Good Tuesday morning.
We have another personnel note from the 4th Floor to begin the day (there probably will be a flurry of personnel moves over the next month as many companies’ fiscal years reset and lobbying firms staff up in advance of the first legislative committee meetings.
“Carlton Fields adds two consultants at Tallahassee office” via Florida Politics — Multistate law firm Carlton Fields has added Kari B. Hebrank and C. Scott Jenkins to its Tallahassee government affairs office. Hebrank and Jenkins both come to Carlton Fields from consulting firm Wilson & Associates. They will work as senior government consultants. “Kari and Scott both have sterling reputations for client advocacy,” said Carlton Fields shareholder Nancy G. Linnan, who chairs the firm’s Government Law and Consulting practice. “Their extensive regulatory and lobbying experience is a tremendous asset to our team.”
Florida Politics was first to report last week that Jim Boyd was filing to run to replace Senate President Bill Galvano. FP is following up that story with the scoop, albeit a well-telegraphed one, that Galvano is endorsing Boyd as his successor. “Jim is a strong leader in our community, and I am proud to endorse him for State Senate,” Galvano said. “Jim has proven himself in the House and as part of our delegation. We have worked closely together for the people of this area for years. My friend Jim will be a great Senator.” Boyd most recently served in the state House from 2010 through 2018, when he was term-limited. During that time, Galvano and Boyd served together in the Manatee County Legislative Delegation.
The prospective incoming class of Republican state Senators is shaping up nicely — and probably without the kind of tough primaries that divided the caucus at the start of the decade (think Aaron Bean vs. Mike Weinstein). You have Jennifer Bradley running in northwest Florida, Ray Rodrigues in SW Florida, looking to take over for Lizbeth Benacquisto, and Ana Maria Rodriguez hoping to succeed Anitere Flores.
A couple of notes on those races, all of which are ‘first on #FlaPol’:
— Galvano and President-designate Wilton Simpson are headlining Bradley’s campaign kickoff on August 27 at Green Cove Springs’ Clay Theater;
— Rodrigues is raising money in Tampa next week at a fundraiser hosted by local lawmakers and lobbyists Alan Suskey and Ron Pierce;
— Flores is endorsing Rodriguez as her successor in SD 39 (there had been some talk of a GOP primary in that race; this should tamp that down some).
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@HillaryClinton: The debunked study you’re referring to was based on 21 undecided voters. For context that’s about half the number of people associated with your campaign who have been indicted.
—@MaggieNYT: The White House, which is insisting reporters are overplaying a potential recession, has scheduled a briefing call for [Larry] Kudlow with business leaders tomorrow on the topic of the president and the economy
—@MViser: “Like anyone who’s been honest with themselves, I know I have made mistakes,” Elizabeth Warren tells a Native American forum in Iowa. “I am sorry for harm I have caused. I have listened, and I have learned. A lot.”
—@AndrewPollackFL: Here’s the truth … Those who go to a protest wearing masks to conceal their identity while they incite violence are domestic terrorists. It’s time we start treating ANTIFA as such.
—@SenRickScott: Today during my trip to Israel, I was baptized in the Jordan River. To be baptized in the same waters where Jesus was baptized is an incredibly humbling experience.
—@NikkiFriedFL: @has been without a Commissioner for over 100 days. Both August meetings of the Florida Cabinet have been canceled. OFR needs leadership — so I’m calling for a special meeting of the Cabinet to appoint an Interim Commissioner.
—@JimmyPatronis: Mayor [Rick] @I served with you, I know your heart. You can change any policy you wish with a simple majority of your @ Council. It’s time to step up to provide the necessary changes for this hero.
—@Kriseman: Classic [Donald] Trump playbook from my GOP friends: tweet first, facts never. Like Lt. Francis & his legal team, we are seeking clarity on the statute either from the court or Tallahassee. Hoping the Legislature offers clarity so cities like mine can provide firefighters their due.
