Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 8.17.17 – Jack Latvala’s dolphin tale; Florida Realtors launch statewide campaign; Whistlin’ Dixie; Dennis Baxley’s gonna do what?; Cesar Fernandez’ new project

in Peter by

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

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


Jack Latvala says he’ll capture more Donald Trump voters than GOP opponents” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics –“I’m looking at a field that’s made up of people who have been in government their entire lives—either in elective office or as a staff member—and don’t have any business experience and have never really had those challenges that those of us that have businesses have, and I just think that the party who nominated Donald Trump (is) not going to be comfortable with nominating somebody like that,” Latvala told Tampa 820 AM host Dan Maduri. “It’s a never-ending ladder and I’m at the end of the ladder,” he said. “I’m old enough that this is my last race for anything, and I just want to get in and do what’s got to be done to solve some of these problems and straighten things out.”

Doing a buddy a solid: Jack Latvala‘s Senate colleague, Hialeah Republican Rene Garcia, appears with firefighters and police at Latvala’s gubernatorial run announcement in South Florida Wednesday.

“Latvala on Charlottesville blame: ‘I wasn’t there’” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO FloridaLatvala would not comment Wednesday on whether he believes white supremacists were completely to blame for the violent, racially charged protests in Charlottesville that claimed three lives. Asked if the neo Nazis were 100 percent to blame, Latvala said “I wasn’t there. I condemn all violence of people that are protesting. If people are peacefully exercising their rights — whether they be white supremacists or whether they be Black Lives Matter folks — they have a right to demonstrate without having a mob attack them.” … “I wasn’t there,” Latvala reiterated. “I’ve heard a lot of different stories about what may or may not have gone down. I’m sure the president and people that are closer to it have a lot more information than I do. I’m involved in what goes on in Florida. I’m sad about what happened. I think the three people who lost their lives were innocent people. Both the cops were just doing their jobs. … Obviously, the young lady, she wasn’t doing anything wrong. That’s who we should be thinking about, not thugs.”

Nicholas the dolphin flipped for Latvala” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times –Surrounded by several hundred friends and supporters at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium … Latvala noted that the only other officially announced Republican for governor (Adam Putnam) kicked off his campaign with a high school marching band. Then Latvala introduced Nicholas the Dolphin, who promptly swam over to Latvala’s tank-side podium and did multiple flips in the air. “Let him beat that,” Latvala said of Putnam as the crowd cheered. “I’ve been a Republican before Republicans were cool,” said the 65-year-old state senator who was the founding chairman of the Florida Federation of College Republicans in 1972. “I’m not going to let anybody take the credential of being more Republican than I am. But I also look at myself as an old school Republican, and an old school Republican is a Republican who keeps their word, who works hard, who wants (to uphold) the basic principle of keeping government out of our lives and making government work for us.”

Courting the cetacean vote? Jack Latvala watches Wednesday as Nicholas the dolphin warms up the crowd at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

How Latvala’s announcement played: The Associated Press, Jack Latvala, considered a GOP moderate, launches run for governor – “ … a powerful, sometimes surly state senator seen as a moderate Republican voice  … taking on better-known, more conservative and better-funded primary opponent Adam Putnam.” Miami Herald, Charlottesville questions dog Latvala at campaign launch – “Latvala formally launched his 2018 bid in Hialeah with a moment of silence for the 32-year-old protester run over by a car and two state troopers whose helicopter crashed in Virginia … he later declined to lay all responsibility for their deaths on the racist neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan groups that staged two days of demonstrations.” Tampa Bay Times, Jack Latvala on governor’s race: ‘I’m going to get in people’s faces’ – “Paunchy, bearded, short-tempered, blunt and prone to swearing, he is hardly straight out of central casting as a polished, TV-ready statewide candidate.” Sunshine State News, Jack Latvala kicks off campaign for Governor – “I may not be the young candidate for governor. I may not be the best-looking candidate for governor … I’m not the most physically fit candidate for governor, and I’m probably not even the smartest candidate for governor. But I will be the candidate who tells it to you straight, who if he gives you his word, will keep my word.” WTLV, Sen. Jack Latvala launches campaign for governor of Florida – “The white-bearded, firebrand politician – whose fatherly demeanor is a far cry from the status quo – took the stage to a backdrop of supporters holding up campaign signs in both English and Spanish that read, ‘Hialeah Backs Jack!’” South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Jack Latvala, newest candidate for Florida governor, hits the campaign trail – “Latvala described Florida is a special place — but not perfect. ‘There are so many things that we are known for that are not positive. And so many important statistical categories where we perform very poorly. And together we need to do something about that.’”

