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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – September 3

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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.

AS JOE BIDEN PROMOTES OBAMA’S ED. AGENDA, OBSERVERS LOOK FOR ANY SIGNS OF A PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN via Thomas Beaumont of the Associated Press

Vice President Joe Biden came to Florida to lend a hand to Senate Democrats and the administration’s education agenda Wednesday on a trip watched for any hint that he’ll seek the presidency.

He may have dropped a hint at Miami Dade College, telling a crowd, “People who aren’t willing to risk failing never succeed.”

But the remark, at least on its surface, was about the courage it takes for students to go back to community college after being out for years.

Biden will also attend a fundraiser for Senate Democrats, mingling with the types of donors he’d need to challenge Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. Altogether, he’s kicked off a series of events in the next week allowing him to defend President Barack Obama’s record.

At Miami Dade College, Biden said he and Obama had sought to address the economic disparities between the wealthy and poor and that the nation was on the verge of an “economic renaissance.” He spoke about the Obama administration’s plan to provide two years of free community college to students as a building block for future generations.

Noting the large press corps following him, Biden joked, “Their interest in community college has impressed me greatly!” At one point during his speech, what appeared to be a butterfly soared overhead, prompting Biden to quip: “The butterfly agrees with me!” He later brushed off reporters’ questions on whether he would run.

Interest in a Biden bid has intensified in recent weeks as Clinton has struggled with what some Democrats consider a lackluster start to her campaign and scrutiny over her use of a private email account and server as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state.

“There’s a malaise inside the race right now with Clinton,” said Tony Bisagnano, an Iowa state senator who backed Biden’s campaign in 2008 and wants him to run again. “People I know who are supporting her are not necessarily withdrawing, but are unenthusiastic.”

But he cautioned: “We’re getting close to where it’s going to be a tough race if he waits much longer.”

RNC BRACKETS via spox Ali Pardo: “Under the Obama-Biden Administration, college has gotten more expensive, saddling younger Americans with massive student debt. To make matters worse, too many of those graduates are left underemployed or unemployed, unable to put their education and skills to use. Whether it is Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton, Democrats are just repackaging President Obama’s same old partisan rhetoric and stale ideas. Americans want new ideas, new leadership, and a new direction from their next president.”

THE BIDEN DELUSION via Frank Bruni of the New York Times

Cue the Biden talk … We journalists eagerly amplify it, because nothing improves a narrative like the addition of an especially colorful character … Voters are sour on career politicians, and Biden’s career in politics spans about 45 uninterrupted years … Voters are anti-Washington in particular, and more than 42 of those years have been spent in the national’s capital … twice before pursued the Democratic nomination and never won a single state. The last time, in 2008, he got less than 1 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses and then quickly dropped out.

POLL DU JOUR via James Hohmmann of The Daily 202: A brand new Washington Post-ABC News poll underscores how bad this summer was for Clinton: 53 percent of Americans have an unfavorable impression of her, up 8 points from our July poll  and the highest number since April 2008. The dislike is intense: 39 percent view her in a strongly unfavorable way, compared to only 21 percent who view her in a “strongly favorable” light. The former secretary of state is underwater with core elements of the Democratic base, viewed more negatively than positively by both women and 18-to-39-year-olds.

JEB BUSH ATTACKS DONALD TRUMP’S CONSERVATIVE BONA FIDES VIA QUIZ via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics      

For the second straight day, Bush is taking on Trump directly regarding ideology … posted a web ad featuring Trump parroting liberal positions over the years … a quiz on his website asking, “Which candidate are you?” It’s followed by seven questions that all ask which candidate would a Republican primary voter rather support, comparing where Bush stands on an issue and what Trump has said in the past.

The first question asks if the voters would rather support a candidate who opposes the Iran nuclear deal (Bush), or “Thought Hillary Clinton would negotiate a good Iran deal,” a comment Trump made in 2007 … second question asks if the voter would prefer a candidate who “said they were very pro-choice” or “Was strongly a pro-life Governor and defunded Planned Parenthood” … gets a little personal on the seventh and last question, asking whether the voter would prefer a candidate who “strives to share every hand everywhere,” versus a candidate who “is a germaphobe who refuses to shake hands.”

Voters are then asked to submit their email address and zip code to get their results.

STEPHEN COLBERT ONE-UPS BUSH RAFFLE WITH ONE OF HIS OWN via Associated Press

Score one for Stephen Colbert.

