Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 9.19.17 – Still digging out

in Peter by

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

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

And now for some good news…

As the Florida Keys began reopening after Hurricane Irma, returning residents were warned they had to be self-sufficient and had to figure out how to take care of their own needs, fending for themselves without food, water, power or other essential necessities.

Enter Farm Share.

The Homestead-based nonprofit dispatched two tractor-trailer trucks, carrying 88,000 pounds of food, water, ice, diapers, batteries and other essentials to meet the immediate needs not only of returning residents but also the linemen restoring power to the devastated chain of islands.

In the past week, Farm Share trucks have crisscrossed the state, distributing more than 1 million pounds of food to areas where it was needed most, from Jacksonville to Immokalee. Lawmakers throughout the state have been coordinating with Farm Share to advise them of where their resources are most needed. Over the weekend, Reps. Bryan Avila and Jose Felix Diaz helped distribute supplies in their respective districts in the Miami area, and Sen. Anitere Flores and Rep. Holly Raschein joined forces Monday to assist those in Key Largo, one of the areas that were hit hardest by Irma.

Farm Share began as a simple idea 27 years ago, when one woman, Patricia Robbins, saw the volume of produce going to waste simply because it wasn’t pretty enough for the supermarket produce aisle. She then realized that hunger in Florida was largely a problem of logistics.

Robbins tackled that problem by leveraging the generosity of Florida farmers and enlisting the help and support of the Florida Legislature. Now, Farm Share annually collects and distributes more than 52 million pounds of food at no charge to small charitable programs that feed some of the neediest Floridians.

If you are among the many Floridians who were largely spared from Irma’s wrath and want to help those hardest hit, help Farm Share keep trucks running by texting “EAT” to 41444. With every $1 donated, Farm Share can donate 10-15 pounds of food, enough to feed a family of four.

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— @SecretarySonny: Speaking to FL media after meeting w/producers. Some in citrus say their losses could be 100% of crop. #Irma did a real number on all of ag.

— @DeniseGrimsley: Thank you @SecretarySonny for visiting FL today. We appreciate your leadership & look forward to working w/you to rebuild our Ag community.

— @MarcACaputo: Everglades City is a disaster. Folks there live hard lives. Now there’s a death days after Hurricane Irma

— @ElNuevoHerald: ¿Dónde está la electricidad? Todavía hay miles de familias viviendo en la oscuridad

— @SunSentinel: Several buildings at a Fort Lauderdale seniors complex had no power a week after #HurricaneIrma. They are desperate

@Gydyup: Fort Lauderdale here – and we are now 8 days and counting without internet, TV, phone, or any ETA from @comcast #comcastdoesntcare

@AnitereFlores: Residents whose own houses suffered damage are out distributing ice, food. Selfishly helping any way they can #LongLiveTheConchRepublic

— @Fineout: Adam Putnam announces Fla schools in 48 counties affected by Hurricane Irma will be handing out free meals to all students until Oct. 20

— @SenatorCampbellD38: It is a shame for someone to be so cruel by victimizing someone like me during such a difficult post disastrous time like this.

— @SenBillNelson: If you need help with FEMA, our staff will be in Clay, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lake, Marion, Pasco, Sumter & Suwannee counties tomorrow.

Hurricane Maria won’t threaten South Florida, but Puerto Rico is in the crosshairs.


For some, Irma casts doubt on Florida’s boom” via The Associated Press – Hurricane Irma’s destructive floodwaters renewed fears about how to manage the state’s population boom as the risks of climate change intensify. Rising sea levels and spreading flood plains have magnified the vulnerabilities for the legions of people who continue to move to Florida and the state economy they have sustained. Florida faces an urgent need to adapt to the environmental changes … People might need to live further inland and employers might have to relocate to higher ground, with the resulting competition between offices and housing driving up land prices. It would become harder to adequately insure houses built along canals. Traffic delays could worsen across parts of Florida as more roads flood. Developers might shift away from sprawling suburban tracts toward denser urban pockets that are better equipped to manage floods. At the same time, the belief remains firm among some developers and economists that for all the threats from rising water levels, the state’s population influx will continue with scarcely any interruption. The allure of lower taxes and easier living, the thinking goes, should keep drawing a flow of residents and vacationers. “Irma doesn’t change the fact that there is no state income tax,” said Sean Snaith, director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness. “In a few months, when the first Alberta Clipper starts blowing down cold weather across the United States and it’s 80 degrees and sunny down here, the memories of Irma will be blown away.”

