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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.4.19

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is taking to the streets in the fight against “food deserts.”

This week her office announced a new initiative with Health in the Hood, a Miami-based nonprofit “dedicated to health education and access to fresh foods,” and Bravo Supermarkets.

Nikki Fried announced a new partnership with Miami-based nonprofit Health in the Hood, to help address food insecurity in urban areas.

It’s a “Grocery Access Program” dedicated to supporting Miami-area families currently living in food deserts, urban areas where it’s challenging to find affordable, good-quality fresh foods. 

“As part of the new initiative, Health in the Hood identified one hundred families to access Lyft Shared rides at a subsidized rate of $2.50 per ride to their nearest Bravo Supermarket for the duration of this six-month program,” a news release said. 

“The organization also identified an additional 30 families who will receive fully funded Lyft Shared rides. Lyft will host onboarding sessions with each participating family to set up their respective accounts and answer questions about how to use the app for their subsidized rides.”

Lyft Miami’s Grocery Access Program marks the seventh city to introduce a program that empowers families to have access to local grocery stores and healthy food choices. 

The Miami launch follows programs in Washington D.C., Atlanta, Richmond, New Jersey, Phoenix and Portland. 

This program is part of Lyft’s City Works initiative, which commits $50 million or 1 percent of profits annually to continue improving city life through grassroots transportation initiatives.


@HouseJudiciary: Russia attacked our elections to help @realDonaldTrump win, Trump and his campaign welcomed this help and the President then tried to obstruct the investigation into the attack. [Robert] Mueller confirmed these revelations and has now left Congress to pick up where he left off.

@MarcoRubio: @potus frustration with Mexico is understandable. For years the U.S. has tried everything to get Mexico to stop allowing their national territory from being used by 3rd country migrants as an open bridge to illegally transit to & cross our southern border

@RepValDemings: Most people too busy to read the Mueller report and learn about President Trump’s record of corruption, obstruction, and abuse of power. It’s our responsibility to share those findings. The arc of the moral universe bends toward justice — but it doesn’t bend by itself.

@MattGaetz: Couldn’t get [William] Barr. Couldn’t get [Don] McGann. Couldn’t get Mueller. But we got John Dean! #HouseJudiciary!

@RepStephMurhpy: I strongly condemn the assault on my colleague @RepMattGaetz as he was leaving a town hall, as well as threats of violence made against any of my colleagues in Congress. This behavior is not only illegal, it degrades our politics & our humanity. America is better than this.

@GovRonDeSantis: .@USDOT just awarded Florida $60 million to complete Phase II of the Tamiami Trail project. Combined with the $40 million I requested from the Florida Legislature, the project is now fully funded.

@JKennedyReport: .@NikkiFried with another fundraising email … This time in advance of @realDonaldTrump 2020 kickoff in Orlando. She says: “We know Trump has never been on our side in this state.”

@AnaCeballos_: Guess who spent $300 in political contributions for … makeup?

@SenBillNelson: Happy to announce the “Nelson Initiative on Ethics and Leadership” at the University of Florida. A series of public forums will follow starting in July. Four decades of my papers are there. @UF

—@TallyTable: Sad to say Downtown Ramen bar closed today (June 3), less than 3 months after opening. On Facebook: “Sadly DownTown Ramen Bar has closed its doors today. We will not be reopening. We would like to thank all our wonderful friends for coming to see us these last few months.”


The Handmaid’s Tale” premieres — 1; “Black Mirror” premieres — 1; Florida Democratic Leadership Blue conference and fundraiser — 3; U.S. Open begins — 6; Madonna and Bruce Springsteen each release new studio albums — 10; Father’s Day — 12; Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Summit begins — 14; “Toy Story 4” opens — 17; First Democratic presidential debates in Miami — 22; “The Loudest Voice,” about Fox News and Roger Ailes, premieres — 26; “Spider-Man: Far From Home” opens — 28; Independence Day — 30; “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” premieres — 52; Second Democratic presidential debates in Detroit — 56; Florida Gators opens vs. Miami football — 81; St. Petersburg primary election — 84; USF Bulls football opens vs. Wisconsin Badgers — 87; UCF Knights football opens vs. Florida A&M — 88; FSU Seminoles football opens vs. Boise State — 88; Labor Day — 90; First Interim Committee Week for 2020 Session — 104; “Joker” opens — 122; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 146; Scott Maddox trial begins — 153; 2019 General Election — 154; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 156; 2020 Session begins — 224; Iowa Caucuses — 244; New Hampshire Primaries — 252; Florida’s presidential primary — 287; 2020 General Election — 518.


