Welcome to the world, Sutton James Cardozo, the beautiful baby boy of Stephanie Lewis McClung (external affairs director to Nikki Fried) and Reggie Cardozo (top House Democrats campaigns adviser). Sutton came into this world at 8:49 p.m. Friday, weighing 8 lbs. 2 ounces and measuring a full 21 inches. Michelle and I met him on Saturday, and he is indeed a handsome young man!
Congratulations to Christie Pontis, director of government affairs at Century Link, and Eric Mason on their beautiful wedding.
Happy fifth wedding anniversary to our friends, Erin and James Ballas.
Spotted — At the Phil Galvano Golf Classic in Longboat Key hosted by Senate President Bill Galvano;: Gov. Ron DeSantis, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran; State Sens. Dennis Baxley, Aaron Bean, Lizbeth Benacquisto, Rob Bradley, Jeff Brandes, Joe Gruters, Ed Hooper, Travis Hutson, Tom Lee, Debbie Mayfield, Kathleen Passidomo, Keith Perry, Darryl Rouson, David Simmons, Wilton Simpson and Perry Thurston; House Speaker José Oliva; state Rep. Chris Sprowls; Frank Artiles, Amy Basiglia, Slayter Bayliss, Monisa Brown, Dean Cannon, Gaston Cantens, Jorge Chamizo, Robert Coker, Carlos Cruz, Rebecca de la Rosa, Melanie DiMuzio, Alex Diaz de la Portilla, Charlie Dudley, Chris Flack, Nicole Grangela, Nicole Haggarty, Craig Hanson, John Holley, Allison Kinney, Kim McDougal, Logan McFadden, Fatima Perez, David Ramba, Melissa Ramba, Richard Reeves, Elnaton Rudolph, Cheryl Seinfeld, Stephen Shiver, Stephanie Smith, Alan Suskey, Sarah Suskey, Nancy Texiera, Katie Webb and John Yapo.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
— @JakeTapper: Oh just enjoy it you big babies
— @ComfortablySmug: Proud of Ramsay Bolton for how well he mentored Sansa for leadership as she follows in his footsteps of ruling the north
— @JeffStein_WaPo: I knew it I knew the game of thrones was going to come down to the superdelegates
— @NRMorrow: i’m screaming!! we watched 8 seasons for this to end with a CNN townhall with the lords of Westeros
— @PatrickRuffini: That was totally underwhelming.
— @StephenLawsonFL: The North Remembers.
— @NewsBySmiley: Meh
— @LMower3: Bran’s eyes should have turned blue.
— @TheHashtaginoist: A for effort on HBO’s “please don’t cancel” reel
— @PattyMo: Imagine, if you even can, a fantasy world in which A Song Of Ice And Fire is ever finished
— DAYS UNTIL —
Florida Chamber Florida Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity — 2; Florida TaxWatch Spring Meeting & Education Summit begins — 2; Memorial Day — 7; Florida Democratic Leadership Blue conference and fundraiser — 18; U.S. Open begins — 23; Father’s Day — 27; Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Summit begins — 29; First Democratic presidential debates in Miami — 37; Independence Day — 45; Second Democratic presidential debates in Detroit — 71; Florida Gators opens vs. Miami football — 96; St. Petersburg primary election — 99; USF open vs. Wisconsin Badgers football — 102; UCF Golden Knights open vs. Florida A&M football — 103; FSU Seminoles open vs. Boise State football — 103; Labor Day — 105; “Joker” opens — 137; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 161; Scott Maddox trial begins — 168; 2019 General Election — 169; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 171; Iowa Caucuses — 259; New Hampshire Primaries — 267; Florida’s presidential primary — 302; 2020 General Election — 533.