After a death in Everglades City, rising concerns of a public health crisis” via Brett Murphy and Joseph Cranney of the Naples Daily News – Emergency responders in the Everglades City area, a low-income fishing community walloped by Hurricane Irma last weekend, may be faced with a deadly public health crisis as families spend day after day in the mud, mold and water left behind by 10 feet of storm surge that destroyed hundreds of homes. The deluge of potentially toxic stormwater has raised the specter of widespread infection, sent at least half a dozen to the hospital, cost one man his leg and may have sickened another who died Saturday. Lee Marteeny, 72, died at Physicians Regional hospital after doctors treated him for respiratory failure and internal bleeding, his wife, Lisa, said. Red sores on Marteeny’s legs, caused by years of poor circulation and heart disease, turned ink black after he waded through Irma’s floodwaters. Marteeny had helped Lisa clean their destroyed trailer, thick with mud and the smell of mold, as the water settled into the floors and walls. With no shelter or temporary housing in town, the couple slept in the trailer, a hot box without any ventilation or power.

Bill Nelson, in slap at Rick Scott, asks about ‘all the phone calls’” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – In a speech from the Senate floor, Nelson spoke of a “great, great tragedy” and referenced the phone calls nursing home officials made directly to Scott as the crisis mounted. (Scott has said all calls were sent to the proper place.) “Why there is not a requirement that every nursing home or assisted living facility, an ALF, have a generator, not only for power, for things like lights, but have a generator capacity that will run air conditioning units, why there is not a requirement for that in Florida I think is going to be the subject of great debate and I hoping changing that requirement in the state of Florida because eight people died. Eight people died in a nursing home right across the street from a major hospital in Hollywood, Florida … All the phone calls that had been made that were not answered, both to the government as well as to the power company … We don’t know all the facts. It’ll come out in the criminal investigation. But it is inexcusable that eight frail elderly people would die over heat exhaustion by being left to their condition to deteriorate over the course of three or four days. What is wrong with the regulatory scheme that does not have a backup generator that would kick in? I mean, in fact, the hospital right across the street had it. So what was the disconnect there?”

10,000 people in Keys left homeless by Hurricane Irma, governor says” via Katie Atkins of the Miami Herald – With that count, a little more than 10 percent of Monroe County residents have nowhere to live. “The estimate is around 10,000. The data, as people have signed up through FEMA, is lower than that, so they’re still trying to figure that out,” Scott said. “As we all know, the Lower Keys were decimated.” Shelters have been set up, but Scott said it is the county’s job to decide on housing needs. “Then, with our state Emergency Management team, FEMA and volunteers, we’ll say how do we provide those resources,” Scott said. “We are looking at all the options.”

So far, 335,000 Irma claims totaling $1.95 billion filed in Florida” via the Tampa Bay Times – The vast majority of claims — 294,521—were on residential property, with 6,687 already paid and 4,524 closed without payment. Pinellas and Hillsborough counties each accounted for between 5,000 and 10,000 total claims while Pasco had between 2,500 and 5,000 and Hernando fewer than 2,500. Among the counties with more than 10,000 total claims are, Polk, Orange, Lee, Collier, Miami-Dade, Broward and Duval, where record flooding hit Jacksonville.

Official: ‘Lethal’ Irma a ‘major calamity’ for Florida crops” via Tamara Lush of The Associated Press – Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, along with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, flew over hundreds of miles of Florida farmland to view the damage. Rural communities and farmland were in the path of the devastating storm from south to north. Putnam said the citrus crop in southwest Florida is particularly devastated. The scope of the damage is more evident this week because the dropped fruit is starting to turn from green to orange, leaving piles of ruined juice oranges in the groves. He added that some groves are still underwater, which will likely kill the trees. “There are a number of old timers who have seen a lot of freezes and fires and floods, and the consensus of the growers is that this is the state’s most significant crop loss ever,” said Putnam. Other crops were also destroyed. Lisa Lochridge, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, said last week that reports indicate a 50 percent to 70 percent crop loss in South Florida.

A hair-whipping ride: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (shown here), U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, and Congressmen Tom Rooney and Mario Díaz-Balart surveyed agricultural damage from Irma and met with farmers in Clewiston.

From Wilma to Irma: assessing FPL’s post-storm grid, restoration effort” via Susan Salisbury of the Palm Beach Post – Overall, Irma knocked out power to 90 percent of FPL’s 5 million customer accounts — 10 million people — in 35 counties. But a lot has changed since Wilma a dozen years ago. Since 2006, FPL has spent close to $3 billion on strengthening its system and the grid and make it smarter. Did the expenditures FPL customers paid for in their bills make a difference? FPL says yes. And in fact, the post-Irma power restoration effort has been four times faster than it was for Wilma, FPL spokesman Bryan Garner said.

