Sunburn - The morning read of what's hot in Florida politics - 10.5.18

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Can it really be a year ago that Harvey Weinstein was exposed as a scumbag and #MeToo became the hashtag to live by?

Titans toppled, old scores settled, secrets exposed.

While here in Florida ... um, what? Political careers ruined (see Latvala, Jack).

, from Democratic Sen. Lauren Book, tried creating the "Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Misconduct." It cleared the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee and then died of neglect in the Legislature.

"For far too long," Book said at the time, "bad actions have been able to hide in the shadows of this process."

She spoke of the "good ol' boys club" where women knew to go along to get along and keep quiet - or else.

That's only part of it. After the Parkland high school massacre, attention seemed to move from #MeToo to mourning the dead in another horrific slaughter of innocents.

So, here we are - a year later - with #MeToo threatening to fade from public consciousness, even with a seemingly non-stop barrage of news from all angles. Bill Cosby in prison. Al Franken a "former" U.S. Senator. CBS Entertainment CEO Les Moonves forced out. Actor Kevin Spacey disgraced.

And now we have come full circle, with the controversy surrounding allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh ripping open wounds anew.

But has anything really changed in Florida?

It doesn't seem so.

In a few weeks, we choose a new Governor; it's a coin-toss between two men: Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis. No matter which one wins, the chatter will be about what direction the new Governor will take Florida on vital issues - the environment, education, health care, taxes, and so on.

What about #MeToo?

Let's just pray it doesn't become yesterday's news in the wake of tomorrow's headlines.

Breaking overnight - The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege and Yazidi campaigner Nadia Murad, reports Quartz. They share the prize for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. Mukwege has helped thousands of victims of rape and other abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Norwegian committee said Murad has "shown uncommon courage in recounting her own sufferings and speaking up on behalf of other victims" after escaping from the Islamic State.


[email protected]: To date, the named witnesses deny knowledge of Dr. [ Christine Blasey] Ford's allegations against Judge [ Brett] Kavanaugh & no independent corroboration of allegations has emerged. This morning I will review new FBI report. If it provides no corroborating evidence I will vote to confirm #Kavanaugh tomorrow.

[email protected]: @ HeidiHeitkamp to @WDAYnews: "If this were a political decision for me I certainly would be deciding the other way ... history will judge you but most importantly you will judge yourself ... I can't get up in the morning and look at the experience I've had and say yes."

[email protected]: Don't ever forget what happened to Merrick Garland as we watch Sen. [ Mitch] McConnell lecture the country on "civility" and "partisan histrionics."

[email protected]_Gilmore: Yesterday, after an 18-month investigation, the NYT revealed the President of the United States committed hundreds of millions of dollars of tax fraud - possibly one of the biggest scandals in the history of the Presidency - and 24 hours later we're no longer talking about it.

[email protected]: Is there a campaign in Florida RN that doesn't involve two candidates arguing over who agreed to what debate?

[email protected]: Florida GOP says in release that Florida "has no income tax due to Republican leadership." Um ok, The ban on a state income tax has been in the Constitution since way way way before the GOP was ever in control.

[email protected]: By Primary Day, we broke 90,201 miles and by Sept 30, we hit 95,614. We are closing in on 100k miles of #2lanetravels

[email protected]: @Vote RandyFine & I get emails asking if we are registered as foreign agents of Israel. This is what happens when we allow the Jewish community to be weaponized in the FL Gov election.

[email protected]: tronc, Inc. (NASDAQ:TRNC) announced today its decision to rename the company Tribune Publishing Company.


FSU vs. UM football game - 1; Voter registration deadline for General Election - 5; MLB World Series begins - 20; 'Before You Vote' Florida Governor debate - 20; Early voting begins - 25; Halloween - 26; General Election Day - 32; Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU - 43; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings - 46; Thanksgiving - 48; Black Friday - 49; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit - 53; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin - 67; 'Hamilton' comes to the Straz Center - 130; 2019 Legislative Session starts - 151; 'Captain Marvel' release - 154; 2020 General Election - 760.


