“Sunburn — The morning read of what's hot in Florida politics — 1.21.20 - Florida Politics” plus 2 more

“Sunburn — The morning read of what's hot in Florida politics — 1.21.20 - Florida Politics” plus 2 more


Sunburn — The morning read of what's hot in Florida politics — 1.21.20 - Florida Politics

Posted: 21 Jan 2020 12:00 AM PST

Those expecting the race for Florida's 16th Congressional District to be competitive this year may need to start tempering their expectations.

A new poll obtained by Florida Politics shows Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan with a commanding 20-point advantage over Democrat state Rep. Margaret Good.

The survey, conducted by the smart folks Data Targeting, shows 53% of voters are backing the incumbent compared to a third who are lined up behind his challenger.

In fresh polling, incumbent Vern Buchanan takes a commanding lead over Democratic challenger Margaret Good.

Buchanan's backers are also more firm in their support — a full 40% of respondents said they would definitely be voting for him in November. By comparison, only 22% have both feet in Good's camp.

That Buchanan leads is no surprise — he's held the Sarasota-based seat since 2007 and hasn't had any trouble hanging onto it despite Democrats pouring significant resources into flipping the seat.

In 2018, Democratic nominee David Shapiro had the backing of the Democratic Party's campaign apparatus and was on the receiving end of millions in outside spending. The push barely got him within 10 points of Buchanan come Election Day.

___

Be sure to read my latest blog post — "What House Speaker José Oliva could learn from Meghan Markle."

— TODAY'S SUNRISE —

A Senate committee will debate a bill seeking to implement more of the recommendations made by the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission.

Also, on today's Sunrise:

— A couple of lawmakers want to change the law passed after the Parkland shooting, so districts deciding not to take part in the Guardian Program can use that money for other security measures.

 — There's been a significant decline in the number of Florida college students over the past year. The Sunshine State had the second-largest decrease in the nation.

— Some of the women trying to hold the line (and resist the conservative agenda prevalent in the Legislature) feel they are spending a lot of time talking to lawmakers — who don't seem to be listening.

 — Tallahassee food blogger and Florida Politics contributor Rochelle Koff shares some suggestions on where a visitor can find a decent meal in the Capital City. Sometimes it's as easy as going to the basement.

— And in Florida Man news: A pilot with a graffiti problem and a former Mayor who is going to jail for stealing more than half a million dollars from the United Way.

 To listen, click on the image below:

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@realDonaldTrump: Heading to Davos, Switzerland, to meet with World and Business Leaders and bring Good Policy and additional Hundreds of Billions of Dollars back to the United States of America! We are now NUMBER ONE in the Universe, by FAR!!

@realDonaldTrump: I will NEVER allow our great Second Amendment to go unprotected, not even a little bit!

@DaveJorgensen: The DC version of a hipster is a "Jeb!" shirt (and khakis)

@MDixon55: At this point, it might be easier to list CD 3 residents not running to replace @TedYoho

@JimRosicaFL: Welp, as usual, Peter [Schorsch] finally wrote what a lot of people have been thinking. It's clear the Speaker won't miss Tallahassee when he goes — and apparently, a lot of people won't miss him.

@MDixon55: Nurse practitioner 30-second spots have started airing in the Tallahassee media market. It's week 2 of Session, govern yourselves accordingly

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@FSUChiefs: Hey @Chiefs, if you want the War Chant done right, we're available and just a couple hours up the road.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Sundance Film Festival begins — 2; "Star Trek: Picard" premiers — 2; Annual Red Dog Blue Dog Celebrity Bartender Benefit — 5; New Brexit deadline — 10; Super Bowl LIV in Miami — 12; Great American Realtors Day — 13; Iowa Caucuses — 13; Eighth Democratic presidential debate in Manchester — 18; Capitol Press Corps press skits — 21; New Hampshire Primaries — 21; Pitchers and catchers begin reporting for MLB Spring Training — 21; South Beach Wine and Food Festival — 29; Ninth Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas — 29; Roger Stone's sentencing — 30; Nevada caucuses — 32; "Better Call Saul" Season 5 premiers — 30; 10th Democratic presidential debate in Charleston — 35; South Carolina Primaries — 39; Super Tuesday — 42; Last day of 2020 Session (maybe) — 52; Florida's presidential primary — 56; "No Time to Die" premiers — 76; Florida Chamber Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity — 115; "Top Gun: Maverick" premiers — 157; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 174; Christopher Nolan's "Tenet" premiers — 178; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo start — 185; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 210; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 216; First Vice Presidential debate at the University of Utah — 260; First Presidential debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 268; Second presidential debate at Belmont — 275; 2020 General Election — 287.

— TOP STORY —

While most of us enjoyed a long weekend, Senate President Bill Galvano endured an even longer one.

In case you missed it, the Bradenton Republican faced a barrage of attacks from within his own party. Donald Trump Jr., U.S. Rep Matt Gaetz and Andrew Pollack all called him out on Twitter this weekend for accepting campaign contributions from Mike Bloomberg's pro-gun control political committee Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund.

That his committee received the money was no secret. That happened a couple of years ago. But the controversy was refreshed thanks to Galvano's support for legislation ending the gun-show "loophole," creating a record-keeping system for private gun sales and setting aside $5 million to establish a "statewide strategy for violence prevention."

Those measures, of course, are strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association and their allies.

From the outside, the incident might appear damaging to Galvano as he enters his final Legislative Session as the chamber's leader. But it might also indicate he is itching for a bit of a legacy-defining fight. If his gift on the Opening Day of Session to his fellow Senators is any indication, he is.

"Hold my scarf": The Sequel

Past Sessions have seen Galvano hand out compasses engraved with a quote by his father and an hourglass emblazoned with a quote from President Abraham Lincoln. This year's swag was a little bit different: a black scarf with the Senate seal.

The gift harks back to last Session, when the phrase "hold my scarf" became an in-joke among lawmakers. As Galvano enters this new fray, he's probably saying just that.

"Florida's GOP Senate leader 'grateful' for money from Mike Bloomberg gun control."

"Guns and immigration expose divides in Florida GOP" via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Rejecting tougher immigration enforcement and considering new gun control measures are not policies that are likely to please many die-hard Republican activists. But those are two positions staked out by Florida's Republican Senate President as the 2020 legislative session kicks off. Galvano's opposition to forcing Florida businesses to use the E-Verify system to check the immigration status of potential hires puts him at odds with Gov. Ron DeSantis and many conservatives. So does the Senate President's support for continuing the conversation on gun safety, which has resulted in a bill expanding background checks. Galvano's positions are in keeping with a chamber that historically has been more moderate on hot-button cultural issues like immigration and guns.

— DATELINE: TALLY —

"'Word salad': Ron DeSantis says he didn't write 'voting is a privilege' tweet" via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — The first-term Republican told reporters in Jacksonville that he didn't write his "voting is a privilege" tweet that elicited a considerable negative reaction this week. "It's kind of a word salad; it's not necessarily how I talk," DeSantis said. The full statement: "I am pleased that @FLCourts confirms that Amendment 4 requires fines, fees & restitution be paid to victims before their voting rights may be restored. Voting is a privilege that should not be taken lightly, and I am obligated to faithfully implement Amendment 4 as it is defined." The description of voting rights as "privilege" nettled critics. "Well, first of all, I don't tweet, so you can talk to my staff about what my words are," the Governor said.

Ron DeSantis says he didn't order the 'word salad.'

"Bolster reserves, says House budget chief Travis Cummings" via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — House Appropriations Committee Chair Cummings hailed a recent prediction that the state will be more flush with cash the next fiscal year. The Revenue Estimating Conference suggests that the state could have $400 million more to deploy. Cummings says that money should go to reserves. "I do think that the Legislature needs to get more aggressive in funding our reserves by taking advantage of the increase in state revenues just announced by the REC," Cummings noted. "We have a duty to best position Florida and future legislatures long after we leave our service in Tallahassee."

"Two conservative groups slam Republicans' Amendment 4 bill" via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — In a sharply worded opinion to a federal appellate court, lawyers for the Cato Institute and R Street Institute wrote that the bill GOP lawmakers signed last year, Senate Bill 7066, "violates the bedrock guarantee of equal rights that every citizen enjoys." And without a judge's injunction, the groups wrote, the bill is fundamentally unfair. "Absent the district court's injunction, SB7066 will have the effect of excluding a great number of people from voting because of their poverty, while allowing similarly situated wealthy persons to vote," the groups said.