— TOP STORY —
“Feds say no migrants heading to South Florida — for now” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — After public pushback from Florida’s Republican establishment, the Donald Trump administration now says a plan to send some 1,000 immigrants a month to South Florida is not currently in the works. “We cannot accommodate in Florida this dumping of unlawful migrants into our state. It impacts our resources, the schools, the health care, law enforcement, state agencies,” DeSantis told reporters during a bill signing ceremony. After confusion at both the state and local levels, federal officials now say that there are no near-term plans to send undocumented immigrants from the border to South Florida. “We are not transporting any family units to Florida at this time,” said Stephanie Malin, a spokesperson with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
President @realDonaldTrump and I spoke yesterday and confirmed that he did not approve, nor would approve, sending immigrants who illegally cross the border, to Florida. It is not going to happen.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 19, 2019
“South Florida immigration controversy underscores chaos of Trump’s border policy” via David Smiley and Monique Madan of the Miami Herald — The belated clarity from the Trump administration could at least temporarily quell a tempest that began after the chief of CBP’s Miami office briefed police in Palm Beach and Martin counties on plans to possibly fly families of undocumented immigrants from the southwest border to South Florida. But it’s too late to avoid a controversy that had DeSantis — one of Trump’s most visible allies — criticizing the idea as out of step with actions taken in the state by the president’s own party. The fact that no one knew or trusted information about what was happening for more than a day was largely blamed Friday on Trump’s scattershot
— THE ADMINISTRATION —
“Ron DeSantis signs hotly debated toll-road expansion bill” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Environmentalists, who were joined by former Governors Charlie Crist and Bob Graham in opposing the plan, said they will continue to wage war against the roads, which they maintain will devastate large rural and natural tracts of land. DeSantis signed the toll-road bill (SB 7068), that will take initial steps to expand the Suncoast Parkway from the Tampa Bay area to the Georgia border; extend Florida’s Turnpike west to connect with the Suncoast Parkway; and add a new multiuse corridor, including a toll road, from Polk County to Collier County. Lawmakers approved spending $45 million next year on the projects, which aren’t expected to be completed for at least a decade.
“Behind the DeSantis flap in Tampa is a real issue: How to spend mental health money for schools” via Marlene Sokol of the Tampa Bay Times — Every one of the 240 public schools in Hillsborough County should be staffed with mental health professionals, School Board member Karen Perez after she tried to make that point during a high-profile verbal joust with DeSantis. The governor interrupted Perez when she brought up the subject during a news conference at Roland Park K-8 School that featured his wife, Casey. He challenged Perez. In an email to the Times, Perez said funding schools should be on a level that allows them to take care of children’s mental health needs in-house, much the way every child in Hillsborough County gets free breakfast and a chance to take part in sports and physical exercise.
— POST-SESSION —
“Lawmakers quietly OK $340 million tax break for big companies” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — HB 7127 has received none of the fanfare that accompanied a separate measure containing $121 million in tax cuts, mostly for shoppers during sales tax holidays for hurricane preparedness supplies and back-to-school items. The bill is a complicated measure related to the tax cut law passed by Congress and signed by Trump. Last year, Florida lawmakers reacted by capping the amount of corporate income tax the state would receive and offering rebates to businesses for any overages. In the bill, which was lobbied for this year by large business lobbies such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Retail Federation, they extended that rebate and rate reduction two more years, through 2021.
“Janet Cruz, Darryl Rouson defend controversial toll road votes” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Sens. Rouson and Cruz both voted in favor of a bill (SB 7068) that serves as a launch point for three new tolled highways. Environmental groups statewide opposed the bill claiming it was bad for natural habitats and unnecessary to alleviate traffic congestion. “At the time that I voted for the bill that seemed reasonable,” Cruz said during a Tampa Tiger Bay luncheon recapping the Florida Legislative Session. Cruz said her support was merely to study and evaluate the usefulness of the proposed project. Rouson agreed with Cruz’s concerns about emergency evacuations. But Rouson also reminded opponents of the project that this year’s bill does not make it a done deal.
“Florida drags feet for decades on fire safety for condos” via Steve Bousquet of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It’s whether high-rise condos should have required retrofitting with sprinkler systems in case of fire. To fire safety experts, this is a matter of life and death. To condo unit owners, it’s a matter of money, and they vote. Condo buildings taller than 75 feet must have sprinkler systems or, as an alternative, emergency life safety systems to meet a Jan. 1, 2020, deadline. Condo owners can vote to opt out of sprinklers by majority vote, but the deadline remains controversial and could be expensive. Cost estimates of sprinklers vary wildly, from $1,500 to $20,000 per condo unit. When it comes to all talk and no action in the Legislature, no other issue comes close.
— GILLUM HITS BACK —
After delivering a $100,000 check to the Democratic Party for recruitment, former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum sat down with the Tampa Bay Times to talk a wide range of topics, where the focus turned to a possible 2020 Democratic nominee.
— Gillum responded to criticism from Orlando attorney John Morgan about sitting on campaign money instead of spending it on his 2018 race — with a suggestion that he use it for the restitution of felons so they can vote.
— He said: “We have already stated our intention here and that is with every dollar that I have and every dollar that we raise, every resource we get access to, it is going toward the effort of registering and reengaging one million voters. I don’t think there’s a more important task between now and the election than organizing Democrats around the state and recruiting and registering more Democrats in the state.”