"State investigates sexual abuse by priests" via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida - Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has launched a statewide probe into sexual abuse by Catholic priests, following a Pennsylvania grand jury report this summer that found more than 1,000 children were molested over decades by hundreds of priests whose wrongdoing was covered up by church leaders. Bondi, whose office is investigating all seven Catholic dioceses in Florida, said she launched a tip site "to allow victims and anyone with information about priest abuse to report what they know." "Any priest that would exploit a position of power and trust to abuse a child is a disgrace to the church and a threat to society," she said during a Tampa news conference. Victims or people with information about past abuse can contact Bondi's office through a special hotline or submit information on the internet.

"In Tampa, Ron DeSantis blasts Andrew Gillum for 'liberal agenda'" - via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics - DeSantis painted a grim picture of Florida's future if voters don't put him in the Governor's mansion this November. DeSantis spoke to a group of about 150 supporters at the Italian Club in Ybor City. "[Gillum] wants to have open borders," DeSantis said to a chorus of boos. DeSantis only spoke about immigration for a short while, but it by far riled up the crowd more than any other topic. DeSantis described a Florida under Gillum where illegal immigrants run amok. ... He also blasted Gillum's education plan that calls for increasing corporate tax rates from 5.5 percent today to 7.75 percent to raise $1 billion for education ... It would make Florida a "high-tax state" and drive away economic activity by discouraging businesses to operate in Florida.

To watch a video of the speech, click on the image below:

"Gillum 'unfit to lead,' Republicans charge" via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics - Republicans began hitting the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, charging him with failure to lead when Hurricane Hermine struck Tallahassee in 2016. This critique is nothing new: Days after Gillum's surprise win in the August primary, the conservative National Review lowlights Gillum's quixotic response to power outages after the 2016 storm, which slowed because Gillum refused to allow non-union workers to help with the complex and time-consuming task of power restoration. Each spot features a white female spokesperson in the 35- to 44-year-old age bracket, suggesting an appeal to swing voters who have yet to firm opinions about the Tallahassee Mayor as the race tightens (as per recent polling). "After the Hurricane, we had no electricity for over a week," one spot contends. "Gillum refused help from workers. The trucks just sat, while people suffered. Incompetence, or extreme politics, I don't know. But leaders are supposed to help people in tough times. And Andrew Gillum, he didn't help us. He failed us."

To view "Unfit to Lead: Kathryn," click on the image below:

To view "Unfit to Lead: Allison," click on the image below:

"Gillum supporter apologizes for crude remark about Florida on Chris King conference call" via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat -The Andrew Gillum for Governor campaign called on an Orlando banker to make the case for a corporate tax increase. He then had to apologize for calling the state a shithole. Ken LaRoe, founder and CEO of First Greenbank, said his passion and love for Florida got the better of him when he tried to explain why a 2-percent corporate tax increase would be a sound investment in public education.

"Gillum to break from campaign Friday to attend grandmother's funeral in Jacksonville" via David Smiley of the Miami Herald - Elizabeth Gillum, the second wife of J.T. Gillum, the candidate's late paternal grandfather, died Sunday in hospice care at the Mayo Clinic following a battle with cancer. Patrick Gillum, one of her grandsons, said the family was with her in the hospital Sunday. "I'll miss you to heaven and back!" Andrew Gillum wrote on Facebook. "I love you, Grandma." According to her paid obituary in the Florida Times-Union, Elizabeth Gillum was a native of Chiefland, Florida, and a licensed practical nurse who spent 15 years working for the North Florida Regional Medical Center. She lived in Liberty City before moving with her late husband to the Gainesville area in the 1980s, and later to Jacksonville.


Happening this weekend - Gillum and his Forward Florida committee will host a fundraiser Sunday, 4 p.m., Weston Hills Country Club, 2600 Country Club Way, Weston.