House OKs $19.1 billion disaster aid bill” via The Associated Press — That clears the way for the measure to go to Donald Trump for his expected signature. The chamber approved the legislation 354-58. It’s aimed at helping communities around the country bounce back from hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and fires. The bill languished for months over disputes including additional aid for Puerto Rico, which Trump opposed. He also wanted $4 billion to deal with migrants at the Southwest border, which will await a future bill. Passage came as lawmakers returned from a 10-day recess. Three times during the break, conservative Republicans blocked passage under a special procedure Democrats employed that would have allowed approval if no one objected. The Senate easily approved the measure last month.

Farms, military, day cares: Who waited on disaster aid amid Trump-Congress brawl” via Jennifer Scholtes of POLITICO — Survivors of an extraordinary string of disasters throughout the states and territories have hung in limbo for six months as Washington politicians sparred over the specifics of a multibillion-dollar plan to send extra aid their way.


Ron DeSantis nears deadline on blind trusts” via the News Service of Florida — DeSantis faces a Wednesday deadline for deciding whether to approve a bill that would prevent elected officials from using blind trusts — an issue that led to a controversy involving former Gov. Rick Scott. The Legislature this spring unanimously passed the bill (SB 702) and formally sent it to DeSantis on May 21. That started a 15-day window for DeSantis to sign, veto, or allow the bill to become law without his signature. Scott, the wealthiest governor in Florida history, put his assets in a blind trust while he was in state office. As a result, he did not have to publicly disclose his specific investments and business interests, as most public officials do under financial-disclosure laws.

The clock has started ticking for Ron DeSantis to either sign, veto or let slide a blind trust bill on his desk.

DeSantis, Cabinet eye new clemency coordinator” via the News Service of Florida — Michelle Whitworth, who has been an investigator supervisor the past six years for the state Commission on Offender Review, will be the only applicant interviewed to become clemency coordinator for DeSantis and members of the Florida Cabinet. DeSantis and at least two members of the Cabinet must approve the coordinator, who has duties such as coordinating clemency meetings, referring applications for investigation and serving as a custodian of clemency records. The state advertised the position as paying between $35,518 and $64,500 a year.

Assignment editors — DeSantis and the Cabinet will meet to discuss several issues, including a recap their trip to Israel and interviewing a candidate for clemency coordinator, 9 a.m., Cabinet meeting room. After that, DeSantis will hold a news conference, 10:30 a.m. Eastern time (or immediately following the Cabinet meeting), Governor’s large conference room.

DOE errors force contract fight — Tech companies are duking it out with the Department of Education over its decision to go with NTT Data for a social media monitoring tool, Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida reports. Abacode initially received a six-year, $3 million contract to provide the tool, which is aimed at boosting school safety. That contract was pulled a month later and handed over to NTT Data to save about $1.3 million. Abacode is casting doubt on whether NTT Data is up to the job, while a third company, Social Sentinel, has claimed the first bid process was plagued with “flawed evaluations” and an “error-plagued analysis.” Last week, an administrative law judge consolidated Abacode’s and Social Sentinel’s cases and set a hearing for June 25.


Protesters call for Mike Hill to resign for laughing about executing gay people” Jim Little of the Pensacola News-Journal — A group of more than 75 people filled Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza in downtown Pensacola on Monday evening to voice their outrage at state Rep. Mike Hill chuckling at the suggestion that gay people should face the death penalty.