"GOP lawmakers push back against critics who call their bills 'anti-LGBTQ'" via Lawrence Mower and Samantha Gross of the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau — The firestorm started when the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Florida sent a news release denouncing "the most overtly anti-LGBTQ agenda from the Florida legislature in recent memory." It named four bills each filed on the Legislature's deadline. Tallahassee does not have a strong track record of fighting for the rights of LGBTQ Floridians. And this year, Republicans are fast-tracking a bill meant to turn out their base voters in an election year, legislation requiring minors to get parental consent for abortions. But Republicans say there is no coordinated wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation this Session.

"Legislature ratchets up efforts to improve water quality" via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Republican leaders are vowing that this year will be different when it comes to improving water quality. Rather than simply plowing money into environmental cleanup efforts, lawmakers say they plan to attack pollution at the source. New regulations on polluters are being proposed, and they have some prominent GOP backers. If approved, they would represent a significant departure for a GOP-controlled Legislature that often is averse to regulation. "There's gonna be lots of new regulations when it comes to protecting our water," said Sarasota state Sen. Joe Gruters. "We're in a new era. Republicans are controlling this issue and we're going to make sure we're protecting Florida's environmental resources for generations to come."

House panel tackles deceptive legal advertising — The House Civil Justice Subcommittee held a panel workshop on misleading and deceptive legal advertising focusing especially on ads presented as medical, health, or consumer alerts. Testifying on behalf of the Florida Justice Reform Institute, President William Large said: "The issues have to do with provocative ads that say, 'medical alert' or 'warning.' The problem is not Florida Bar members; the problem is out-of-state lead generators and aggregators who run these ads." Chair Bob Rommel agreed the ads confuse patients, especially the elderly: "If I don't take [my medicine] I may die, if I take it I may die, what do I do?" Sen. Tom Wright has filed SB 1288 in the Senate.

"Floridians for Lawsuit Reform backs legal climate reform bill" via Florida Politics — Floridians for Lawsuit Reform is launching a website today, FLTortReform.com, to raise awareness on the need for lawsuit reform in Florida. According to the nonprofit, the state's legal climate would improve if fewer property insurance lawsuits were filed. Currently, about 50,000 such lawsuits are filed every year. One way of slashing that number: Reduce the financial incentives for trial attorneys to take advantage of Florida homeowners. The group said SB 914, sponsored by St. Pete Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, would address the problem head-on by requiring courts to use the "lodestar method," which calculates fees by considering the number of hours reasonably spent by an attorney at a reasonable hourly rate.

Physician Assistants head to Tally to advocate modernized health care — Today and Wednesday, members of the Florida Academy of Physician Assistants (FAPA) will visit legislators to advocate for HB 607, a bill that would remove certain administrative burdens for physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs), making it easier for patients to access health care.

Happening tomorrow — "Tourism agency supporters to rally in Tally" via the News Service of Florida — The Partnership for Florida Tourism, which includes the Florida Attractions Association, Destinations Florida, the Florida Cattlemen's Association and the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, will be hosting "tourism day" to drum up support for the embattled agency. The group is also slated to hold a midday rally at the Capitol. Wednesday's "annual event is designed to educate the state Legislature, media, and all Floridians about the vital role tourism plays in job creation and a low tax burden in Florida," according to a news release.

"Alex Andrade reflects on NAS Pensacola shooting, 2020 legislative goals" via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Andrade still feels like he's learning the ropes of Session. "I'd say the ball probably feels like a 98-mile-per-hour fastball instead of a 100-mile-per-hour fastball. I know where the bathrooms are, so that's good." But life threw the Pensacola-area Republican and House District 2 a curveball. On December 6, a Saudi trainee at Naval Air Station Pensacola shot and killed three U.S. sailors in what was later deemed a terrorist attack. "NAS Pensacola is the community," Andrade said. "To have a terrorist attack on our base that resulted in the loss of three very young lives, it was a heartbreaker, but the community itself really rallied around those families and the base, and it's been really special to see."

"Dan Daley sees a need for more Parkland shooting follow-up in 2020 Session" via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Freshman state Rep. Daley says he plans to press for an additional follow-up to safety legislation passed in the aftermath of the 2018 Parkland shooting. The Coral Springs Democrat is entering his first Legislative Session after he won the House District 97 seat in 2019. Daley's district borders Parkland and is home to many families affected by that attack. In discussion with Florida Politics, Daley highlighted a pair of bills that are at the top of his to-do list during the 2020 Session. First, Daley is pushing for Florida to join California in requiring background checks for the purchase of ammunition. Daley is also serving as the prime co-sponsor of the House's version of Alyssa's Law (HB 23). That measure would require public schools to be equipped with panic alarms.

— LEGISLATION —

"For Cord Byrd, E-Verify push is about the rule of law" via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Byrd introduced legislation (HB 1265) that would require E-Verify to be used for governmental employees and employees of contractors. The bill is still waiting for its first committee hearing, as is the Senate version (SB 664). DeSantis vowed to make E-Verify a mandate for all workers in the state, but that campaign trail promise has thus far been a non-starter with business groups and the Senate President. Byrd's bill could be a compromise. As the House sponsor of a sanctuary city ban last year, Byrd explained why the bill is necessary. As one would expect, the "rule of law" was a primary concern.

For Cord Byrd, his E-Verify bill is all about the rule of law.

"Committee to consider new Marjory Stoneman Douglas commission recommendations — including arming school staff" via Sarah Mueller of Florida Politics — The Senate Education Commission will consider legislation based on new recommendations submitted by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission. The commission's report included several new directives, including making sure agencies created specific policies for notifying victims' families after mass casualty events, reducing the number of active shooter drills, and identifying more money for mental health screenings and treatment. The Education Committee's proposed legislation (SB 7040) would authorize a local sheriff to provide training to staff in school districts or charter schools wanting to carry firearms. Training must include night and lowlight shooting conditions, psychological exams and drug tests.

"Two Democrats file 'long shot' legislation to broaden use for school Guardian funding" via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Sen. Janet Cruz is hoping to convince lawmakers to direct unused funds from a school funding appropriation stemming from the tragic mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School toward other school safety measures not included in the original appropriation. Cruz, as well as House Sponsor Rep. Tina Polsky, admit the effort is a long shot. At issue is the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program that established a $67 million pool of funding for school districts that opted into the program for training educators and specific school staff to carry firearms in schools. As of last May, $50 million of that appropriation had not been claimed.

"PIP repeal legislation set for Senate committee hearing this week" via Sarah Mueller of Florida Politics — Legislation to revamp the state's Personal Injury Protection law is set to be heard in the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee. Committee Chair Tom Lee is sponsoring the bill (SB 378) that repeals PIP in favor of mandating bodily liability coverage. State Rep. Erin Grall is sponsoring a similar bill (HB 771). Lee's legislation would require drivers to carry at least $25,000 in liability for the death or injury of one person in a crash and $50,000 for the injury or death of two or more people in a crash. There is still a $10,000 coverage mandate for property damage. His bill provides $5,000 in optional medical payments and includes a death benefit of at least $5,000.

"Lawmakers again push to prohibit local vacation rental regulations" via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The battle over short-term vacation rentals has become an annual tug of war in Tallahassee. Top lawmakers are sympathetic to arguments advanced by the industry that such rentals are a vital engine for Florida's tourism-driven economy, and should be protected because of property rights concerns. But efforts to limit local rental regulations have faced fierce opposition, particularly from beach towns that have seen a proliferation of large rental homes in recent years. Residents complain that living next to the rental homes is equivalent to living next to a hotel. Sen. Wilton Simpson hopes to finally resolve one of the thornier issues the Legislature has grappled with in recent years. "We're trying to take this one off the table," Simpson said.

Wilton Simpson wants to rid the legislature of one of its more thornier issues.

"Senate ready to act on a bill that would block local governments from banning sunscreen" via Lloyd Dunkelberger of Florida Phoenix — When the Senate holds its first floor Session, the first bill on the agenda is SB 172, sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, that would preempt local regulation of over-the-counter drugs and cosmetics, including all sunscreens. Regulation of those products would be left up to the state. Key West officials and environmental groups support allowing local governments to enact the bans, arguing that chemicals contained in some sunscreens are damaging to coral reefs. Bradley, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, wants to allow the sale of sunscreen because of its role in preventing skin cancer, noting that Florida ranks second in the nation in cases of melanoma.

"Florida, the license plate state: Will it offer ones for Bulldogs and War Eagles?" via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida isn't No. 1 in the number of what it calls "specialty plates" it offers motorists. With 122 plates currently available for sale, it follows way behind Texas with 360 designs and Virginia with 340 different tags. But perhaps no other state offers a more creative variety of license plates than Florida. (Specialty plates differ from "vanity" plates, which carry a personalized message, such as a nickname.) State Rep. James Grant wants to repeal a ban on plates promoting out-of-state universities with a proposal to create plates for Auburn University and the universities of Georgia and Alabama. The money raised would provide scholarships to Florida residents who attend the schools.