Meanwhile, the Florida Democrats employed the Klingon strategy of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ by using Latvala’s words agains Rick Scott via spokesperson Johanna Cervone: “The Florida Democratic Party welcomes State Senator Jack Latvala to the governor’s race. We thank the Republican state senator for highlighting Governor Rick Scott’s failed economic policies, Commissioner Adam Putnam’s eagerness to pander for campaign contributions, and Speaker Richard Corcoran’s failure to get anything done despite a Republican majority.”

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Florida Realtors kick off ‘Amendment 2 is for Everybody’ campaign” via Florida Politics – Realtors officially kicked off its campaign to pass Amendment 2, which gives voters the chance to make a 10 percent cap on annual non-homestead property tax increases permanent. The initiative will appear on the 2018 general election ballot. Before the 10 percent cap, if the value of a business owner’s property increased significantly compared to the previous year, they could see their property tax bill skyrocket. Owners of investment homes also faced steep property tax hikes, which could be passed along to tenants in the form of higher rents. “Amendment 2 really is good for everybody because if the non-homestead tax cap expires in 2019, every Floridian will be negatively impacted in some way,” says Florida Realtors President Maria Wells. “Whether it’s a business having to increase the cost of their goods and services or tenants having their rent go up a significant amount, communities across the state will suffer.”

Eatonville Mayor Eddie Cole endorses Chris King for Governor – “For some folks, Chris may be a new face, but I’ve known and felt the impact of his work in Central Florida for quite some time. From his work in affordable housing to his philanthropies in public schools, I know Chris to be a man of character, hard work and inclusion,” Cole said. “Florida is failing to meet the basic needs of its citizens – most acutely where jobs, housing and health care are concerned. As the mayor of Eatonville, I’ve seen how far our community has come and how far we have to go. I’ve also seen how for too long communities of color have been forgotten, while elected officials pay lip service to both the unique and common challenges we face. I know with Chris we’ll have more than just a seat at the table: a real partner in bringing about economic change here in Eatonville and across the state.”

Assignment editors Adam Putnam will join the Professional Firefighters/Paramedics of Palm Beach County for a campaign announcement 10 a.m., 2328 S. Congress Ave. in West Palm Beach.

Matt Caldwell to roll out legislative endorsements in Ag Commissioner raceCaldwell is receiving endorsements from state Reps. Byron Donalds of Naples, Dane Eagle of Cape Coral, Heather Fitzenhagen of Fort Myers, Ray Rodrigues of Estero and Bob Rommel of Naples. Caldwell’s is running against former state Rep. Baxter Troutman and state Sen. Denise Grimsley. President Joe Negron recently named Grimsley chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Ashley Moody’s ready to take over as AG on ‘Day One’” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics –Despite the fact that she’s won the endorsement from current AG Pam Bondi and seemingly every Republican in Hillsborough County, she remains a cipher to most of the state, which made her appearance before the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee a noteworthy event. Moody spent most of her 13-minute speech giving context to her impressive resume … She then went through the rest of her professional biography, beginning as a defense attorney at Holland and Knight, where worked she worked on business disputes. At the age of 31, she decided she wanted to get into the family business, which was to become a judge, following in the footsteps of her father and stepfather. She won an election for Hillsborough Circuit Court in 2006, becoming at that time the youngest judge in Florida. “It showed that I had the experience, the judicial temperament, and the ability to hear all sides before making a final decision, and that’s what I try to bring to the bench with that approach to problems,” she said.

NRCC hits Debbie Wasserman Schultz for handling of IT staffer scandal – A new digital ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee blasts South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her delay in firing a congressional aide under investigation for bank fraud and exposing sensitive government information – waiting until after he was arrested to let him go. “Scandals, lies and corruption define Debbie Wasserman Schultz’ entire congressional career,” says NRCC Communications Director Matt Gorman.

Click on the image below to watch the video.