– “FPL says claim that Daphne Campbell used lobbyist to get power restored is ‘absurd’” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

Report: State senator texted FPL lobbyist to get power restored” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida –  A state senator who reportedly texted a Florida Power & Light Co. lobbyist to have power restored for her family and friends during Hurricane Irma now says her phone revealing the text messages was taken from her. But she doesn’t deny that she sent the messages to the lobbyist. Sen. Daphne Campbell revealed the text messages during a Hurricane Irma relief event Saturday … In a video posted with the story, she called FPL lobbyist John Holley “phenomenal” and “awesome” and said, “As soon as I text him an address, you got the light.” But she later said in reader comments posted to the story and on Facebook that her phone “mysteriously disappeared” during the event, that she gave no one consent to use the phone and she was disappointed in this “despicable, atrocious and malicious behavior.” She did not deny in the posting that she sought to use her connection with the lobbyist to get power turned on for her and relatives. Her office did not return a call requesting comment. An FPL spokesman told Rise News, “I am positive that she did not receive special treatment” with regard to getting power restored.

Seminole County lawmakers want response from Duke Energy” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Seminole County Florida lawmakers have sent a protest letter to Duke Energy for not meeting its electricity restoration goals and state Rep. Bob Cortes has asked Duke officials to attend a county delegation meeting to look into delays. “Eight days after Hurricane Irma blew through our districts, the struggle for residents and businesses to get back to normal continues to be painfully exasperated by the lack of power. We are disappointed that Duke Energy has not made good on its promise to be fully restored by Sunday night, and we are concerned that sufficient progress has not been made toward its new goal of Monday night,” opens the letter written by Cortes as the Seminole County delegation chair and also representing state Sen. David Simmons, and state Reps. Scott Plakon and Jason Brodeur … And they’re not alone. In neighboring Orange County, Reps. Bruce Antone, Kamia Brownand Carlos Guillermo Smith are gathering information on the recovery of neighborhoods on Orange County’s east and west sides, and trying to get people in touch with Duke, especially in critical cases. And state Sen. Randolph Bracy said he’s contemplating legislation that would require upgrades and underground wiring for older neighborhoods like Lake Jewell in Apopka that still are without power.

They booked a five-day pleasure cruise. They wound up on a two-week hurricane relief mission” via Jim Wyss of the Miami Herald Gay and Robert Mahoney boarded Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas in Port Canaveral on Sept. 4 expecting a simple five-day cruise. Instead, they spent 16 days at sea dodging Hurricane Irma on a ship that scrapped its itinerary of glitz, gambling and booze to run rescue and evacuation missions throughout the Caribbean. “It has been an experience of a lifetime,” said Robert Mahoney, 52, who is from Ocala. “We went from just being on a pleasure cruise to becoming something like grief counselors.” As the storm developed into a Category 5 monster aiming at the Caribbean and Florida, the ship returned to Port Canaveral a day ahead of schedule and gave passengers the option of getting off or riding out the storm at sea. About 70 people decided to take advantage of the luxury hurricane shelter at no extra cost. “We were hearing that traffic was backed up and that it might be hard to find gas so we decided our best option was to stay on board,” Mahoney explained. The company said it made sense to take advantage of the fact that it had fully provisioned, almost empty, ships at sea. The company said Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley “felt the right thing to do was put the ships to work to aid our neighbors in the Caribbean.”


Roads remaining toll free during Irma recovery” via Wayne Roustan of the Orlando Sentinel – “We have not heard any date/time for the tolls to be reinstated,” said Florida Department of Transportation spokeswoman Barbara Kelleher. Tolls were suspended before Hurricane Irma to help with evacuations around the state. Some evacuees are still driving back to Florida and convoys of supplies and repair trucks are still traveling back and forth across the state. “Tolls remain suspended as we focus on recovery efforts,” Gov. Scott tweeted Monday morning. “We will keep all Floridians updated.”

Florida Guard scales down troop strength; Navy sails away from the Keys” via Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald – The Florida National Guard drew down its activated statewide forces to about 1,200 on-duty troops, mostly in operations focused on relief distribution in the Florida Keys — and the last of a mini-armada of U.S. Navy ships off Key West set sail for home. Florida Guard forces were still staffing six relief distribution sites providing water, civilian-style ready-to-eat meals and some blue tarps across Monroe County, said spokesman Will Manley at the state’s guard headquarters in St. Augustine. Guard troops were also operating one supply staging area. The forces would stay “as long as they’re needed by the county’s Emergency Operations Center,” he said. “We’re planning on that being a while still.”