Bush, a scheduled guest on Colbert’s first night hosting CBS’ “The Late Show” on Tuesday, recently sent a letter to potential supporters raffling off a “VIP ticket” to the taping in exchange for a $3 donation to his presidential campaign — a move a CBS entertainment spokesman said wasn’t a coordinated tie-in with the show.

“Two can play at this contest,” declared Colbert, unveiling his own raffle: For a $3 (or greater) contribution, you can enter for a chance to be his VIP guest to the premiere taping. The winner gets to bring a friend, and the package also includes flights and accommodations at a four-star hotel.”

And another thing: “The lucky winner will get to submit one non-obscene question that I will ask Governor Bush on September 8th,” says Colbert in the video. “For example, one question might be: ‘Don’t you wish you’d consulted Stephen before launching your contest?'”

TRUMP TORMENTS BUSH via Jonathan Martin of the New York Times

Bush said that he would run for president only if he could do so with a sunny spirit, but Trump … has turned this summer into a miserable one for Bush, gleefully ignoring the traditional rules of political engagement.

There is the personal ridicule — constantly questioning Bush’s vigor, invoking a since-retracted statement by his mother, Barbara Bush, that ‘we’ve had enough Bushes’ in the White House, and even alluding to his wife’s Mexican heritage in discussing immigration. But the torment goes deeper than that. Emphasizing bluster over ideas, Trump has turned the campaign into a tabloid-style clash of personalities, heavy on provocation and insults. What little policy that has been discussed mostly revolves around Trump’s appeals to anxious white conservatives: stoking fears about immigrants, gang members and foreign countries that, in his telling, are eclipsing America.

It is a race, in other words, that embodies what Bush likes least about politics.

ROGER STONE MAY BE OFF THE CAMPAIGN, BUT HE STILL HAS TRUMP’S EAR via Catherine Thompson of Talking Points Memo

(Nearly) a month since longtime Republican operative Roger Stone resigned from Trump‘s presidential campaign (or was fired, to hear Trump tell it.) … the two old friends haven’t stopped talking politics. “We’re on cordial terms. We talk. I have not signed on with any super PAC so I have no prohibition … Trump has been my friend for 35 years. He’s still my friend.”

Why do you still think he’s the best candidate to lead the nation into whatever comes next? … “I think the entire system is broken. I worked as a lobbyist. I worked as a Senate staffer. I worked as a House staffer. I’ve seen American government up close. I’ve seen them making sausage. It’s not pretty. Everything is for sale. The special interests and the lobbyists and the billionaires and the super PACs control everything. Anything in Washington can be bought for the right amount of money. In my view, Trump has the financial independence and the boldness to challenge the entire system. When he says that 100 million dollars that Jeb [Bush] has raised has strings on it, he’s absolutely right.”

MARCO RUBIO TOUTS END TO OIL-EXPORT BAN, BEMOANS EPA IN OKLAHOMA via Associated Press

The United States should end its ban on crude-oil exports and reduce federal regulations that are stifling an energy industry central to the nation’s future economic prosperity, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said Wednesday to a friendly group of mostly oil and natural gas producers.

The GOP presidential hopeful from Florida unveiled some highlights of his domestic energy policies at a meeting with members of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association in Oklahoma City.

“I believe that energy independence and energy innovation is one of the most transformative developments that America has ever seen in its history, if properly harnessed,” Rubio said. “Yet despite its importance, our outdated government continues to make energy one of the most politicized and regulated aspects of our entire economy.”

Rubio said the ban on crude-oil exports is a throwback to the 1970s, long before a domestic oil production boom that resulted from industry advances like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rubio heads to Tennessee for fundraising events.

TED CRUZ HOLDS MIAMI FUNDRAISER TO WOO JEWISH VOTERS via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz came to South Florida to woo Jewish donors as Congress prepares to vote on President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. And while he didn’t hold any public events — and doesn’t plan to anytime soon — Cruz said in a phone interview with the Miami Herald that he hasn’t written off the state just because two of his rivals live here.

“We have tremendous support in Florida, and I have been very, very encouraged. We’ve been down to Florida quite a number of times,” he said. “We have raised a great deal from Florida.”

Last quarter, Cruz trailed only Democrat Hillary Clinton and Bush and Rubio in Florida fundraising,pulling in $317,000 from the state — more than two other Florida residents, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

The Texan said he also hopes to appeal to Cuban Americans as the son of a Cuban immigrant, Rafael Cruz. Republicans welcomed the younger Cruz to the Miami-Dade County Lincoln Day fundraising dinner last year though that was long before anyone had jumped into the presidential race.

