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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.6.19

Donald Trump vows action after shootings, but gives few details” via Zeke Miller, Lisa Mascaro and Jonathan Lemire of The Associated Press — Trump condemned weekend shootings in Texas and Ohio as barbaric crimes “against all humanity” and called for bipartisan cooperation to respond to an epidemic of gun violence. He blamed mental illness and video games but made no mention of more limits on sales of firearms. Trump said he wanted legislation providing ‘strong background checks’ for gun users, though he has reneged on previous promises after mass attacks. He offered few details.

Donald Trump speaks about the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.

After shootings, Trump says he supports concepts behind Florida delegation’s gun bills” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Trump, reacting to shootings that killed 31 people and wounded dozens more in El Paso and Dayton, spoke in favor of so-called “red flag laws” — the kind that Florida passed last year after the Parkland mass shooting — during an address to the nation from the White House. He also said state and federal law enforcement agencies need to do a better job of detecting early warning signs that someone might become a threat to others. “We must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms and if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process,” Trump said. “That is why I’ve called for red flag laws.”

Is Florida a model for Trump on gun legislation?” via David Smiley of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida passed its “red flag” law in 2018 as part of a sweeping gun-and-school safety bill. A month after the Parkland shooting, Marco Rubio filed the Extreme Risk Protection Order and Violence Prevention Act. The bill offers federal money to states that create programs that, like Florida, allow police or family members to petition the courts to remove guns for up to a year from a person deemed to be a threat to themselves or other people “in the near future.” The law failed to pass, and Rubio reintroduced the bill in January. But once again, it has gone nowhere. The president’s support for the proposals could, in concept, mean a shift in fortune for the bills and their sponsors.

Trump postpones The Villages visit in wake of El Paso, Dayton shootings” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — This marks the second time a scheduled Trump visit to Central Florida has been postponed or canceled following a mass shooting. A planned visit to Eatonville in February 2018 didn’t happen after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The president was set to appear at an invitation-only event at the Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center to speak about Medicare. It would have been Trump’s first visit to the massive retirement community, a source of crucial support for him in the 2016 election. There was no indication of when or if the trip would be rescheduled.

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Lindsey Graham to propose ‘red flag’ bill to curb gun violence” via Marianne LeVine of POLITICO — The South Carolina Republican’s announcement came soon after Trump also called for such laws, which allow police and family members to request that a court temporarily restrict access to firearms to people who may pose an imminent threat to themselves or others. “Many of these shootings involved individuals who showed signs of violent behavior that are either ignored or not followed up,” Graham said. “State Red Flag laws will provide the tools for law enforcement to do something about many of these situations before it’s too late.” Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, held a hearing earlier this year on red flag laws, which have been adopted by several states and the District of Columbia.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Trump: Mass shooting “blood is on your hands” via Anthony Man of the Sun Sentinel — Wasserman Schultz forcefully condemned Trump on Monday for his response to the weekend mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton and for creating an atmosphere she said contributed to such rampages.

Ashley Moody sticks to her guns” via Florida Politics — Attorney General Moody has earned plaudits from the National Rifle Association for opposing a citizen initiative banning assault weapons. Qualms with the wording of the amendment notwithstanding, America has again been rocked by mass murder, with El Paso and Dayton serving as the most recent. In the context of that tragedy, and whatever tragedies may come, Moody’s position regarding the ban language stays the same, she said in Jacksonville Monday. It’s a “hide the ball” proposal, she said.

Bill Galvano calls for Senate review of mass shooting factors, including ‘white nationalism’ ” via Florida Politics — Senate President Galvano is calling for his chamber “to review and better understand the various factors involved in mass shootings.” They will include “white nationalism, which appears to be a factor not only concerning these recent mass shootings but also with other acts of violence we have seen across the country in recent years,” he said. The Bradenton Republican’s announcement came Monday, after two shooting attacks at crowded public places in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

Feeling emboldened by Galvano’s edict, Linda Stewart refiles assault weapon ban bill” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Democratic state Sen. Stewart vowed Monday to again push for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, this time expressing that she’s feeling unleashed this year by Senate President Galvano’s call for a full-senate review of mss shooting factors. As a result, she’s refiling her oft-ignored assault weapons ban bill, and this time confident it will at least be discussed. “I love his email,” Stewart declared.