Most charter schools don’t serve as hurricane shelters. Will Hurricane Irma change this?” via Jessica Bakeman of WLRN – Most public schools are constructed specifically for the purpose they served during Irma: to house people during emergencies. But that could change over time, as the Republican-led s When districts build new schools — something that happens a lot in South Florida, where the population has grown steadily and rapidly — they’re required to comply with the State Requirements for Educational Facilities, or SREF, which have existed in some form since 1939. The rules govern everything from which materials may be used for different types of walls, how covered walkways must be lit and how many parking spots there should be at high schools. There’s also an additional layer of rules designed to transform some schools into fortresses against hurricanes. In those facilities — the Enhanced Hurricane Protection Areas, like Falcon Cove — there are systems in place to preserve power and running water in the event of outages. Charters, which are publicly funded but privately run, enjoy broad flexibility from state education laws and regulations, including the stronger construction codes. That’s why most charters didn’t open their doors to the community during Hurricane Irma. They’re typically not built for it.

Nursing home industry plans summit in wake of Governor’s generator rule” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Florida’s nursing home industry expressed support for Gov. Scott’s emergency rule requiring increased generator capacity to help harden nursing homes in a disaster, but it has concerns about the practicality of implementing it — especially in time for the end of this hurricane season. To address their concerns, the industry’s trade association has called a “Nursing Center Emergency Preparedness Summit” in Tallahassee. This past Saturday, Scott announced that he was directing two state agencies to implement emergency rules to apply to all 685 nursing homes and 3,109 assisted living facilities in the state to require them to “obtain ample resources, including a generator and the appropriate amount of fuel, to sustain operations and maintain comfortable temperatures for at least 96 hours following a power outage.” The state reported that 205 of the state’s ALFs are using generators, although it is unknown whether these generators are powerful enough to operate air conditioning. Another 176 report being closed, the state said. Of the 685 nursing homes in Florida, 645 have power.

The best forecasts for Hurricane Irma came from a computer model few people know about” via Jason Samenow of The Washington Post – Of the massive, high-powered computer models run by governments and institutions to forecast hurricanes, the vaunted European model had the best performance during Irma. But there’s a little-known entity that preliminary data show outperformed the European model as well as the others. Enter Panasonic, the electronics company best known for making televisions. Panasonic has a subgroup in its aviation division, known as Panasonic Avionics, that works on a weather model. The model’s foundation is based on the National Weather Service’s well-known Global Forecast System model, often referred to as the American model. But the Panasonic model is beefed up with additional data, not incorporated into the GFS, that may be helping it produce even more accurate forecasts. Panasonic gained access to this valuable data after acquiring AirDat in 2013, a company that engineers instruments aboard commercial jets that gather weather data. On balance, forecast data released by Panasonic reveals its forecasts were the most accurate leading up to Irma’s landfall on Marco Island … (Note that this forecast data, provided by Panasonic, has not been independently evaluated. But Panasonic has posted the data online and welcomes scholars to review it.)


Ed MooreThe state of higher education in tragedy and calmfor Sunshine State News – Right after the storm cleared my friend Jim Towey, president of Ave Maria University, located in hard-hit Collier County in Southwest Florida, sent me a note to let me know all was well. I was moved by Jim’s faith-filled and upbeat attitude and really moved by the serve-others actions of his students. The Florida residents being assisted by these students are those who would love to reach the poverty line. They live in Immokalee and many have little but the clothes they wear, living day to day, working in the agricultural fields doing back-breaking work most people would never consider doing. Per capita income there is just over $10,000. When warnings went out to evacuate most had no means of leaving, nor a place to go to if they tried to leave. In the best of times their lives are hard-scrabble and with a potential category 4 drawing a direct bead, the days were going to get worse. People survived the storm, but the jobs that were there may not be. This storm hammered agriculture in Florida. Tough times may have gotten much tougher. What isn’t widely known, however, is the students of Ave Maria do this level of giving every day. “A big group of students from our Mother Teresa Project passed out 8,000 bottles of water and two vansful of food – some of the families have had no food since Monday. (message sent Thursday) …”

Tom Feeney: Federal tax reform is a critical part of recovery for Florida” via Florida Politics – While safety is a No. 1 priority for Floridians, we must continue to nurture a private marketplace that goes a long way in building a great future for our state by creating jobs for our bright young men and women. At the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), we are a proud advocate for Florida’s business community, actively engaging with our state and nation’s leaders on measures aimed at fostering continued growth and development among the diverse industry sectors. Chief among them, Florida’s manufacturing community. As the state affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers, AIF has been working to propel this industry that has the highest indirect job creators of any employment sector forward. In fact, manufacturers perform half of all research and development in the nation, driving more innovation than any other sector. These economic dynamics lead to many of our members within the business community advocating that growing manufacturing output and jobs has the ability to get our country’s economy back on track. We need a working tax system that benefits all Floridians, not only allowing hard-earned dollars to go back into the pockets of Floridians, but also making Florida a No. 1 destination for businesses to form and thrive.