DAVID JOLLY SAYS PATRICK MURPHY’S MADE THE WRONG CHOICE IN SUPPORTING IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

In a major victory for President Barack Obama … Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland announced her support for the Iran nuclear deal … providing the White House the votes it needs to prevent Republicans from scuttling the agreement.

After Senate candidate Patrick Murphy announced his support … he earned the scorn of Republicans throughout the state, including … GOP Senate candidate David Jolly, who could potentially square off against Murphy … “Patrick Murphy made the wrong decision on this one …” he was also “somewhat surprised” by Murphy’s vote, but added that he’s been surprised by “a lot of Democrats” who said have voted along party lines …

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Congresswoman Lois Frankel joins state and local elected officials and representatives from Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women to call for support of Planned Parenthood. Press conference begins 10:30 a.m. in front of West Palm Beach City Hall, 401 Clematis Street in West Palm Beach.

WILL WEATHERFORD ENDORSES NEAL DUNN IN BID FOR CD 2 via Florida Politics

Republican candidate Neal Dunn announced Wednesday morning former House Speaker Will Weatherford has endorsed his bid in Florida’s soon-to-be-altered 2nd Congressional District.

In a release, the former Wesley Chapel lawmaker explained his rationale for choosing Dunn over primary opponent Mary Thomas, who also seeks the GOP nomination in the race to succeed Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, who experts agree may be drawn out of her eastern Panhandle district.

“As exemplified by his service in the military, as well as the medical practice he built, Neal Dunn has shown Floridians that he is a dedicated leader and, above all else, a true public servant,” said Weatherford. “Through his experiences, Neal understands the issues that are important to Floridians, including health care, the economy and the importance of the military to our national security.”

Weatherford isn’t the only former legislative presiding officer to cosign Dunn’s campaign — former Senate President Don Gaetz and former Speaker Allan Bense have endorsed him as well.

NEW ON THE TWITTERS: @DunnCampaign

CD 13 candidate Eric Lynn announces more local endorsements” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

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FLORIDA AIMS FOR $100 BILLION IN TOURISM SPENDING BY 2020 via Maggie Menderski of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Florida aims to bring in $100 billion in total tourism related spending by 2020, but attracting more tourists isn’t the key strategy in driving up dollars … influx will come from the experience rather than filling more hotel beds. Florida currently sees about $82 in spending, said Will Seccombe, CEO of Visit Florida …The new strategy, announced at the Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Tampa … is less about bringing in more bodies and more about tapping into consumer markets that want to spend dollars in the state.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will highlight job growth at a 10:30 a.m. press conference at Summit Aerospace, 4000 NW 28th Street in Miami. Later, the governor will appear at a 2:30 p.m.presser at Storm Smart, 6182 Idlewild Street in Fort Myers.

RICK SCOTT’S OFFICE DEFENDS POSITION ON PLANNED PARENTHOOD RELEASE via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida

Scott‘s office is defending its decision to alter a press release that originally indicated state health regulators found “no evidence of the mishandling of fetal remains” at 16 Planned Parenthood clinics around the state … the governor’s press office “often works with our agencies on materials,” and called the press release a “draft document.”

Emails between the governor’s office and AHCA … show the agency prepared a press release that same day noting, “There is no evidence of the mishandling of fetal remains at any of the 16 clinics we investigated across the state.” Scott’s office revised the release to exclude that sentence … the revised release noted the AHCA would refer physicians who worked at the clinics to the Board of Medicine for possible disciplinary action.

SCOTT AND CABINET GOT ‘CASUAL’ ABOUT SUNSHINE LAW, CFO SAYS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Scott and Florida’s three elected Cabinet members are going back to school next month … agreed to give themselves a refresher course in public records and open meetings laws after months of controversy involving multiple allegations that the laws were skirted or violated … “sunshine” training will be given at a Cabinet meeting in Tallahassee … Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater (believes) the extra training is overdue … “I think there has become a casualness about communicating … How are people sending signals, ‘Is this okay for an agenda item? Where’s your guy at?’ That’s not how this was ever meant to be designed … We are called together as a Cabinet to discuss public business and that should be done in public. So I think it’s a very good refresher.”