Nikki Fried investigating Florida vet’s hot-button charity, ‘We Build the Wall’” via Brad Slager of the Sunshine State News — Iraq War veteran and triple amputee Brian Kolfage formed a nonprofit group called We Build The Wall. He launched a GoFundMe page under his group’s banner to raise funds for the construction. We Build the Wall went viral virtually overnight. In less than six months, the crowdsourcing effort impressively raised more than $23 million. But problems have arisen — among them, an investigation of the charity by the state of Florida, where the charity was registered. The charity falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. That department — overseen by that rarity in Tallahassee elected-officialdom, a Democrat (Fried) — officially launched an investigation into the charity on May 29.

Brian Kolfage, the founder of a viral fundraiser for Donald Trump’s border wall, is now being investigated by Nikki Fried’s office.

What Jimmy Patronis is reading — “A new way for firefighters to track exposure to carcinogens” via — A new phone app would give firefighters the ability to track their own exposure to carcinogens, creating a detailed personal record of what happened to them at work. The National Fire Operations Reporting System (NFORS) Exposure Tracker app, launched this month, allows firefighters and other first responders to log details of on-the-job incidents, including exposure to dangerous substances. The app, free for download in both the App Store and on Google Play, is meant to be a record that first responders can access indefinitely, including after they retire.

No arrest in Walmart shooting: Can you carry a gun in a business in Florida?” via Eric Rogers of FLORIDA TODAY — Is it legal to possess a gun in Florida at a place of business? In short, yes. Businesses are allowed to post signs or enact policies banning firearms, but in Florida those do not carry the force of law. Provided a person is lawfully carrying a gun in a legal manner, they do not commit a crime by walking into a business. The business may, however, ask a person carrying a firearm to leave. Failure to do so can be trespassing, a second-degree misdemeanor. That right is not absolute, however. Florida does not generally permit open carry of firearms, and displaying a gun “in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner” is a first-degree misdemeanor.

Happening today — The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission will meet in Broward County to take up a series of issues, including discussion of a major school-safety bill (SB 7030) passed during this year’s Legislative Session, 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.


A Miami Democrat who wants to talk healthcare grapples with impeaching Donald Trump” via Alex Dougherty of the Miami Herald —If politics in 2019 were anything close to normal, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell’s first six months in office would be considered a rousing success for a freshman member of Congress. The Miami Democrat successfully leveraged relationships to secure a spot — over more experienced colleagues — on a committee that addressed her biggest campaign promises. She’s the first member of Congress born in South America, part of a coterie of new lawmakers who’ve made the House of Representatives more diverse than ever. And she’s put herself in a strong position for reelection, avoiding messaging mistakes and raising the kind of money that could scare off serious Republican challengers in 2020. But 2019 isn’t normal. The work of the House Judiciary Committee, where Mucarsel-Powell serves as part of a select group of lawmakers responsible for drafting gun control legislation and expanding pathways to citizenship for immigrants, is now ground zero for initiating impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

Federal money clears way for bridge project along Tamiami Trail to help revive Everglades” via Samantha Gross and Adriana Brasileiro of the Miami Herald — A project aimed at reviving the natural flow of fresh water into the Everglades received the long-sought funding it needs to raise another 6.5 miles of the Tamiami Trail. The United States Department of Transportation announced that $60 million, plus a nearly $40 million state match, would be provided to build a bridge along a new section of the roadway, also known as U.S. 41, that runs west from Miami. The state money is included in a $91.1 billion budget approved by the Legislature last month.

Tamiami 2.6 mile bridge under construction south of the existing road. The federal government is investing $60M to finish another 6.5-mile portion.

