Good Wednesday morning. Remember that time when Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke zipped into the Tallahassee airport and told everyone that drilling in the coastal waters near Florida was “off the table.” Yeah, about that….
STUNT? — Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson called Zinke’s announcement back in early 2018 a “shameless public stunt” and raised questions about how binding the promise was. Flash forward. Now U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, who narrowly defeated Nelson, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio are refusing to commit right now to voting for Zinke’s successor. And the reason? Oil drilling.
“EXISTENTIAL” — Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who has been nominated to take the job permanently, has not given assurances that the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic would be excluded from drilling in a five-year plan. Rep. Francis Rooney told POLITICO: “Me and Rick Scott and Marco Rubio made it clear [to Bernhardt] it is existential to Florida that we get this ban made permanent. I can’t say that he responded. He said he’d think about it and wants to engage us in discussion.”
OH? — “Chinese woman with 2 passports, malware arrested at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club,” by TCPalm’s Ali Schmitz: “A Chinese woman with a thumb drive containing malware as well as multiple passports and electronic devices was arrested at The Mar-a-Lago Club on Saturday after she made her way past a security checkpoint, according to a federal criminal complaint. President Donald Trump was at Trump National Golf Club in West Palm Beach at the time, according to White House press pool reports.” Read more
NY v. FL — “Cuomo bashes Rick Scott over Florida senator’s criticism of New York,” by Syracuse.com’s Kevin Tampone: “This could get ugly. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is hitting back at U.S. Sen. Rick Scott of Florida with a new op-ed in The Wall Street Journal that bashes Scott for criticism of New York. Scott attacked the state’s fiscal policies with his own op-ed in the Journal last month.” Read more
BIG OOPS — “White House aide calls Puerto Rico ‘that country,’ says it was ‘slip of the tongue,’” by POLITICO’s Rebecca Morin: “White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley on Tuesday referred to Puerto Rico as ‘that country,’ adding fuel to the flame that the White House does not treat the island as part of the United States. During an interview on MSNBC, Gidley railed against the Puerto Rican government’s handling of federal hurricane aid, claiming officials left food to rot at the island’s ports.” Read more
MEANWHILE — “Trump lashes out again at Puerto Rico, bewildering the island,” by the New York Times’ Annie Karni and Patricia Mazzei: “President Trump on Tuesday lashed out at Puerto Rico’s local lawmakers as ‘grossly incompetent’ and singled out one of his favorite targets, Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, as ‘crazed and incompetent.’” Read more
TELL RICK — “Senate GOP alarm forced Trump’s latest health care flip-flop,” by POLITICO’s Eliana Johnson and Burgess Everett: “When it comes to President Donald Trump’s plans to replace Obamacare, one about face has followed another.” Read more
TRY, TRY AGAIN — “Senate Dems introduce new disaster relief proposal after aid package failure,” by POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine: “Senate Democrats will introduce a new amendment to multi-billion dollar disaster relief legislation Tuesday in an attempt to counter Republican arguments that they are blocking much-needed aid to the Midwest.” Read more
THAT TIME AGAIN — “Central Florida leaders look to engage Latinos in 2020 Census push,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Bianca Padró Ocasio: “A year away from the official start of the 2020 Census, local officials and community organizations are making a push to increase participation among Florida Latinos, as they try to curb concerns about a controversial proposed question on citizenship.” Read more
NEW HIRE — “DeSantis’s surgeon general pick faced sexual harassment allegations at UF,” by News Service of Florida’s Christine Sexton: “A doctor tapped by Gov. Ron DeSantis to become the state’s surgeon general has been embroiled in legal squabbles and investigations while working at the University of Florida.” Read more
DEWHO? — “Broward Democrats hope to mobilize opposition to Gov. Ron DeSantis, called ‘DeSatan’ by key organizer,” by Sun Sentinel’s Anthony Man: “Undeterred by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ high public approval rating, a group of Democrats in Broward County is starting an effort to pressure the Republican governor.” Read more