— TODAY IN CAPITOL —

The Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee meets, 9 a.m., Room 12, House Office Building.

The Senate Agriculture Committee meets to consider SB 1282 from Sen. Gayle Harrell, which would place regulations on animal-cremation services, 10 a.m., Room 301, Senate Office Building.

The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee meets to consider SB 1310 from Sen. Debbie Mayfield, which would eliminate sales taxes on hunting and fishing gear on Sept. 5, 10 a.m., Room 110, Senate Office Building.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee meets to consider SB 1044 from Sen. Jason Pizzo, which would regulate the reporting of cases of suspected animal cruelty, 10 a.m., Room 37, Senate Office Building.

The Senate Health Policy Committee meets to consider SB 810 from Sen. David Simmons to modify regulations on tobacco and electronic-cigarette products, including increasing the purchase age to 21, 10 a.m., 412 Knott Building.

The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee meets to consider HB 675 from Rep. Amy Mercado, which seeks stricter penalties for indecent exposure, 10 a.m., Room 404, House Office Building.

The House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee meets to consider HB 969 from Rep. Brad Drake, to establish the Florida Office of Broadband, 10 a.m., Room 212, Knott Building.

The House Health Quality Subcommittee meets to consider HB 1147 from Rep. Bobby Payne, which seeks changes to patient access to medical records, 10 a.m., Room 306, House Office Building.

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee meets to consider SB 914 from Sen. Brandes, which would restrict the use of "contingency risk multipliers" by judges to increase attorney fees in property-insurance lawsuits, noon, Room 412, Knott Building.

The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee meets to consider SB 1326 from Sen. Simpson, which seeks changes at the Department of Children and Families, noon, Room 301, Senate Office Building.

The Senate Judiciary Committee meets to consider SB 1302 from Sen. Anitere Flores, which seeks to increase the potential liability of government agencies in lawsuits, noon, Room 110, Senate Office Building.

The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee meets to consider HB 1073 from Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, which would set up a Statewide Office of Resiliency in DeSantis' office, 12:30 p.m., Room 12, House Office Building.

The House Business & Professions Subcommittee and the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee meet to consider HB 1193 and SB 474 from Rep. Blaise Ingoglia and Sen. Ben Albritton, which seek to lift regulations on a series of professions, House subcommittee at 12:30 p.m., Room 212, Knott Building. Senate committee meets at 2:30 p.m., Room 110, Senate Office Building.

The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider HB 309 from Rep. Ralph Massullo, which establishes penalties for non-physicians who use titles that suggest they are doctors, 12:30 p.m., Room 404, House Office Building.

The House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee meets to consider HB 1135 from Rep. Grant, which seeks changes to license plates, including new specialty plates, 12:30 p.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building.

The House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider HB 9221 from Rep. Chip LaMarca, seeking $500,000 for a study of broadband service and infrastructure, 1:30 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.

The Senate Education Committee meets to consider SPB 7040, which addresses the findings of a grand jury that found "systemic" school-safety failures in Florida, 2:30 p.m., Room 412, Knott Building.

The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee meets to consider SB 7042, which would require state university system's Board of Governors to adopt regulations about the naming or renaming of facilities, 2:30 p.m., Room 301, Senate Office Building.

The House Health Market Reform Subcommittee meets to consider PCB HMR 20-02, which seeks to establish new requirements on pharmacy benefit managers, 3 p.m., Room 306, House Office Building.

The House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee meets to consider HB 1077 from Rep. Chip LaMarca, seeking changes to the Department of Financial Services, 3 p.m., Room 404, House Office Building.

The House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will hear a presentation on health care in the prison system, 3 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.

The House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee meets to consider a proposed constitutional amendment, HJR 157, from Reps. Anthony Sabatini and Matt Willhite, seeking eight-year term limits for county school board members, 3 p.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building.

The House Workforce Development & Tourism Subcommittee meets to consider HB 1011 from Rep. Jason Fischer, which seeks statewide regulation on vacation rental properties, 3 p.m., Room 12, House Office Building.

The Senate Community Affairs Committee meets to consider SB 514 from Sen. Gruters, which seeks changes in homestead tax exemptions, 4:30 p.m., Room 301, Senate Office Building.

The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee meets to consider SB 1098 from Sen. Janet Cruz, requiring bottled water companies to pay fees on water drawn from Florida sources, 4:30 p.m., Room 37, Senate Office Building.

The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee meets to consider a proposed constitutional amendment, SJR 1110, from Chair Dennis Baxley, seeking to repeal the public campaign-financing system for statewide political candidates, 4:30 p.m., Room 412, Knott Building.

The Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee meets to consider SB 378 from Chair Tom Lee, seeking to repeal the state's no-fault auto insurance system that requires motorists to buy personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, 4:30 p.m., Room 110, Senate Office Building.

The House Select Committee on the Integrity of Research Institutions will hear a presentation on "foreign corruption of U.S. research institutions," 5:30 p.m., Room 404, House Office Building.

Assignment editors: Florida TaxWatch CEO Dominic Calabro will join rep. Chuck Clemons and Sen. Gruters, Florida Chamber EVP David Hart, Florida Retail Federation CEO Scott Shalley and others for a news conference on bills to require out-of-state companies collect sales tax for online purchases. The event begins at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the 4th Floor Rotunda of the Capitol (Correction: this post originally listed the wrong day of the event).

Assignment editors: Sen. Gruters will discuss a bill he's sponsoring that would make social media platforms open to statutory damages for censoring political speech. The news conferences will be held at 3 p.m. in the 4th Floor Rotunda of the Capitol.

— GOV. CLUB BUFFET — 

Manhattan clam chowder; mixed garden salad with dressings; broccoli salad; Waldorf salad; deli board with lettuce, tomatoes, cheeses and breads; baked herb chicken; Yankee pot roast; grilled mahi-mahi with pineapple salsa; mashed potatoes; haricot vert with bacon and onions; roasted root vegetables; banana pudding for dessert.

— STATEWIDE —

"Florida targets Space Force, inks new support services contract" via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — The Space Florida Board of Directors approved $200,000 for Satellite Beach-based GTOPS, Inc., a veteran-owned business that provides facilities-support services, to further showcase how military bases and companies in the state are capable of training and equipping President Donald Trump's new military branch. "If you can't make the articulate arguments for what capabilities you've got to support missions, you'll never get those mission assignments," said Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello. Space Florida officials maintain that luring the combatant command or the components that will make up the bulk of the Space Force will require showing many of the new agency's functions already exist in some manner at Cape Canaveral and military bases across the state.

Florida is working hard to prove it's a logical hub for the newest branch of the military.

Assignment editors: Attorney General Ashley Moody will hold a news conference in Orlando to detail anti-human trafficking efforts for the Pro Bowl. It is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at the Orlando Police Department, 1250 W. South St.

Assignment editors: Parents, students and educators will gather in Waller Park in Tallahassee to ask the Legislature to increase funding for the Gardiner Scholarship program. The rally begins at noon.

"Arguments set in 'PIP' payment dispute" via the News Service of Florida — The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments April 1 in a dispute about how much State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. should pay to a firm that provided MRI services to auto-accident victims. The Supreme Court issued an order scheduling argument in the case that pits State Farm against MRI Associates of Tampa, which does business as Park Place MRI. The 2nd District Court of Appeal in 2018 ruled in favor of State Farm, which centered on 19 MRI claims for people injured in auto accidents in 2013 and had personal-injury protection coverage. The insurer paid portions of the bills submitted for the MRIs, limiting the payments to a schedule of charges in the state's so-called PIP law.

"FHA launches price transparency initiative" via Florida Politics — The Florida Hospital Association announced Tuesday that it's partnered with ezVerify, a subsidiary of Automated HealthCare Solutions, to provide Floridians with better access to health care cost information. The partnership encourages Florida's hospitals to implement ezVerify tools within their own websites. The tools allow patients to log on to find cost information customized to the rates each health system has negotiated with payers, as well as the patient's benefit plan or self-pay prices. "Florida's hospitals have a long-standing commitment to transparency. That's why we continue to look for opportunities to provide quick and easy access to information for all consumers," said Crystal Stickle, FHA's interim president.

Parallel lays off employees, cuts deliveries in Florida — Medical marijuana company Parallel is laid off employees and paused shipments in Florida last week as part of a company restructuring, Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida reports. Kim Hawkes, associate director for government relations at the company, said the moves stem from consumers' desire to make purchases in-store rather than online or by phone. Parallel, which owns the Surterra Wellness brand, is planning to open 13 new brick and mortar dispensaries in the state. "This strategy ensures that Surterra Wellness Centers and our world-class staff are accessible to more patients and customers," Hawkes said in a written statement to POLITICO.