—@Fineout: as I detailed last year — Fla’s campaign finance laws are easily sidestepped, avoided, even ignored — and nothing ever happens. But hey the Fla Elections Commission might fine someone bc a report was filed a few days late
—@EnterpriseFL: More than 2,200 # and aerospace establishments employ nearly 100,000 professionals across #, with large numbers of rocket scientists, machinists, pilots, engineers and other flexible, highly-skilled workers.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Taylor Swift’s new album, ‘Lover,’ released — 3; Florida Gators opens vs. Miami football — 4; St. Petersburg primary election — 7; UCF Knights football opens vs. Florida A&M — 9; USF Bulls football opens vs. Wisconsin Badgers — 10; FSU Seminoles football opens vs. Boise State — 11; Labor Day — 13; CNN hosts candidate forum on the climate crisis — 15; TaxWatch Productivity Awards — 22; First Interim Committee Week for 2020 Session — 27; “Morning” Joe Scarborough releases “This Ends Badly: How Donald Trump Conned America” — 28; MSNBC hosts candidates event on climate in D.C. — 30; “Joker” opens — 45; Triple Force Friday: the next generation of Star Wars products arrives — 45; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 69; 2019 General Election — 77; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 79; TaxWatch 40th Annual Meeting — 104; 2020 Session begins — 147; Florida TaxWatch State of the TaxPayer Dinner in Tallahassee — 148; Iowa Caucuses — 167; New Hampshire Primaries — 175; Florida’s presidential primary — 210; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 339; 2020 General Election — 441.
— TOP STORY —
“Disney’s Star Wars hosts future Senate leaders, Agriculture Secretary Nikki Fried” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Two potential members of Florida’s 2021 state Senate leadership were among the officeholders who showed up to the special “Community Leaders” preview event for Disney World’s new Star Wars attraction on Friday night. Fried, while not a participant, got her own tour of the Galaxy’s Edge land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios several weeks ago, when it was not yet up and running. Friday’s event wasn’t free, with invitees required to pay $170, plus $25 parking, to attend the three-hour preview. Even so, ethics watchdog Integrity Florida and some lawmakers said it was questionable for officials to have early access to a new land not open to the general public before Aug. 29.
— DATELINE: TALLY —
More Irma cash from feds — As the second anniversary of Hurricane Irma approaches, Florida’s costs from Hurricane Irma are over $2.63 billion. That’s the bad news. The good news: that pushes recovery costs from the storm to 90 percent from 75 percent. Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ letter to FEMA notifying the federal agency of the increased threshold noted that the cost-share adjustment would offer $160 million of relief to state and local governments, a “really, really big deal” he said Monday in Lee County.
Assignment editors — DeSantis will join Tampa General Hospital in the unveiling of CareComm, 11 a.m., Tampa General Hospital, Macinnes Auditorium, 1 Tampa General Circle, Tampa.
“Fried calls for interim top financial regulator to be named” via Florida Politics — Agriculture Commissioner Fried is calling for an interim Commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) to be named in the wake of the suspension and later firing of the former head, Ronald Rubin. He was fired last month at a Florida Cabinet meeting after accusations of sexual harassment … “Neither Floridians nor OFR’s employees should expect to wait … Given the urgency of the situation, I am calling for a special meeting of the Cabinet to appoint much-needed leadership, and I am placing into consideration Greg Oaks, OFR’s Director of Consumer Finance and a trusted veteran of the agency for 26 years.”
Ethics complaint accuses Jimmy Patronis of ‘pay-to-play’ — A newly filed complaint is asking the Florida Commission on Ethics has been asked to investigate allegations CFO Patronis participated in a political pay-to-play scheme, reports Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida. The complaint centers on a lawsuit filed by former Office of Financial Regulation Commissioner Rubin, who was recently fired. Rubin maintains the firing was retaliatory. In his lawsuit, Rubin accuses Patronis, lobbyist Paul Mitchell and MCNA Dental founder Jeffrey Feingold, a top Patronis donor, of orchestrating a plan to get Rubin the top job at the Office of Financial Regulation in return for $1 million in campaign contributions from Rubin’s father, Walter.
“Van alarms, guardian reform, UCF money: Orange County lawmakers hear asks” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Request for daycare van alarms, reform of Florida’s guardians program, and University of Central Florida money were among the top asks laid on Orange County’s Legislative Delegation Monday heading into the 2020 Session. After Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings pitched his proposal for a 1 cent transportation sales tax, turned into a day of complicated lines of concerns regarding growth, transportation, housing, and public safety, which sometimes seemed to conflict and crossed boundaries between the Florida Legislature, the Orange County government, and the Orange County School Board.
Happening today — State Rep. Tommy Gregory will hold one in a series of town hall meetings to discuss issues with constituents, 6:30 p.m., Goodwill headquarters, 2705 51st Ave. East, Bradenton.
Happening today — State Rep. Javier Fernandez will help host a town hall event about transportation issues, 7 p.m., 3443 Segovia St., Coral Gables.