How vulnerable to mass violence is South Florida? Leaders worry, plan, worry some more.” via Samantha Gross, Joey Flechas and Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Mayor Dan Gelber says the most unsettling aspect of the recent shootings is the randomness of the attacks. “It feels like it can happen anywhere,” said the Mayor. In a letter to Beach residents, Gelber highlighted precautions like permanent bollards that the city has taken in the past and outlined what the city has done to further beef up security efforts. “I don’t want people to panic, and you shouldn’t,” he wrote in the letter. “But it’s difficult to not think about our own community and our own loved ones when we see people just like us victimized by such random and senseless hate and violence.”

Active-shooter drill causes panic, chaos at Mall at Wellington Green” via Dana Cassidy and Kristina Webb of the Palm Beach Post — An active-gunman drill at the Mall of Wellington Green on Sunday evening left some mall patrons frightened and running for cover, then confused about its timing and how real it appeared. Dozens of people leaving a showing of “The Lion King” at the CMX movie theater at about 7:30 p.m. were shocked when they heard gunshots. Witnesses told The Palm Beach Post they ran for cover, while others called 911 or loved ones and terrified parents clutched screaming children.”

Students can expect more active shooter drills” via WFLA — The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act requires Florida students to be well trained in case a horrific tragedy strikes at their school. “Times have changed and its really scary,” said Sarasota County school board member Eric Robinson. Now, under Florida law, students must undergo just as many active shooter drills as they do fire drills.


@RepJoseOliva: We must ask ourselves more than ‘what to do’ we must figure out, as leaders and as a society, ‘who we are’ “

@BillGalvano: Senseless violence like we saw over the weekend across the country must stop. No function of government is more important than the safety of the people we serve. The @FLSenate will work even harder to ensure that safety. Thoughts and prayers must yield action.

@Rob_Bradley: The ideology of white supremacy is evil. It is the antithesis of what our country stands for, and it offends God. It must be confronted aggressively so that it cannot metastasize further.

@RepTedDeutch: Pres. Trump just voiced support for bills to create red flag laws and improve coordination btwn local-state-federal law enforcement. We don’t have to wait. These bills already exist & are bipartisan. The House should quickly pass them & @senatemajldr should let the Senate vote.

@MarcACaputo: Some folks on the right are talking about how the El Paso shooter was a “progressive leftist.” What do you think inspired him to murder Latinos 1) anti-Hispanic racism & nativism 2) universal health care, basic universal income & environmentalism?

@AnnaForFlorida: Inappropriate & stigmatizing to draw assumption that mental illness = violence. There are plenty of people who live w/mental illness who have *never* hurt anyone & lots of people w/no mental illness who have. Sure, mental health access is important, but access to guns matters too.

@AACaplan: So Gatehouse buys Gannett, but the two will soon be called Gannett. Employees receive the news via email at 2:51 p.m. with an invitation to join the 1 p.m. phone conference

@NateMonroeTU: Worked at a paper owned by the NYT Co. It was sold to Halifax Media, which became Gatehouse. I left shortly after. Moved to a Gannett paper — left vowing never to work for them again. Ended up at a family-owned paper, sold to Gatehouse, which has now merged with Gannett.

@APantazi: In Florida, most of the state’s newspapers will be managed by a private equity firm that’s also trying to build high-speed rail.


“Beverly Hills 90210” reboot premieres — 1; Taylor Swift’s new album, ‘Lover,’ released — 17; Florida Gators opens vs. Miami football — 18; St. Petersburg primary election — 21; UCF Knights football opens vs. Florida A&M — 23; USF Bulls football opens vs. Wisconsin Badgers — 24; FSU Seminoles football opens vs. Boise State — 25; Labor Day — 27; CNN hosts candidate forum on the climate crisis — 29; First Interim Committee Week for 2020 Session — 41; “Morning” Joe Scarborough releases “This Ends Badly: How Donald Trump Conned America” — 42; MSNBC hosts candidates event on climate in D.C. — 44; “Joker” opens — 59; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 83; 2019 General Election — 91; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 93; 2020 Session begins — 161; Iowa Caucuses — 181; New Hampshire Primaries — 189; Florida’s presidential primary — 224; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 353; 2020 General Election — 455.