David Richardson says it’s time to dump Donald Trump” via Florida Politics – “What the country witnessed yesterday was a United States president losing all moral authority to govern. His defense of neo-Nazis, KKK members, and white supremacists is not just ‘Trump being Trump’ or one more opportunity for Republicans to condemn the sin while continuing to prop up the sinner. We’ve seen heads of industry and labor resign in disgust from the president’s jobs council. Today, I challenge Republican elected officials to join me in calling on President Trump to resign,” the HD 113 representative said.

Mary Barzee Flores turns backlash hate talk into fundraising” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics –In messages sent out mainly through social media earlier this week, Flores denounced Nazis, the KKK will white supremacists, and challenged Trump to take numerous actions to oppose racial violence, but lamented, “This president has failed nearly every test of leadership thrown his way, time and again.” … Then came the backlash, which her campaign reports includes “vicious, violent, racist and sexist Alt-right trolls … attacking Mary for speaking up.” Most of the comments the campaign quoted were filled with “****” where the profanities presumably appeared, such as, “MARY FLORES–EAT **** AND DIE–TODAY” and “U can go and **** U self!!” And so comes the fundraising letter. “I showed these vile comments to Mary and this is what she told me: “We have a First Amendment. They can say whatever they want about me and I’ll keep saying what I believe. At least they got my name right,” Flores’ campaign manager Sam Miller wrote in the fundraising letter.

Happening tonight:

Anna Eskamani event draws 200, raises $10,000 in HD 47 race” via Scott Powers of Florida PoliticsEskamani’s campaign kickoff event was held at The Abbey in downtown Orlando. The often defiant progressive activist and Planned Parenthood official sounded so in comments. “Last night’s event was more than just a reception. It was a reflection of our united resilience and of our united resistance. An act of defiance in the face of dangerous policies, disingenuous politicians and painful violence. A message to the world that says: now is our time,” Eskamani said in statement …  She also made a pitch to Republicans, recounting a recent conversation she had with two Trump supporters, “I want you to know that I’m a Democrat you can work with and I have a track record of that too. And though we won’t always agree on every issue, you will still find a trusted listener and advocate with me.

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AG Jeff Sessions visits Miami as mayor blasts  Trump’s ‘ambiguity’ on Charlottesville” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach PostSessions came to town to commend Miami Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez for shedding his county’s “sanctuary city” status and cooperating with the federal government by holding jail inmates who have been targeted for deportation. But it wasn’t exactly a love-fest. Before Sessions’ arrival, Gimenez issued a statement condemning Trump for his “ambiguity” about blame for the deadly violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville … And while Sessions praised Miami Dade in his remarks, he devoted much of his speech to condemning Chicago and other cities for challenging federal efforts to crack down on illegal immigration. “In no way can we accept or apologize for racism, bigotry, hatred, violence and those kinds of things that too often arise in our country,” said Sessions, who said the FBI is “aggressively” investigating the matter in cooperation with local law enforcement.

Rick Scott, Pam Bondi condemn white supremacists, but not Trump’s ‘fine people’ comments” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO FloridaScott and Bondi refused to criticize the president’s comments that “very fine people” were found among the neo-Nazis involved in last weekend’s racially charged clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia. “You can ask President Trump what he said,” Scott told reporters when asked his thoughts about the president’s comments. “I haven’t talked to the president since then, so you’re going to have to ask him about those comments,” Bondi said at the same time after the Florida Cabinet met. When a reporter clarified with Scott that he was being asked for his reaction to Trump, the governor still would not answer. “If you want to ask President Trump what he said, you can ask him,” Scott said.

— Scott will have lunch Thursday with President Trump. The White House schedule shows a 1 p.m. meal at Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, N.J

Rick Wilson tees off on Trump” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida – As the Republican field running for governor grows, a top GOP strategist offered some advice Wednesday to candidates seeking to follow term-limited Gov. Scott. “Just don’t be Trump’s mini-me, a simple rule,” Wilson told the Capital Tiger Bay Club in a luncheon speech. Wilson … has become one of the most-outspoken critics of President Donald Trump, said most of the Republicans positioning themselves to run for governor next year “are pretty much onboard the Trump train to Trash Fire Mountain.” … he understands the attraction of trying to appeal to Trump supporters in a Republican primary, but he warned it’s a “sugar high” that could have consequences in the general election. “Be real, guys, be yourself, be better than Trumpism,” Wilson said. “You’ll thank me in the general election, I promise you.” … he added he was “heartened” by remarks from Republican leaders, who unlike the president, directly condemned the actions by the nationalist groups in Virginia. “They have recognized finally that this is a man who is off the rails,” Wilson said.