“There’s got to be a better way to ‘meet’ legislators” via Lauren Ritchie of the Orlando Sentinel — About 75 hearty souls ignored the lightning and threatening skies last week to come hear four members of their legislative delegation tout the terrific job they did during the session earlier this year. These meetings are terribly boring. The only exception is Anthony Sabatini, the Republican state representative from Howey-in-the-Hills, whose avocation is verbal brawling. Sabatini’s mean-spirited attacks break the monotony but accomplish nothing. It’s not possible to have a genuine, respectful exchange of ideas that can result in finding even a little common ground because his goal is to obliterate common ground. Then he rubs the noses of anyone who doesn’t agree with him into the fact that he has a vote in the Legislature and they don’t.
— STATEWIDE —
“Catholic bishops urge Ron DeSantis to commute Gary Ray Bowles’ death sentence” via Florida Politics — The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked Gov. DeSantis to commute Bowles’ death sentence to life in prison. Bowles, set to be executed Thursday for the 1994 murder of Walter Hinton, also pleaded guilty to five other murders and is serving life sentences for two of them, the Conference explained in a news release. In a letter released Monday, Michael Sheedy — executive director of the conference — told DeSantis “intentionally ending Mr. Bowles’ life is unnecessary” because “society can remain safe from any future violent actions of his through lifelong incarceration.”
“Coalition seeks to expand ‘restorative justice’” via News Service of Florida — Citing drops in criminal recidivism and increases in victim satisfaction rates, a coalition of churches and other organizations gathered in Tallahassee Monday, pushing what they call “restorative justice” as an alternative to a more-punitive criminal justice system. Dan Kahn with the Florida Restorative Justice Association said having people make amends for their wrongs works better than simply forcing them to do time in jail. “You feel more of a sense of connection to community, more of a sense of accountability,” Khan told reporters during a news conference. Supporters hope for legislative support as well, saying the plan saves taxpayer money while helping people avoid being marked as criminals for the rest of their lives.
“Richard Corcoran talks Schools of Hope, teacher compensation” via Kevin Robinson of the Pensacola News-Journal — Speaking to members of the Panhandle Tiger Bay Club during a luncheon, Corcoran laid out some of his pressing initiatives and ideals, spending about 30 minutes fielding questions from audience members. Addressing a question on how we get world-class teachers in Florida classrooms, Corcoran said supporting our teachers is top of mind for DeSantis. “Almost every single time, every single speech that I’ve been with him, he has hinted strongly — and it’s been in the press — that we need to do far, far more to elevate and celebrate the teaching profession. I’m hopeful, and I think it’s going to happen, that this legislative session will be a landmark teacher compensation package for our schoolteachers,” Corcoran said to applause.
“Hepatitis A cases continue to climb” via the News Service of Florida — Seventy-two new hepatitis A cases were reported to the state last week. The latest numbers bring the total number of reported cases this year to 2,266. Volusia County, with 12 cases, leads the state in the number of new cases reported for the most recent week, which ended Aug. 17. The latest report brings the county’s total number of hepatitis A cases to 208. Nearby Brevard County reported eight new hepatitis A cases to the state this week, bringing the total number of cases in the county to 85. Pasco County, which had one new case reported in the last week, has more hepatitis A cases — 374 — than any other county in the state.
“Economists: State’s KidCare costs on the rise” via the News Service of Florida — A new forecast shows that state legislators will need to set aside an extra $81 million in the next state budget to deal with increased enrollment and an expected end to additional federal funding that was part of the national health-care law pushed by former President Barack Obama. Annual costs for the program will continue to rise over the next five years, requiring an increase of $162 million in state money by 2024, the economists predicted. Florida KidCare includes a subsidized health-insurance program for school-aged children that relies on both federal and state funding. Florida KidCare also includes Children’s Medical Service, a state-created program for children who have special health-care needs.
“State audit targets lottery advertising” via Andrew Caplan of the Gainesville Sun — The audit comes nearly a year after the Florida Lottery cut ties with a now-former Gainesville commissioner who duped them out of almost $200,000 in Bright Futures ads, a contract monitored by one of the lottery’s advertising agencies. Details of that contract showed the state department for years believed that a local monthly publication had a statewide circulation beyond 300,000, but didn’t check to confirm it was true. The audit also showed that the lottery didn’t always receive its share of sponsorship agreements and that employees still had access to state-issued credit cards, even after they left the department. Audit Supervisor Kathryn Walker said the report was a regularly scheduled audit and wasn’t spurred by any particular incident.