… and it has nothing to do with politics — July was the hottest month humans have ever recorded via Brady Dennis and Andrew Freedman of the Washington Post — A local television station in the Netherlands aired nonstop images of wintry landscapes to help viewers momentarily forget the heatwave outside. … Wildfires raged across millions of acres in the Arctic. A massive ice melt event in Greenland sent hundreds of billions of tons of water pouring into the Atlantic Ocean, rising sea levels. And temperature records evaporated, one after another: 101.7 in Cambridge, England. 108.7 degrees in Paris. … A study released Friday by a group of researchers who study climate change’s role in extreme weather found that climate change made July’s heatwave at least 10 times more likely. … In Belgium, one zoo fed its tigers with chickens frozen into blocks of ice. … In parts of Germany, authorities saw themselves forced to lower autobahn speed limits over concerns that the German high-speed motorways might suffer heat damages. Undeterred, one motor scooter rider took to the roads of eastern Germany but was stopped after officers spotted him wearing nothing aside from a helmet.

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State asks judge to toss felon voting case” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — Ron DeSantis and Secretary of State Laurel Lee are asking a federal judge to dismiss a challenge to a new law about restoring the voting rights of felons who have completed their sentences, arguing that the case belongs in state — not federal — court. Voting- and civil-rights groups went to federal court contending that the law improperly ties restoration of felons’ voting rights to their ability to pay financial obligations — what critics of the law have described as a “poll tax.” DeSantis and Lee, however, argue that U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle should dismiss the case.

Jimmy Patronis eyes ‘AOB’ changes for windshield repairs” via the News Service of Florida — Chief Financial Officer Patronis will push during the 2020 Legislative Session to address auto-glass coverage as part of the overhaul of Florida’s “assignment of benefits” insurance laws. “The auto glass version of AOB has got to be dealt with,” Patronis said in a video posted by the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “My office is committed to it, and if we just reflect on 2006, we had 400 odd lawsuits that were AOB-related lawsuits. This year we’re going to break 35,000. The lion’s share of that exploitation is the windshield glass fraud that takes place.” Lawmakers this year revamped assignment of benefits for claims dealing with homeowners’ insurance but did not address it for windshield repairs.

Top lawmakers to Nikki Fried: You’re ‘undermining’ us on hemp” via Florida Politics — The state’s two top legislative leaders are warning Agriculture Commissioner Fried she is “undermining” lawmakers on hemp. Senate President Galvano and House Speaker José Oliva, both Republicans, sent a letter Friday to Fried, the only Democratic statewide elected official in Florida … A new law created an Industrial Hemp Advisory Council, “to provide advice and expertise to the department.” But Fried also last month created her own Hemp Advisory Committee. That’s “duplicative,” the lawmakers said.=

Lauren Book, Fried want to ensure women are involved in abortion votes” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Sen. Book is calling for an amendment to the state Constitution that would mandate abortion laws can only be approved if half the members of each legislative chamber are made up of women. Now, Agriculture Commissioner Fried is backing up the Senator. Book has filed a joint resolution (SJR 60) pushing for a constitutional amendment. The amendment would alter Article III, Section 7 of the constitution, which lays out the process to pass bills through the Legislature. “[N]either house may vote on a bill that would affect access to abortion services unless at least half of the members of that house are women,” reads the proposed language.

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Members of alleged hate group linked to Joe Gruters’ immigration bill” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Several people associated with the Federation for American Immigration Reform — an organization branded by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group” — provided input to Gruters and his staff as they worked to advance so-called “sanctuary city” immigration enforcement legislation. An email shows that David Jaroslav, the state and local legislative manager for FAIR, worked with Floridians for Immigration Enforcement to offer advice for Gruters’ staff on how to the defend the sanctuary bill against critics. Jaroslav emailed comments to Floridians for Immigration Enforcement President Kenneth Morrow Jr., who passed the comments on to Gruters’ staff.

Decriminalize it: Shevrin Jones’ bill would make pot possession ‘noncriminal’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Rep. Jones, a West Park Democrat, has introduced legislation for the 2020 Session that would decriminalize marijuana. “We must restore justice to our broken criminal justice system,” Jones said in a statement Monday. “For far too long, communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana, and we must end this injustice once and for all.” The legislation (HB 25) would update Florida law to state that possession or delivery of fewer than 20 grams of cannabis or 600 milligrams or less of THC in cannabis products would be considered a noncriminal offense. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive ingredient that causes marijuana’s “high.”

Randolph Bracy bill seeks compensation, reconciliation for Ocoee massacre” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — It was 99 years ago, when a wave of racist violence tore apart the black community in the east Orange County town of Ocoee, leaving perhaps dozens dead and hundreds homeless. Democratic state Sen. Bracy and Democratic state Rep. Kamia Brown, both of Ocoee, want to see a reconciliation, including a state study of what happened on Nov. 2, 1920, for the state record, and compensation for the descendants of victims. Bracy had introduced Senate Bill 8 to do so, and to bring formal state recognition to the bloody racist rampage that began on Election Day 1920 when several African American residents dared attempt to vote. Brown intends to file the House version.