— MOTHER NATURE —

Spotted — The Sunshine State in this New York Times story about how the Trump administration is about to dole out billions in funds to help states prepare for climate change. Florida is near the top of the list with an expected $633 million inbound, and it's one of just a few states receiving cash from the $16 billion program that used the term "climate change" when applying for the funds. Florida's proposal calls it "a key overarching challenge."

"28 months after Irma, Matheson Hammock Park still a mess" via Linda Robertson of the Miami Herald — The atoll walkway ringing the saltwater lagoon that offers beautiful views of sea and skyline is crumbling and blocked by orange netting and trash barrels. The swimming beach has eroded. The mud-caked roadway to the scenic south end wading beach is closed. Segments of the mile-long pedestrian path from the entrance on Old Cutler Road through the mangroves to Biscayne Bay are flooded or covered with black goo and seaweed, and plastic debris has washed up on the roots. The main parking lot turns into a shallow pond during king tides and rainy season, and the pavement is being eaten away at the edges. Red Fish Grill, one of Miami's rare waterfront restaurants, is still under repair.

Matheson Hammock Park is still struggling after Irma. Image via the University of Miami.

"In Legislature, septic tank problems getting notice after heavy algae impacts prompt state review" via Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-Union — This year, lawmakers have bills in front of them to address pollution from septic tanks statewide and encourage steps to move more homes off them. There are an estimated 2.6 million septic tanks in Florida, used by about 30% of the state's residents. With population growth amplifying concerns about preserving clean water, helping homeowners get off septic tanks has appeal for some lawmakers. "The state's got some responsibility here," said Sen. Simpson, who is in line to become Senate President. "We allowed this type of development," Simpson said. "Just like we've spent billions of dollars putting reservoirs around Lake Okeechobee and northern Everglades restoration, we're going to have to have a robust program that addresses septic systems."

"Controversial water council heading toward being abolished" via Lauren Ritchie of the Orlando Sentinel — A longtime part of the web of agencies that protects lakes and water resources in Lake County likely will be abolished by the Legislature this year after a contentious 19-year run of challenging traditional water managers. The Harris Chain of Lakes Restoration Council is the target of two bills — one in the Florida House by state Rep. Sabatini and the other in the Senate by Sen. Dennis Baxley. Matt McClain, legislative aide for the Senator, said Sabatini asked for a Senate sponsor during a delegation meeting last year, and Baxley agreed. Sabatini didn't respond to an inquiry about why he wanted the agency gone or who asked him to sponsor such a bill.

"How long will the precautionary boil water notice continue in Fort Lauderdale?" via David J. Neal of the Miami Herald — Fort Lauderdale residents in Victoria Park who have been boiling their water since Wednesday's water main break should continue doing so until at least this Wednesday, the city announced Monday afternoon. That's residents in an area with a northern boundary on Northeast Fifth Street; southern boundary at Northeast Second Street; eastern boundary at Northeast Ninth Avenue; and western boundary at Northeast Seventh Avenue. Water used for drinking, cooking, ice making, brushing teeth or washing dishes should be boiled. This will remain in effect until two consecutive days of clear tests for water samples. Water samples were taken Monday and will be retaken Tuesday. The earliest to expect the following results is Wednesday.

"This harpoon-throwing robot is designed to hunt destructive lionfish" via Sara Kiley Watson of Popular Science — Wildlife agencies learned firsthand that the only way to tackle lionfish populations is by spearing them. The exotic, maroon-striped creatures don't go to lures and are tough to catch in nets. The species isn't too wary of humans, saysCasey Benkwitt, a marine biologist at Lancaster University, so folks can make a sport out of hunting them in close range. In fact, the Florida state government has an annual competition for residents to go out and capture lionfish. But some members of the species can live at depths of up to 1,000 feet, making them more inaccessible. Florida's answer to this dilemma? A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that uses a harpoon gun to exterminate its ruffly target.

— PEACHY —

"Poll: 51% say Senate should remove Donald Trump from office" via Jennifer Agiesta of CNN — About half of Americans say the Senate should vote to convict Trump and remove him from office in the upcoming impeachment trial (51%), according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS. In contrast, 45% say the Senate should vote against conviction and removal. Nearly seven in 10 (69%) say that the upcoming trial should feature testimony from new witnesses who did not testify in the House impeachment inquiry. And as Democrats in the Senate seek to persuade at least four Republican senators to join them on votes over allowing witnesses in the trial, the Republican rank-and-file are divided on the question: 48% say they want new witnesses, while 44% say they do not.

A new poll finds a slight majority wanting the Senate to remove Donald Trump.

"Mitch McConnell unveils rules for Trump impeachment trial" via Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Fandos of The New York Times — U.S. Sen. McConnell, the majority leader, unveiled ground rules on Monday for Trump's impeachment trial that would attempt to speed the proceeding along and refuse to admit the evidence against the President unearthed by the House without a separate vote. McConnell showed his hand hours after Trump's legal team called on the Senate to "swiftly reject" the impeachment charges and acquit him, arguing that Democrats would "permanently weaken the presidency" if they succeeded in removing him from office over what the team characterized as policy and political differences.

"Trump expands legal team to include Alan Dershowitz, Kenneth Starr as Democrats release new documents" via John Wagner, Josh Dawsey and Michael Brice-Saddler of The Washington Post — Word of the new firepower came as House impeachment managers and Trump's attorneys scrambled to produce legal briefs ahead of the Senate's return Tuesday after the holiday weekend. The Senate trial opened amid new allegations about Trump's dealings with Ukraine, including an assertion from Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump's personal attorney Giuliani, that Trump knew of Parnas's role in the effort to dig up dirt in Ukraine that could benefit the President politically. The impeachment charges center on the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

"Val Demings: Trump 'shall be held accountable' in impeachment trial" via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Demings conceded it would be "a heavy lift" to expect the 67 votes necessary to find Trump guilty and remove him from office, given the Republicans' 53-47 advantage. But she also said she views the trial more as being in the court of American public opinion than in that court that next Tuesday will form from the U.S. Senate. "Yes, we will try the case before the Senate. But we are really trying the case before the American people," Demings said. "He will be held accountable. He's already been impeached. And he will be impeached forever." She described the personal opportunity of being essentially a prosecutor in a presidential impeachment trial as "a great honor."

"Demings' path from Orlando police officer to Trump prosecutor — and what it means for her political future" via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Aubrey Jewett, a professor of political science at the University of Central Florida, said the appointment "raised the viability of her profile, nationally and within the Democratic Party — and even at home in her Central Florida district." Demings served as an internal affairs investigator at OPD, and "when we talk about investigating our own, I've done that," she said. "That's really what we're doing now. This is about the wrongdoings of a person who has been given tremendous responsibility, who has been given the sacred trust of the American people, and chose to abuse them. … I believe, as a law enforcement officer, I've been in this place before."

"Lev Parnas paid his way into Trump's orbit" via Rebecca Ballhaus, Aruna Viswanatha and Alex Leary of The Wall Street Journal — As he launched himself into Trump's orbit, Parnas found sponsors for his own ventures among wealthy Republican donors, mingling with them at fundraisers and dinners that he documented in copious selfies. He also sought out and eventually became a key associate of Giuliani, who embraced Parnas in his pursuit of investigations in Ukraine. In Giuliani, Parnas found not a patron but an inroad with the White House — perceived access that he, in turn, sought to use to broker new business deals. In Florida, Parnas, who frequently puffs on a vape pen, gained a reputation for having quick access to large amounts of financing, former business associates and others said.

"Trump impeachment: Will Boca's Lev Parnas testify? Should he?" via Antonio Fins of the  Palm Beach Daily News — When the impeachment trial resumes in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, a handful of Floridians will figure prominently in the spotlight. Donald Trump. Val Demings. Pam Bondi. Then there is, potentially, Parnas. A chorus of congressional Democrats say the indicted Boca Raton resident should testify in the impeachment trial along with notables like former National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Charged in October with campaign finance violations, Parnas broke his public silence Jan. 15. Among his allegations, Parnas said Trump "lied" when he said he was not aware of who Parnas was or his doings in the Ukraine.

"New records shine light on Florida oil tycoon's relationship with Parnas" via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — WhatsApp communications turned over to the committees leading the U.S. House impeachment investigation and sent to the U.S. Senate to be considered as part of Trump's ongoing trial show that GOP donor Harry Sargeant regularly corresponded with Parnas about Ukraine, U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and "Rudy" — almost certainly a reference to Trump attorney Giuliani. The messages — some of which were redacted by the government — also show that Sargeant paid for at least some of Parnas' travels at a time when the Ukrainian-born liaison was meeting and corresponding with Ukrainian officials in order to push the government to remove Yovanovitch and investigate former Vice President Biden.