First in Sunburn: "Americans for Prosperity Action spending $1M-plus on anti-Bill Nelson ads" via Florida Politics - AFP-Action is anteing up "seven-figures" for digital and direct mail campaigns urging voters to send Nelson packing ... "Bill Nelson Has Had 30 Years," hits the longtime Democratic lawmaker's perceived lack of progress on health care, one of the top issues for Florida voters in November. "If you gave an elected official three decades to fix health care, what results would you expect? Bill Nelson has had 30 years," the ad says. "Nelson voted in favor of Obamacare, lining the pockets of his donor friends while raising costs for everyone else. Nelson supported the individual mandate, punishing those who couldn't pay. Higher costs, less access. Bill Nelson had 30 years and made health care worse. He doesn't deserve another six years." AFP-FL did not include examples of the direct mail ads in its announcement, though odds are they will also be health care focused as Chris Hudson, senior adviser to AFP-Action, largely echoed the digital ad's script.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

"Rick Scott keeps calling Nelson 'confused.' Is this a dog whistle that could bite back?" via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times - Republican strategist J.M. "Mac" Stipanovich said it's obvious Scott's campaign sees Nelson's age as a vulnerability to exploit - part of a plan to paint Nelson as too old and having spent too long in office. Nelson was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1972. Stipanovich is less sure how it will play out in a state where 1 in 5 residents are retirement age. "Those are dog whistles. Who exactly they're designed to appeal to, since such a great percentage of the voters are Nelson's age, I don't know," Stipanovich said. "I don't know if that's a great strategy or not."

"'Kids, family, future': New ad features Scott's grandsons" via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics - Following a diss-fueled debate and a seemingly endless series of news cycles with attack ads, Scott is going positive. In an ad released by his Senate campaign, Scott is getting help: His six grandsons made cameo appearances in the spot designed to remind Florida voters of the Naples Republican's relatability and humanity. "With all these attack ads, all Bill Nelson wants to do is throw mud," Scott said, noting that he's "used to it." ... "I have six grandsons," Scott said. "That's right. SIX BOYS ... We dig for bugs, make slime from scratch. With these guys - even lunch can get dirty ... Bill Nelson slings mud to make this race about me. It's not. This race is about your kids, your family, your future."


To view the ad, click on the image below:

"Realtors continue pouring money into ballot measure" via the News Service of Florida - Florida Realtors contributed another $500,000 to efforts to pass a property-tax measure on the November ballot, bringing to $6.06 million the amount it has spent. The money has gone to a political committee known as Amendment 2 is for Everybody. The political committee also spent $435,000 last week, with $403,000 of that amount going to advertising. The proposed constitutional amendment, which will appear on the ballot as Amendment 2, would extend a property-tax cap for commercial and other non-homestead properties. The Legislature placed the amendment on the November ballot.

" 'Vote no': FanDuel comes out in opposition to gambling amendment" via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics - Saying it will "make it impossible to bring sports betting to Florida," FanDuel is telling Florida voters to vote down a proposed 'voter control of gambling' constitutional amendment. The amendment's main backer, however, says the national fantasy sports website has it all wrong. It won't be impossible, he said: It'll just require a vote. In an email shared with Florida Politics, FanDuel said: "Amendment 3 was written to try to deceive you ... It pretends to give voters more power, but the reality is it ... makes it more difficult to protect your right to play fantasy sports." Moreover, the ballot measure "would stop any chance of bringing sports betting to Florida dead in its tracks."

"Mike Waltz snubs Trump rally" via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida - President Trump's political team wanted to rally in Florida next week beside Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee for governor, and the Republican who hopes to succeed him in the House. But sources familiar with the talks say the congressional candidate, Michael Waltz, declined amid concerns about the risks of publicly stumping with Trump, and instead wanted the president to headline a private fundraiser in his central Florida-based district. Both prospective events fell through in the end.

"Vern Buchanan campaign raises another $500K for re-election bid" via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics - The Buchanan campaign announced it would be reporting a haul of $500,000 raised during the third quarter. That would leave the campaign's cash on hand at more than $1.4 million. Buchanan, the Republican incumbent in Florida's 16th Congressional District, has kept up a cash lead over his Democratic challenger, David Shapiro. It's not clear where Shapiro stands against Buchanan's updated numbers. The reports are not due to the Federal Election Commission until later this month. If Buchanan can hold onto his fundraising lead, that would leave him sitting pretty as we approach Election Day on Nov. 6. A recent pair of polls has shown Buchanan with a sizable lead against Shapiro. Add in a money advantage and it would be an uphill climb to unseat the incumbent.

"Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in new ad: 'We deserve clean water'" via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics - Mucarsel-Powell is out with a new ad on the state's water problems. The ad's release comes on the same day as multiple beaches closed across South Florida in light of a red tide outbreak. Her new ad, titled "We Deserve Clean Water," puts the blame on Republicans for not doing enough to protect Florida's environment. The ad is devoid of audible narration, instead relying on the visual of Mucarsel-Powell scuba diving, displaying signs underwater to call for "real action" on the environment. "I'm Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. I'm running for Congress. I will take real action."

To view the video, click on the image below:

"Annette Taddeo internal poll shows big lead. Marili Cancio campaign calls it 'extremely suspect'" via David Smiley of the Miami Herald - Taddeo's poll, conducted two weeks ago and released only now as absentee ballots go out in the mail, shows her up by a 54 to 36 margin, with 11 percent undecided. The left-leaning SEA Polling & Strategic design queried 400 likely voters in mid-September, nearly half of them on cellphones. Taddeo's campaign provided the questions posed by live callers and the breakdown of voters polled, but we still offer the usual caveats about internal polling, which should always be taken with some skepticism. The poll's margin of error is also plus or minus 5 points, which could place the margin as close as 49 to 41. Cancio's campaign, however, called the numbers "extremely suspect." Campaign strategist JL Castillo said Taddeo's campaign has hit Cancio with a barrage of negative advertising, which doesn't jibe with a campaign with a double-digit lead.

Democrats faring 'surprisingly' well in HD 89 polling - Democrats are doing 'somewhat surprisingly' well across three key races in House District 89, with Nelson, Gillum and (HD 89 candidate) Jim Bonfiglio each holding at least a 10-point lead, new polling finds. Democrat Bonfiglio leads his Republican opponent Mike Caruso 44-34 percent with 22 percent unsure. The survey was conducted by Clearview Research contacting 300 likely Florida voters in HD 89 between Sept. 30 and Oct. 2. Pollsters weighted the results along gender, race/ethnicity, age, region and party lines with 35 percent of the calls conducted via cellphone. The margin of error is +/- 5.65 points. "Bonfiglio is in an excellent position to flip this seat as he not only holds a solid 10-point lead but, at this point in the campaign, has [an] inferior name recognition as Caruso is better known by 14 points," according to the executive summary. "Given that, we see growth potential for Bonfiglio who not only holds nearly all the Democrats (he begins 80-6 percent among voters in his own party) but is beating Caruso by an astonishing 27 points among NPA voters."

"More taxes? Shhh: All for Transportation launches first TV ad" via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics - The All for Transportation campaign is asking voters to approve Hillsborough County Referendum No. 2 raising sales tax 1 percent to fund billions in transportation and transit improvements. The TV spot highlights all the benefits and, in a strategic move, doesn't mention the tax increase ... "Hillsborough's traffic is bad and only getting worse. New growth. Old roads. County referendum No. 2 will change that ... Computerized lights to increase flow, new transit options, hundreds of miles of road improvements to improve traffic and reduce accidents. Safer roads means saving lives. We have a choice. More of the same or new roads, safer streets and less traffic. We spend too little on transportation. It's time to change that."

To view the ad, click on the image below:

"For Our Future Florida to launch statewide day of action" via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics - Progressive group For Our Future Florida (FOF-FL) is launching a statewide day of action this Saturday, which happens to serve as the one-month mark until the midterm elections. "Saturday's events will see hundreds of volunteers at over 70 neighborhood canvassing events from Tallahassee to Miami encouraging Floridians to cast their ballots for November," said Blake Williams, a spokesperson for the group. FOF-FL says it has already knocked on more than 500,000 doors in an effort to convince voters to elect Democrats on Nov. 6. Now that vote-by-mail ballots have begun to be sent out, FOF-FL says it is ramping up its operation.

"Uber will offer free rides to polling stations on Election Day" via The Hill - Uber said Thursday that it will offer free rides to polling stations on Election Day, as well as an in-app feature that lets riders know where to cast their votes. The ride-sharing company unveiled its "Get to the Polls" feature as part of a series of initiatives to encourage riders to vote in the midterm elections on Nov. 6. Riders can enter their home address into the app, which will then identify their designated polling place. In addition, Uber is partnering with Democracy Works and #VoteTogether to provide free rides to voters, who must first obtain promo codes from one of the voting advocacy groups.