Assignment editorsAllison Tant, a candidate for state House representing the Tallahassee area, will host “Teacher Tuesday,” an initiative to “collect donated supplies for teachers as they head back to school.” Tant will be joined by Leon Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna to collect supplies and greet teachers. That’s at 4 p.m., Fifth & Thomas, 1122 Thomasville Road, Tallahassee.

Meanwhile … “Scott Maddox, Paige Carter-Smith to plead guilty Tuesday” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Maddox, who has long denied wrongdoing in a federal public corruption investigation, will admit his guilt in a hearing set for Tuesday morning at the U.S. District Courthouse in Tallahassee. Maddox, who served more than 15 years as city commissioner and mayor, and one of his alleged cohorts, former Downtown Improvement Authority chief Paige Carter-Smith, are expected to enter guilty pleas in a pay-to-play scheme involving the extortion of city vendors and undercover FBI agents for bribes.


Moody, Bob Gualtieri say stick with marijuana prosecutions amid testing woes” via Lynn Hatter of WFSU — Florida’s state-run crime labs can’t determine whether a product is weed, CBD or hemp, and the issue is stopping law enforcement in its tracks. The state’s new hemp law is creating a patchwork of enforcement efforts and will likely need the legislature to step in. “With edibles, gummies, the flowers, [and] all the products that are processed, that’s more challenging, and I think to some degree that’s more of a hands-off situation because it’s very problematic to determine the true THC quantity of that, quite honestly,” said Gualtieri.

Ashley Moody wants to stick with marijuana prosecutions, despite the state’s difficulty in testing.

Local leaders looking at pot decriminalization amid hemp debate and pause in prosecutions” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Tallahassee’s elected leaders could be looking at decriminalizing marijuana to help solve what police officials around the state are calling a patchwork of approaches to enforcing the law. But any efforts at “decriminalizing” marijuana at the city or county government level would be mostly ceremonial for two reasons. State Attorney Jack Campbell’s office, which announced a pause in prosecuting some marijuana cases amid non-euphoric hemp testing issues, already operates a diversion program for first-time offenders. And the same office is still responsible for upholding both state and federal law, which criminalizes marijuana possession.

Florida NOW calls for ethics investigation into Patronis” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Florida chapter of the National Organization for Women (Florida NOW) is calling for an investigation in CFO Patronis‘ handling of the sexual assault allegation which led to the firing of Office of Financial Regulation Commissioner Ronald Rubin. “Patronis is another sad example of how some Florida leaders are failing women,” said Kim Porteous, President of Florida NOW. “Patronis’ apparent purpose in releasing the information was to remove a political adversary from office. “Patronis has not only broken public trust; he very likely broke the law by releasing confidential information for his personal benefit.”

’We wouldn’t treat our animals this way’: lack of AC in record heat puts Florida prisons to the test” via Daniel Rivero of WLRN Miami — The Florida Department of Corrections operates 50 “major facilities” across the state. Only 18 of them have air conditioning in “most of their housing,” according to the department. It’s not a new issue, but families and prisoner advocates are increasingly sounding the alarm, calling it inhumane to incarcerate someone through a Florida summer without regular access to cool air. “I can guarantee you go to any Humane Society in the state of Florida, and they’ve got big fans back there where those dogs are,” says Jan Thompson, whose husband is in Madison Correctional Institution in North Florida.

New opioid law causes confusion for doctors” via News Service of Florida — A seemingly simple bill meant to prevent opioid abuse is causing widespread confusion among physicians trying to figure out how to follow the law. Since July 1, physicians are supposed to have conversations with patients about opioid alternatives before providing anesthesia or prescribing, ordering, dispensing, or administering opioid drugs listed as what are known as Schedule II controlled substances. Staff members of the Florida Board of Medicine and physician organizations have been fielding questions from doctors about the broadly written bill, which was signed into law by DeSantis in June. But only the Florida Department of Health can provide details as to how the law will be interpreted. As for now, the department isn’t talking.

Kennel owner sues state over greyhound racing ban” via News Service of Florida — Alleging an unconstitutional “taking” of property, a Pinellas County greyhound-kennel owner has filed a lawsuit against the state because of a dog racing ban approved by voters in November. Christopher D’Arcy, the owner of D’Arcy Kennel LLC in St. Petersburg, wants a judge to order the state to pay damages for the loss of value of his property, including racing dogs that the lawsuit said could previously be sold for up to $50,000. Voters in November approved a constitutional amendment, known as Amendment 13, that will shut down Florida’s decades-old greyhound racing industry by Dec. 31, 2020.