— “Why should the people of the state of Florida, why should the amendment folks who worked on that amendment be the ones now financially responsible for now solving a problem that didn’t exist but for the Florida Legislature creating it?” Gillum asked.
— The former Mayor also touched on ongoing FBI investigation into corruption in Tallahassee, which put Gillum’s ethics into question: “I’m not waiting for any shoes to drop … it breaks my heart to see our community not being valued for all the great things it has or had going on.”
— As for the presidential race, Gillum did not immediately dismiss “electing older white men,” mainly after Joe Biden gave his gubernatorial campaign a big boost toward the end of the campaign: “I do not believe that we should discriminate a candidate simply because they’re a white male or because they are a woman or because they are young.”
— STATEWIDE —
“Did a nonresponse to hacking questions give this Florida elections office away?” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — This week, in response to hacking questions sent to every supervisor of elections in the state, two offices issued the same legalistic non-denial. Almost word-for-word, they gave the same reaction when asked if their voter registration networks were hacked in 2016, explaining that they could not answer questions because to do so could “directly or indirectly” help determine the answer — deemed classified by the FBI. It now turns out that at least one of those two offices was, in fact, hacked … hackers gained access in 2016 to the voter registration database in Washington County, a Panhandle jurisdiction of about 16,000 registered voters. But the identity of the second hacked supervisors’ office remains a mystery.
“Thousands of Florida children have no health insurance. A new infusion of money aims to help.” via Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times — Thousands of children in Florida will have greater access to health care now that legislators have steered more money to a program that reduces the cost of health insurance plans for low- and middle-income families. Uninsured children, at last count, have grown to an estimated 325,000 in Florida. The funding will go to the Florida Healthy Kids Corp., a public-private organization that offers health insurance to children up to 18 whose families earn too much income to qualify for Medicaid. The newly approved funding will restore the less expensive coverage for families who rely on the full-pay plan. For this initial round, the federal government will contribute $5.8 million to the program, and the state will add $1.1 million.
“Nationally, number of people hurt in firearms accidents is flat. In Florida, it’s soaring.” via Tony Marrero of the Tampa Bay Times — The number of people injured by accidental gunfire each year is rising in Florida, with 857 injuries in 2017, state data show. What’s more, with about 22 people a year killed in Florida, the state is bucking a nationwide trend toward a decline in accidental gunfire deaths. One trend is clear: The number of Floridians injured by accidental gunfire has increased dramatically in recent years. In 2007, 471 Floridians went to the hospital with nonfatal accidental gunshot injuries, the Florida Department of Health data shows. By 2017, the most recent year available, the number had climbed to 857, an 82 percent increase. In the same period, the number of Floridians with a concealed carry permit quadrupled to nearly 1.8 million.
What Emmett Reed is reading — Neglected: Many of Florida’s best nursing homes lose under new funding plan” via Ryan Mills of the Naples Daily News — Sixty-five of the state’s highest-rated nursing homes are expected to take a financial hit under the new system, which was implemented late last year, an analysis of nursing home payment rates found. At the same time, more than 50 of Florida’s lowest-rated nursing homes — many belonging to Consulate Health Care, the state’s largest chain — are poised to rake in millions of additional Medicaid dollars under the new plan. Over the past year, an investigation has shown that more than 50 of Florida’s worst-performing nursing homes continue operating without fear of serious consequence, even after patients have died due to neglect or mistreatment
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Vice President Mike Pence to visit Jacksonville” via First Coast News — Pence will be visiting Jacksonville to speak at an America First Policies series, according to a release from Pence’s office. The series is called “USMCA: A Better Deal for American Workers. Afterward, Pence will visit NAS Jacksonville where he will be given a tour and will speak to military members and their families.
“’A poke in the eye’: Trump tariffs threatened Florida trade deal with China” via Shawm Mulcahy of WFSU — U.S.-levied tariffs have led China to impose retaliatory tariffs on American goods. That’s taken a toll on domestic industries, particularly farmers. They could derail a trade deal with China that’s been years in the making. In 2012, the Florida Agriculture Department started talks with China to export blueberries. After seven years of negotiations, the compulsory visit by China’s General Administration of Quality Supervisors, Inspection, and Quarantine finally occurred last month. The Chinese delegation, accompanied by members of the state Agriculture Department’s Division of Plant Industries and representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, toured blueberry farms in Gainesville and Orlando. Shortly after, Trump imposed a new round of tariffs. And these new tariffs, officials say, could jeopardize the deal.
