but a written statement …  makes clear that he sees re-election in his 10th Congressional District seat as nearly impossible … is expected to be far-more Democratic leaning under the new map than it is now. “During my time in public service, I have represented various parts of Central Florida, and am exploring all possibilities for future service.”

SAVE THE DATE: House Democratic whip Steny Hoyer will be the special guest, joined by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, at a fundraiser for Charlie Crist‘s congressional campaign. The event is Sunday, Nov. 8 beginning at 1:30 p.m. at the home of former Florida CFO Alex Sink, 11106 Old Fort Trail in Thonotosassa. Chairs of the event are Tampa Mayor Bob BuckhornJustin Day and Sink, who was also a gubernatorial candidate and former candidate for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

HOUSE ‘GROUNDHOG DAY’ INCLUDES APPROVAL OF A SENATE MAP via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – The House approved … redrawing Senate districts but also opening the door to further negotiations with senators on a compromise map while the special session lurches toward the finish line … diverges sharply from what the Senate narrowly OK’d last week – particularly in dealing with South Florida seats … the clash sets up the possibility of yet another deadlock between Republican leaders in the House and Senate. “It seems like we’re stuck in a Groundhog Day movie here in Tallahassee,” Rep. Lori Berman … citing the 1993 film that depicted a man doomed to repeat the same day over and over again.

GOVERNOR’S TEXAS-SIZED JOB INCENTIVE FUND GETS FIRST AIRING via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott’s ambitious plan to expand Florida’s incentive program to attract new jobs unabashedly copies Texas … called for a Texas-sized $250 million “enterprise fund” … his job creation team got a polite but noncommittal hearing in a Senate budget subcommittee. “Texas is our No. 1 competitor,” Enterprise Florida executive vice president Crystal Sircy testified. “I’m tired of losing to Texas” … The $250 million would be a one-time appropriation for three years, and Enterprise Florida would no longer keep money in escrow to be paid out in future years as companies hit job-creation goals … Nancy Detert … said she’s more concerned about why Florida keeps losing out to Georgia, a state with a personal income tax. “I really don’t want to hear about Texas … I hate Texas.”

AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY BLASTS RICK SCOTT ECONOMIC INCENTIVE PLAN AS “RISKY” via Florida Politics – Americans for Prosperity Florida director Chris Hudson said his group agreed with Scott’s call for broad-based tax cuts at his 2015 State of the State Address, as well as his statement that “taxpayers can spend their money better than government can,” but sees the Republican governor’s incentives plan as a contradiction of those views. “The last thing lawmakers should allow is for there to be less transparency in a process that already makes risky investments taxpayers are paying for.”

FLORIDA DATA SHOWS 10,900 SEXUAL ASSAULT KITS STILL UNTESTED via Tamara Lush of the Associated Press — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says nearly 11,000 rape kits have not been submitted for analysis … FDLE tallied 10,900 kits that have not been tested … from 262 law enforcement agencies around the state. Seven law enforcement agencies did not report data.

FDACS, DEPS SAY BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES ARE WORKING, REDUCING ‘GLADES POLLUTION via Florida Politics – The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Darrell Smith told a Senate appropriations panel “best management practices” adopted by the agriculture industry in South Florida are helping to clean up the Everglades by reducing water waste and nutrient levels. “I believe we are making significant progress in the northern Everglades but also across the state.” Department of Environmental Protection’s Deputy Secretary for Ecosystem Restoration Drew Bartlett agreed … citing a downward trend in phosphorous levels, down some 79 percent in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

FLORIDA PRO SPORTS TEAMS MAKE ANOTHER PUSH FOR STATE MONEY via the Associated Press – State officials … had received requests to spend money on the stadiums used by the Miami Dolphins, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The state has also received a funding request from Daytona International Speedway … The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity [will] rank the requests and then submit them to the Legislature.