A St. Petersburg kennel owner sues the state over the ban on greyhound racing approved by voters. Image via Getty.

Customary use gets a day in court” via Tom McLaughlin of the Northwest Florida Daily News — “The unique nature of the litigation” upon which Walton County will soon embark, and the “lack of precedent for proceedings of this type,” were cited by Judge David Green as justification for ordering a management conference to discuss a burgeoning customary use lawsuit. The lawsuit Green is presiding over originated when attorneys representing Walton County filed four documents, including a complaint for declaration of recreational customary use. As dictated by HB 631, the county, which lost a customary use ordinance to the bill’s passage, must have a court rule that its beaches should be opened to the public by virtue of the fact the coastline has been accessed and utilized by humanity for as long as civilization has existed.

Recent Florida shark attacks on the rise, but that’s expected: here’s why” via Joe Mario Pedersen of the Orlando Sentinel — On the surface, it may look like the numbers paint an image of hungrier sharks as the season turns toward the fall, but it actually says more about humans entering the water during an unfortunately timed migration period. “That time of the year, there’s way more people in Florida’s beaches trying to enjoy the summer water,” said Tyler Bowling, manager Florida program of shark research at UF. Every year thousands of blacktips, 3-to-5 feet on average, make their way from North Carolina down south to Florida, Bowling said. “There’s a lot of them out there. In fact, if you’re walking the beach at sunrise there’s a pretty good chance you’ll see one riding in the waves,” he said.


The case of Al Franken … campaign cash, waiting to get back in the game” via Noah Pransky of Florida Politics — For the last year, Franken has kept his account open with little indication of what he will do with the war chest, which stood just north of $2.6 million as of his campaign’s July 2019 filing. When he stepped down from his seat, the account had more than $3 million cash-on-hand. Aside from refunding $250,000 to nearly 300 donors, the account hasn’t spent much since the scandal beside typical wind-down and management expenses. Franken has been slowly increasing his public profile again, and not just in the pages of the New Yorker; he relaunched and several social channels earlier this year, as well as a new political podcast.

Al Franken could be preparing his campaign account for a comeback.

Happening today — Rubio, who chairs the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, will take part in a “Women in Small Business Roundtable” discussion with the National Women’s Business Council, 9 a.m., University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, University Student Center, 140 Seventh Ave. South, St. Petersburg.

Ross Spano goes full climate denier on weekend television” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — During an interview on WFLA’s Politics on Your Side with Evan Donovan, Spano flatly answered, “I do not,” when asked if he believes climate change is “due to man-made activity.” “I don’t think there is sufficient evidence to show that,” Spano said. “What I’ve seen so far doesn’t prove to me that man has had the influence that some people [have] said it has had.” Pressed further, Spano went on to reject figures showing about 98 percent of climate scientists believe climate change is man-made. “I don’t know that is true,” Spano said. “I don’t have any reason to necessarily object to that fact, but I have also seen reports that it is not true.”

New complaints filed against Spano” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Two new complaints have been filed against Spano alleging that his 2018 campaign is continuing to violate federal law by failing to return contributions it knew were illegal. The complaints were filed by the same person who filed an earlier complaint to the Federal Elections Commission concerning the allegedly illegal contributions themselves, Jan Barrow, president of the Lakeland Democratic Women’s Club.

Washington hits Venezuela with full economic embargo” via Miami Herald — President Donald Trump late Monday signed an executive order imposing a harsh, Cuba-style economic embargo on Venezuela as part of Washington’s broad push to force leader Nicolás Maduro out of power. In a letter to Congress, Trump said the measure was necessary in light of Maduro’s “continued usurpation of power” and ongoing human rights abuses in the South American nation. The new measures are expected to be announced Tuesday, as representatives from dozens of countries will be meeting in Peru to discuss the Venezuela crisis.

Happening today — U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz and Space Florida President Frank DiBello will be among the speakers during a Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce event about expanding the aerospace industry, 3 p.m., Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Jim Henderson Welcome Center, 600 South Clyde Morris Blvd., Daytona Beach.