Assignment editors — Sen. Rick Scott will hold a roundtable discussion with leaders and patients to discuss his efforts to make health care more affordable for families, 8:30 a.m., Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, 201 N. Franklin St., Suite 201, Tampa.
“Florida advocates praise ‘historic’ equality act vote in Congress” via Kare Santich of the Orlando Sentinel — The sweeping legislation, passed on a 236-173 vote along mostly party lines, would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ensure equal access to housing, employment, education, federal programs, jury service, public accommodations and credit and lending regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart was one of eight Republicans to vote in favor of the legislation — even as he criticized it. “I cannot oppose a bill that seeks to prevent discrimination,” he said following the vote. Diaz-Balart said the bill should have included language that also provided protections to individuals, medical professionals and religious organizations that base actions on “deeply held religious beliefs.”
“Michael Flynn contacted Matt Gaetz while cooperating with special counsel” via Pamela Brown, Jeremy Herb, Katelyn Polantz and Kaitlan Collins of CNN — Flynn sent Twitter direct messages to Rep. Matt Gaetz, encouraging the Florida Republican to “keep the pressure on.” It’s not clear if Flynn sent additional messages to other lawmakers. “You stay on top of what you’re doing. Your leadership is so vital for our country now. Keep the pressure on,” Flynn wrote in an April 2018 message to Gaetz. On the evening Flynn sent the message to Gaetz, the lawmaker had appeared on Fox Business’ “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” where he criticized the Mueller investigation. “We’ve got to play a far stronger role in exposing the hypocrisy at the Department of Justice,” Gaetz said in the April 3, 2018, appearance.
“DCCC hammers Ross Spano over clarification he did not raise $1 in ‘grassroots’ contributions” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The DCCC chastised Spano’s 2020 campaign for defending its lack of grassroots support with a comment that appears to make that support look even grimmer. At issue are reports of Spano’s first quarter campaign earnings that found the Congressman had raised just $1 “from the grassroots.” An analysis of campaign contributions found only one donation to his campaign less than $200, and that was for just $1. His first-quarter earnings totaled nearly $100,000. But the Spano campaign later clarified, that wasn’t actually a contribution. “The $1 donation was a test to ensure our systems were working post-swearing in,” Spano campaign spokeswoman Sandi Poreda told Roll Call. “Obviously, grassroots support is a critical component to a successful campaign.”
“DCCC ad touts Debbie Mucarsel-Powell vote on prescription drugs” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A day after Mucarsel-Powell joined House Democrats in approving a bill aimed at lowering prescription drug prices, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is out with a new digital ad promoting the freshman congresswoman’s vote. “DID YOU HEAR?!,” the ad exclaims. “Rep. Mucarsel-Powell just voted to lower costs for health care and prescription drugs — and the bill PASSED! These heroic efforts to expand access to health care prove she’s fighting for our community. Yet another promise kept!” While it’s true the House passed the measure, the bill is far from full passage.
“Brian Mast, Darren Soto to push bill for VA hospital congressional offices” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Mast, of Palm City, and Soto, of Kissimmee have called a news conference in Kissimmee Monday to unveil their proposed legislation, which they say will help eliminate roadblocks to such offices. Currently, they are the only two members of Florida’s delegation in Congress with such offices. The “Improving Veterans Access to Congressional Services Act,” which they intend to introduce, would require the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs to permit the use of VA hospitals’ facilities by members of Congress to meet with constituents and resolve veteran-related issues. It also would establish standard operating procedures for the opening of new congressional offices in VA hospitals.
“Noah Pransky’s zombie campaign of the week — Mike Haridopolos” via Florida Politics — Haridopolos‘ 2012 bid for the U.S. Senate never even made it to 2012, but eight years after pulling out of the primary, he continues to benefit from the campaign cash he raked in for that run at federal office. It appears his lobbying clients are also benefiting from the cash. Haridopolos hauled in $3.5 million in 2011 for his federal run, all while holding the gavel as Florida Senate President. The money poured in, by the hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, most of the millions went unspent after Haridopolos dropped out of the race. The use of “zombie campaign” funds to supplement the private lives of legislators-turned-lobbyists, like Haridopolos, remains mostly unchecked by the FEC.