Happening today — Staff members of the Florida Public Service Commission will hold a workshop about draft rules that would help carry out a new law dealing with utility storm-protection plans, 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.
“Belly up: Florida liquor licenses up for grabs starting next week” via Susan Taylor Martin of the Tampa Bay Times — The application period for Florida liquor licenses starts with big demand expected for the one Pinellas County license that will be available. The county wasn’t eligible for any new licenses this year so the next one issued should have considerable value. Hillsborough will get four new licenses and Pasco two in the annual drawing to be held sometime next year. A total of 51 licenses in 27 counties will be available. Florida is among a handful of states that allocate liquor quota licenses via random computerized drawings. For 45 days, applicants can enter the drawing for every county in which a license is available, but they can submit only one entry per county and must pay a $100 entry fee each time.
— NOTES FROM ELSEWHERE —
What Nikki Fried is reading — “Ohio Attorney General says more than 100 people deemed mentally unfit have concealed carry permits” via News5 Cleveland — As communities in Dayton and El Paso continue to mourn the victims of the back-to-back mass shootings in their cities, the conversation about gun control has steadily continued to heat up across the country, including here in Ohio. Now adding to that conversation, there are new concerns over the mental health of concealed carry permit gun owners in this state. The Ohio Attorney General’s office confirmed that more than 100 people in the state had been deemed mentally incompetent by a court, but still have permits to carry concealed guns.
What Scott Rivkees is reading — “Marijuana brownies, gummies, and chocolates ending up in toddlers’ hands” via The Boston Globe — Amid a proliferation of new pot shops in Massachusetts, health care officials are seeing an ominous trend: A sharp increase in calls to the state’s poison control center about toddlers getting into marijuana products — usually brownies, chocolate bars, or gummies — and ending up in the emergency room. The number of calls about children 5 and younger ingesting marijuana nearly tripled in the first seven months after recreational pot shops opened last November, compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the Regional Center for Poison Control and Prevention.
What Barbara Petersen is reading — “In public records win, Tennessee appeals court says state can’t block requests due to investigations” via The Nashville Tennessean — In a significant First Amendment win, the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled the state wrongly kept routine public records from multiple agencies secret. The appeals court embraced and strengthened the state’s public records laws and said public documents stay public even when they are ensnared in an ongoing criminal investigation. The ruling came after the state attorney general’s office refused to release state travel records, emails and other public documents related to the former acting director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and another public official while multiple agencies investigated allegations that the two were having an affair.
“Taxing legal pot could be good for states, but study says there’s little data to show it” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald — According to a new study by Pew Charitable Trust, there’s too much uncertainty and too little data for states to rely on recreational marijuana “sin” taxes for permanent fixes to budget shortfalls. The research found that states see high revenue growth in the early years of legalization, but there is evidence that the growth slows as markets mature. “It raises an important and larger point,” researcher Alexandria Zhang told reporters, “As states seek new revenue sources, lawmakers should consider how volatile the new revenue source is.” Given how unpredictable recreational marijuana can be, states should instead treat it like any other nonrecurring source of dollars in order to reduce a budget imbalance, Zhang said.
“As climate change hits Florida agriculture, could the future be ‘carbon farming’?” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — The industry is already feeling the effects of climate change, in fluctuating rainfall, higher temperatures and stronger storms. Farmers have always endured extremes in Florida, particularly sporadic droughts, but many in the industry believe the climate is changing in more profound ways. But experts say the industry could play a role in solving the problem. Florida’s 26 million acres of agricultural land suck up a lot of carbon from the atmosphere, filter water into the aquifer and provide habitat for endangered species like the Florida panther. Paying agricultural producers as a way to stave off development is something the conservation community has discussed for “quite a while,” said Greg Knecht, deputy execute director of The Nature Conservancy Florida.
“Florida’s iconic palm trees threatened by invasive disease” via Terry Spencer of The Associated Press — Spread by a rice-sized, plant-hopping insect, lethal bronzing has gone from a small infestation on Florida’s Gulf Coast to a nearly statewide problem in just over a decade. Tens of thousands of palm trees have died from the bacterial disease, and the pace of its spread is increasing, adding to environmental woes of a state already struggling to save its other arboreal icon, citrus trees, from two other diseases. Florida’s official state tree — the tall, broad-leafed sabal palm — is especially susceptible and Florida nurseries, businesses, and homeowners are taking a financial hit as they scrap infected palms. Some preventive measures can be taken, but once infected, uprooting the tree is the only practical solution.