BLOG POST OF THE DAY: TIMELY STORY TIME WITH ANN SCOTT: BEAR HUNTING, THE TED NUGENT FREE VERSION via Beach Peanuts

Since becoming Florida’s First Lady, Ann Scott has made a point to “share her passion for reading” in photo ops around the state by reading to school children … However, her reading choice today was an odd but timely selection: We’re Going On A Bear Hunt.

(Next) month the state has declared open season on the once protected black bear. Bears have made their way into the Florida suburbs in search of food due to the fact that development has run wild in the state … So naturally, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, whose members include developers, came up with a solution. Just start shooting them to reduce the population … Problem solved!

Luckily for humans, the hunting won’t take place in the suburbs … where the actual problem is … (and) the number of permits for the hunt now outnumber the bears … Ted Nugent is one of those holding a permit. I guess those children’s parents can at least take comfort that Ann Scott didn’t bring Ted Nugent along for story hour.

DID BUSH’S FOUNDATION GET AN EARLY PEEK AT THE FLORIDA TESTING VALIDITY STUDY? via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times

Amid the flurry of reactions to Florida’s testing validity study came a press release from Jeb Bush‘s Foundation for Florida’s Future … some activists in the testing reform world zeroed in on the date of the statement: Aug. 31 … a day before the report became public … How did the foundation get the study before superintendents, lawmakers and the general public? Who handed it over? Foundation spokeswoman Allison Aubuchon told the Gradebook that her group didn’t get a preview of the much anticipated document. “We asked if there was an embargoed copy … They made it clear everybody was going to get it at the same time.”

DON GAETZ PROMISES MORE TESTING REFORM IN 2016 via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times

In 2016, expect standardized testing reform to be front and center among the Legislature’s education deliberations yet again … Don Gaetz, the education budget chairman and former Senate president, says he’s going after even more.

It doesn’t make sense for the state to require students to take tests proving they have mastered a subject that has already been tested on a well-known, national exam like the SAT, ACT, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate, Gaetz said. A bill he says he will introduce would allow those exams to replace other mandated tests … he’s also trying to inspire more reforms down the road and make it clear to Education Commissioner Pam Stewart that the Legislature is focused on the issue.

POWER STRUGGLE AT FAMU CREATES NEW CRISIS via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

Florida A&M University is being confronted with a new crisis … FAMU President Elmira Mangum is now locked in a power struggle with some trustees. Some politicians have sided with Mangum and called on the chairman of the board of trustees to resign. Mangum, in a memo to chairman Rufus Montgomery, accused him of discrimination and harassment.

Montgomery and some other board members are pointing to management decisions and questionable hires by the administration … One example are that a FAMU vice president hired a special assistant who previously pleaded guilty to financial aid fraud.

BATTLE OVER HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS LOOMS IN LEGISLATURE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics

At least one legislator is trying again to change the law on the state’s oversight body for public high school athletics, including ensuring that it is revenue-neutral, among other things … State Rep. Ross Spano … has filed a bill for next session that tweaks state law governing the Florida High School Athletic Association This will make the fifth year in a row that lawmakers have taken on the organization … including bills last session that would have done away with it altogether.

But the association’s CEO said his organization is simply doing its job: Enforcing student-athlete eligibility rules … the group also has “lobbied up” in advance of any fight in the Legislature next session, most recently hiring the Corcoran & Johnston firm.

Conservative lawmakers targeted the body … after constituents complained about their children not being able to play certain sports because of strict transfer rules, especially when kids change schools but don’t move … defenders, including Democrats and some public school officials, countered that weakening the rules would create a free agency system for high school athletes.

DANA YOUNG FILES BILL TO EXPAND ‘GOOD SAMARITAN’ LAW via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics

State Rep. Dana Young … filed changes to Florida’s “Good Samaritan Act” that would make a bona fide do-gooder “immune from civil liability,” meaning exempt from being sued for damages. The idea is to encourage people to save those at risk who are stuck in hot vehicles.

“The time has come to empower ordinary citizens to come forward and help prevent senseless tragedies” … Young’s bill, however, specifically does not include “livestock or other farm animals.”

Among other things, the legislation requires that a would-be rescuer: First make sure the vehicle is locked and then call 911 … Believe that the person or animal inside is “in imminent danger of suffering harm” … Use “no more force to enter the vehicle … than necessary,” usually smashing a window.