— 2020 —

After dazzling debut, Kamala Harris falls from top of presidential pack” via Melanie Mason and Mark Baraback of the Los Angeles Times — As she returns to the Bay Area for the annual state Democratic Party convention — along with 13 other candidates eager to fight on her home turf — Harris no longer dazzles quite so much. Rather, there is a prevalent sense that for all her seeming potential, California’s charismatic U.S. Senator has fallen short of expectation. The disappointment, observers say, stems in part from Harris’ failure to present a compelling case for her candidacy beyond her background as a prosecutor, her buoyant personality and a deep contempt for Trump. Gil Duran, a former Harris adviser, said: “What’s the big idea she’s carrying? That’s what she’s trying to figure out. She’s having trouble figuring out what she represents.”

After a dazzling start, Kamala Harris’s Presidential campaign begins to falter.

What a fun read —No more ‘politics as usual’: Orlando research psychologist runs for President” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — J.J. Walcutt says everyone tells her she’s “not crazy.” “I’m definitely not nuts but the psychologist in me says: ‘Well, if I were, I wouldn’t know it anyway.’” Still, why would anyone join a field that already has 79 formally documented candidates, including 38 Democrats? Especially when there might be no more than a half dozen who have even remote chances of emerging as serious contenders, and they’re all pretty well-known and financed? This is why at least one non-establishment candidate runs for President of the United States: “Nuts is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. This is the very idea of ‘politics as usual.’”

Florida could be hurt by Census undercount, especially of black and Hispanic households, new report finds” via Langston Taylor of the Tampa Bay Times — Census takers may fail to count more of Florida’s residents than most other states, according to new research. Undercounts could mean communities lose out on government or grant money for years. A paper by the Urban Institute predicts that Florida will suffer greater undercounts because it has particularly high Hispanic and black populations. People in those racial groups have historically been missed by Census takers. Further, a controversial citizenship question, which is expected to dissuade Hispanic residents from responding, would particularly affect the state.

Happening tonight —DNC set to hold first Florida fundraiser of 2020 cycle” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is slated to hold its first Florida event of the 2020 cycle with a fundraiser Tuesday in Tallahassee. That event will be at the home of Democratic fundraiser Brice Barnes. And Chris Korge, a Coral Gables attorney who was named the new DNC finance chairman in early May, will be attending the event. “Together we are going to raise a lot of money that will be invested into the DNC’s Organizing Corps 2020 program to build a powerful pipeline of young talent that will register voters and turn out the vote across Florida,” read a release from Barnes on the event. DNC Chair Tom Perez will also be on hand, as will Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey.

First in Sunburn —Personnel note: Florida Democrats staff up for 2020” via Florida Politics — The Florida Democratic Party is gearing up for the 2020 presidential election by putting some more boots on the ground. “We are very excited to continue expanding our team in preparation for 2020. We are laying the groundwork to win,” said FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo. Getting the promotion is Ali Akin Kurnaz, who has been bumped up from Digital Director to the newly created position of Creative Director. The new hires: Chelsea Daley will take over as Digital Director; Chris Hill will fill the Statewide Engagement and Outreach Director position; Abigayil Yisrael will work as the Community Engagement Director for Northeast Florida; Ryan Sonntag has been tapped as Intern Program Coordinator, and Brittney Geathers is coming on board as Community Engagement Director.


Medicaid expansion plan passes key threshold” via the News Service of Florida — The political committee Florida Decides Healthcare, Inc., submitted 81,690 valid petition signatures to the state Division of Elections, topping a 76,632-signature threshold that triggers a Supreme Court review, according to information on the state elections website. The Supreme Court will review the proposed ballot wording to determine if it meets legal standards. If the Supreme Court signs off, the political committee would need to submit a total of 766,200 signatures to get the Medicaid measure on the November 2020 ballot. The proposal would expand Medicaid coverage to low-income adults who currently are not eligible.

Sean Shaw’s ‘People Over Profits’ set to host luncheon on 2020 ballot initiatives — People Over Profits, the progressive advocacy group launched by former state Rep. Shaw, will host that event at this weekend’s Leadership Blue Conference. The luncheon will take place on Saturday, June 8 from noon until 12:50 p.m. “Across Florida, grassroots activists are working to put raising the minimum wage, gun violence prevention, Medicaid expansion, and other progressive priorities on the ballot,” noted a release from the group on the event. “Together, we’re fighting for a progressive future for our state, one in which our elected officials fight for the people who work the hardest, not those who can afford to speak the loudest.” Shaw also competed in the 2018 race for Attorney General, losing out to Ashley Moody.