— 2020 —
“Kellyanne Conway, Pam Bondi to speak at women for Trump event in Tampa” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Conway has been among the high-profile surrogates for Trump. The prominent pollster managed his presidential campaign in 2016. One of the biggest upsets in U.S. history, the campaign won 30 states, including Florida, to win an electoral college victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Bondi, another close ally of Trump, served as Florida’s top legal officer from 2010 through 2018. She has remained a prominent political commentator, appearing on Fox News regularly since before the 2018 elections. Both high-profile women aim to help rally female voters for Trump.
— “Casey DeSantis to skip Women for Trump event due to planned execution” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida
“8 Democratic presidential candidates will participate in CNN climate town hall” via Mark Preston of CNN — CNN is devoting the evening of Sept. 4 to the climate crisis. Eight of the Democratic candidates have accepted CNN’s invitation to discuss this critically important issue: former Vice President Joe Biden; Sen. Cory Booker; Pete Buttigieg; Sen. Amy Klobuchar; former Rep. Beto O’Rourke; Sen. Bernie Sanders; Sen. Warren; and Andrew Yang. Citing a scheduling conflict, Sen. Kamala Harris declined CNN’s invitation. CNN anchors Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon will moderate individual candidate segments, and CNN Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir will join in the questioning throughout the event.
“Elizabeth Warren works to overcome hurdles with black voters in S.C.” via Annie Linsky of The Washington Post — Black voters are key to winning South Carolina, the fourth nominating contest in the Democratic calendar, along with the slew of Southern primaries where African Americans also represent large shares of the vote. In South Carolina, Warren and her team appeared to be navigating the racial landscape more astutely than Sanders. Among the speakers warming up a crowd for her Saturday evening in Aiken, S.C., was Lessie Price, a local black leader and the first vice-chair of the state’s Democratic Party. Warren’s message, Price said, speaks to African Americans. “Oftentimes, it’s getting that message out over and over and over, and someone starts hearing it,” said Price, who is staying neutral in the primary.
“Census figures show economic gap narrows with citizenship” via Mike Schneider at The Associated Press — Foreign-born residents had higher rates of full-time employment than those born in the United States last year, and naturalized immigrants were more likely to have advanced degrees than the native-born, according to figures by the U.S. Census Bureau. The new figures show that the economic gap between the native-born and the foreign-born in the United States appears to narrow with citizenship. Immigrants who weren’t citizens had higher rates of poverty, lower-income and less education compared with native-born citizens last year. But immigrants who were citizens had less poverty, close to equal earnings and higher rates of advanced degrees than native U.S. citizens.
“Marco Rubio calls climate change ‘a real problem’ but rejects aggressive efforts to curb emissions” via Zac Anderson of the Herald-Tribune — Climate change is a challenge Floridians ‘must confront,’ Rubio wrote Monday in a new op-ed for USA Today. But Rubio said policymakers should focus on adapting to the flooding and other problems that climate change will bring, instead of aggressive efforts to curb carbon emissions that are warming the planet.
“Matt Gaetz calls for civility; says he must do better on social media” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida — Gaetz made a pitch for civility on a Pensacola radio station after telling listeners he wasn’t meeting with them in person on advice from Capitol Police. Gaetz, who was pelted with a drink after a town hall meeting earlier this summer, said holding a public event would have required additional law enforcement. He also touted DeSantis for President, saying the Republican would be a natural successor to Trump. Gaetz, who is known for being combative, admitted he has gone too far at times on social media and said people should “recognize the humanity of people” who differ politically.
“Ross Spano again faces questions over campaign contributions” via Gary White of the Ledger —The Federal Elections Commission has again raised questions about contributions to the campaign of U.S. Rep. Ross Spano, R-Dover. The federal agency sent a “request for additional information” letter last week to the treasurer of Spano’s reelection campaign in response to records submitted in July.
— THE TRAIL —
“This secretive group is trying to create barriers to amending Florida’s Constitution” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — A secretive organization with the goal of thwarting amendments approved by voters after the 2020 election cycle has spent more than $800,000 on paid petition gatherers in the last four months, using funds from undisclosed sources and raising the specter of another high stakes fight over the future of energy regulation in Florida. The organization calls itself Keep Our Constitution Clean and says its purpose is to keep the state’s premier legal document uncluttered by special interest measures. But activists involved in other petition drives say they believe the group is linked to the utility industry, which is opposing a proposed amendment that would deregulate the state’s monopoly utilities, the way the telecom industry was deregulated 37 years ago.