THE CASE TO ERASE ‘ABSENTEE BALLOT’ FROM FLORIDA VOTING JARGON via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – A renewed effort has begun in the Legislature to eliminate the term “absentee ballot” from Florida laws and replace it with “vote by mail” … bill (SB 112) cleared a Senate budget panel … sponsor Geraldine Thompson … said the term “absentee” has been outdated … Florida allows what’s known as “no excuse” voting by mail, and it’s growing in popularity, most dramatically in Pinellas County, where it is the most popular way to vote. Thompson’s bill is supported by the statewide association of county election supervisors.

MATT GAETZ DIGITAL AD BOASTS ROLE IN “FIXING” PENALTIES FOR SEX OFFENDERS via Florida Politics – Gaetz released a new ad … that trumpets his role in passing tougher penalties on sex offenders in 2014. “I’ll always fight to protect our kids … The system was broken, so I led the fight to fix it.” The 2014 sex offender bill package … SB522, SB524, SB526 and SB528 … passed both chambers with unanimous support … commercial comes one day after his opponent in the SD1 race … George Gainer … released his own commercial touting his conservative credibility.

END OF AN ERA? HD 12 DON REDMAN RAISES $0 FOR SECOND STRAIGHT MONTH via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – There’s a lot of talk about Jacksonville’s HD 12 race to replace termed-out Lake Ray … Richard Clark, with just over $50,000 … assured … he’s still in the race … It doesn’t look like Clark’s only declared opponent, Don Redman, is attaining real traction. With a second straight month without fundraising, the only sign of life in October: $131 worth of expenditures … If this is the end of Don Redman’s political career, his legacy is one worth examining.

FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY UNVEILS “MUNICIPAL VICTORY PROJECT” TO ATTEMPT TO FLIP GOP SEATS IN 2016 via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – At the Florida Democratic Convention … Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum announced … The Municipal Victory Project, or MVP … an intentional and purposeful effort to build up the Democratic bench all across the state … “[FDP] will craft an internal strategic plan for top tier municipal races across the state, with an eye toward identifying opportunities to either flip Republican seats or protect Democratic incumbents,” writes spokesperson Max Steele … Instead of serving as emergency responders, we will provide intelligence, manpower, and financial assistance earlier in the process for targeted races.” Speculation has it that the Dems will gain at least two more seats in the state’s 27 member congressional delegation due to redistricting.

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IT WILL TAKE BIG POLICY CHANGES, MONEY TO FIX STATE MENTAL HOSPITALS, LAWMAKERS SAY via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – As a yearlong investigation into Florida’s state mental hospitals … is published, state lawmakers point to two changes that should be made, and neither is simple. Leaders on the House panel responsible for mental health issues said … the keys to improving mental health care and stopping the neglect and abuse chronicled by reporters are comprehensive policy changes in the entire system run by the Department of Children and Families — and more money … violence plagues the state mental hospitals, where $100 million in budget cuts and years of neglect have put patients and staff in danger … reporters found cases where causes of deaths in the institutions have been covered up by the department. But … when John Bryant, DCF assistant secretary for substance abuse and mental health, came to the House Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee to present about the state’s mental health system, just one lawmaker asked a question about the new reports.

HOUSE GOP FRUSTRATION WITH COURTS BUBBLES UP AS PANEL PUSHES TERM LIMITS FOR JUDGES via Gary Roher of the Orlando Sentinel — Appellate court judges would be limited to two six-year terms under a proposed constitutional amendment that passed through its first House committee … latest sign of frustration from state House Republicans with recent rulings from the Florida Supreme Court regarding redistricting, medical malpractice and insurance cases. Rep. John Wood, said the bill … is an attempt to restore a “true balance of power” to the branches of government, since lawmakers and the executive branch are also subject to term limits.

LAWMAKERS VOW TO “SMASH THE HOME TAX” via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics — A gaggle of Republican House members gathered outside the Capitol… to register their opposition to a bill they call the “home tax” … and to smash it in effigy. “Anytime you are taking money from homeowners, it’s a tax hike,” said Rep. Dennis Baxley. The bill … would shift the burden when it comes to documents that detail outstanding fees owed on a home or condominium – called letters of estoppel – from title companies onto homeowners’ and condo associations.