"Picture of Pam Bondi and Parnas emerges after she joins Trump impeachment defense" via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — The picture, blasted out on Twitter, shows Parnas and Bondi with their arms around each other and seated at a table. There's no additional information on when the photo was snapped or where, but it's the third instance of the two appearing together. Parnas' lawyer, Joseph Bondy's tweet was in response to another photo of Parnas and Bondi, this one posted by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. After multiple news outlets reported Bondi was named to Trump's legal team, Maddow tweeted, "This Pam Bondi?" and a pic of Parnas and Bondi alongside Florida's First Lady Casey DeSantis.

Lev Parnas made the rounds in Donald Trump's orbit. 

— D.C. MATTERS —

"Trump made 16,241 false or misleading claims in his first three years" via Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly of The Washington Post — In 2017, Trump made 1,999 false or misleading claims. In 2018, he added 5,689 more, for a total of 7,688. And in 2019, he made 8,155 suspect claims. He averaged six such claims a day in 2017, nearly 16 a day in 2018 and more than 22 a day in 2019. As of Jan. 19, his 1,095th day in office, Trump had made 16,241 false or misleading claims. Only 366 days to go — at least in this term. The President added to his total on Sunday evening with more than 20 Trumpian claims — many old favorites — during a triumphant speech at the annual conference of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Donald Trump told more than 16,000 untruths since taking office. But who's counting?

"Trump talks Qassem Soleimani, impeachment as he surprises gala attendees at Mar-a-Lago" via Christine Stapleton of the Palm Beach Post — On Saturday night, Trump made a surprise appearance at the annual Policemen's and Firemen's Ball at Mar-a-Lago — one of Palm Beach's largest and longest-running events at the President's private club. In a speech that mirrored his Friday night address during a GOP fundraiser at the club, Trump touched on his usual topics — the border wall, the liberal media, the economy and himself — along with current events, namely impeachment and the death of Iranian General Soleimani. "He was with the head of Hezbollah and what do you think they were going to talk about on that plane?" Trump said, "Well, whatever it was, it doesn't matter now."

"Trump berates Alex Azar over bad health care polling" via Nancy Cook, Dan Diamond and Adam Cancryn of POLITICO — Trump lashed out at HHS Secretary Azar after senior aides presented him with polling data showing that voters prefer Democrats on health care. Trump, who phoned Azar from a meeting with his political affairs team, expressed frustration that voters haven't rewarded him for taking actions to lower drug prices, sources said. Trump's outburst sent White House staff scrambling to convene a meeting on drug pricing this morning with potentially more to come. Some predicted Trump could look to push harder on stalled drug pricing proposals, including one opposed by many in his party.

"'Pretty nervy of you!': Trump's Palm Beach billionaire spat" via Meredith McGraw of POLITICO — At his private club in West Palm Beach, Trump was smarting over a local political feud. "Pretty nervy of you to come to this club," Trump snapped. His ire was aimed at Jeff Greene, who ran for Florida Governor last year. A year earlier, he and the President had gotten into a shouting match at the golf club that he videotaped and then featured in political ads across the state. But the President didn't let it go. Sitting at a separate table in the dining room, Trump twice yelled across the room at Greene. "You spent millions of dollars and came in fifth!" Trump taunted, according to Greene. "I came in fourth!'" Greene said he called back.

"House delegation wants more federal help to Puerto Rico after earthquakes" via Kevin Derby of Florida Daily — U.S. Reps. Darren Soto and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell joined U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. José Serrano in writing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor, calling on the federal government to help restore power to Puerto Rico. "Following January 7th's earthquake, the Costa Sur power plant, which is one of the island's largest plants, suffered extensive damage. As aftershocks risk further damage to the plant's infrastructure, the island will need an emergency generation of 500 MW for at least the rest of this year," Soto's office noted. Other signers of the letter included U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.

"Debbie Wasserman Schultz talks about Trump, Iran, Venezuela, Florida's two Senators and more" via the Editorial Board of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Democratic Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz is a fierce and outspoken critic of Trump. But the Weston lawmaker and the Twitter-obsessed commander-in-chief agree on one major foreign policy issue: opposition to the repressive regime of Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro. In a 90-minute meeting with the Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board last week, Wasserman Schultz spoke at length about Venezuela (about 24,000 Venezuelans live in her district,) the historic House vote to impeach Trump (she didn't ask to be one of the seven House managers,) the 2020 Democratic primary (she's not endorsing anyone) and her relationship with Florida's two Republican senators (she gets along with Marco Rubio, but stayed mum about Rick Scott.)

"Mike Pompeo to address foreign policy in Bushnell speech" via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo is coming to the Sumter County Fairgrounds Thursday for official remarks on U.S. foreign policy. Pompeo is scheduled to deliver his address at 4 p.m. The event is open to the public, and admission is free. The doors open at 2 p.m. and close at 3:30 p.m. The visit is an official government event. It is, however, widely promoted by groups supporting Trump's 2020 reelection efforts, such as the Villagers for Trump Club. The Villages are about 20 miles north of the fairgrounds, while Orlando is about 50 miles away and Tampa about 60 miles.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to visit Bushnell for an official foreign policy speech.

"QAnon conspiracy theorists find kinship on the Tampa Riverwalk" via Claire McNeill of the Tampa Bay Times — The battle to save and resurrect America set up along the Tampa Riverwalk on Saturday, a dim corner of the internet come alive in red hats. "This is the Great Awakening," said one of the headliners, "and it is unfolding exactly as it should, make no mistake about that." The couple hundred attendees at the Red Pill Roadshow represented the fringe of the fringe. It came as a relief to finally be among compatriots. The world of "Q" was often lonely. Their spiraling, interconnecting web of conspiracies features hidden executions, faked shootings, mind control and a vast globalist cabal of child sex traffickers hoarding power in the political and pop-cultural elite, also known as the Deep State.

— 2020 —

"Joe Biden charges Bernie Sanders camp 'doctored video' to attack him" via Marc Caputo of POLITICO — Biden accused Sanders' campaign of issuing a "doctored video" to attack him over Social Security, a false claim that ratcheted up the tension between the two campaigns in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses. "Let's get the record straight," Biden said. "There's a little, doctored video going around … saying I agreed with Paul Ryan, the former vice-presidential candidate, about wanting to privatize Social Security." But the video in question — of Biden's 2018 remarks to the Brookings Institution think tank — was not doctored by Sanders, whose campaign this month stepped up criticisms of Biden's record on Social Security.

Joe Biden accuses Bernie Sanders of highlighting a so-called 'doctored video.'

"The Sanders campaign researched whether Elizabeth Warren could be both Vice President and Treasury Secretary At once" via Ryan Grim of The Intercept — The answer is yes: There is nothing in the Constitution that bars the Vice President from also serving as Treasury Secretary. Sanders has made no final decisions on a potential running mate or cabinet officers, and did not direct the inquiry, nor was he involved in it, as he considers such questions premature and presumptuous. "No conversations are happening about any positions in a potential Sanders administration. Our campaign is focused on winning the nomination," said campaign manager Faiz Shakir. Warren, after her election to the Senate in 2012, lobbied for and won a seat on the Banking Committee, where she continued to hammer away at Wall Street and its feckless regulators.

"Pete Buttigieg tries to recapture Iowa magic" via Elena Schneider of POLITICO — Where sharp attacks aided him in the fall — including tense exchanges with Warren over health care — Buttigieg is instead leaning into where Democrats agree. When asked about his health care proposal by a voter in Arnold's Park, Iowa, Buttigieg avoided direct contrast with his opponents altogether, simply promoting his own plan's "optionality." "Our values and our message and our team have brought us to this point — that a lot of people, I think, would not have thought possible. Of course, we've got to continue working and continue making sure that we seal the deal," Buttigieg said. "We've got to make sure we earn, going into the caucus, that kind of support."

"Michael Bloomberg is seen as Democrat most likely to beat Trump if nominated, according to betting market data" via Tucker Higgins of CNBC — But Bloomberg, who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on his nascent bid for the presidency, still only has a 10% chance of winning the primary, according to researchers Steve Englander and Geoff Kendrick. Bloomberg is far from the front of the Democratic primary field in national and state polling. However, he has ascended rapidly in recent weeks in large part because of his unprecedented spending. Bloomberg has spent more than $200 million on his campaign so far and has said he may spend up to $1 billion to defeat Trump even if he is not the nominee.

"Bloomberg campaign scores prominent Miami politico as Florida primary nears" via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Bloomberg's presidential campaign is hoping to get a boost from another former mayor. Two-term Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, whose time in City Hall mirrors Bloomberg's mayoral tenure in New York, is joining the campaign as a policy advisor and surrogate weeks before the first votes are cast in the 2020 presidential primary season. Diaz will serve as the campaign's national political co-chair, along with former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. Diaz will also co-chair Bloomberg's Florida campaign.