Editorial: Telecom firms should be more transparent after Irma” via the Tampa Bay Times – The network recovered quickly enough, for the most part, but customers were still left in the dark about service interruptions after the storm. Unlike electric utilities, telecom companies do not disclose who and how many customers are without service. Companies regularly report service outages to the Federal Communications Commission, but those reports are treated as confidential trade secrets by the government. During a disaster, companies report outages to the FCC, and the agency makes some broad numbers publicly available. But that reporting is voluntary, making it virtually impossible to see the outages and the recovery effort in real time. The system is so flawed that at least one telecom provider last week was submitting multiple outage reports, the FCC noted, which only served to inflate the scope of downed service across the state. These companies use public property to operate this critical public infrastructure, and they should be required to publicly report service outages during a disaster. Regular updates by the power companies help residents appreciate the scope of the work facing the utilities and give them some sense of when services will be restored, an important feeling of normalcy after a storm. This is not unduly burdensome for the telecom companies, and it’s a fair price for the ever-expanding role these companies are playing in society and the economy.


Spotted –  Florida at No. 1 on the list of states in which voters have the most disproportional representation in the Electoral College. The Sunshine State cast 327.7K ballots for each of its 29 electoral votes. As Neil Rothschild of Axios notes: “One of the major critiques of the Electoral College is that voters do not hold equal sway over the outcome of the election. Because each state has two senators, those two electoral votes represent an outsized proportion of the population in smaller states … As America continues to urbanize and sparsely populated states become even more sparsely populated, the split popular vote/electoral vote decisions could become the new normal in Republican-won elections.”

Andrew Gillum didn’t appreciate Scott’s taking a ‘swipe’ at him last week” via Mitch Perry of Florida PoliticsGillum believes Scott did a relatively good job leading Florida through the impact of Hurricane Irma, but he didn’t think much of the Governor’s verbal shot at him last week. “Up until the time when he took a swipe at me, he was doing well,” Gillum said Saturday night at a VIP reception before the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee Kennedy-King dinner. “I thought that the Governor was doing what a governor should be doing — moving around the state, reassuring people of their own safety, security, making sure that people took as much extreme precaution as they could in anticipation of the storm.” Gillum was referring to a comment Scott made to POLITICO Florida, in which the Governor revisited their feud from a year ago. Scott referred to help his administration offered Gillum after Hurricane Hermine made landfall in north Florida, saying, “I couldn’t get [Tallahassee officials] to take resources or anything. Let me tell you, everyone wants my help now.” Their dispute specifically centered on whether Tallahassee and Leon County officials declined an offer from the Florida Department of Transportation to use work crews to clear downed trees.

Republicans go after Stephanie Murphy, CD 27 Democrats, on defense bill” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The National Republican Campaign Committee is launching four 30-second spots – two against Murphy and two generically against Democrats – that make it look and sound as if their no votes just made America far more vulnerable to terrorist and enemy attacks. One spot, called “Terror,” begins with frightening images of terrorists and terrorist shootings, bombings and truck-killings, as a narrator declares, in the Murphy version, “Terrorists, determined to kill us, disrupt our way of life, threaten our freedom. The world is a dangerous place. And yet Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy opposed giving our military the necessary resources to keep America safe.” That ad is running on social media in Murphy’s Florida’s Congressional District 7, in Orange and Seminole counties. The generic version, using the words “Florida Democrats” instead of “Stephanie Murphy,” is running in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, in Miami-Dade County.

Click on the images below to watch the videos.

Save the date:

Hurricane Irma offers political fuel to candidates in Senate District 40 race via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – On WPLG Local 10 News’ “This Week in South Florida” … Republican state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Democrat Annette Taddeo sparred about the “lessons learned” from the storm. They also used the 10-minute televised debate to trade attacks over which of them caters more to special interest groups and industries that came to the forefront during and after the hurricane, such as utilities and nursing home care. “What we have learned is that industry has a great impact at the [Public Service Commission], at the Legislature. They have killed certain legislation so it could have prevented the lives that we lost at the nursing home,” Taddeo said … Diaz — who’s served in the Florida House for seven years — countered that “it’s unfortunate that my opponent would try to paint me off as someone who’s beholden to special interests … The only special interest that matters to me is the people of my community. Nobody’s worked harder during and after this storm than me.”