“Fire union chief’s candidacy sets up Republican primary in Miami congressional district” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Omar Blanco, president of the Metro-Dade Firefighters Local 1403, filed to run for Florida’s 26th Congressional District. Stretching from southwest Miami-Dade down through the Florida Keys, U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell currently represents the swing district. Republicans hope to flip the seat red again in 2020, and until Monday had only one candidate to get behind: Irina Vilariño, co-owner of Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine. But Blanco’s candidacy — likely to be supported by a firefighters union with a history of campaign volunteerism — creates the potential of a difficult primary battle.
Actual news release via Laura Loomer for Congress — “ICYMI: Republican Candidate for Congress, Who Was Kicked Off Twitter for Criticizing Rep. Ilhan Omar as Anti-Semitic, Vindicated by Israel’s Decision to Bar Congresswomen from Entering the Country”
“HD 22 candidates neck-and-neck in fundraising” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The three Republicans seeking the House District 22 seat currently held by term-limited Rep. Charlie Stone are raising heaps of cash. Through July, first-in candidate Kurt Kelly leads the pack with nearly $75,000 raised. The report included a max check from former House Speaker Allan Bense as well as Frontline Insurance. The former state representative has been running for the Levy- and Marion-based seat since the beginning of the year, giving him a leg up on his opponents — Joe Harding and Russ Randall. Harding launched his bid in February, and he’s piled on $69,200 in outside money. Harding launched his bid in February, and with a month less time on his side, he’s piled on $69,200 in outside money.
— LOCAL —
“Feds: Pensacola man will plead guilty to charges of doing business with Iran” via Florida Politics — A Pensacola man now will plead guilty to charges he planned to sell power generating equipment to an Iranian concern in violation of federal law, federal prosecutors said. James Meharg’s “change of plea” hearing has been set for Thursday, according to a Monday release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida. Meharg, 59, CEO and president of Turbine Resources International, “conspired with citizens of the United Kingdom and Iran to export a large turbine and parts to an Iranian recipient, in violation of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations as well as federal criminal law,” a news release said.
“Jax Council panel rejects MJ civil citations” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — On Monday, a Jacksonville City Council committee “just said no” to cannabis civil citations. The bill was DOA, despite decriminalization polling at 84 percent locally. But despite a clear state and national trend toward cannabis acceptance, the bill was rejected by the Neighborhoods, Public Health and Safety committee.
“State drops cases against former Martin commissioners; county may be billed the legal fees” via Melissa Holsman of TCPalm — State prosecutors dismissed the misdemeanor charges pending against Ed Fielding and Anne Scott, who were expected to go on trial in the coming weeks. The state’s move comes four months after a jury acquitted Martin Commissioner Sarah Heard of related public records violations following a weeklong trial. “Mr. Fielding is just terribly relieved that all of this is over,” said Stuart defense attorney Josh Deckard. Fielding and Scott were initially charged in 2017 with two counts of “knowingly failing to provide public records after being requested to do so,” records show. Charges against Scott were amended in 2018 to include two offenses related to her failure to return records to her successor in office.
“Miami governments spending millions to make money and get exposure from Super Bowl 54“ via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Politicians and tourism boosters tout Super Bowls as major moneymakers for South Florida’s economy. Plus the NFL has committed to building playing fields and improving other public spaces in Miami-Dade County in connection with the 2020 event. In advance of the game, to be played Feb. 2 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, local governments have spent or plan to commit more than $15 million in cash contributions to the host committee, security bills, municipal fee waivers and partial payments for parks improvements — the costs of football fields and lighting improvements to Miami’s waterfront are being split between the NFL and government agencies. Miami-Dade County will pay another $4 million to the Miami Dolphins for attracting the game.
“School Board to lobby lawmakers for capital funds” via Joe Callahan of the Ocala Star-Banner — For nearly 50 years, there has been a tax on landline phones, cable television, and electricity to pay for school capital needs. That program, called Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO), has paid state universities, colleges, and K-12 school districts billions of dollars through the decades for new construction and maintenance. But the fund is shrinking because there are fewer landline phones and cable subscribers statewide and more energy-efficient products. The School Board is discussing this lobbying effort because half of Marion County’s schools are more than 50 years old. Air conditioning systems are failing, new roofs are needed, and officials fear they may never catch up on routine maintenance if the state doesn’t begin ponying up more PECO dollars soon.