"Iowa Democrats revamped their caucuses to fend off disinformation. Now some fear the changes could sow new confusion in tight 2020 race." via Isaac Stanley-Becker of The Washington Post — It has long been the tradition here that voting plays out in school gyms and church basements, with multiple vote tabulations as supporters of candidates who do not reach a threshold on the initial vote scramble to make a second choice among the remaining contenders. This year, for the first time, the state party will release the initial raw vote totals as well as the final delegate allocation. The change will mean more transparency, but it also will add to the workload of party officials and volunteer leaders — and it raises the possibility that multiple campaigns could claim a victory of sorts, with supporters of one candidate seeing another's triumph as illegitimate.

— THE TRAIL —

Ed Braddy enters race for CD 3 — Former Gainesville Mayor Braddy announced Friday that he is entering the race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Yoho in Florida's 3rd Congressional District. Braddy, a Republican, enters an already crowded primary race, with more than a half-dozen candidates already seeking the North Central Florida seat. Braddy's campaign announcement, like most in the reliably Republican district, highlighted his support of Trump: "It is clear we need conservative leaders who will stand with Trump to adopt solutions to our most pressing problems like reforming our broken immigration system, protecting our right to bear arms, fighting for our agricultural communities, and working to lower the debt that nobody in Washington seems to care about," he said.

Yet another Republican jumps in the race for Ted Yoho's open seat. this time it's former Gainesville Mayor Ed Braddy. Image via Gainesville.com.

"Michael Waltz raised over $300K in Q4" via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Freshman U.S. Rep. Waltz is nearing $1 million raised for his reelection bid in Florida's 6th Congressional District. A solid performance in the fourth quarter saw the Republican incumbent reel in nearly $308,000 from donors. That's nearly double the $159,000 his campaign managed in the third quarter. With expenditures accounted for, Waltz's campaign says it started 2020 with $564,000 in the bank. Even before the end-of-year report, Waltz was the runaway fundraising leader in the race. His opponents include Democrats Clint Curtis and Richard Tripp as well as Libertarian Samuel Adams.

First on #FlaPol — "Brian Mast closes 2019 with $2.3M raised" via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Mast added another $764,000 in the final quarter of 2019, giving him just over $2.3 million raised through the end of the year. The Republican incumbent enters 2020 with more than $1.2 million in his war chest as he attempts to defend his seat from a Democratic challenger. Mast spent nearly $450,000 during the fourth quarter. Among his expenditures was a refunded contribution of $2,433 he had received from Igor Fruman. Fruman and Parnas — who are associates of Trump's personal attorney, Giuliani — are facing charges in connection with a $325,000 donation in support of Trump's reelection. Mast had promised to return the Fruman donation in August when news of those federal charges first broke.

"Florida Planned Parenthood PAC kicks off 2020 election campaign to elect pro-choice candidates" via Sarah Mueller of Florida Politics — Florida Planned Parenthood's Political Action Committee will be launching a $2.5 million campaign this year to elect two more state Senators to the Legislature. The PAC also plans to oppose lawmakers who support restrictions to abortion, such as requiring minors to get their parent's approval before getting an abortion. They say they're letting legislators know that 2020 will be a year of accountability and change. "While health care is a top concern and abortion access is under threat like never before, there are many other issues at stake in 2020," said Lillian Tamayo, Chair of the Florida Planned Parenthood PAC.

First on #FlaPol — "Cris Dosev sets sights on Alex Andrade and HD 2" via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Dosev won't run in Florida's 1st Congressional District against U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz like he's done since 2016. Instead, he will challenge freshman state Rep. Andrade for the House District 2 Republican nomination. After making his candidacy public, Dosev wrote on Facebook that things are made complicated to deceive people. "I'm not in the business of deception. My intent is to shine the light of truth in a world pursuing darkness," he wrote. "I believe the state of Florida has a bright future as long as we have leadership that respects its people, our laws, and our environment. I look forward to fighting the good fight."

"Mark Oliver swaps east Hillsborough House District race to run for Wengay Newton's seat" via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Oliver is leaving the Democratic primary to replace Rep. Adam Hattersley in House District 59 and instead will run for House District 70, the multicounty seat currently held by Newton. Newton is not seeking reelection and is instead running for Pinellas County Commission. Oliver had been running against Andrew Learned for Hattersley's seat, which the incumbent is vacating to run for Congress. Oliver's race swap will require him to move from his home in east Hillsborough County back to St. Pete, where he was raised. Oliver will come to that race with an advantage. He's already banked nearly $30,000 for a legislative run and has about $27,000 of that still in the bank.

"The clash between sheriff's candidates Scott Israel and Gregory Tony" via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward Sheriff Tony and former Sheriff Israel are clashing over key issues like training, community policing and deputies in minority communities. And that's not all. Politically, they're even arguing about who is a real Democrat. The substantive and stylistic differences were vividly on display this week when Israel and Tony, along with five long-shot candidates, spent two hours fielding questions at a Coconut Creek forum sponsored by eight Democratic political clubs. Despite the presence of other candidates, the contest is realistically a choice between Israel and Tony — something that was clear each time one of them got the mic. "The reality is the two big dogs knew who the other dog was," said Cliff Eserman, a Democratic activist.

Two big dogs in the Broward Sheriff's fight: Gregory Tony and Scott Israel.

"Is former Sen. John Legg running for Pasco superintendent?" via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Is the former chairman of both the House and Senate education committees, who runs a successful charter school and recently earned a doctorate in education, posturing to run for Pasco County schools superintendent? Pasco is the nation's largest school district to elect its chief executive. In the spring, the answer was "No." Legg was hinting at plans for his charter school's expansion into new sites and grade levels. This time, he wasn't so certain. "We're researching what we can do," Legg said, neither ruling out a run nor committing to one.

— WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH JAX? —

"Jacksonville City Council President says investigative committee will 'turn over every rock' in attempted JEA sale" via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — Council President Scott Wilson announced a special investigative committee will "look behind every curtain" to give the public a full accounting of what happened when JEA put the city-owned utility up for sale. Wilson said the committee would put those called before the panel under oath. "The public has the right to know exactly what happened, why it happened, how it happened, and who was involved," Wilson said on the steps of City Hall. He said the committee would be comprised of Council Members Rory Diamond, who is a former federal prosecutor, and two other Council Members who are lawyers: Randy DeFoor and Brenda Priestly Jackson.

"JEA: CEO Aaron Zahn talked about hiring Lenny Curry adviser as consultant for utility sales talks" via David Bauerlein and Christopher Hong the Florida Times-Union — Zahn wanted to hire Tim Baker, one of Curry's top political strategists, to help with the city-owned utility's now-canceled efforts to sell itself to a private operator, according to a statement released Friday by a JEA administrator. That interest came about a year after Baker attended meetings between at least two City Council members and a Florida Power & Light lobbyist. FPL was later one of the companies in the running to buy JEA. JEA Chief Administrative Officer Herschel Vinyard said that JEA did not end up hiring Baker for the "invitation to negotiate" process and Zahn later told his senior leadership team that JEA was not paying in any way for Baker's services.

Aaron Zahn keeps getting deeper in the JEA privatization mess.

"JEA lawyers looked into City Council members' 'political interests' in privatization research" via Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union — One of the outside law firms JEA hired last year to work on privatization billed the city utility $1,105 to conduct a "due diligence review" of Jacksonville City Council members, including their backgrounds and "political interests," according to an invoice prepared by the law firm and billed to JEA. That review, conducted by Foley & Lardner, was intended to "determine the best approach for handling Council interests in the JEA direction and specifically the (invitation to negotiate)," according to the invoice. The invitation to negotiate was the competitive process JEA had been using to solicit buyers, which was canceled in December when public outrage about the controversial effort had reached a fever pitch.

"Jacksonville lobbyist linked to JEA contracts resigns from The Southern Group" via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — Deno Hicks resigned after the firm received contracts tied to JEA. At the same time, Hicks had a business partnership with Zahn. Southern Group withdrew from a $120,000 contract to help JEA during the utility's negotiations with bidders for a potential sale of the utility. Southern Group also announced this month it would return $25,000 that JEA paid through JAX Chamber for Southern to help with an innovation summit in October 2018. Hicks, who was a managing partner for The Southern Group, submitted his resignation on Friday, saying it was a "difficult decision" after working the past 11 years with Southern's "great team." His departure did not refer to JEA.