Former AG candidate Sean Shaw will host a ‘People Over Profits’ event during this weekend’s Democratic Leadership Blue Conference in Orlando.

Two Republicans file to challenge Darren Soto” via Gary White of The Ledger — Sergio Ortiz of Kissimmee and Bill Olson of Davenport have both filed paperwork to run in the 2020 race for U.S. House District 9. Soto, a Democrat from Kissimmee, won decisively in the previous two elections. Neither challenger has held elected office before. Ortiz, 54, is a mortgage banker, and Olson, 55, is retired from a career in the Army. Soto, who served a decade in the Florida Legislature, defeated Republican Wayne Liebnitzky of St. Cloud by 15 percentage points in the 2016 contest for the open seat. Soto said that made him the first candidate of Puerto Rican heritage to win election to Congress from Central Florida. In 2018, Soto again turned back Liebnitzky, 58% to 42%, though the Republican carried Polk County. Soto heavily outraised his opponent in both races.

Leon County Commissioner Bryan Desloge won’t run for Bill Montford’s seat” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — The District 4 commissioner, the sole Republican elected to a local government seat, weighed his options for almost a year. Democratic Tallahassee Rep. Loranne Ausley, indicted and suspended City Commissioner Maddox and an activist in conservative causes and blogger Benjamin A. Horbowy, who goes by “Benito,” have all filed to run for Montford‘s District 3 seat. Even though he’d be part of the majority party in state government, Desloge said it would have been “an uphill climb” to get elected in Tallahassee, a blue city. “I looked at all of the different angles. I’m one of seven (on the County Commission), and I think I can make more of an impact here.”

Ray Rodrigues hosting Senate campaign kickoff in Fort Myers” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Rodrigues will hold an official Senate campaign kickoff Wednesday at the Marina at Edison Ford in Fort Myers. The Estero Republican remains the only candidate in District 27. “I will spend the next 18 months working to earn support across the district, and there is no group of committed community leaders I would rather have in my corner,” Rodrigues said. “We will knock on thousands of doors and talk to countless voters about the issues that matter most to the hardworking people of Southwest Florida.” Rodrigues announced he would run last month. He quickly racked up endorsements from area lawmakers, including state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, the retiring incumbent.

Attorney Alexandria Suarez enters SD 39 race” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Suarez has become the fourth candidate to enter the race to replace GOP Sen. Anitere Flores. Flores is term-limited, making the 2020 contest an open one. Suarez, a political newcomer, spoke to Florida Politics about her decision to jump into the field as a Republican. “I’m pro-life, I’m pro-Second Amendment,” Suarez said, checking off her conservative bona fides. On the local front, she says she’s also concerned with improving the prospects of those who live in southern Miami-Dade County, and are often forced to commute for hours each day, up to Miami and back.

DeSantis endorses Jason Shoaf for HD 7” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — In a mailer expected to have hit mailboxes in House District 7, DeSantis is quoted as a supporter for Shoaf, a conservative businessman from Port St. Joe and the Republican nominee for HD 7. “Jason Shoaf is just what this region needs to get back on its feet after Hurricane Michael,” reads the quote from DeSantis. “The voters of North Florida can trust Jason to fight to protect their conservative values.” Describing Shoaf as someone who will look out for the district’s needs is a strong message. The Category 5 Hurricane Michael made landfall last October Mexico Beach, which practically abuts the western territory line of the district. 

A new flyer highlights Ron DeSantis’ endorsement of Jason Shoaf.

Fried backs Allison Tant for HD 9” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Fried endorsed Tant, calling her “precisely the sort of committed legislator we need in the Florida House.” Fried said Tant would be a good steward for the environment, gun safety, and “everyday” Floridians. Tant is so far the only candidate to have declared they will run for House District 9 in 2020. The Tallahassee-area seat is occupied by Democratic Rep. Loranne Ausley, who said she would forego a third term to run for Bill Montford’s Senate District 3 seat in 2020 — when Montford, also a Democrat, will be termed-out.