After Charlottesville, Charlie Crist sees turning point with GOP and Trump” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times Crist … thinks the GOP may have reached a breaking point with Trump — and indeed numerous Republicans, from John McCain to Marco Rubio, criticized the president for not flatly blaming white supremacists for the violence. Trump has seen an exodus of business leaders from his advisory boards. “When does your duty to country supersede your duty to party or your presumed party leader? I think we’re real close, if not there,” Crist said. “We’re Americans before we are partisans. I mean, my god.”

Editorial: UF should reconsider denying white nationalist’s request to speak” via the Tampa Bay Times – University of Florida president Kent Fuchs understandably cited security concerns in denying white nationalist Richard Spencer‘s application to speak next month on campus. But those security concerns could be addressed, and they should not stamp out free speech at a public university that aspires to be great. Fuchs should reconsider his decision and work with law enforcement on a security plan that protects the First Amendment rights of everyone … the appropriate response to hateful speech and threats of violence is not denying the speakers the right to speak, particularly at a public university. The university’s bylaws say it cannot discriminate against a group based on its message. Fuchs tried to hold that high ground … calling Spencer’s rhetoric “repugnant” but declaring UF “remains unwaveringly dedicated to free speech and the spirit of public discourse.” Then he placed campus security above the First Amendment and denied Spencer’s request.

“Andrew Gillum: Get rid of Capitol’s Confederate memorial” via Florida PoliticsGillum called for the removal of a Confederate monument in front of the Historic Capitol. “In the wake of Charlottesville, people all around the country are grappling with how we deal with our nation’s history and its uglier elements, including slavery, racism and the Confederacy,” he said in a statement. “Floridians must be a part of this work because our own history is checkered, and today I am calling on Gov. Scott to immediately remove the Confederate monument … It is long past time. If he refuses, and I sincerely hope that he does act, I will do so on my first day as Governor.” A decision to move or remove the monument must go through the governor and Cabinet, who sit as Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, overseeing state-owned land, which includes the Capitol Complex’s grounds.

– “Worried about vandalism, police are watching a Confederate monument at Florida’s Capitol” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald

Adam Putnam: Fight hatred, but don’t fight over statues” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press – … instead focus on fighting the country’s 21st century enemies. Putnam condemned white supremacists and the recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, but said the country should not be fighting over the U.S. Civil War and erasing the nation’s history. “What’s going on in Charlottesville is just awful and it’s hate and it’s violent and it’s dark and it’s got no place in our society,” Putnam told about 160 people gathered for a Leon County Republican barbecue dinner. “And we ought to be focused more on eradicating hate today than eradicating yesteryear’s history.” … Apparently that also includes a Confederate monument on the grounds of the Florida Capitol, where Putnam has worked the last seven years and where he previously served as a state legislator. Some people are calling for its removal. “As much as I love history, I’ve never noticed it. Where is it? What is it?” Putnam said when asked about the monument, which honors Confederate soldiers from Leon County who died in the Civil War. It has been on the Capitol grounds since 1882.

“Dennis Baxley to attend pro-Confederate event after Charlottesville rally” via Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New Times – The pro-Confederate group Save Southern Heritage Florida issued a news release blaming leftists, members of the movement Antifa, and Black Lives Matter for the terror attack by a white supremacist in Charlottesville, Virginia. The group wrote that “Anti-FA and Black Lives Matter protesters were given free rein to attack permitted protesters of the City of Charlottesville’s decision to take down a memorial to beloved American hero, Robert E. Lee.” Despite the obvious racism and tacit support for violence by the group online, Florida state Sen. Dennis Baxley — who tried to block a monument to the victims of slavery in Florida earlier this year — is scheduled to appear at a Save Southern Heritage Florida banquet in Temple Terrace, Florida, Sept. 2. Baxley is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion about the alleged “War on the South” alongside Orlando-area radio host Doug Guetzloe and black Confederate flag supporter H.K. Edgerton.