Happening today:

Save the date:

Ed Hooper raised $51,000 in August for state Senate bid” via the News Service of FloridaHooper, who served in the House from 2006 to 2014, is running in Senate District 16, which includes parts of Pinellas and Pasco counties … Hooper had raised an overall total of $143,458 as of Aug. 31 and had about $127,000 in cash on hand, the new report shows. The only other candidate in the race, Dunedin Democrat Bernie Fensterwald, raised $1,100 in August, bringing his overall total to $2,300.

Ardian Zika raises $100K in first month of campaigning for HD 37” via Florida Politics – … putting him far ahead of the other candidates vying for the Pasco County seat held by termed-out House Speaker Richard Corcoran. The Land O’ Lakes businessman, who filed Aug. 1, brought in $101,457 and spent only $555 leaving him comfortably over the six-figure mark in cash on hand after his first month in the race. The campaign finance report shows 174 contributions, including 76 checks for the primary campaign maximum of $1,000. Notable donors included future Senate President Wilton Simpson, who along with his wife, Kathryn, and a pair of his companies cut four $1,000 checks to Zika. Lobbying firm Southern Strategy Group chipped in with two $1,000 checks from a pair of its offices, and former House Speaker Will Weatherford chipped in $1,000 through his political committee, “The Committee for a Stronger Florida.”

Orange Democrats pick Eddy Dominguez for SD 44 election” via Scott Powers of Florida PoliticsDominguez, an executive at an employment consulting agency was picked to run in place of Paul Chandler, who withdrew from the ticket on Sept. 8, though the withdrawal was not announced or officially recorded until Sept. 13 due to state offices being closed for Hurricane Irma. Winter Garden businessman Bobby Olszewski is the Republican candidate for the Oct. 10 special election to fill the seat vacated when former state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle resigned to take a judicial appointment in the spring. Olszewski won a primary Aug. 15. Chandler’s name, along with Olszewski’s, is on all the ballots for the Oct. 10 election, including thousands of absentee ballots that already have been mailed to voters in the southwest Orange County District, and hundreds that already have been returned. If Dominguez qualifies for the ballot by Wednesday, Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles will mail notices to all absentee voters that a vote for Chandler will be recorded as a vote for Dominguez. Signs saying so also will be placed in the polling places Oct. 10.

Lawrence McClure crosses $100K raised threshold in HD 58 special election” via Florida Politics – The two GOP candidates running to replace retired Rep. Dan Raulerson raised a combined $169,000 between Aug. 1 and Sept. 7 … McClure, 30, brought in the bulk of the money, with his first campaign finance report showing $107,205 in contributions as well as $39,654 in expenditures, leaving him with $67,550 in the bank. McClure took in 156 contributions, including several dozen for the campaign maximum of $1,000. The donor roll includes John Geehr, who runs a financial adviser firm in Ponte Vedra, and several checks from people connected to Tampa-based environmental contractor FGS Group. Expenditures mainly went to Jensen Beach-based Strategic Image Management, which took home $28,321 during the reporting period. Kelsey Newsome got $3,000 for managing the campaign, while Jerad Combee and Jared Nicolette were each paid $2,500 for campaign support.

Bill Galvano, Jim Boyd backing James Buchanan in HD 72” via Florida Politics – Future Senate President Galvano endorsed Buchanan, saying that he knows the real estate agent and business owner “will be ready to hit the ground running” if elected to the Florida House. “He will be an asset to our local delegation as someone who will help get things done,” the Bradenton Republican said. Also backing Buchanan is Republican state Rep. Boyd, who currently represents neighboring House District 71. “James will be a great partner in the House. When it comes to passing tax relief for hardworking families or education reforms that help our children, I look forward to working with him,” he said. In addition to being the son of Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, Buchanan is an alumnus of Florida State University and the University of South Florida, where he earned an MBA.

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Assignment editors – House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Speaker pro tempore Jeanette Nunez will hold a joint media availability at 1 p.m. in the House Media Room 333 of the Florida Capitol.

Cabinet meeting canceled amid Irma recovery – Gov. Scott and the Florida Cabinet have called off a meeting next week as the state continues to recover from Hurricane Irma. The meeting had been scheduled for Sept. 26. The next Cabinet meeting is scheduled for Oct. 17 in Tallahassee.

“Bill Galvano’s designation ceremony set” via Florida PoliticsBill Galvano, the Bradenton Republican set to be the next Senate President, is expected to be officially designated on Oct. 24. Senate Republican Leader Wilton Simpson, who’s in line to be President after Galvano, made the announcement Monday. Galvano will succeed Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican, as head of the chamber for 2018-20. The designation technically will make Galvano, an attorney first elected in 2012, head of the 40-member Senate’s majority of 25 Republicans, but that means for now he’s a shoo-in to be president. He previously was Senate Republican Leader in 2014-16, and also served in the House 2002-10.