John Cortes foregoes fourth House term to run for Osceola Clerk; Alex Barrio files for Cortes’ HD 43 seat” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Cortes said he decided to seek the county post in part because the incumbent, Armando Ramirez, has been a controversial figure and people are asking Cortes to take him on, and in part because his mother is ill in Kissimmee, battling with Alzheimer’s disease, and he likes the idea of staying in Kissimmee year-round. There now are four candidates running for Osceola Clerk of Court, including Ramirez, Cortez, Jossue Lorenzo, and Leroy Thomas. They’re all Democrats. Ramirez has raised about $10,300 toward a re-election campaign. Lorenzo, an Osceola County deputy sheriff, has raised about $5,800. Cortes wants to offer reform in the Osceola County Clerk of Court Office.

Aramis Ayala’s 2nd in command, Deborah Barra, enters race to replace departing state attorney” via Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel — Barra, a registered Democrat, has worked for the office for more than 16 years, her campaign website said. As chief assistant state attorney, she supervises 180 other prosecutors and oversees day-to-day operations, according to the office. Barra was most recently in the spotlight for leading the agency’s review of the law enforcement response to the mass shooting at the gay nightclub Pulse, which claimed 49 lives June 12, 2016. The 14 officers and deputies who fired shots during the massacre did not wound or kill any civilians, Barra’s review found. Before Ayala appointed her second-in-command, Barra was a trial unit director under former State Attorney Jeff Ashton and previously was chief of the sex crimes unit.


In wake of Virginia Beach shooting, South Florida cities look to step up security” via Susanna Ryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The shooting rattled Sunrise City Manager Richard Salamon enough to put in calls to his police chief all weekend. “Come Monday, we’re going to be dealing with employees who have anxiety over this,” Salamon said. “They’re going to be wondering, can this happen here?” It sure can. That’s the unvarnished truth, Salamon said. “It’s scary stuff, but the reality is you can’t stop everybody,” he said. “There’s no way you can make any facility completely safe. We have active-killer training to show our employees how to respond. But you don’t know if the threat is coming internally or externally.”

The Virginia Beach shooting has some South Florida municipalities on edge.

The body cameras are coming — to Tampa, anyway” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times — Mayor Jane Castor‘s pledge to equip Tampa Police officers with body cameras has become one of her first campaign promises to move forward.

Orlando bans single-use plastics and polystyrene at venues and parks, including Amway Center, Camping World Stadium and Dr. Phillips Center” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Citing environmental benefits including the reduction of millions of pieces of trash flowing into landfills and the waterways, commissioners unanimously signed off on the policy. The policy has been in the works since it was a popular inclusion in the city’s Community Sustainability Action Plan last year. Plastic straws will be available upon request for customers with disabilities, and gatherings like family reunions and birthday parties with fewer than 100 participants will be exempt, though encouraged to comply. Supporters applauded the move at City Hall. Orlando says it’s the state’s first city to ban all three — plastic bags, straws, and polystyrene — though other cities have banned some of the products.

Orlando seeks $6 million in FEMA aid for flood-prone areas” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — City officials have applied for about $6 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency hazard-mitigation grants to help pay for work at Lake Notasulga, Lake Arnold and Lake of the Woods near Delaney Park. With hurricane season, it’s unlikely the projects will move forward to have any real effect this season, as projects the city applied for last year have yet to be OK’d. However, the total cost of the projects — which will be completed regardless of FEMA’s response — totals north of $9 million. “It’s a slow process,” said Lihua Wei, Orlando’s stormwater project manager.