— 2020 —
“At rally, Joe Biden pledges to unite the country: ‘We’re all in this together’” via Annie Linskey of The Washington Post — Biden offered himself to voters as a leader uniquely positioned to unify a divided country during a rally Saturday afternoon. “We’re all in this together,” Biden told the crowd. “We need to remember that today, I think, more than any time in my career.” He added a note of optimism: “In this great experiment of equality and opportunity and decency, we haven’t lived up — but we’ve never given up on it.” Biden took repeated and direct aim at Trump, comparing his tactics to those used by dictators. At one point, he quoted Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, delivered during the Civil War on a Pennsylvania battlefield, to drive home the importance of uniting the country.
“Which candidates have made the Democratic debate stage?” via Amber Phillips of The Washington Post — You either must have 65,000 people donate to you from across 20 states OR you receive 1 percent of support in three polls the DNC deems as qualified. Those rules are actually very inclusive, so much so that the DNC may have to narrow them again before the first debate. The DNC decided to cut off the number of candidates who can qualify for a debate at 20. It could be close. Who’s missing the debate stage as of now — Michael F. Bennet, Bill de Blasio, Steve Bullock, Wayne Messam and Seth Moulton. Who’s in but right on the bubble — John Delaney, Kristin Gillibrand, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Tim Ryan, Eric Swalwell and Marianne Williamson.
Happening today — “Pete Buttigieg sets Miami Beach fundraiser” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Democratic presidential candidate has a Miami Beach fundraiser planned May 20. The South Bend, Indiana. A location wasn’t disclosed for the $1,000-a-plate dinner. The invitation titles $1,000 donors as “Advocates,” $2,000 donors as “Champions” and those who give $2,500 as “Co-Hosts.” The host committee right now includes Freddy Balsera, Bradl
Max Steele joins Amy Klobuchar campaign — Former Florida Democratic Party Communications Director Steele has taken a Deputy Communications Director role in the presidential campaign of Democratic U.S. Sen. Klobuchar of Minnesota. Steele, who left the FDP in early 2017 to work on the re-election campaign of U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, is now director of rapid response for Klobuchar’s communications team.
— THE TRAIL —
First in Sunburn — “Senate Democrats announce summer fundraising schedule” via Florida Politics — Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson and Leader Designate Gary Farmer unveiled five high-dollar fundraising events benefiting the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the primary fundraising arm for Democratic state Senate campaigns. The first in the series, “The Bimini Bash,” will be held June 3-5 in Alice Town, Bahamas. After an empty July slate, the second funder will be held August 24 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, where donors can watch the Gators and Canes face off alongside the Senate Democrats. Another out-of-state sojourn follows in September when the blue team plans to be in the Bluegrass State for a trip down the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The penultimate event is Oct. 15, when lawmakers are in Tallahassee for the second of six planned interim committee weeks leading into the 2020 Legislative Session. The Caucus Reception will be held at Proof Brewing Co. Finally, Senate Democrats will head to Universal Studios Orlando for a “Family Weekend” Nov. 8-10.
“Debra Kaplan files for rematch with Jennifer Sullivan in HD 31” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Sullivan defeated Kaplan 61-39 in November in the Republican-rich district covering northeast Lake County and northwest Orange County. Kaplan, 66, a retired journalist and part-time aide to a criminal defense lawyer, views the landscape as having changed. Kaplan, of Eustis, says she now has considerable name recognition from the start and an angry constituency vowing to provide her with campaign cash. And she noted that Sullivan, of Mount Dora, became a leader in many of the Republicans’ more controversial efforts this past Legislative Session, as chair of the House Education Committee. “I can’t allow her to stay another two years,” Kaplan said. “She’s done enough damage.”
“Second Republican files to challenge Adam Hattersley in HD 59” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Michael Owen, a Tampa Bay-area attorney, filed for this week. But Owen doesn’t live in the district. According to Hillsborough County Property Appraiser records, Owen owns a home in South Tampa where he claims a homestead exemption. Owen purchased a townhome just outside of MacDill Air Force Base last April. Records also show he bought a home in Valrico in 2017. Under Florida law, candidates can run for state House seats in districts where they do not live as long as they move to the region if elected. Owens said residency wouldn’t be an issue. “I sure hope this becomes an issue of roots to Brandon,” Owen said. “You’re not going to find deeper roots in this community than with me.”