“A private company now owns part of a county park. How could that happen?” via Larry Barszewski of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Somehow, 5 acres of a Broward County park was auctioned off last year without officials knowing, and now the winning bidder has threatened to sue if park visitors keep trespassing on its property. The owner went so far as to put up makeshift fences and “No Trespassing” signs in July across two trails at West Lake Park in Hollywood. The county quickly took the signs down, officials said. Park officials didn’t know about the auction, which was conducted by the county tax collector’s office. The property’s previous owner — the defunct West Lake Development Corp. — had gone many years without paying property taxes that were owed. The parcel is a 15-foot-wide strip that is nearly 3 miles long.
“Remember that derelict boat off the Howard Frankland? Now it has anti-Trump graffiti.” via Kavitha Surana of the Tampa Bay Times — Drivers entering Tampa are now being greeted with this political message: “Trump=Evil.” The words were painted in bright red along the side of a derelict boat that was abandoned in the shallow waters off the bridge about nine months ago. It is the latest indignity for the Moonraker II, a white fishing boat left to deteriorate behind the docks and backyards of the homes off Mariner Street. “Once people start using it for political stuff, that’s really low,” said Arnold Hubbard, 61, who has long complained about the boat. It’s unclear who spray-painted the boat, but officials said its removal is just around the corner ― sort of. The county expects the state to approve the grant any day now.
— JAX IS ON FIRE —
Monday was a happening day in Jacksonville, but the goings-on isn’t to voters liking.
In a Monday letter, Jacksonville General Counsel Jason Gabriel pushed back on claims that a recent Clay County court ruling “debunked” the city lawyer’s stance that the City Council shall be the sole party to decide when or if a tax referendum can be on the ballot.
The School Board wants a November vote, but at this point, that’s not happening. The people want it, too — according to a fresh survey from St. Pete Polls, 67 percent of Democrats support the proposal, while Republicans only narrowly oppose it, 46-47 percent.
Likewise, Jax residents thumbed their nose at JEA privatization by an equally large margin — just 15 percent say it’s a good idea.
By and large, Jacksonville residents aren’t getting what they want. And policy isn’t the only thing that’s disappointing them.
Despite giving Mayor Lenny Curry a second term earlier this year, he’s now underwater with every demographic outside of whites, Hispanics, and likely voters over 70.
— OPINIONS —
“Ashley Moody trying to bamboozle court with challenge to assault weapons ban ballot initiative” via Philip Shailer for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Her most blatant misstatement is that the proposed constitutional amendment “would ban the possession of virtually every semi-automatic long gun.” This is simply not true. All major rifle manufacturers already sell, and will continue to sell, any number and variety of rifles with magazine capacities not exceeding ten bullets (the limit that would become law under the amendment.) Further, no one will come knocking down our doors to seize our existing assault rifles, as the proposal expressly states that we will have a year to register each such lawfully-owned weapon and can continue our use and ownership forever. Moody’s position is blind — again, either through sloppy research or deliberate avoidance — to the history of the assault weapon in our country.
“Joe Henderson: Public school discipline? It’s a numbers game” via Florida Politics — In 2015, the Times reported that black students received disproportionate discipline compared to white students. The idea behind restorative practices “is for teachers to foster a sense of openness and community on campus.” Uh-huh. The problem with that is the same that plagues public education throughout the state. The state makes teachers accountable for many things that are well beyond their control. Problem students often model what they see at home. When they take that to the classroom, administrators say it’s because teachers can’t keep control. It’s not much better when they try to keep control. Parents scream the teacher is unfair to their little darling. In the old days, administrators would have backed up the teacher. Now, it’s often the opposite.
— LEGISLATIVE MERRY-GO-ROUND —
With a tip of the hat to LobbyTools, here are the latest movements — both on and off — the legislative merry-go-round.
On and off: Luke Strickland replaced Robert Shave as deputy staff director for the Senate Majority Office. David Struhs is no longer a legislative analyst in the office.
On and off: Rael Candelaria has replaced Tempie Sailors as an administrative assistant in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development.
On: Michelle Milligan is the new committee administrative assistant for the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government.
On: President Galvano appointed Toni Azinger to the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking Direct-Support Organization Board of Directors, per HB 851.
Off: Madeline Reeve is no longer an administrative assistant in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.
Off: Kasey Lewis is no longer a legislative assistant to Boynton Beach Democratic Sen. Lori Berman.