Controversial Roundup chemical, glyphosate, to be banned as herbicide on Fort Myers Beach” via Amy Bennett Williams of the Fort Myers News-Press — Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, will soon be forbidden in Fort Myers Beach, making the town the first Lee County municipality to ban the controversial weedkiller. Key West and Satellite Beach passed laws prohibiting it and several cities in California have as well. A California jury determined in March that the widely used weed killer was a substantial factor in a California man’s cancer, in a lawsuit called a bellwether for hundreds of others waiting to be tried, but many government regulators deny a link between cancer and glyphosate. Its manufacturer rejects such a connection, saying hundreds of studies have established that the chemical is safe.

Rest in peace —Todd Tongen, longtime Local 10 anchor and reporter, dead at 56” via Johnny Diaz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The 30-year veteran of the South Florida ABC affiliate was found dead Monday morning, according to WPLG. The Pembroke Park station said Tongen’s wife was “out of town and unable to reach him, so she asked a friend to check on him.” Police officers were called, and they found him, the station reported. A cause of death is not immediately known. Tongen, who anchored weekend mornings with Neki Mohan and reported during the week, was known for his humor and warm personality. At the station, Tongen was an all-purpose broadcaster. He was a weatherman and a reporter who could deliver a hard news story as well as a fun feature.


Donald Trump’s crazy game of poker” via Noah Pransky for Florida Politics — His proposed tariffs/taxes on imported Mexican goods, designed to force the country’s hand on immigration policy, may be the most anti-politician policy ever imagined: Trump is risking his single-biggest asset (the economy) during a re-election campaign for something (immigration reform) he hopes will be a long-standing legacy. Typically, politicians do the opposite: they sacrifice the future for short-term, instant gratification ahead of an election. Raising taxes ahead of an election is also typically a terrible idea — just ask George H.W. Bush‘s advisers what that will do to your campaign. He’s playing a crazy game of poker.

John Colon: Robbing the magic — how Congress may ground your family trip to Disney World” via Florida Politics — A number of Democrats are proposing a tax hike that, if approved, would saddle airline passengers with new, burdensome travel costs. But what’s most troubling about is that a handful of Republicans think it’s a good idea. The plan calls for an increase in what is known as the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), a hidden tax on travelers that is intended to pay for renovation projects at airports. PFC is now at about $4.50 per person for each leg of a flight. But if Democrats and a few wayward Republicans get their way, the PFC could soon be doubled and, in the process, impose an additional cost of $144 on a family of four for a connecting flight.

Florida finds its own Steve King in Dennis Baxley” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — “When you get a birthrate less than 2 percent, that society is disappearing,” the Ocala lawmaker told South Florida radio station WLRN, referencing Western Europe. “And it’s being replaced by folks that come behind them and immigrate, don’t wish to assimilate into that society and they do believe in having children.” It appears Baxley has gone full King on us. His warnings — given in answer to questions about his opposition to abortion — have distinct echoes of the Republican congressman from Iowa, whose nationalistic and racist rhetoric has recently turned him into a pariah even in his own party. Both men are swimming in fetid, nativist waters.

Mike Hill’s joking around about killing gay people is symptom of GOP decline” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — The Pensacola Republican could have said, “No sir. Gay people are decent members of our society. I may disagree with how they live, but we don’t kill people because of their sexual orientation.” He didn’t. We’d like to think the state’s Republican leadership has found a line that can’t be crossed — joking about killing innocent people. We have trouble imagining how much longer the party can continue down this grotesque path. Leaders of Florida’s Republican Party were right to call Hill out for his callousness and dreadful judgment. Now, to show they’re serious, they should join the call for Hill to do what’s right: Resign from the Florida House.

Who is Florida Man?” via Bob Norman of the Columbia Journalism Review — They’re the preserve of teams of editors and producers who trawl for the next viral version of the archetype. The stories spread like folk tales in an infinite village, with neither the inconvenience nor the expense of traditional reporting. But Florida has no monopoly on strange events, drug addiction, or mental illness, the lifeblood of the form. What it does have are strong public records laws that make obtaining mug shots and arrest reports easier than in many other states. “The news outlets are the gatekeepers,” says Marie Rhodes, who worked as a local television reporter for 25 years. “And they aren’t doing a very good job.”