Special elections voter registration deadline — Today is the voter registration deadline in special elections for House District 7 and House District 38. Port St. Joe Republican Jason Shoaf and Tallahassee Democrat Ryan Terrell face off in the June 18 special election in HD 7, vacated by former Rep. Halsey Beshears to become secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Dade City Republican Randy Maggard and Wesley Chapel Democrat Kelly Smith are running in HD 38, which former Rep. Danny Burgess left to become executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
“Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, will run for Miami-Dade County Commission” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — She has appeared on network TV, co-written a book and helped form a nonprofit organization — the Trayvon Martin Foundation — named in her son’s memory and based in his hometown of Miami Gardens. Now she’s challenging the city’s Mayor for a seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission. “Since 2012, I have advocated tirelessly to empower our communities and make them safer,” Fulton said in a statement: “The work is not done.” The District 1 seat will be relinquished in 2020 by the term-limited Commissioner Barbara Jordan. Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert is also running for the seat. Miami Gardens is the biggest city in District 1.
— LOCAL —
“Lawsuit: Town of Palm Beach accused of collusion, playing favorites in disputes between its residents” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — What seemed like a neighborly dispute between John and Margaret Thornton and their neighbor, Lamia Jacobs, now looks more like a case of corruption and influence-peddling in a town full of highly influential residents. After numerous disputes ranging from illegally built tennis courts to a ban on landscapers parking on a privately-owned road, Jacobs scored just one win. The Thornton family, meanwhile, have been able to get their way in nearly every other bout, many times with the help of not-so-impartial city officials — a handful of key elected officials and Town staff are firmly in the Thornton corner. Jacobs filed an equal protection lawsuit against the Town of Palm Beach in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
“’Bungled from the beginning’: How Robert Kraft’s sex sting was marred by cops’ missteps” via Marc Freeman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — What began as authorities’ mission to bust criminal activity in massage parlors across Florida has turned into a monumental legal victory for Kraft and others charged with soliciting prostitution. The defendants had won rulings in their favor, including a watershed moment this past week when the judge in the Kraft case prohibited prosecutors from using secretly recorded sex videos. “This case has been bungled from the beginning, in every way,” said Joseph Tacopina, a former New York City prosecutor who recently filed a federal class-action lawsuit claiming cops violated constitutional privacy rights by using covert cameras in a Jupiter spa.
“’Silent strike’: Demoralized and underpaid, 625 teachers have walked away from Brevard schools” via Carolyn Glenn of FLORIDA TODAY — Over the last three years alone, a total of 625 teachers have resigned from Brevard, according to the district’s human resources department. Some have left for private schools and charter schools, some for other counties and some for private industries. Looking at the numbers, Brevard School Board Chair Tina Descovich said the district isn’t “in a crisis yet,” but needs to find ways to convince teachers to stay. The Brevard Federation of Teachers sees an exodus that it says represents a “silent strike” seizing Brevard Public Schools. Silent because in Florida teacher strikes are illegal. So instead of walking off the job in protest, some teachers are walking away from it altogether.
“Lakeland commissioners to weigh charter changes for November’s ballot” via Sara-Megan Walsh of the Lakeland Ledger — For more than two years, commissioners have held off holding a public vote on six recommendations made by the Charter Review Committee in May 2017. Tim McCausland, Lakeland’s city attorney, said they must address the lingering issue at the May 20 policy committee meeting. “They made the decision to defer till November 2019,” he said. “The time is here.” McCausland said he would present the commission with detailed information on the proposed political changes and what needs to be done to move forward. “I will lay out the timeline with what I see as the critical dates,” he said. “Then probably ask them if there would be any additional things beyond the recommendations of the Charter Review Committee.”
“Amazon wants to build cargo air hub at Lakeland airport, will create 800+ jobs” via Veronica Brezina-Smith of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Amazon.com Services Inc. wants to enter a ground lease with Lakeland Linder International Airport for air cargo operations. The ground lease is for Amazon to initially lease 47 acres of a 110-acre parcel in the northwest sector to support its operations. Amazon would be able to expand from the original site into the adjoining 62 acres of property within the first five years of the ground lease at the prevailing lease rates. The lease value would be just under $1 million a year for the first five years and would increase to over $1 million for the next five. The e-commerce giant intends to construct a 223,000-square-foot building along with two accessory buildings of up to 60,000 square feet combined.
— OPINIONS —
“Sarasota 9/11 connection remains cloaked in government secrecy, breeding suspicion of Saudi role in terror attacks” via Bob Graham for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Irish author Anthony Summers stumbled onto the relationship between the pilots and the al-Hijji family while in Sarasota researching a book on 9/11 titled “The Eleventh Day.” He joined forces with Dan Christensen, founder of the online Florida Bulldog. Together, Christensen and Summers confirmed and published news reports revealing that the FBI had conducted an extensive investigation of the Saudi family’s flight from Sarasota. The FBI reacted the next day, admitting it had investigated the family but also vehemently claiming it had found “no connection” between the family and the hijackers. In response to a Freedom of Information Act suit, the FBI initially claimed it could not find a single record of its Sarasota investigation.