Epilogue: "Email insights: No-hoper Javier Manjarres still sore after primary beatdown" via Florida Politics - It has been more than a month since the primary elections but failed congressional candidate Manjarres is still blasting out emails from his clown show of a campaign. ... The blogger's latest dumpster fire diatribe features grapes so sour they could be mistaken lemons. Despite losing the three-way Republican primary for Florida's 22nd Congressional District by 7 points to Nicolas Kimaz, he tells the few remaining souls who're still strapped into his echo chamber that there isn't a real conservative option for CD 22 in the fall. ... The post facto purity test he's imposing is only the latest example of Manjarres' disconnect from reality. During his campaign, he refused to produce his produce the DD-214 for his brief stint in the U.S. Air Force. That Trumpian-level document dodge happened as Manjarres is still dealing with the legal fallout of accusing a former U.S. Marine of "stolen valor." ... Though he recommends voting a straight Republican ticket in other races, he says "the only real option for voters in FL CD 22 may be to refrain from voting for the next member to the U.S. House of Representatives."


Assignment editors - Immigrant advocacy group United We Dream Action is volunteering with The Win Justice coalition Saturday for the largest single voter mobilization in Florida this election cycle. Bend the Arc and Fight for $15 will also join the action, beginning noon at the DoubleTree Miami Airport Convention Center Royal Ballroom, 711 NW 72nd Ave., Miami.

The Tampa Bay Times editorial team is endorsing Sen. Nelson at the top of ticket race over Gov. Scott, writing that Nelson has "built a commendable career in public service as a moderate who steadily works in a bipartisan fashion on issues important to Floridians." Scott, according to the Times' opinion writers, "has consistently sided with the wealthy and the well-connected as he has eroded the interests of working families."

In nearby U.S. House races, the Times is backing four Democratic candidates. Shapiro, the Times' editorial team writes, "better understands the diverse needs of the district," when compared to incumbent Republican Buchanan in CD 16. Kristen Carlson "knows agriculture as well as the complex world of trade and regulations," making her a better fit than Republican Ross Spano in CD 15. Charlie Crist, the incumbent Democrat in CD 13, was endorsed in part for his "civility" and bipartisanship in a hostile Washington atmosphere. Chris Hunter, who's challenging incumbent Republican Rep. Gus Bilirakis in CD 12, was endorsed because he could be a "fresh voice for a district where growth is exploding and priorities are shifting, and he could be effective in helping the House serve as a brake on an unpredictable president."

In Bay-area state Senate seats, the Times picked two Republicans and two Democrats to endorse. In the hotly contested SD 18 race, the editorial team backed Democrat Janet Cruz over Republican incumbent Sen. Dana Young, saying Cruz' "focus on schools and jobs reflects the priorities she would bring to the Senate." In SD 24, the paper recommends voters re-elect Republican incumbent Jeff Brandes over Democratic challenger Lindsay Cross, noting Brandes' willingness "to tackle difficult issues that directly affect his constituents." In SD 16, the Times is baking Democrat Amanda Murphy over Republican Ed Hooper, calling Murphy an "independent thinker" who could work across party lines. In SD 20, the paper suggests re-electing Republican incumbent Tom Lee over Democrat Kathy Lewis, writing that Lee has "blended fiscal conservatism with a moderate streak on education and social policy."


The Sun Sentinel editorial board is backing Democrat Nikki Fried for Agriculture Commissioner over Republican Matt Caldwell, saying Fried "has good ideas for the agriculture part of the job and for the consumer part of the job." The opinion team also is endorsing Democrat Jeremy Ring for Chief Financial Officer over Republican incumbent CFO Jimmy Patronis, saying Ring "offers relevant experience and new ideas." The Palm Beach Post also recommended Ring, because of his experience in finance.