Candidates can’t look away, look away from Dixie monuments” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat – Florida had a fairly minor role in the Civil War – at least, compared to South Carolina or Virginia – so the periodic public arguments over the Confederate flag and other rebel symbols have, mercifully, passed us by. We’re not all that southern, to start with. Florida was the third state to secede and some old timers used to seem inordinately proud that Tallahassee was the only capital east of the Mississippi not taken during the war (mainly because it was of no strategic importance.) But Florida voters trace their heritage to other parts of the country, or to other countries, so politicians have never found much to gain by whistling Dixie … No candidates are going to win or lose statewide elections next year because of their positions on Confederate monuments. And everybody is against bigotry and discrimination. But we can be sure that every candidate for every office will be asked about these issues in the coming year.

Without private funding, Confederate statue won’t be moved” via Tamara Lush of The Associated Press – If enough money isn’t raised by private citizens to move a Confederate monument in Florida to a private cemetery it will remain on public property, officials decided, casting doubt on an earlier vote to remove it. I believe the statue is going to be moved,” said Commissioner Victor Crist, who was not present for last month’s vote and asked commissioners to revisit the decision to move it. “I understand the sensitivity of the issue and the necessity of relocating it. I think the taxpayers should not be on the hook for the cost.” So far, about $11,800 has been raised toward the cost of moving the statue. Officials estimate it will cost about $280,000 to move it, with half of that paid by private funds. “I think within the 30-day window some valiant, deep pocket in our community is going to step forward and be the hero,” said Crist. But Commissioner Les Miller, who proposed relocating the statue months ago and is adamant that it should be moved off public property, said he has doubts – and he’s worried that some who want the monument moved will be incensed.

Tampa man behind racist pickup truck now in legal battle with daughter” via Florida PoliticsTony Daniel is a controversial political activist who has been actively battling city officials over unpermitted construction on a home in Tampa. People in the Tampa Bay-area may recognize Daniel by way of his unusual protest tactics using his pickup truck … Daniel — who is black — drives a pickup truck “with a large sign showing a Confederate flag, a Nazi flag, a photo of a lynching, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s photo, references to Home Depot and multiple uses of the word ‘nigger.’” Fulani Daniel is Tony Daniel’s 34-year-old daughter. In a stalking petition filed June 13, later granted by the court, Fulani says her father has stalked, harassed and threatened her over an “abundance of occurrences” to force her to place properties [that were in her name] in his girlfriend’s name. She also accused Tony Daniel of telling a relative he would kill Fulani if she refused. “I am being shunned because of his crazy behavior/views,” Fulani wrote. “I am sadly facing the reality that my father is a very sick man that will never seek help. I humbly ask that a permanent order of restraint be filed against him.” Online court dockets show Tony has also filed multiple briefs to oppose his daughter’s restraining order.


There will be no Florida investment in Venezuela, governor and Cabinet affirm” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami HeraldScott and the Florida Cabinet unanimously voted to continue to refrain from allowing state investment managers to use Florida funds to invest in companies controlled by the Nicolás Maduro regime or companies that violate federal law by doing business in Venezuela. The state currently has no direct investment with the government of Venezuela and the proposal will continue that, but the resolution falls short of a plan initially pitched by Scott that would have required the state to divest its assets in companies that do business with the Maduro regime, including Goldman Sachs. Instead, the mostly symbolic measure is designed to send a message to the emerging dictatorship that Florida will not sanction the regime’s brutality.

Cabinet approves Okeechobee, Osceola land deals” via the News Service of Florida – Gov. Scott and the Florida Cabinet agreed to spend $6.8 million to preserve more than 3,000 acres in Okeechobee and Osceola counties. Through the Florida Forever program, the state will spend $4.2 million for 1,992 acres in Okeechobee County. The prairie land, purchased from Open Space Land Trust, Inc., is bordered on the north by the Kissimmee River Prairie Preserve State Park. For $2.6 million, Scott and the Cabinet acquired a conservation easement on 1,118 acres in central Osceola County. The land is part of the 4,613-acre Camp Lonesome ranch. Conservation easements typically protect land from development but allow owners to continue using the property for such things as ranching.

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Tom Lee reintroduces two insurance-related bills for 2018 Session” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics – … essentially repeats of proposals that didn’t pass this year. If enacted, SB 150 would eliminate the state requirement that would require motorists to carry $10,000 in personal injury protection. The 131-page measure would increase the minimum coverage requirement to $20,000 per individual and $40,000 per incident. It updates the state’s no-fault insurance provisions that were enacted nearly 40 years ago to reflect inflation. Lee also introduced SB 80, which would focus on direct primary care agreements between doctors and patients, employers or guardians. It would provide a system where physicians could receive a monthly retainer fee that would cover agreed-upon services.