USF MAKES PRESENCE FELT IN STATE CAPITAL via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft and about 250 students from the school filled the Florida Capitol Building … to make an impression on state lawmakers at a time the school has a big expansion plan the requires significant state funding still. Genshaft said it is important to show off the “green and gold” in Tallahassee to help keep the school high on the legislative agenda … preliminary plan is to build a nearly 320,000-square-foot structure on Channelside Drive that would give USF a downtown presence and generate $73 million annually in local economic activity.

GIVING MONEY TO POLITICIANS BACKFIRES ON ERNESTO PEREZ via Mike Vasquez of the Miami Herald  One week ago, Dade Medical College owner Ernesto Perez was drawing a $431,999 salary and running six campuses spread across the state. On Tuesday, Perez found himself in handcuffs, flanked by a wall of TV news cameras.

The humbling ordeal followed the Friday closure of his for-profit college empire. And the subsequent filing of criminal charges that he illegally bundled more than $159,000 in campaign contributions to politicians. … At Miami’s Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building, Perez turned himself in to authorities. The new charges are on top of pending perjury charges, from 2013, that remain unresolved.

Spreading around political cash was Perez’s calling card — now, it has become part of his undoing. And although Tallahassee politicians passed laws that helped Dade Medical, such as weakening academic quality standards, none of that was enough to keep his college afloat. The combination of mounting debts and heightened scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Education led to Friday’s school collapse, which displaced about 2,000 students.

During the school’s heyday, Perez was influential enough to secure a sit-down meeting with Gov. Scott. He traveled to Tallahassee in a chartered plane. He drove around downtown Coral Gables in a silver Bentley. Perez is now “liquidating some long-held assets,” his defense attorney, Michael Band, told Circuit Judge Stacy Glick in a Tuesday court hearing.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Travis BlantonJon Johnson, Johnson & Blanton: Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Edward BriggsNatalie KingRon Pierce, RSA Consulting Group: Premier Community HealthCare Group

Michael Briggs: KPMG

Christian CaballeroJonathan KilmanPaul LowellJon Yapo, Foley & Lardner: Telehealth Association of Florida

Shannon Shepp: Florida Department of Citrus

Benjamin Stearns, Carlton Fields: PRH Investments

PERSONNEL NOTE: FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH ANNOUNCES NEW COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR via Florida Politics – Florida’s Department of Health named Mara (Burger) Gambineri as the new communications director …  replaces Tiffany Cowie who has accepted a position with the St. Johns Water Management District. Gambineri has been serving as the department’s press secretary since May.

APPOINTED: Jim Holton and Clifford “Cliff” Manuel to the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority

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IF YOU READ ONE THING — STUDY: DEATHS RATES RISING IN MIDDLE-AGED WHITES via Mike Stobbe of the Associated Press — The U.S. death rate has been falling for decades, but researchers have detected one group in which the rates have been steadily ticking up – middle-aged white people. Suicides and deaths from drug overdose and alcohol abuse are being blamed … death rates for whites 35 to 44 have been level recently, they’re beginning to turn up for whites 55 to 64, and – most strikingly – death rates for whites ages 45 to 54 have risen by half a percent per year since 1998, said the authors, Anne Caseand Angus Deaton of Princeton University … probably related to the increased availability around that time of certain prescription painkillers … “It certainly can’t be helping.”

CLEMSON, LSU, OHIO STATE, ALABAMA TOP FIRST PLAYOFF RANKINGS via Ralph Russo of the Associated Press – Clemson, LSU, Ohio State and Alabama are the top four teams in the first College Football Playoff selection committee rankings of the season … Notre Dame was fifth and Baylor was sixth. Clemson, LSU and Ohio State are among 11 unbeaten teams in FBS, nearly quadruple the number there was last season when the committee started ranking teams. Alabama and Notre Dame each have one loss.

STARS NO MORE: TWITTER DITCHES STARS, ADDS HEARTS FOR LIKES via the Associated Press – You’ll no longer see stars on Twitter … removed the star icon found under every tweet and replaced it with a heart … it made the change because the star can be confusing to new users and the heart is more universally known around the globe … clicking the heart means you “like” a tweet.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Florida GOP Chairman Blaise Ingoglia.

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

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