Scoop: "Citrus Co. Sheriff weaponizes physical fitness test against women, lawsuit alleges" via Michael Moline of Florida Politics - A proposed federal class-action lawsuit accuses Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast of using unnecessarily difficult physical fitness tests to discriminate against female deputies. The lawsuit, filed in the Middle District of Florida's Ocala Division, alleges eight counts of intentional gender discrimination, age discrimination and retaliation. Few, if any, other law enforcement agencies in Florida subject female officers to such rigorous physical fitness requirements, the complaint says. Furthermore, it alleges, the department denies women accommodations for injuries that it routinely provides for men. A request for comment to the sheriff's office is pending. It "has implemented these mandatory physical abilities tests despite knowing they have a disparate impact upon female employees. CCSO also retaliated against female employees who complain about this discrimination," the complaint says.

"David Rivera beats the rap - for the fourth time" via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida - This time it was in a Federal Election Commission civil case tied to a campaign finance scandal that already sent two people to prison. U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke last week threw out the FEC lawsuit against Rivera because of a Utah court ruling that held the federal agency had overstepped its bounds by passing a 1989 regulation that says, "no person shall knowingly help or assist any person in making a [campaign] contribution in the name of another." The lawsuit sought to impose as much as $500,000 in fines. "Harry Houdini does it again," said former Rivera girlfriend Ana Alliegro, one of those convicted in the case. "He must be a government informant. He has friends in high places, or he's the luckiest man alive."

What Beth Sweeney is reading: "Opting for virtual learning" via Travis Gibson of the St. Augustine Record - When Hurricane Irma roared onto the beaches of the Ancient City, the high winds and flooding shut down government offices and public schools for days. Hundreds of miles away in North Carolina, Correna, a St. Johns County fifth-grader, was in her own personal classroom. Logged on to her lesson plan, she worked on her daily assignments at Florida Connections Academy, a free online public charter school authorized by Hillsborough County Public Schools that serves K-8 students. Florida Virtual School was founded in 1997 and was the first statewide internet-based public high school in the nation. Last year, FLVS had more than 6,400 full-time students and enrollment has grown by more than 20 percent since the 2013-14 school year. There are nine other St. Johns County students enrolled at Florida Connections Academy, but even more at St. Johns County Virtual School, a program under the St. Johns County School District umbrella. "We have seen significant growth in the last five years," said Michael Eisen, program coordinator for St. Johns County Virtual School. "I think we are still the best-kept secret."

"Did the Commissioner accused of sphincter bleaching just compare the Mayor to Adolf Hitler?" via Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald - Last month, Hallandale Beach Mayor Keith London, bizarrely accused fellow Commissioner Anabelle Lima-Taub of profiting from bleaching her sphincter ... Now, Lima-Taub is the one under fire for apparently comparing the Mayor to Hitler during a scheduled commission meeting. Both the Mayor and Lima-Taub are Jewish, so did the commissioner really compare the Mayor to Hitler? The Vice Mayor says yes. She and the Mayor are offended. Lima-Taub says absolutely not. The first item on the agenda was a proclamation, sponsored by London, to make the month of October 2018 Domestic Violence Awareness month in Hallandale Beach. During her opening comments, Lima-Taub called London "the biggest, most corrupt criminal to ever grace the city" and said the Mayor's domestic violence proclamation a was a "joke" before making the following statement: "A man who sat here a month ago and dared to talk about my private parts, sponsoring a proclamation for domestic violence. Wow. That's like Hitler having a proclamation for Jews. Or Fidel Castro having freedom day for Cubans."

"Passing the Torch: Who should lead the Office of Medical Marijuana Use?" via Folio Weekly - Lots of talented people are moving into the next phases of their careers. One of them is Christian Bax, the embattled former founding majordomo of medical marijuana in the state of Florida. He stepped down in August; his deputy Courtney Coppola will serve as interim director, and a permanent appointment will be made by either Andrew Gillum or Ron DeSantis ... Medical marijuana is still a daisy-fresh gimmick whose commercial value is being defined, but his successor will inherit a pretty strong infrastructure with a growing cadre of patients and many vendors lining up to service them.

"Florida Indian gaming revenues grow, but more slowly" via Richard Danielson of The Tampa Bay Times - Indian gaming in Florida is big and getting bigger, though not as fast as it was a few years ago. Florida remains the No. 3 state in revenues from Indian gaming, with $2.56 billion in 2016, according to an economist who tracks nationwide trends, slot machine-by-slot machine, in tribe-run gaming ... It was the seventh straight year of revenue growth since the Great Recession. That said, it was slightly lower than the industry's 5.2 percent growth in 2015, likely because of a general slowing in the national economy.