TO COURT? — “A Florida Bill Would Make It Even Harder to Sue Towing Companies for Illegally Taking Your Car,” by New Times’ Jerry Iannelli: “Arguably the most important rule for visiting South Beach is this: Watch out for overzealous towing companies. Tow companies for years have preyed on unsuspecting tourists and residents alike — in 2013, New Times wrote in a longform feature that Miami Beach’s towing companies were orchestrating a ‘decades-long, politically sanctioned operation to hold people’s cars for ransom for hundreds of dollars’ and were raking in millions each year by tricking drivers into parking illegally using all sorts of schemes.” Read more
LIFER — “Stealing a phone in Florida can be a life-changing felony. Big retail companies want to keep it that way,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Emily L. Mahoney: “Frederick Crumbly was 18 when he saw an iPhone sitting on the counter at a McDonald’s and decided to take it with him. Police arrested him the next day at his Fort Myers home — and charged him with a felony.” Read more
MEET THE PEOPLE — “Joe Gruters holding town hall on immigration and red tide,” by Herald-Tribune’s Zac Anderson: “State Sen. Joe Gruters has been in the thick of one of the most controversial issues of the 2019 legislative session, a push to outlaw so-called ‘sanctuary’ policies that limit immigration enforcement. So a town hall that the Sarasota GOP lawmaker is hosting in Venice Saturday has the potential to get interesting.” Read more
HANDS OFF — “Bill to deregulate many Florida professions advances," by Herald-Tribune’s Zac Andreson: “Florida lawmakers again are pushing to deregulate a host of professions — from interior designers to auctioneers and talent agents — in a move that would reduce or eliminate many licensing requirements, which critics view as onerous and anti-competitive but professionals within the industries often support.” Read more
JUST MADE IT — “House panel clears hemp bill in final meeting of session,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Samantha J. Gross: “The House’s version of a bill to create a state hemp program made it through its second of three committee stops Tuesday. Rep. Ralph Massullo’s HB 333, which passed unanimously in the last meeting of Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee, would authorize the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to administer a state hemp program. It would also set up rulemaking and a board of experts to develop the system.” Read more
WHO’S NEXT? — “Only two apply to be state’s next chief administrative law judge,” by Florida Politics’s Jim Rosica: “The next head of the body that acts as a legal check on agencies under the control of Gov. Ron DeSantis could be someone who now works for him. The Governor and Cabinet, acting as the state Administration Commission, on Tuesday decided to close the application period even though only two people expressed interest in becoming chief judge and director of the Division of Administrative Hearings.” Read more
DIGGING IN — “Sheriff Ivey says he’s ‘staying put’ amid rumors about FDLE post,” by Florida Today’s J.D. Gallop: “Dispelling rumors that he might take a leading role in the DeSantis administration, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey turned to social media this week to announce once and for all that he’s staying put as the county’s top law enforcement officer. Ivey, midway into his second term as sheriff, made the taped announcement in a nearly four-minute long video posted Monday evening to the sheriff’s Facebook page.” Read more
TAX CUTS COMING — “House pitches tax holidays, lease tax cut," by News Service of Florida’s Jim Turner: “A tax-cut package centered on reducing a lease tax paid on commercial property was unveiled Tuesday by the Florida House. The $102.4 million package, which will get its first hearing next week, also includes a three-day back-to-school sales tax ‘holiday’ on clothes, school supplies and computers and a seven-day tax ‘holiday’ on hurricane supplies.” Read more
— WHERE’S RON? — Gov. DeSantis will be spending his day in Tallahassee and in northwest Florida. DeSantis is scheduled to speak at a legislative prayer at the Capitol. He will then visit the base of operations where firefighters have been battling a blaze near Panama City. DeSantis is also scheduled to speak at the Captains for Clean Water Skiff Challenge in Fort Walton Beach. He will then head back to Tallahassee where he will appear at the Florida Golf Day Reception. The governor is also scheduled to speak at the James Madison Institute 2019 Annual Dinner.