On and off: Jeffrey Scala is out as a legislative assistant, and Angel Gonzalez is in as district secretary to Plantation Democratic Sen. Lauren Book.
Off: Travaris McCurdy is no longer legislative assistant to Orlando Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy.
On and off: Cynthia Harigel is in, and Jennifer Biggs and Cynthia Harigel are out as legislative assistants to Pensacola Republican Sen. Doug Broxson.
On and off: Shawn Hall is no longer a legislative assistant to Tampa Democratic Sen. Janet Cruz. John Learn has become Cruz’s district secretary.
Off: Nicholas Alvarez will no longer be a legislative assistant to Miami Republican Sen. Flores starting in September.
On and off: Shruti Graf replaced Robert Heere as a legislative assistant to Brandon Republican Sen. Tom Lee. Graf was formerly deputy staff director for the Senate Committee on Education.
On and off: Kaitlyn Currey and Frank DiMarco became legislative assistants to Melbourne Republican Sen. Debbie Mayfield. Patrick Steele and Margaret Mitchell are no longer Mayfield’s legislative assistants.
On and off: Adriana Mitchell is out as a secretary, Robert Vogan is out as a legislative assistant, and Kennen Vernon and Suzanne McGuire are in as legislative assistants to Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry.
Off: Jared Willis is no longer legislative assistant to Naples Republican Sen. Kathleen Passidomo.
Off: Marian Dozier is no longer legislative assistant to West Palm Beach Democratic Sen. Bobby Powell.
On and off: Jocelyn Absher is out, and Christopher Nordstrom is in as legislative assistant to Boca Raton Democratic Sen. Kevin Rader.
Off: Laura Jimenez and Daniela Fernandez are no longer legislative assistants to Miami Democratic Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez.
On and off: Luis Callejas is out, and Julian Santos and Valentina Guerrero are in as legislative assistants for Miami Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo.
— ALOE —
“Beep and tweet: Florida has the most complaining drivers on Twitter, study says” via Johnny Diaz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The folks over at the car site Autowise.com ranked Florida as the “official home of the horrible driver.” Using geotagged Twitter data from July, researchers looked to see what states had the most mentions and complaints about bad driving. Overall, about 10,000 Tweets were tracked. A map based on the data showed that the states with the most complaints leaned more on the eastern side of the country. There’s no obvious reason why Florida is the only “big” state to make the top 10. Florida, with its hundreds of miles of interstate highways, the Florida Turnpike and other roadways spanning the state, there are more opportunities to get under a driver’s skin.
“Gas up, everyone: prices hit summertime low” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Average gas prices in Florida fell to a summertime low of $2.42 on Monday — 34 cents lower than a year ago and 20 cents below the national average, travel club AAA reported in its weekly Gas Price Update. While the slide might be good news for consumers in the short run, the reason for the slide isn’t such good news: Slowing global economic activity has traders projecting lower demand for the energy needed to make and move goods around the world. OPEC is forecasting “oil market fundamentals to decline for the rest of 2019, due to a slowing economy,” AAA’s report said.
“UCF, Florida ranked in preseason AP top 25 poll” via Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel — UCF once again kicks off the season ranked in The Associated Press top 25 poll, with the Knights landing at No. 17 in the preseason poll. This is the 28th consecutive appearance by a UCF team in the weekly AP poll dating back to 2017. The last time a UCF team wasn’t ranked was Sept. 24, 2017, and during that time, the program went on to win 25 of its last 26 games, capped with back-to-back American Athletic Conference championships and consecutive appearances in New Year’s Six Access Bowl games. Florida, which kicks off the season Saturday against Miami in the Camping World Kickoff, opens the year at No. 8 in the preseason rankings.
“An expected but rare absence from Florida State football in preseason AP poll” via Curt Weiler of the Tallahassee Democrat — It’s just the second time since 1983 that the FSU football team has been missing from the preseason poll, along with 2008. This time, however, FSU didn’t even receive a single vote, putting them behind 21 additional schools that received at least one vote. FSU also was missing from the USA Today Preseason Coaches’ Poll, but was included in the Top 25 of ESPN’s Football Power Index. The Seminoles are coming off their first losing season in 42 years. In Willie Taggart‘s first season as head coach, FSU started the season at No. 19 in the AP Poll before stumbling its way to a 5-7 finish, missing a bowl for the first time in 37 years.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday to U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, Mark Bubriski of Florida Power & Light, Matt Florell of St. Pete Polls, Janelle Hendren, and Bethany Swonson.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.