“Using migrants as pawns, Trump poses a challenge to our humanity” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — The plan his administration floated posed a challenge to our humanity — from a man who has none. Ten days ago, at a campaign rally in the Florida Panhandle, he asked, “But how do you stop these people?” Someone in the audience shouted out, “Just shoot them.” The crowd laughed. Did the President of the United States rebuke the callous remark? No. He smiled and made light of it. “Only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement,” he said. The President is not shooting people. But he’s willing and eager to use desperate men, women and children as political pawns. Why did his Border Patrol propose moving migrants to Broward? Why Palm Beach? Why not, say, the Panhandle?
“Joe Henderson: On balance, DeSantis has been positive for environment” via Florida Politics — Protectors of Florida’s environment feel duped by DeSantis after he approved three major toll road projects. I don’t agree this time. People aren’t going to stop moving here. The state has to plan for that, and that means creating more ways to get around. All those newcomers can’t just cram into Miami-Dade, Orlando, and Tampa. Environmentalists bemoan the sprawl. They have a point. But it would be better if things could spread out a bit rather than concentrate in areas already oversaturated with people. And if a hurricane like we saw last year with Michael plowed up the middle of the state, having more evacuation routes could save hundreds, if not thousands, of lives.
“Micah Kubic: Floridians’ civil rights, civil liberties would be better off if Session ended earlier” via Florida Politics — Floridians’ civil rights and civil liberties would be better off if the Session had ended weeks earlier. In just 61 days, the Florida Legislature managed the monumental feat of unraveling and undermining decades of progress. This year’s Session was characterized by unrelenting and cynical attacks on the values we share. The most egregious example came when the Legislature dramatically restricted Amendment 4, the landmark constitutional amendment approved by voters just last year. No legislative action was necessary at all. The amendment was self-executing and, for five months, it has been. Denying returning citizens the ballot because they owe money creates a two-tiered democracy, and that is wrong.
“Florida lawmakers keep putting limits on public access to public information. Ask them: Why?” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Florida lawmakers made a lot of bad calls in the 2019 session: They erected hurdles to ex-felons voting; by arming teachers they made schools more dangerous, not less; and they staged their annual irresponsible raid on affordable-housing funds. They didn’t stop there. State legislators, in another unfortunate annual tradition, further reduced the government information that is available to the public. Too often, lawmakers’ efforts to block public access to public information were driven by political wiliness, the push for bureaucratic secrecy or flat-out animus toward the media. None of these reasons is in Floridians’ best interests. Floridians should push back against lawmakers’ disdain for them and their right to know.
— EARNINGS REPORTS —
“Heffley & Associates lobbying pay spiked in Q1” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The lobbying duo of Richard Heffley and Kelly Horton saw substantial earnings growth in the first three months of the year. New reports show Heffley & Associates earned as much as $760,000 in pay from their 30 clients in the first quarter. Florida lobbyists report their earnings in ranges covering $10,000 increments. If all Heffley & Associates’ contracts hit the median number in those ranges, the firm would have earned $485,000. That median estimate is nearly $100,000 higher than what Heffley and Horton hauled during the same quarter last year. The max estimate beats out their Q1 2018 ceiling by an even bigger margin. The difference maker: Heffley & Associates has eight more clients than it did a year ago.
— MOVEMENTS —
“Venerable politico Gregory Wilson is passing the torch” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Two young female political operatives are taking over the political tour de force consulting firm Parsons-Wilson, the partners announced this week. Erin Wiley and Jordan Pride, two Tampa Bay area consultants who have worked on local, regional and state campaigns, will take over the firm next week. Both take on progressive issues and campaigns. Its partners, Wilson and Tim Lunskis, will stay on as “counsel” through the 2020 election cycle “to ensure continuity for our current client base.” Wilson and Lunskis are starting a new political shop called Politicus. It will be an online-based company built “to assist candidates to start their campaigns more effectively,” Wilson said. He promised the duo was not retiring.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Allyce Heflin, Southern Strategy Group: Southern Regional Education Board
Armando Ibarra, Ai Advisory: Greater Miami & The Beaches Hotel Association
Andrew Ketchel, Capital City Consulting: NuShore
Amy Maguire, Shumaker Advisors Florida: The Special Committee for Healthcare Reform
— SUNSHINE SPORTS —
Floridian and Florida State grad Brooks Koepka fought through the wind at Bethpage Black in suburban New York to hang on and win his second consecutive PGA Championship on Sunday.