— 2020 —

String of gun deaths reshapes Democratic primary” via Marc Caputo and David Siders of POLITICO — The back-to-back mass shootings in Texas and Ohio over the weekend shook up the Democratic presidential primary, elevating the profile of lower-tier candidates, reorienting the focus of the contest and fusing the divisive issues of immigration, racism and gun control for the first time on the campaign trail. The tragedies have the potential to change the dynamics in the broader campaign for the White House, as Trump and his supporters reeled from comparisons of their rhetoric about immigrants with that of a manifesto suspected of being from the shooter in El Paso, a border city with a mostly Latino population.

Gun deaths in El Paso and Dayton have shaken up the Democratic presidential race, particularly for El Paso native Beto O’Rourke.

Florida Influencer Poll: Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden top second Democratic debates” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Democratic candidates closed out the month of July with their second set of debates in Detroit. And after speaking with more than 100 of Florida’s political bigwigs, U.S. Sen. Warren of Massachusetts and former Vice President Biden emerged as the biggest winners. A whopping 68 percent of respondents to our informal survey said Warren won the first night of the debate. Biden topped the second night, with 35 percent saying he was top dog. Those debates were on two nights, given the huge size of the Democratic presidential field. Each night saw a different group of 10 candidates taking the stage.

Is the field too big for Kamala Harris?” via Nate Silver of — The debate helped to reveal several potential problems with Harris’ strategy: The fact that your policy positions closely resemble those of voters on average doesn’t necessarily mean they reflect a lot of voters’ first choice. On health care, for instance, there might not be that many voters who prefer Harris’s compromise approach to both Biden’s public option and to Bernie Sanders’s purer form of “Medicare for All,” each of which are fairly easy to explain to voters. If you get too cute in tailoring your positions — as Harris has done on some issues — you may develop a reputation as being too triangulating, or as flip-flopping, or even as being less “authentic” than candidates whose positions are easier to place into a neat ideological box.


Wilton Simpson starts new committees — Republican Sen. Simpson, who is expected to take over as Senate President next year, has set up a pair of new political committees. As reported by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, the committees are named Florida Green PAC and Future Florida. As the next-in-line Senate leader, Simpson is responsible for raising money to defend the Republican majority in the 40-member chamber. Spokesperson Erin Isaac said Simpson is “always looking for ways to support the GOP majority and good conservative causes.” Past Republican Presidents have primarily used the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee to raise money to support GOP Senate candidates.

Wilton Simpson is launching new committees ahead of taking the Senate reins. Image via Phil Sears.

Will Robinson hosting reelection fundraiser next month” via Florida Politics — The Sept. 24 event will be at Pier 22, 1200 1st Avenue West in Bradenton, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. For more information, or to RSVP, email Kelly Dowd at Robinson was elected to House District 71 last year, replacing term-limited former Republican Rep. Jim Boyd. To earn the seat, Robinson went up against Democratic nominee Tracy Pratt. He vastly outraised Pratt and scored a double-digit win on Election Day. As of June 30, Robinson has raised $18,150 in campaign cash and has $12,750 in the bank. He also started a political committee earlier this year, Keep Florida Moving Forward.


Jacksonville lawmaker wants Mayor to appoint School Board members” via Florida Politics — A Jacksonville Republican lawmaker is proposing a local bill that would end the direct election of Duval County School Board members. Local Bill J-1 was sent over to the Duval County School Board on Monday by state Rep. Jason Fischer. Fischer was once a member of the elected School Board but frequently found himself at odds with the prevailing consensus. His bill would change the School Board radically, with mayoral appointees replacing elected members.

Jason Fischer wants the Jacksonville Mayor to appoint Duval Co. School Board members. Image via Colin Hackley.

State slams former owner of Riverside Chevrolet with $1.7M fine for fraud” via First Coast News — Florida Attorney General Moody addressed the media in Jacksonville regarding alleged fraud involving the former owners of Riverside Chevrolet. During the press conference, Moody said that as the result of the collective efforts of multiple agencies, the State was able to recover $1.2 million in restitution and over $235,000 in fines from former owner Andrew Ferguson. “(The) car dealership was selling cars that still had liens and were not paying off the liens on those cars,” Moody said. “And so unwittingly, buyers were trading in vehicles, getting new ones, and then were on the hook for two cars.”