KATIE EDWARDS INTRODUCES NEEDLE EXCHANGE BILL IN LEGISLATURE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

For the past three years … attempts to enact a pilot needle exchange program in Miami-Dade County have been unsuccessful … Democrat Katie Edwards … is going to give it another shot next year … filed legislation that aims to alleviate transmission of the HIV and Hepatitis viruses among intravenous drug users. HB 81 would create a five-year pilot program with the University of Miami to offer free, clean and unused needles and syringes in exchange for used needles and syringes as a means to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne diseases among intravenous drug users. Intravenous drug users would be able to exchange a used syringe for a new syringe on a 1-to-1 ratio in a safe environment. The bill would also offer addiction counseling and HIV testing.

NEARLY $400 MILLION STATE CONTRACT PROTESTED BY AT&T via the Associated Press

The telecommunications company now responsible for providing phone and Internet service to the state of Florida is raising questions about a major new contract awarded to a rival vendor … AT&T now has the current contract which expires in 2016 … the company contends … Scott changed the requirements for a new contract after bids had been initially submitted. AT&T’s filing with the Department of Management Services contends “material changes” provided a competitive advantage to a subsidiary of Florida-based Harris Corp.

MY TAKE: AGENCY FOLLIES CONTINUE, THIS TIME ITS DMS’ TURN IN THE BARREL 

Courtesy of the AP’s Fineout who, along with Matt Dixon of Politico, have a track record of taking on agency heads and staff who make huge follies that result in their agencies getting bad press, is the story referenced above that dropped yesterday on how DMS managed to botch a recent My Florida Net2 bid by changing the rules midgame and improperly notifying all bidders without using the office vendor bid system, resulting in a bid protest and legal challenge by tech giant and incumbent, AT&T. Not to mention them allowing the winning bidder to cut the technological capabilities in half and still manage to eek out a win.

I am talking about the bid at DMS for the system that state agencies and first responders use for telecommunications and Internet. So think natural disaster, emergency management and the information super highway during an emergency. No big deal, right?

Wrong.

Now, some may say I am weighing in because CR MSA (a subsidiary of Harris Corp.) was the winning bidder.  And while I have weighed in on Harris’ issues in the past, this is not about Harris, this is about DMS lessening the ability of our state to handle an emergency, something our state heralds as one of the best things we do. Craig Fugate anyone? Jeb Bush anyone?

At least I hope that is the case.

To explain, the bid required the bidders to have five years of experience delivering the same services to a minimum network size of 800 sites. However, CR MSA, again a subsidiary of Harris Corp, has been incorporated, according to public records, less than 5 years. Problem number one and a clear red flag for staff handling the initial assessment.  They never should have been allowed to bid in the first place.

Again, small details. But wait it gets better.

Now, let’s get into where this bid is now and how its inept handling impacts average Floridians. The current system runs on nodes, think highways for information to run on.  Logic would dictate that the more highways or paths for information to flow the better the flow of information, right? In fact, DMS made a minimum 10 node system a requirement of the ITN. However, the staff at DMS decided to ignore the fact that Harris’ sub-company submitted a plan that had five nodes and not the minimum required 10 nodes specified in the ITN that the system runs on now. One would think that would have caused Harris’ sub-company to be disqualified in the bid as nonresponsive to bid specifications.  Right?

Wrong again.

Now riddle me this – think five roads versus 10, for a system that counts on the best pathway for information to run on. If three highways go down in a natural disaster, you need more information highways to handle the need and reroute communication traffic. Essentially, the Harris subsidiary submitted a proposal for a less effective method to deliver vital information for our first responders and agencies during an emergency.

Are you starting to see the problem here?

Did DMS study how a five node system would impact Emergency Management, the 911 system, miraculously in the middle of a procurement? Or did they make the change without a thorough vetting of pitfalls? Another red flag!

So what did DMS do that allowed this lesser five node bid to move into a better posture for award? Change the rules midgame. Problem number three, or is it four. I have lost count.

DMS decided to change the bid specs from a minimum of 10 nodes to a minimum of five nodes midway through the bid after AT&T already submitted a 10 node bid and had contractual agreements in place for a 10 node system. They were stuck moving forward with their 10 node bid. On the other hand, the Harris subsidiary already submitted a five node bid, that didn’t meet the initial bid specifications, so their bid was given a winning advantage on pricing (almost seems like they knew DMS would make the change for them). What are we up to here?