MOVING QUICK — “Billionaire Robert Kraft wants speedy trial, possibly by May, in prostitution case,” by Sun Sentinel’s Marc Freeman: “Battling charges of soliciting prostitution, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is demanding a speedy trial along with efforts to block prosecutors from using videos and other evidence in his high-profile case. This is right out of the playbook of two out-of-state lawyers whose law firm touts a ‘play to win’ philosophy of representing clients.” Read more
FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE — “Teamsters top boss tries to quell rebellion by Mickey, Goofy,” by AP’s Mike Schneider: “The Teamsters’ top boss is trying to quell a rebellion by Mickey, Minnie and their costumed friends. International Brotherhood of Teamsters general president James Hoffa ordered a hearing in Florida last weekend to determine whether leaders should be removed from the local Teamsters union that represents costumed character-performers, truck drivers and other workers at Walt Disney World.” Read more
MATH — “A St. Petersburg man contested a $4,308 bill. Now, he could owe nearly $150,000,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Susan Taylor Martin: “It began as a simple dispute over a modest amount. A Tampa contractor said a St. Petersburg company owed it $4,308. The case went to trial, the St. Petersburg company lost and last month it paid the $4,308.” Read more
VAPERS — “Lee school district plans to hire safety attendants to monitor high school restrooms,” by News-Press’ Thyrie Bland: “The Lee County School District plans to hire 11 safety and security attendants for next school year to monitor restrooms at high schools. The district is having two problems in high school restrooms — students using them as hideouts to vape and to write threatening messages, school officials said.” Read more
AT LONG LAST — “Finally, a homecoming for Jacksonville sailor killed at Pearl Harbor,” by Times-Union’s Matt Soergel: “The Western Union telegram came on Dec. 21, 1941, two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, confirming what Bessie Meyer already knew: Her son was gone. ‘The Navy Department deeply regrets to inform you that your son Herbert Joseph Poindexter Jr Seaman First Class US Navy is missing following action in the performance of his duty and in the service of his country. The Department appreciates your great anxiety and will furnish you further information promptly.’” Read more
IMPORTANT — “Florida’s Attitude Toward Pot is Warming. But What Does it Take to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Sarasota?” by Sarasota Magazine’s Tony D’Souza: “On an overcast day in January 2001, 22-year-old competitive snowboarder Emily Cartwright barreled down the main run at Northern California’s Mount Shasta Ski Park. She was going too fast and knew it. At the bottom, she hit the big air jump carrying more speed than she’d taken into an icy jump in her life. She flew high above the ramp, then landed full force on the flats.” Read more
ON THE MOVE: Josh Wolf has gotten a promotion at AL Media. The veteran Democratic consultant is now a partner at the firm. He joined the firm after managing Patrick Murphy’s 2016 U.S. Senate campaign. Since joining the firm, he has cut ads in Florida and nationally, including for Bill Nelson’s 2018 campaign and Fred Hubbell in Iowa.
CHARGED — “Florida GOP donor indicted on federal bribery charge,” by POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon: “A federal grand jury Tuesday indicted Greg Lindberg, a North Carolina businessman and major 2018 Florida Republican donor, on allegations that he tried to bribe North Carolina’s top insurance official. … POLITICO has identified Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) as "Public Official A" in the indictment.” Read more
SHADY — “Enneking complaint dismissed, linked to Republican operatives,” by Gainesville Sun’s Andrew Caplan: “Records tied to a recently dismissed Florida Elections Commission complaint against former state Senate candidate Kayser Enneking confirm that a local consulting firm, used by Republicans, worked with an independent party challenger to defeat her. The complaint was filed a week before the November 2018 election against Enneking by independent candidate Charles Goston. The complaint was based on emails obtained by Republican operatives working to re-elect Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville.” Read more
SHHHH — “Broward Schools tries to limit questioning of its employees in shooting lawsuit,” by Sun Sentinel’s Megan O’Matz: “The Broward School district has moved to clamp down on having its employees questioned in a civil suit filed by a Parkland father related to the February 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. On Monday, an attorney for the school system asked a Broward Circuit Court judge to cancel the depositions of seven school officials, including three assistant principals who worked at the school.” Read more
OF COURSE THERE’S A FLORIDA CONNECTION — “Faulty 737 Sensor in Lion Air Crash Linked to Florida Repair Shop,” by Bloomberg’s Alan Levin and Harry Suhartono: “A faulty sensor on a Lion Air 737 Max that’s been linked to the jetliner’s deadly crash last October and a harrowing ride the previous day was repaired in a U.S. aircraft maintenance facility before the tragedy, according to investigative documents.
"Accident investigators in Indonesia, home of Lion Air, and the U.S., where Boeing Co., the plane’s manufacturer, is based, have been examining the work that a Florida repair shop previously performed on the so-called angle-of-attack sensor, according to briefing documents prepared for Indonesia’s parliament.” Read more
— “Suspect detained in threats to commit shooting at FAMU,” by Tallahassee Democrat’s Karl Etters: Read more
— “Historic Dodgertown gets new name: Jackie Robinson Training Complex,” by TCPalm’s Laurence Reisman: Read more
— “Off The Beat: ‘I’ll kill you, I’ll kill everybody!’ says man denied squeegee, report shows,” by TCPalm’s Will Greenlee: Read more
— “Not an ‘April Fool’s joke:’ Man arrested in double shooting,” by Palm Beach Post’s Olivia Hitchcock: Read more
— “Mom uses can of soup to scare off carjacker in Holly Hill, police say,” by News-Journal’s Patricio G. Balona: Read more
BIRTHDAYS: Robert Mons, special assistant to Gov. Ron DeSantis … Keith Norman of Univision
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