Top Florida Highway Patrol official resigns amid quota flap” via The Associated Press – Maj. Mark Welch of Troop H in Tallahassee turned in his resignation letter Wednesday. Welch’s last day will be Sept. 4. Highway Patrol Director Col. Gene Spaulding said in statement that Welch had served the state for more than 35 years and that he appreciated his dedication to the patrol’s “mission of saving lives. Welch resigned hours after Bondi called his actions “reckless” and “stupid.” Welch told troopers under his command via email that “the patrol wants to see two citations each hour” adding that it’s not a quota. The Florida Highway Patrol is now reminding all supervisors that quotas are not allowed.

FBI agents went undercover in Florida’s capital for the ‘biggest investigation in years’” via Sean Rossman of USA TODAY – Buff, bearded and handsome, Atlanta developer Mike Miller sat sipping a cocktail one afternoon last summer outside the spiffy Power Plant Cafe in the city’s new central park, … spinning his grand plans to redevelop a not-yet-gentrified block in the shadow of Florida’s Capitol. The meeting was one of many Miller had with local elected officials and hotshot developers, beginning in 2015, when he rolled into the steamy, Spanish-moss draped seat of Florida state government. … Tallahassee was hungry for the likes of Miller, an out-of-towner willing to spend millions to revitalize downtown as the capital city ached to rebrand itself as a place open for business. But Miller was not what he appeared. After spending nearly two years infiltrating the burgeoning ranks of up-and-coming entrepreneurs and wooing the town’s politicians over wine and tapas, he vanished. … Miller … was an undercover FBI agent, … the linchpin in an elaborate scheme to ferret out public corruption, which could lead to huge political shake-ups.


Court rejects parental rights after relationship split” via the News Service of Florida – With one judge writing that laws are “struggling to catch up with and reflect the rapid changes taking place in society,” a South Florida appeals court rejected parental rights for a woman who helped raise a child with a same-sex partner before their relationship ended. The decision by a three-judge panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal upheld a Miami-Dade County circuit judge’s ruling that blocked parental rights for Vivian De Los Milagros Castellat, who helped raise a child for four years with her former partner, Gisela Lissette Pereira. The women were not married, and Pereira was the birth mother of the child, a girl born in 2009. The women separated in 2013. Judge Thomas Logue, who joined judges Edwin Scales and Robert Luck … wrote a lengthy concurring opinion that noted the case “involves an area of law — regarding how advances in reproductive technology impact the definition of the modern family — which is struggling to catch up with and reflect the rapid changes taking place in society.”

Universities say new money helps with faculty, courses” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida – Florida universities are hiring more faculty, providing more scholarships and expanding course offerings and academic counseling with a $121 million boost in funding provided by the Legislature this year. In letters to Gov. Scott, the 12 state university presidents outlined plans for using their shares of $71 million in the “world class faculty and scholar” program and $50 million in a new program designed to improve “the quality and excellence” of medical, law and business graduate schools. Although the funding was included in the $82 billion state budget for 2017-18, a shadow was cast over the new programs when Scott vetoed a policy bill that would have made more permanent the world-class scholar and graduate-school initiatives. In a letter to each university last month, Scott urged the schools to “spend the funds judiciously and invest this funding in initiatives that will help your students graduate in four years with less debt and the ability to get a great job.”

What Jamie Grant is reading –Limit on number of taxicabs on the road may survive end of PTC” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times – Hillsborough County’s replacement plan may also include a provision that makes it tougher for new taxicab firms to get a foothold in the market. County commissioners gave initial approval to continuing the PTC’s cap on the number of taxi permits. That could mean fledgling firms would have to try and buy permits from existing taxicab firms. The regulation could also make a dent in an estimated savings of $1.5 million that county officials say will result from abolishing the agency. To legally justify a cap, the county would have to commission a study that could cost about $100,000, county attorneys told commissioners. The push for a cap was a surprise to officials working on the plan to replace the PTC, said Kevin Jackson, the agency’s interim executive director.