I would guess running a five node system would be half the cost of running a 10 node system, right? So why would DMS move toward the lower nodes, which are less effective and has less ability to handle an emergency, mid-bid?  Well, I don’t know that.  To allow for Harris to get the bid?  o save money, yet jeopardize the system of emergency management?

Or scary version – they did not know better and did not understand the technological specifications that are needed to meet a state like ours emergency management needs?

Regardless of the why, and regardless of the missteps, the state has the chance to take a second look at this. And whether they take this chance to bring in some higher-ups to say we better look at this again, it is clear that taking chances in a state that is a storm magnet, is just not smart. Or, maybe changing the rules midgame were meant to favor one bidder, in which case maybe there are smart. Or maybe DMS staff just screwed up.

Either way, it has not been a good week for Gov. Scott’s agencies.

SEIU FIGHT FOR $15 EMBRACES CHILD-CARE WORKERS, WINS SUPPORT OF ED NARAIN, OTHER LOCAL OFFICIALS via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

The nationwide campaign to raise fast-food workers’ wages to $15 an hour has incorporated child-care workers into the effort … led nationally and in Florida by the Service Employees International Union.

“We have to share the story to create a groundwell,” said Monica Russo, president of SEIU Florida State Council, … to a packed room filled with child-care workers, as well as other activists and a number of local public officials.

“We do need to raise the minimum wage,” said Democratic state Rep. Ed Narain … “Most of you in this room are taking care of the most vulnerable people in our society. You have my commitment that as long as I’m in the state House that I will do everything to make sure that we are going to do more for each and everyone of you standing here in this room today.”

(A) proposal in the Legislature sponsored by … state Sen. Dwight Bullard … would raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour … in the state’s GOP-led Legislature, its prospects aren’t good. “I’ve got 119 counterparts in the House and 40 over in the Senate that we’ve gotta fix,” Narain said, acknowledging the reality on the ground, yet not wanting to diminish the crowd’s energy.

TAMPA AIRPORT OFFICIALS BANKING ON LOCAL LEGISLATORS TO SECURE FUNDING FOR MORE RENOVATIONS via Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times

Construction is well underway on Tampa International Airport’s $953 million renovation … officials are already in the early stages of planning another $1.3 billion (in) renovations, including the addition of a new international airline terminal and a new air traffic control tower …

During a tour of the ongoing construction … David Jolly said he will propose a bill that could change the way a fee called the passenger facility charge is collected and distributed to airports for capital improvement projects. Congress is expected to weigh raising the passenger facility charge — a fee placed on travelers currently capped at $4.50 per airplane ticket — to $8.50 as a part of deliberations on the Federal Aviation Administration’s budget. Jolly’s bill … would eliminate the need for the FAA to regulate the passenger facility charge at all, and instead give local aviation authority boards the power to implement and control their own fees.

***On September 17-18, Florida CHAIN will host its 1st Annual Conference, Moving Forward Together in a New Era of Health Care. It’s an opportunity to join national experts, advocates, consumers, navigators, health care providers, policy makers, and other stakeholders to learn about pressing health policy topics, acquire new skills, and network with other participants dedicated to improving the health of all Floridians. In addition to two plenary sessions, a keynote address, engaging workshops, and interactive trainings, an exciting awards dinner will be held the evening of September 17th. Learn more and register today at www.MovingForwardFlorida.org.***

SAVE THE DATE: State Rep. Kathleen Peters will host a fundraiser on Monday, Sept. 28 to support her re-election to Pinellas County House District 69. Event begins 5:30 p.m. at Bascom’s chop House. 3665 Ulmerton Rd. in Clearwater. RSVPs at Katie@kballardconsult.com or (954) 803-3942.

SPOTTED: Corcoran & Johnston firm members lunching with state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto at Capitol Grille.

JILLIAN HASNER TO HEAD UP TAKE STOCK IN CHILDREN via Florida Politics

Non-profit group Take Stock in Children announced Wednesday they have selected their next leader: business and public relations consultant Jillian Hasner.

The program mentors at-risk children throughout Florida to guide them toward graduation from high school and help break the inter-generational cycle of poverty many low-income students struggle to transcend.

Hasner – wife of former congressional candidate and state Rep. Adam Hasner, who like his spouse remains active in Florida politics – comes to the new job by after some five years at the helm of Revolution 537, a Boca Raton-based fundraising and PR consultancy.

“This opportunity brings me full circle, since I served as a TSIC mentor in 1999 while working for the Governor of Florida who was an early and strong advocate for the program,” said Hasner Wednesday.