— With the win, Koepka has overtaken tournament runner-up Dustin Johnson for the number one ranking in the world.
— He will try to become the first player in more than a century, and second ever, to win three consecutive U.S. Open titles next month at Pebble Beach.
With their 13-5 loss to the Yankees on Sunday, the Tampa Bay Rays fell one-half game behind New York in the East Division.
— Despite the loss, Tampa Bay still has a 15-7 road record, the best in Major League Baseball.
— The 13 runs were the most the Rays had allowed since May 13, 2017, when Baltimore put up 17 on eventual Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell and several relievers.
Chicago Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon wasn’t doing a two-step when he filed a protest Saturday night, but he did accuse Washington pitcher Sean Doolittle of making illegal pitches by tapping his foot twice during his deliveries.
The Miami Marlins completed a three-game sweep of the New York Mets on Sunday with a 3-0 victory.
— Marlins’ pitcher Luis Alcantara pitched the first complete game of his career, a two-hitter against the punchless Mets.
— The crowd of 15,983 at Marlins Park, the largest since opening day, saw the Marlins achieve their first three-game winning streak of the season.
The Preakness, won by War of Will, saw its ratings drop by 22 percent from last year to a 4.3 rating and 10 share.
— Part of the ratings drop was blamed on Kentucky Derby winner (by disqualification) Country House’s absence, who did not run.
“Dolphins will wear a new throwback jersey during the 2019 season; here are the details” via Safid Deen of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Dolphins will wear vintage, white uniforms for their Week 2 game against the New England Patriots, according to Tom Garfinkel, the vice chairman, president and chief executive officer of the team and Hard Rock Stadium. The Dolphins, under new coach Brian Flores, begin the 2019 season with two consecutive home games: the season opener against the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 8, and the matchup with the Patriots on Sept. 15. The Dolphins stunned the Patriots, 34-33, on Dec. 9, while wearing aqua throwback jerseys.
“UCF AD Danny White on USF’s 2-for-1s against Gators, ‘Canes: ‘Precedent I don’t like being set’” via Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel — Every time we hear coaches and administrators in the American Athletic Conference parrot the company line and call themselves a “Power 6” league, it’s difficult to control the urge to shake your head, roll your eyes and bust out laughing. Case in point: USF’s football-scheduling announcement earlier this week in which the Bulls revealed they would be playing a future two-for-one series against Miami. This comes in the wake of an earlier announcement in which the Bulls agreed to play a future two-for-one against Florida. What this means is the Gators and the Hurricanes will get two revenue-producing home games while USF gets only one home game. If this is USF’s scheduling philosophy, then so be it; to each his own.
— ALOE —
“Redemption for Ocala-based trainer” via Carlos Medina of the Ocala Star-Banner — War of Will wins Preakness Stakes for Ocala-based trainer Mark Casse, making up for a wild Kentucky Derby finish two weeks ago. This time, Casse didn’t have to wonder what could have been after War of Will won the 144th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. The first Triple Crown win for Casse came after a wild Kentucky Derby where War of Will, moving forward toward the lead, got cut off by a drifting Maximum Security forcing jockey Tyler Gaffalione to pull the horse up, eventually finishing seventh. Maximum Security crossed the wire first, but stewards disqualified him for the swerving trip and installed Country House as the winner. After Saturday’s race, Casse was still trying to process the win.
“More than 2 million Floridians are expected to travel for Memorial Day weekend” via Malena Carollo of the Tampa Bay Times — AAA, The Auto Club Group, forecasts that the holiday weekend will bring out the second-highest volume of travelers since 2000. About 2.3 million Floridians are expected to travel for the weekend, up nearly 4 percent from last year. “A strong economy and weaker gas prices should help boost travel numbers this Memorial Day holiday weekend,” AAA said in a release. About 2 million Floridians will travel by car (up about 4 percent over the year), while 184,400 will travel by air (up 5 percent). Roughly 61,000 are expected to travel by other means such as rail, up under 1 percent from last year. Nationally, 42.8 million Americans are expected to travel for the holiday weekend.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Belated best wishes to our friend, lobbyist Mike Fischer. Celebrating today are state Sen. Jason Pizzo, state Rep. Anna Eskamani, smart guy William Arnold, Southern Strategy Group’s Matt Brockelman, fierce activist Tim Heberlein, Data Targeting’s Matt Mitchell, Jim Rosica‘s better half, Erin, and Steve Uhlfelder,
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, Dan McAuliffe, and Drew Wilson.