"States sends red tide aide to Southeast Florida" via the News Service of Florida - Florida earmarked another $3 million as traces of the algae linked to red tide have been confirmed in Atlantic coastal waters. The state has now put up $16 million to fight red tide, as an outbreak that has plagued large stretches of the Gulf Coast moves into its 11th month. Money has gone to such things as removing dead fish and other aquatic life and expanding research. The source of the outbreak is a single-celled organism called Karenia brevis algae that produce toxins that kill fish, birds, sea turtles, manatees and dolphins and can cause neurotoxic shellfish poisoning in humans. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is offering grants to St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties to help combat the impacts of red tide, Gov. Scott's office announced. Managed beaches in Palm Beach County have been closed.


"Florida, Georgia renew 'water wars'" via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida - After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in late June that Florida be given another chance to prove its case that Georgia's over-consumption of water is damaging the Apalachicola region, the states filed a joint legal pleading this week before a federal appellate judge who will act as a special master in the case. Not surprisingly, the two states - which have spent years and millions of dollars litigating the issue - can't agree "on how this case should proceed," according to a memorandum. Georgia maintains there is enough evidence generated by the proceedings before an earlier special master to move forward. Georgia wants to hold a "summary-judgment-style proceeding," where the states would file briefs responding to the questions raised by the Supreme Court when it sent the case back to a special master earlier this year. "Those briefs would rely on testimony and evidence that is already in the record," the Georgia lawyers said, citing the five-week trial, 7.2 million pages of documents, reports from 28 experts and 69 depositions that were part of the prior proceeding.

On Saturday, Oct. 6, pro-medical marijuana advocacy organization Empowering Wellness will host a conference in St. Petersburg. The conference will feature elected officials from both sides of the aisle, along with leaders from the medical marijuana industry.

The conference will be dedicated to creating a conversation on expanding patient access to cannabis-based treatments that improve help.

Co-sponsors and speakers at the event include Congressman Charlie Crist, a Pinellas County Democrat, Congressman Darren Soto, an Orlando-area Democrat, and state Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, among others.

Empowering Wellness is a grassroots movement of medical cannabis voters - patients, physicians and caregivers - who believe America's elected officials should support compassionate medical cannabis policies that expand patient access and respect the doctor-patient relationship.


The Empowering Wellness Conference is 2-5 p.m., at The Hilton St. Petersburg at Carillon Park in the Picasso Ballroom, 950 Lake Carillon Drive, St. Petersburg.


"Federal changes take aim at opioid abuse" via the News Service of Florida - The federal government is changing rules about how it helps with treatment for substance-abuse disorders, including requiring screening new Medicare beneficiaries for opioid abuse. The bipartisan legislation, which passed the U.S. Senate by a 98-1 vote and is headed to Trump, also requires the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to identify beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Part D with a history of opioid-related overdoses so they can be included in the Medicare Part D Drug Management Program. Part D is the Medicare prescription-drug benefit. The bill also would expand the use of telehealth services for treating substance abuse disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders.

"Steve Crisafulli: Sen. Dorothy Hukill, who died this week, leaves legacy in space and lower taxes" via FLORIDA TODAY - She was a shrewd and effective legislator who served Brevard and Volusia County families well in the Senate. I had the good fortune of knowing Sen. Hukill for the past 10 years. I first met her while serving together in the Florida House. I quickly came to respect Dorothy for her outstanding negotiating skills, sharp wit and passion for service. Dorothy was a friend and a trusted leader in both the House and Senate ... We should all be grateful for Dorothy's commitment to the space industry. Her efforts helped lead us where we are today, with a booming commercial aerospace sector that has replaced the space shuttle program with thousands of high-paying, skilled jobs. Dorothy Hukill courageously battled cancer while serving Florida families with integrity, determination and commitment. She loved our state, and she loved helping to improve the lives of her constituents. Dorothy led a life well-lived and leaves behind an impressive legacy of service. Our next state senator will have big shoes to fill, indeed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Senator Dorothy Hukill and her family. May she rest in peace.