Personnel note: Carlo Fassi joins Southern Strategy Group” via Florida Politics — Southern Strategy Group announced Monday that Fassi is joining the firm in its Jacksonville office. A political operative with experience in campaigns across the state, he joins the Jacksonville team after a successful 2019 Jacksonville election cycle. He successfully managed three countywide council members’ reelection efforts. “We’re excited to bring Carlo onboard,” said Deno Hicks, Southern Strategy Group’s Jacksonville managing partner. “He brings a wealth of experience and relationships to the table and will be a valuable member of the Southern Strategy Group team as we continue growing our Florida practice.”

Congratulations to political strategist Carlo Fassi, the newest member of Southern Strategy Group in Florida.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Carlos Cruz, Converge Government Affairs of Florida: Associated Industries of Florida

Rhett O’Doski, Ryder Rudd, Sean Stafford, McGuireWoods Consulting: Tenable

— ALOE —

Coral Gables Community Foundation announces date, theme of 2019 Biltmore Ball” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Coral Gables Community Foundation has set its annual “Biltmore Ball” fundraiser for Oct. 11, where guests will help raise money for the philanthropic organization. The event will be co-chaired by Sissy DeMaria Koehne and Lauren Harrison, as it was in 2018. The Foundation was established in 1991 to aid the Coral Gables community by sponsoring community activities, awarding scholarships and other charitable works. Previous honorees at the annual ball include farming mogul Paul DiMare and his wife, Swanee, as well as the Norma Jean Abraham and the Anthony R. Abraham Foundation. The Coral Gables Community Foundation doles out awards for work done to help benefit Coral Gables.

The annual Biltmore Ball offers a Spanish flair to help community activities, award scholarships and other charitable works. Image via Patch. 

Gas prices keep falling” via John Hielscher of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Pump prices here and statewide have declined for 30 straight days, AAA said. Florida posted the most significant monthly price drop in the U.S. with an average discount of 22 cents. The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in the Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice market was $2.51 on Monday, AAA reported, down 4 cents for the week. Local prices are 28 cents lower than last month and 32 cents below year-ago levels, AAA said. May gas prices throughout Florida were the lowest for the month in two years. Florida gas prices averaged $2.56 on Monday. The U.S. average was $2.81. The Orlando metro area reported the cheapest gas in Florida, at $2.48. West Palm Beach-Boca Raton posted the highest, at $2.69.

Apple debuts new Mac Pro, previews iOS, macOS updates” via Ina Fried of Axios — Apple used its annual Worldwide Developer Conference to unveil a redesigned Mac Pro for professional users and debut iOS 13 — the next version of its iPhone operating system. It also previewed updates coming to its iPad, Mac, Apple TV and Apple Watch operating systems. The announcements come as Apple has seen growth in the iPhone slow even as the device has become ever more central to its business. The new Mac Pro supports up to a 28-core Intel Xeon processor, up to 1.5 terabytes of memory and 300 watts of power. It will be available this fall, starting at $5,999 for a model with an 8-core Xeon processor, 32GB of memory and a 256-gigabyte solid-state drive.

Tesla pickup truck to be priced below $50,000, makes Ram seem puny” via Eric Loveday of — This seems an impossible figure given the fact that other Tesla products (aside from the Model 3) start at a much higher price. However, Elon Musk stated this in a recent Ride The Lightning Podcast: “You should be able to buy a really great truck for $49k or less.” Musk added that the capabilities of the Tesla truck would be unmatched, though its appearance might be a bit over-the-top for a typical truck buyer. If that price turns out to be accurate, then yes indeed, the Tesla truck will beat the Rivian R1T and electric vehicles from Ford and others, too.


Best wishes to Jason Attermann, former AHCA Secretary Holly Benson, lobbyist Julie Haines Fess, and Rebecca Romero of Strategic Digital Services. 

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, Dan McAuliffe, and Drew Wilson.

The post Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.4.19 appeared first on Florida Politics – Campaigns & Elections. Lobbying & Government..