— LOCAL —

"Top Moffitt Cancer Center doctors failed to disclose payments from China, report says" via Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times — For years, Dr. Alan List and Dr. Sheng Wei worked closely at Moffitt Cancer Center. Their accomplishments included a new therapy to treat a class of cancers affecting the bone marrow and blood, and a 12-year partnership with a top cancer hospital in Wei's native China. Now, their collaboration — and their strong links to China — are at the center of a flap that recently cost them their jobs, put Moffitt's reputation at risk and ignited an investigation by the Florida Legislature. The report says List was recruited by Wei to join the Thousand Talents Program, created by China to boost the country's competitiveness by bringing top Chinese researchers and entrepreneurs back home from overseas while also attracting foreign experts.

"Fight over Lakeland's Confederate monument goes to federal court" via Sara-Megan Walsh of the Lakeland Ledger — Save Southern Heritage, a southern history and heritage group, will have a chance in April to present its argument for why Lakeland officials should have left the 109-year-old monument in Munn Park. Staff for David McCallister, an attorney representing the Confederate rights group, confirmed that oral arguments in the federal lawsuit are scheduled for the week of April 20 in the 11th District U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "The commissioners were a little too quick to be moving the monument before the lawsuit is over," McCallister previously told The Ledger. "It's not over till it's over, and it's not over yet."

The battle over the Lakeland Confederate monument is not over yet.

"'We've got to change this': Has Dixie Highway reach the end of the road?" via Audra Burch of The New York Times — There are multiple stretches that carry the Dixie Highway name in Florida and, as conversations continue to play out about what to do with Confederate monuments, there is a growing interest in changing the name. Barbara Jordan, a Miami-Dade commissioner, said that it was time to move away from Dixie, but that she knew there might be objections, including from some businesses. Jordan said she liked the idea of naming the highway for Harriet Tubman because of her role as an abolitionist and in the underground railroad. Commissioners in Hallandale Beach unanimously approved a resolution in December urging the county, which has jurisdiction over stretches of Dixie Highway, to consider changing the highway's name.

"Seminole commissioners reject swapping land to settle River Cross lawsuit" via Marin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — For the second time in less than a year, Seminole commissioners rejected an offer by developer and former state Rep. Chris Dorworth to settle his federal lawsuit against the county over his controversial River Cross development within the county's rural boundary. In the latest offer, Dorworth's River Cross Land Co. proposed swapping its 669-acre property that sits just east of the environmentally-sensitive Econlockhatchee River and north of the Orange County line with 238 acres owned by Seminole just west of the river and north of the county line. Commissioners voted 4-to-1 to reject the trade after a closed-door meeting on Tuesday. Commissioners and county staff said they wouldn't talk about the settlement offer or project because of the ongoing federal lawsuit.

"Is Tampa's Bayshore Boulevard really that dangerous?" via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times — The horror of the recent pedestrian fatalities on Tampa's most famous street has shocked the city twice in less than two years. The deaths of Jessica Raubenolt, 24, and her 21-month-old daughter, Lillia, who police say were killed by speeding teens, galvanized the city's attention in May 2018. This month, after police say a drunk driver swerved onto the sidewalk and killed 70-year-old George Gage, residents and pedestrian safety advocates renewed calls for major changes to the thoroughfare. So how dangerous is Bayshore compared to other busy Tampa streets? Not nearly as hazardous as many others, according to fatality statistics from the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization.

"Ex-Milton Mayor Guy Thompson sentenced to 51 months in prison for embezzling from United Way" via Annie Blanks of the NWF Daily News — Thompson, 65, pleaded guilty in May in federal court in Pensacola to 20 counts of wire fraud and three counts of tax evasion. An FBI investigation uncovered years of theft and deceit while Thompson served at the helm of the charity formerly known as United Way of Santa Rosa County. Between 2011 and 2018, Thompson embezzled more than $650,000 from the organization using a complex check fraud scheme. Thompson's scheme first began unraveling in October 2018, when he was ousted from his position as director of United Way of Santa Rosa County. The FBI began its investigation of Thompson that same month, and the organization launched its own internal audit as well.

"Man charged with disorderly conduct after Florida State dining hall disturbance" via the Tallahassee Democrat — The dining hall was shut down after Abed Emilio Soleiman Juan, 21, began hitting tables and yelling "The answer is here!" and "Don't be afraid," court records show, causing "people (to) panic and flee the area." University police took "several written statements from witnesses stating they saw Soleiman Juan and heard him yelling, which made them all run," according to a report. He was identified as a current university student and was carrying "his Republic of Panama license" when apprehended on Landis Green after leaving the dining hall shortly after 7 p.m., police said.

— OPINIONS —

"Marco Rubio: Investing in China is not a good deal" via The New York Times — For decades, China has used Wall Street's hunger for profit to lure American capital into a trap: the Communist Party's clear intent of displacing the United States as the world's economic and military superpower. This accord will result in American capital flowing to the government-owned companies that China props up to undermine our country. Investing in China may earn better returns in the short term. But it will come at a tremendous cost. American dollars aren't being invested in Chinese companies that succeed based on their honest business model and ability to grow. They are being invested in companies that exist to serve a Chinese Communist Party intent on undermining America, human rights and religious liberty.

"Bill Galvano's leadership on gun safety is politically risky, but more important, courageous" via the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board — When it comes to firearms in Florida, the arc has bent toward less regulation for more than 20 years. From "stand your ground" to "docs vs. Glocks," Florida's been on the front lines in the effort to weaken gun laws at the expense of common sense. In his final year as Senate president, Galvano is trying to bend that arc — just a little — back toward common sense. Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, is championing a bill that, among other things, would not close but would narrow Florida's so-called gun-show loophole.

"Politicians' eye-rolling reasons for torpedoing citizen-led constitutional amendments" via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Florida lawmakers think you're dumb. So dumb that you need lots of supplemental information right there in the voting booth when you go to cast a vote on a constitutional amendment. Not all constitutional amendments. Just the ones that get on the ballot through an effort led by the public. If an amendment is on the ballot because the Legislature voted to put it there, that's really all you need to know. You can trust politicians; you just can't trust the people. This is precisely the message of a new bill that continues the Legislature's mission — aided and abetted by DeSantis — to destroy the ability of citizens to change the Florida Constitution through petition drives.

"Teachers belong on state Board of Education" via Mella Baxter for the Miami Herald — Eighty percent of the members of the Florida Board of Medicine are medical doctors. One hundred percent of the members of the governing board of the Florida Bar Association are lawyers. Sixty-seven percent of the members of the Florida Board of Professional Engineers are engineers. Guess how many members of the Florida State Board of Education are educators? Zero! Not one member has an education degree. Not one member has any classroom teaching experience. Why on earth would you want people who have no background or experience in education making decisions about your children's education?

"Are lengthy prison sentences discriminatory?" via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Of the 935 inmates analyzed, they were twice as likely to be female and more likely to be Hispanic than the average Florida prisoner, based on results from the Project on Accountable Justice. Florida's smaller counties also tended to enforce longer minimum sentences for drug trafficking offenses than more populated counties. When will Florida legislators actually follow through with an amendment voters approved in 2018? If the fairness argument doesn't work, if the discriminatory argument doesn't work, then legislators must see this as a clear waste of taxpayer money. If they won't do it for the inmates, then do it for the taxpayers.

"The time is now for E-Verify across Florida" via Matt Gaetz for the Tallahassee Democrat — E-Verify is used in all 50 states and is mandatory (for at least some employers) in 20. In Florida, it has been required for all new agency employees since 2011, following an executive order by then-Gov. Scott. Everywhere it has been used, it has been a success. Even The Washington Post admitted that "in Arizona, which pioneered the mandatory checks in 2008, the number of unauthorized workers dropped 33% below what was projected without the requirement." The same article pointed to another benefit: increased wages for low-skilled workers born in the United States. It's time for Florida to make a change. Requiring the statewide use of E-Verify will curb illegal immigration while creating jobs and raising wages for Floridians.

"Why not restore the free market for Florida retail?" via Florida Politics — Jan. 21 marks 19 months since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of states collecting sales tax on online purchases. Since then, nearly every state has acted … but Florida. Just one month after the ruling, Utah's conservative Legislature called a Special Session. And, in just one day, they resolved the issue. By December 2018, 24 states had laws in place to collect online sales tax. For most of them, it was a matter of leveling the playing field for in-state businesses and protecting consumers from a cumbersome tax obligation. Almost two years later, every state but Florida and Missouri has modernized its laws for online retail. Missouri's Legislature began its Legislative Session this week, and leveling the playing field is one of its top priorities. Here in Florida, it doesn't appear to be so simple. But why not?

"Fully fund success" via Mike Clark for the Florida Times-Union — Florida is nearly unique in the nation in having a program that targets affordable housing. Brilliantly, the revenue to support affordable housing increases as housing values increase — the Sadowski Fund. Sadly, in recent years the Legislature has raided the Sadowski Fund for the general fund. The loss of this revenue is not just a budget item; it has serious impacts on the people. Another program that has been on the chopping block is VISIT FLORIDA. There are places in Northeast Florida that aren't as well-known as Disney World or South Beach. Florida TaxWatch, the independent watchdog group, has supported funding for VISIT FLORIDA. In fact, every dollar invested in VISIT FLORIDA produces a $2.15 return on investment.