Judge rejects ex-U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown’s bid for new trial” via Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-UnionBrown was convicted of 18 crimes in May but her lawyers argued the verdict shouldn’t count because U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan had improperly replaced one juror during deliberations. Corrigan denied a request to start over and scheduled a sentencing hearing Nov. 16. Corrigan said in his ruling he was right to remove a juror who said “the Holy Spirit” told him of Brown’s innocence.

Public input sought for building memorial to Pulse victims” via The Associated Press – Officials from other national memorials will be on a panel during the first public meeting to discuss what should be in a memorial to the victims of the Florida nightclub massacre. The foundation for the Pulse nightclub memorial said that next month’s panel would include officials from memorials constructed to honor the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and the Oklahoma City bombing. Also invited is the curator of a historic house-museum designed by famed architect Philip Johnson and an Indiana University professor who is an expert on memorials. The owner of Pulse has said she wants the memorial in Orlando to be a place to comfort the bereaved now and educate future generations.

Spotted – The City of Miami at No. 5 in the top 10 most livable U.S. cities, according to the Global Liveability Index report from The Economist Intelligence Unit. The study compared 140 cities based on several metrics that can present challenges to a resident’s lifestyle — stability (crime), health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure — which is important to note, since it’s not just about crime and civil unrest.

Now what are we going to do Saturday? –Visitation canceled at all Florida prisons this weekend” via Gal Tziperman Lotan of the Orlando Sentinel – The cancellation is a response to “credible intelligence indicating that small groups of inmates at several institutions may attempt to disrupt [Florida Department of Corrections] operations and impact safety and security,” a department official said in a statement. “FDC looks forward to resuming normal visitation as soon as possible.” The department canceled visitation at the Jackson Correctional Institution in Malone — about 65 miles northeast of Panama City — for the last two weekends.


First in Sunburn – “Personnel note: Cesar Fernandez appointed to Hispanic Chamber board” via Florida Politics – A top Uber executive in Florida has been named to the Board of Governors of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (FSHCC). Cesar Fernandez, the ride-booking company’s Miami-based Senior Public Policy Associate, is joining the board, said Julio Fuentes, the chamber’s president and CEO, in a statement … Fernandez was a member of the 2015 class of Florida Politics’ “30 Under 30” Rising Stars of state politics. He joined the Uber Public Affairs Team in Florida in January 2015. He has worked at the city, county and state levels to secure regulatory frameworks for transportation network companies (TNCs), a press release said. Before working for Uber, he was political director on Gov. Charlie Crist‘s 2014 gubernatorial campaign and successfully managed the political campaigns of incoming Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Clemens and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.

New lobbying registrations

Christian Caballero, Foley & Lardner: Innovative Psych Solutions

Angela Dempsey, Erik Kirk, Will McKinley, Sophie Smith, PooleMcKinley: Mythics

Marty Fiorentino, Joe Mobley, Mark Pinto, The Fiorentino Group: J. Steele Olmsted

Mathew Forrest, Ballard Partners: The Lightning Safety Alliance

Tracy Mayernick, Frank Mayernick, Rob Johnson, The Mayernick Group: Shuler Limited Partnership

Jerry Paul: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

— ALOE —

FSU-Alabama tickets on the way to Seminole fans” via Jim Henry of the Tallahassee Democrat – The FSU ticket office is scheduled to email its 28,000 ticket allotment to fans Thursday by no later than 3 p.m., according to Jack Chatham, the Seminoles’ director of ticket operations. The process of releasing seat locations and tickets was delayed due to technical issues that has been resolved with stadium ticket scanners, according to Chatham. FSU fans attending the game received their seat locations Wednesday. No. 1 Alabama and and No. 3 FSU are the two winningest programs in country since 2010, and own five of the last eight national championships.

Game of thrones episode shown in Spain, Nordics by error” via The Associated Press – HBO said that due to an error the sixth episode of Games of Thrones’ seventh season was shown a week ahead of schedule in Spain and Nordic countries. The episode was available to subscribers in these areas for about an hour before being removed. The 71-minute episode is due to be officially available Aug. 21. HBO Europe said in a note it had “learned that the upcoming episode of Game of Thrones was accidentally posted for a brief time on the HBO Nordic and HBO Espana platforms.

Happy birthday to state Reps. Ben Albritton and Sharon Pritchett.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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