Farewell: Senate announces Hukill visiting hours - Members of the Florida Senate and staff can pay respect to the late Sen. Hukill on Sunday afternoon. Her family has chosen to keep the formal memorial as a small private service but is welcoming any members of the Senate family who wish to stop by Sunday between the hours of noon and 2 p.m., Volusia Memorial Funeral Home, 4815 Clyde Morris Blvd., Port Orange. The family also wants to convey their appreciation for the outpouring of love and support they received during this most difficult time.

Florida Hospital Association announces 2018-19 Board of Trustees - Roger Kirk, CEO of Bethesda Health, now part of Baptist Health South Florida, was elected to serve as chairman. He succeeds Jack Kolosky, Executive VP, COO, President, Hospital Corp. H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center. "We are delighted to welcome Roger as FHA Board chairman," FHA President Bruce Rueben said. "He is a respected health care leader with a great track record. We look forward to working closely with him on issues that further Florida hospitals mission to care." Other board members include Vice Chair/Chairman-Elect Aurelio Fernandez, President/CEO, Memorial Healthcare System and Treasurer Steven P. Johnson, President/CEO, Health First.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Gunster adds 3 associates in West Palm Beach - Gunster, one of Florida's oldest and largest full-service business law firms, announced that three new associates have joined the West Palm Beach office. "We are pleased to welcome back these three highly gifted members of our 2017 Summer Associate class who now join us as Gunster associates," stated managing shareholder Bill Perry. "Each of these individuals are products of our selective summer associate program and we look forward to their careers with the firm" ... Ben Fechter earned his J.D. from the University of Florida Levin College of Law and his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Connecticut ... Nalani Gordon earned her J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law, and both her M.A. and B.S. from the University of Central Florida ... Christopher Seifter earned his J.D. from the Florida State University College of Law and his B.S. from Florida State University as well.

Brian Ballard, Chris Dorworth, Ballard Partners: The Harrod Group

Mercer Fearington, Clark Smith, Southern Strategy Group: ST Enterprises

Jose Luis Gonzalez, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts


Andrej Micovic, Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod: Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFedeon CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay's WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable with Rita Ferrandino, CEO and founder, Arc Capital; Tampa Bay Times reporter Marlene Sokol; attorney William Merlin; and Dan Maduri, commentator and host at AM 820 News.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: This week's show will discuss Amendment 4, which would restore voting rights for most Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence. Joining Walker-Torres is State Sen. Darryl Rouson; Richard Harrison, executive director, Floridians for a Sensible Voting Rights Policy; and Reggie Garcia, clemency and parole lawyer.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A discussion with Republican gubernatorial candidate DeSantis. PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter will rate a claim made by Trump regarding NAFTA.

The Usual Suspectson WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon and Steve Vancore will speak with Democratic consultant Beth Matuga.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Agriculture Commissioner candidate Nikki Fried is the guest. Discussing constitutional amendments on the ballot are Florida State College at Jacksonville sociology professor J.R. Woodward and political science professor Daniel Cronrath.

- ALOE -

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg will focus on the upcoming race for Governor. Also, the powerhouse roundtable will take on the week's news.

"Tronc changing name back to Tribune Publishing" via The Chicago Tribune - Tronc, the parent company of the Chicago Tribune, is changing its name back to Tribune Publishing Co. The Chicago-based company, which also owns the Baltimore Sun; Hartford Courant; Orlando Sentinel; South Florida's Sun Sentinel; the New York Daily News; the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md.; The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa.; the Daily Press in Newport News, Va.; and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., announced the decision Thursday. It ends a more than two-year run with the much-derided corporate moniker of Tronc. The name change will take effect after the market closes Tuesday ... The Tronc name was unveiled in June 2016, four months after technology entrepreneur Michael Ferro became non-executive chairman and largest shareholder of the newspaper chain. The name, which stood for Tribune Online Content and was intended to be written in all lowercase letters, quickly was ridiculed.

Happy birthday early to Sachs Media Group's Jon Peck, a gifted writer and one of the most enjoyable individuals to work with; also state Sen. Kevin Rader. Celebrating today are Chris Hart, Trey Price, the brilliant Gregory Wilson, and AT&T's Joe York.