Senate plans full schedule of committee meetings” via the News Service of Florida – After canceling committee meetings last week because of Hurricane Irma … The committee week will start Oct. 9 with meeting times set aside for the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee, the Finance and Tax Appropriations Subcommittee, the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee, the Commerce and Tourism Committee, the Criminal Justice Committee and the Education Committee, according to a schedule posted on the Senate website. Later in the week, seven appropriations subcommittees are scheduled to meet Oct. 11, with the full Appropriations Committee slated for Oct. 12. Lawmakers also are expected to hold committee meetings the week of Oct. 23, two weeks of meetings in November and one week of meetings in December.

Happening today – Port Orange Republican Sen. Dorothy Hukill will speak at a breakfast event of the Daytona Beach Area Association of Realtors beginning 8 a.m. at The Shores Resort & Spa, 2637 South Atlantic Ave. in Daytona Beach.

Happening today – The Alachua County legislative delegation – State Sen. Keith Perry of Gainesville and Reps. Chuck Clemons of Newberry, Elizabeth Porter of Lake City, and Clovis Watson of Alachua – will host a meeting beginning 9 a.m. at the Santa Fe College Northwest Campus, Fine Arts Hall, 3000 N.W. 83rd St. in Gainesville.


Former prison guards settle abuse lawsuit against FDC” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat – Three former correctional officers who were fired after complaining about physical abuse at the Florida Department of Corrections training academy in Wakulla County have settled a lawsuit against the agency for more than $300,000. Robert Wagner, a former correctional officer, Shannon Feltcher and Sandra Braswell-Allen, who were both correctional officers in training, sued FDC in 2014, alleging they experienced retaliation, discrimination and assault and battery during their time At  the academy. The three plaintiffs notified the court just days before a trial was to begin Aug. 10 that the parties had settled … The settlement hasn’t been signed yet, according to FDC officials, though that’s expected to happen in the near future.

“Bar exam pass rate bumps up a bit” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The pass rate for the summer Bar Exam has jumped a little more than 3 percent from last year, to 71.3 percent for this July from 68.2 percent last July, according to results out on Monday. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners released the figures for the July 25-26 examination. The results are for first-time test takers only, of which there were 2,266; overall, 3,246 sat for the exam. The latest first-timers pass rate is the first increase on the summer exam since 2012, when the pass rate ticked up a tenth of a percent to 80.2 percent from 80.1 percent in 2011. But that means the latest passage rate is still down nearly nine percent from its 2012 high.

Congratulations to Britton Alexander  former Senate Majority Office spokeswoman, daughter of former Sen. JD Alexander, and a SaintPetersblog “30 Under 30” alumna — who announced on Facebook Monday that she had passed the Florida Bar exam.

Melissa Nelson rules Vernell Bing Jr. shooting justified” via Ben Conarck of the Florida Times-Union –The State Attorney’s Office ruled justifiable the fatal police shooting of Bing, a 22-year-old unarmed black man who was killed after a car chase in May 2016. Prosecutors conducted a thorough review of the shooting, the office said, and found that Officer Tyler Landreville did not violate Florida law when he shot and killed Bing … its statement said little about how it reached the decision. Instead, the statement spoke to the tweaks State Attorney Nelson has made to the process of reviewing the shootings. Those included “new protocols” included an officer-involved shooting “review team” and the release of a massive data dump pertaining the investigation.

Nursery challenges denial of marijuana license” via News Service of Florida – A Homestead-based nursery is challenging a decision by state health officials to deny the grower a medical marijuana license. The Florida Department of Health last month rejected a request by Keith St. Germain Nursery Farms, which sought a license under a law approved this year. The new law … ordered health officials to issue licenses to applicants who lost out to competitors during a first round of medical marijuana licensing in 2015. Under the law, health officials were required to issue licenses to applicants who had challenges pending as of January or who scored within one point of the highest-ranked applicants in five regions. St. Germain came in second in the Southeast region, scoring 1.1875 points below Costa Farms, which received a license. Health officials said St. Germain is ineligible for a license because the difference between the scores was greater than one point. But in a petition filed Friday in the state Division of Administrative Hearings, St. Germain’s lawyer argued that the department erroneously calculated the scores by not rounding to the nearest whole number, which would have made the nursery eligible for a license. The department’s evaluators used whole numbers to score different categories within the original applications, D. Kent Safriet, a Tallahassee lawyer representing St. Germain, wrote.