Genting ends ferry service from Miami to the Bahamas in favor of move to Fort Lauderdale” via Taylor Dalven of the Miami Herald — In 2016, Malaysian casino company Genting partnered with German company FRS Caribbean to offer the ferry service from PortMiami. On Monday, that service stopped, leaving Miami without an affordable marine link to the island. Genting is now partnering with Spanish company Balearia Caribbean to begin service to Bimini from Port Everglades on Wednesday. Balearia has been providing ferry service to Freeport, the Bahamas from Port Everglades since 2011. The Genting change-up comes four months after a federal judge in Miami ordered the former CEO of Balearia Group, Hernan Calvo, to pay the company $2.8 million for taking the Genting ferry deal to two competitors, including FRS Caribbean, in 2015 while he still worked for Balearia.

Happening today — The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida will hold a news briefing about civil-rights issues facing communities of color, 11 a.m. Reporters may contact the ACLU of Florida for location information in Miami.

As Trump pitches red flag laws, here’s how local and Florida lawmen tap into gun seizure law” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Tallahassee’s two main law enforcement agencies have used Florida’s red flag law to seize firearms from individuals they believe may pose a threat, a concept Trump touted in the wake of two mass shootings. Four times since Florida passed its risk protection laws — which allow police agencies to petition a court to seize firearms — the Tallahassee Police Department and Leon County Sheriff’s Office have been successful in convincing a judge that individuals pose a risk. Each time, police detailed multiple interactions with the individuals that either indicated they had made threats to harm other people or themselves, they were involved in violent incidents with firearms, or family members came to law enforcement with concerns.

Happening today — Former Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox, a onetime chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, will appear before U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle to change his plea in a 44-count indictment on corruption-related charges, 10 a.m., U.S. Courthouse, 111 North Adams St., Tallahassee.

Gainesville commission to weigh public comment, email changes” via Andrew Caplan of The Gainesville Sun — Gainesville officials are looking to change the way the public can interact with elected leaders following a dysfunctional city meeting two weeks ago during which commissioners and residents spent hours shouting back at each other. Among the changes proposed, which city officials say will enhance communication, are re-implementing a public comment sign-up rule and erasing the commission’s online email portal that residents can view. The email portal has been online for about five years and was implemented for transparency purposes, coinciding with Gainesville’s “citizen-centered, people empowered” slogan.

Scammers trick city of Naples out of $700,000 in spear-phishing cyberattack” via Lisa Conley of the Naples Daily News — Spear phishing is an email targeted at a specific individual or department within an organization that appears to be from a trusted source. It’s different from a standard phishing attack because the emails are more personalized. The funds were paid to a fake bank account the attacker provided while posing as a representative from the Wright Construction Group, which was doing infrastructure work on Eighth Street South in downtown Naples. City Manager Charles Chapman said the attack, which is currently under criminal investigation, was an isolated incident. “The city’s data systems are safe and secure,” he said in a statement. “This attack was not malware or ransomware (and) no data breach occurred.”

How long will Tampa keep its free ‘Downtowner’ ride service? Transit officials look for answers.” via Tampa Bay Times  People can continue to catch free rides in downtown Tampa — at least until March — after Hillsborough County’s transit agency voted Monday to take over the cost of the service from the Tampa Downtown Partnership. The Downtowner, a free ride service within the urban core, launched in October 2016. The experience is similar to Uber and Lyft, allowing people to hail a ride through an app, though the trips must start and end within the downtown area. The option quickly gained popularity, with hopeful riders experiencing wait times of 45 minutes or longer.


Underwater veteran memorial, the nation’s first, officially opens off Pinellas County coast” via Ileana Najarro of the Tampa Bay Times — More than 30 divers, including veteran amputees, counted down before plunging into the choppy gulf waters miles off the Pinellas County coast. They were headed toward a dozen concrete soldiers standing in a circle formation 40 feet below. The Circle of Heroes underwater veteran memorial officially opened to the public after about a decade of planning. The six-foot statues and center monument bearing the bronze emblems of five military branches are meant to be a permanent fixture at Veteran’s Reef, honoring the armed forces and providing a unique diving experience for tourists and wounded warriors.

“With the nation’s first underwater memorial, we are shining the spotlight on the importance of remembering those who have fought to protect our freedoms,” said Pinellas County Board Chair Karen Seel. Image via Twitter/Circle of Heros.


When it comes to mass shootings, to hell with patience” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — We were patient after 49 people were killed at the Pulse nightclub right here in Orlando. We were patient after 58 people were mowed down at a concert in Las Vegas. Patience is the problem, not the answer. We should have run out of it long before 22 were shot to death in El Paso and then nine more in Dayton. The politicians we elect to preserve safety and order, however, seem to have an infinite capacity for patience when it comes to gun violence. Here in Florida, the politicians did nothing after the 2016 slaughter inside Pulse, aside from offering thoughts and prayers. Like Florida, Texas politicians are obsessed with guns.