NEW LENNY CURRY SPOX MARSHA OLIVER: “THIS IS A FUN, INTERESTING TIME FOR OUR CITY” via Melissa Ross of Florida Politics

Curry … recently made a very high-profile and symbolic hire … when he appointed Marsha Oliver as his new spokesperson … not only a registered Democrat, she’s also the first African-American female to hold the spox job at City Hall.

It’s a smart move for Curry … Beyond the obvious optics, Oliver has skills. She’s a savvy, veteran communications pro and a Jacksonville native who has spent the last 16 years with the Duval County Public Schools, most recently as comm chief for Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.

“I met Mayor Curry at the YMCA before he got elected. We both go to the same one … I wished him luck during the campaign and we joked about the importance of keeping fit in this kind of job … Then one day his team reached out and asked if I’d be interested in having a conversation with the mayor. I was honored by the opportunity.”

PERSONNEL NOTE: AFSCME ADDS MARK MCCULLOUGH TO FLORIDA TEAM 

The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) recently added Mark McCullough to its national communications team. McCullough has relocated from D.C. to Miami where he is spearheading communications across the state.

McCullough most recently served as Vice President with the consulting firm New Partners where he provided detailed planning, writing and media relations services for a variety of clients, ranging from companies such as NGP VAN to progressive organizations like PICO National Network and unions including the AFL-CIO, the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

“Mark’s addition to our team underscores our commitment to organizing, engaging and activating working men and women in every corner of this state,” said Andy Madtes, Executive Director for AFSCME Florida 979 Organizing Committee.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Brian BallardMichael Abrams, Ballard Partners: Miami Children’s Museum

Sarrah Carroll, Southern Strategy Group: The Children’s Campaign

David Ramba, Ramba Consulting Group: AJT Media

Nancy Black Stewart, Nancy Black Stewart PA: Tropiflora

GOOD NEWS – AVERAGE FPL BILL COULD DROP IN 2016 via The Associated Press

Florida Power & Light officials say the company is planning to reduce electric rates next year.

FPL announced Wednesday that long-term investments in efficiency and low fuel prices are continuing to generate savings for customers.

The new rates that FPL is proposing to the Florida Public Service Commission should save a typical 1,000-kWh residential customer about $2.50 a month in 2016. The company says businesses will also see lower rates, with a 2-6 percent drop in their bills.

FPL says its typical residential customer pays about 30 percent less for electricity than the national average.

EPILOGUE – TUCKER DUKE’S CHEF ARRESTED ON TAX CHARGES via Kelly Humphrey of the Northwest Daily News

Well-known restaurant owner Brian Cartenuto of Tucker Duke’s Lunchbox was arrested on Wednesday morning on tax-related charges.

An Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office deputy served a warrant from the State Attorney’s office at the restaurant, located at 113 W. John Sims Parkway. Cartenuto was booked into the Okaloosa County Jail, where he was ordered to be held without bond until his first appearance before a judge on Thursday morning.

According to Bill Bishop, the chief assistant State Attorney in Okaloosa County, Cartenuto is being charged with two third degree felony counts of failure to file six consecutive tax returns and two second degree misdemeanor counts of refusal to pay or file state sales tax returns.

“Basically, the allegation is that he was responsible for filing tax returns and remitting sales taxes for two separate businesses, and he failed to do so,” Bishop said. “So he is being charged with one felony and one misdemeanor for each case, for a total of four charges.”

WHAT MARC CAPUTO IS READING – ARBY’S APOLOGIZES AFTER WORKER REFUSE TO SERVE OFFICER IN PEMBROKE PINES

The Arby’s restaurant chain is apologizing after an employee at a South Florida location refused to serve a police officer.

Pembroke Pines Police Chief Dan Giustino says the Atlanta-based company’s chief executive officer and senior vice president of operations contacted him Wednesday afternoon, just hours after Giustino publicly announced the slight against one of his officers.

Arby’s also put out a news release saying the company respects and supports police and that disciplinary action would be taken.

An incident report says a police sergeant attempted to order at the Arby’s drive-thru, about 20 miles north of Miami, Tuesday evening. A manager explained the drive-thru worker didn’t want to serve her because she was a police officer. The manager ordered the employee to serve the sergeant, but after that, she said she no longer felt comfortable eating the food.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY a day early to one of THE smartest guys in Florida politics, Ryan Tyson.

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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