Bradenton medical marijuana dispensary opening” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Southwest Florida’s first medical marijuana dispensary is opening in Bradenton. The dispensary is owned by Trulieve, which has been expanding rapidly and is one of the leading players in Florida’s medical marijuana market. The Bradenton location will be Trulieve’s 10th dispensary in Florida, and the only dispensary between St. Petersburg and Miami. “We have a large and rapidly growing patient base in this portion of the state so we are happy we can expand our service to them,” Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said in a statement … The dispensary is at 1103 14th St. W., just south of downtown.

Gas prices hit a three-year high in Florida” via Marc Masferrer of the Miami Herald – The average price of regular unleaded statewide hit a high $2.73 per gallon on Sept. 14, surpassing the previous three-year high in December 2014. On Sunday, Sept. 17, it had dipped to $2.71 per gallon. The current average in the Miami area is about $2.75 a gallon, according to a survey by The most expensive gas price averages in Florida are in West Palm Beach-Boca Raton ($2.80) and Fort Lauderdale ($2.74). The least expensive gas price averages in Florida are in Pensacola ($2.63), Tallahassee ($2.65), Fort Myers-Cape Coral ($2.69), according to AAA.


“Brian Ballard lobby firm adds Justin Sayfie to D.C. office” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – South Florida attorney, Republican operative and longtime enabler of Florida politics junkies Sayfie is joining the Washington, D.C., office of Ballard Partners — the lobbying firm headed by Florida confidant Ballard. Sayfie, who was an adviser to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, publishes the Sayfie Review, a daily online aggregation of Florida politics headlines that has been a must-read in the Sunshine State since 2002. “In light of this announcement, I wanted to be sure I let you know that this will not impact the Sayfie Review in any way. Florida politics is in my blood, and after 15 years of publishing the site every day, it’s even made it into my soul!” Sayfie told his readers this morning.

New lobbying registrations:

Dean Cannon, Gray Robinson : Florida Library Association

Stephen McDaniel, Meenan PA: Florida Virtual School

Marco Paredes Jr.: Florida Catholic Conference, Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops

Kirk Pepper, GrayRobinson: Broward College Foundation, Inc.

Jennifer Ungru, Jones Walker: World Wide Technology

— ALOE —

Exhibit at Disney’s Hollywood Studios previews Toy Story Land” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel – The One Man’s Dream attraction is now called Walt Disney Presents at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. The bulk of the king-sized photography, models and relics remain, sometimes in new spots. It’s basically arranged chronologically, dating back the childhood of Walt Disney Himself. Notable among the new elements are models of Toy Story Land and a portion of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge plus images for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The miniaturized Toy Story Land model gives the bigger picture of it all, and it illustrates how spread out the Slinky Dog Dash, a family-style roller coaster, will be. There’s a lot to look at, with wee characters populating the area, and that reflects the you’re-shrunk-down theming coming in real life. There are larger models presented for the coaster’s car, shaped like a springy dachshund, and for the Alien Swirling Saucers, a spinning ride.

’Game of Thrones’ is offering an animated history of Westeros to hold fans over until the final season” via Andrew Roberts of Uproxx – While the network is currently processing ideas for a spin-off/prequel for the main series and fans await George R.R. Martin’s next book for his side of the series, there could be a bit of a desert of content for fans itching for something to tide them over. Luckily HBO and the production team behind the show are bringing a special 45-minute animated history lesson as a bonus for those who purchase season seven on Blu Ray and DVD. The animation titled Conquest and Rebellion is narrated by Harry Lloyd, better known as Viserys Targaryen, and it is something similar to the “Histories and Lore” series that has been included with previous season’s home video releases. Lloyd also provided his voice to the clip detailing the Doom of Valyria, one of the possible ideas for the spin-off series. This newer special seems to be going for a more storybook feel than the sketches that highlighted the previous bonus content, mixing digital animation with hand drawn imagery to create a living story on the screen.

Report for America aims to get 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms in next five years” via Kristen Hare of – A new project was announced at the Google News Lab Summit that aims to place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms in the next five years. Report for America takes ideas from several existing organizations, including the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Teach for America and public media. Unlike foreign or domestic service programs or public media, however, RFA gets no government funding. But they are calling RFA a national service project. That might make some journalists uncomfortable – the idea of service and patriotism. But at its most fundamental, local journalism is about protecting democracy, said co-founder Charles Sennott, founder and CEO of the GroundTruth Project. “I think journalism needs that kind of passion for public service to bring it back and to really address some of the ailments of the heart of journalism,” he said.

Spotted on Amazon: Rick Outzen’s novel, “City of Grudges,” will be out in paperback March 13, 2018.

Happy birthday to Mike Bascom, Ali Glisson, the incredibly talented Andy Marlette, and Josh Wolf.

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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