It’s poopy water, not sharks, that’s attacking Florida’s beaches” via Frank Cerabino of the Palm Beach Post — A red flag means it’s too rough to swim, and there may be dangerous riptides. And a green flag means conditions are fine. All good, but something’s missing. There ought to be a brown flag to warn you about the water when it’s poopy. It seems to be happening more and more. This week, the beaches in Palm Beach at both the Midtown Beach and Phipps Ocean Park beach have been closed for swimming due to high indicators of fecal pollution. Last week, for the second time in July, Lake Worth Beach had no-swimming rules due to high levels of this form of pollution, which comes from human and animal sewage sometimes elevated due to high stormwater runoff.


Kudos —Victor Torres named to Florida Veterans Hall of Fame Council” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Orlando Democratic state Sen. Torres has been appointed by Senate President Galvano to the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame Council. Torres, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and one of two veterans in the Florida Senate, will get an immediate chance to weigh in on the next class of potential Florida Veterans Hall of Fame inductees. The panel is set to next meet on Thursday to consider the next class. He succeeds former Senate President appointee retired Sgt. Maj. Ray Quinn, whose term expired at the end of last year. Torres, a Democrat from Orlando, is to serve a four-year term on the seven-member council.

Victor Torres, one of two veterans serving in the state Senate, is the newest member of the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame Council.

Florida House Victory hires Laurie Watkins, Gretchell Trochez-Triguero” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Watkins, who worked on President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, will serve as Political Director. Trochez-Triguero, who previously worked for Ruth’s List, comes on as Finance Director. State Reps. Bobby DuBose and Evan Jenne, incoming Democratic leaders for the House, presented the hires as “two heavy-hitting women.” Watkins and Trochez-Triguero will lead efforts to increase the Democratic caucus in the Florida House of Representatives. “House Victory is firing on all cylinders, and these experienced and deeply passionate women will build on that momentum,” Jenne said.

Four judges vie for two spots on Palm Beach County circuit bench” via Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post — County Judges Bradley Harper, Caroline Shepherd and Paige Hardy Gillman and Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Renatha Francis are among those who were selected from 40 attorneys who applied to replace retiring Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath and Circuit Judge Meenu Sasser, who died last month of cancer. Francis told the local judicial nominating commission that her husband recently got a job in Palm Beach County and that she wanted to join him here. Other government officials selected by a nominating commission are assistant state attorneys Adrienne Ellis and Michael Rachel; assistant attorney general Sarah Shullman; County Magistrate Maxine Williams and Melanie Casper, a former public defender who now works in the state attorney’s office.

— ALOE —

’Moving fast:’ Elon Musk’s SpaceX eyes Florida for launch site for Mars rocket” via Joey Roulette of Reuters — Starship, a 384-foot reusable two-stage rocket taller than the Statue of Liberty, is a central piece of Musk’s interplanetary space travel ambitions as well as U.S. space agency NASA’s goal to send humans to the moon again by 2024. The Starship rocket is expected to launch up to 24 times a year from SpaceX’s current flagship launchpad 39A. SpaceX did not specify in the report when it would reach that cadence, but Musk said in September 2018 he wanted to be conducting orbital flights with Starship in two to three years. SpaceX’s launchpad 39A would support NASA’s future moon missions from the same Kennedy Space Center site used for the Apollo lunar missions a half-century ago.

Elon Musk is eyeing the Space Coast for his Starship to Mars.

Coach KZ: While injured leg heals, McKenzie Milton still leads UCF” via Ralph Russo of The Associated Press — A horrific leg injury turned Milton’s long-term plans into his current reality. He is determined to play again, and confident he will — just not this season. Milton and the upstart Knights have brashly roiled the college football establishment the past two seasons, going 25-1, proclaiming themselves national champions after an undefeated 2018. Whether UCF can keep it up without Milton’s magical playmaking is one of the most intriguing stories of the upcoming season. But make no mistake, the guy everyone around Central Florida football calls KZ will contribute to the Knights’ next chapter. “He’s going to take this year as a coaching role. Absolutely,” second-year UCF coach Josh Heupel said.


Best wishes to Rep. Tom Leek, Arlene DiBenigno of Conversa, and Mercer Fearington of Southern Strategy Group.


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

The post Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.6.19 appeared first on Florida Politics – Campaigns & Elections. Lobbying & Government..