"End ambulance balance billing for good" via Jayer Williamson for the Pensacola News Journal — Balance billing was an odious practice that allowed health care providers to bill patients the balance difference between the retail charges for health care and what the provider received in payment from the patient's insurer. Fortunately, in 2016, the Florida Legislature outlawed this practice for most medical bills that could be, and often were, financially devastating to Floridians. However, there is still one way Floridians can be crippled by surprise medical bills in the event of an emergency — air ambulance transportation. Air ambulance transportation is not protected, because, under a federal aviation act meant for commercial airliners, air ambulance companies are shielded from having to adhere to balance billing protections and can charge whatever they deem fit.

"A time when politics seemed much friendlier" via Lucy Morgan of Florida Phoenix — It's hard to believe, but the late Senate President Jim King has been gone for more than 10 years. Few legislators would be remembered 10 years after leaving the Capitol scene in Tallahassee. He was one of the most quotable lawmakers to ever pass through the Capitol. Reporters relied on his wit to describe the events of the day. He worked hard, and he partied hard. He liked the relationship that after-hours drinks and dinner created between legislators, lobbyists and others, including reporters. He thought it helped understand each other. He didn't always like what reporters, wrote. But it was never personal.

— JUST A CHICKEN FARMER —

Paul Bradshaw raises chickens — not as food or a hobby — but for conservation.

"To protect poultry genetics as a critical hedge against rapid environmental change," the Tallahassee-based lobbyist says.

Bradshaw, the founder of the influential Southern Group, has a hundred-acre farm in Gadsden County, just outside of Tallahassee, with one of the most diverse collections of rare chicken genes on earth.

Among his flock of 50 breeds: Black-copper Marans, prizewinning French birds (which lay dark mahogany eggs), Ayam Cemanis from Indonesia with lustrous black feathers and skin, a black comb, black legs.

Paul Bradshaw is not your average chicken farmer. Image via the Tallahassee Democrat.

Bradshaw, an attorney by trade, is far from the rural stereotype. He has advised three Florida Governors and established a powerhouse lobby house Southern Group, with offices in several states.

The Bradshaws moved to Greenfire Farms 21 years ago, naming it after a passage from ecologist Aldo Leopold's 1949 A Sand County Almanac. The Almanac made Bradshaw consider the plight of animals disappearing from the environment, inspiring him to create a "one-acre Eden" in his backyard.

Greenfire Farms gets its water from the Floridan Aquifer, produces its own solar energy, and grows greens and tomatoes, avocado, citrus, apple, plum, fig and pear trees, as well as having more than a half-dozen acres of animals — Ossabaw Island hogs and his unequaled collection of 1,200 rare hens and roosters.

Twenty years ago, Bradshaw noticed a lot of enthusiasm for unusual breeds of domestic fowl. He decided to try poultry.

"It took about 10 nanoseconds to make the decision to go 'full chicken,'" he says. "I could actually turn a profit and not get gored by a bull."

Now, Greenfire Farms hatches eggs in high-tech incubators and sells the newly hatched chicks so others can help perpetuate endangered breeds and safeguard genetic diversity. In 2014, New York magazine featured one of his Ayam Cemanis in a fashion shoot.

Splitting his time between lobbying and encouraging "green" building — another project is transforming old shipping containers into smart micro-apartments in the All Saints district of Tallahassee — Bradshaw gets an early start.

"You check the feed levels, check for predator incursions from the night before, make sure the water is flowing to the pens, collect the eggs and note production levels, check the incubators for proper temperature and humidity — it never ends."

Greenfire Farms is proof a big idea can have a small environmental impact. Or, as Bradshaw says, "keep viable the genetic diversity in vanishing breeds."

— MOVEMENTS —

Leticia Adams to chair African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida — The Chamber elected Adams, manager of government relations at Walt Disney World Resort, as its 2020 chair. Adams has been with Disney since 2014, develops government, political and policy initiatives and efforts. Before Disney, she served four years as the senior policy director with the Florida Chamber. She has 18 years' experience in government relations, public policy, and public affairs. Adams also serves on the boards of the Florida Sports Foundation and the Posh Rock Tennis Foundation. "The African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida is very special to me," Adams said. "I look forward to leading this Chamber as we continue to cultivate a thriving business environment for African American owned and supported businesses."

Spotted at the home of Robert and Nancy Watkins for a viewing party of the Gasparilla Children's Parade: Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and partner Ana Cruz of Ballard Partners, former Gov. Bob Martinez and wife Mary Jane, former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Visit Florida CEO Dana Young, Sen. Jeff Brandes, Rep. Jackie Toledo, former Rep. Seth McKeel, former Rep. and Hillsborough Co. Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez and wife Carrie, Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister and wife Nikki DeBartolo, Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman, Beverly Austin, Joel BrownStephanie and Reggie CardozoMelissa and Kevin Dempsey, Roger Germann of the Florida Aquarium, Jordan and Ben GibsonJan GorrieMichael Griffin, Nick Hansen of MedMen, Merritt and Rick Lindstrom, Todd Josko, Jennifer Motsinger, Anthony Pedicini, Mark Proctor, Stephanie Smith of Uber, Gina and Chris Spencer, Lucy and J.D. White, and Michelle Todd Schorsch.

— MAC ON THE RICK —

Rick Wilson is the Mike Tyson of anti-Trump authors. Whatever he may lack in artistry, he makes up for in ferocity. If George Will is a swordsman wielding a rapier when he uses oleaginous to describe Mike Pence, Rick is a Viking Berserker swinging an ax when he calls Trump a "douche canoe."

So, when Mac Stipanovich was asked to review Rick's newest book, Running Against the Devil, he readily agreed, knowing it would be entertaining if nothing else. And entertaining it was. But the book is far more than that. It is well-conceived, well-written, and filled with strategic and tactical insights into the 2020 presidential election.

Rick Wilson gives Democrats a blueprint for running against 'The Devil.'

Rick asks the critical question of the 2020 election for Democrats: run left or run near the center? This answer to this question depends in turn on the answer to a second question: will the social justice warriors turn out to vote against Trump if the Democratic nominee is not a simulacrum of Jeremy Corbyn?

Rick believes the answers are yes to the second question and near the center to the first, and Mac agrees with him. These must be the answers. If not, then Trump will be reelected. Rick drives home the point that this is not a national election; it is a comparatively small number of state elections. And in those 10 to 15 states where the outcome is even arguably in doubt, being California woke and progressive won't cut it.

The message of Running Against the Devil is run to win, not to make a statement. It is a message that should be read.

— ALOE —

"Anquan Boldin shares poignant inspiration for social justice" via Arnie Stapleton of The Associated Press — Players Coalition co-founder Boldin shared a poignant personal tragedy in the signature public service spot of the NFL's Inspire Change platform. In the spot that will run through Super Bowl Sunday, Boldin shares his inspiration to launch social justice work: the 2015 shooting death of his cousin Corey Jones at the hands of a plainclothes police officer after his car had broken down on Interstate 95 in Florida. "There are just some things that are bigger than football, and I felt like starting the Players Coalition and affecting change in this country was one of those things," Boldin says in the 60-second spot.

Anquan Boldin has a deeply personal message behind his social justice activism.

"Florida retailers report 'jolly' holiday season" via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Florida stores tallied up strong sales numbers to close out the year, the Florida Retail Federation says. Holiday spending at retail was up 4.1% year-over-year. The improvement comes despite the adversity of a truncated shopping season and other factors. "Florida retailers experienced a strong holiday season despite the late Thanksgiving and concerns over tariffs," FRF President and CEO Scott Shalley said. "With 2.7 million jobs supported by Florida retailers, this successful season paid off big for our state's economy." The result is at the high end of FRF's pre-holidays prediction of between 3.8% and 4.1% growth over 2018 numbers.

"Disney to remove 'Fox' from 20th Century film studio name" via Steven Zeitchik of The Washington Post — The unit has been renamed 20th Century Studios, while the iconic 20th Century Fox logo will no longer contain the word "Fox." Meanwhile, Fox Searchlight, the prestige unit behind films such as 2020 Oscar best-picture nominee "Jojo Rabbit" and past winners "Slumdog Millionaire" and "12 Years a Slave," is being rebranded as Searchlight Pictures. The two Fox-branded TV studios that Disney bought in last year's deal, Twentieth Century Fox Television and Fox 21 Television Studios, will retain their Fox names, at least for now. The move further separates, at least in the public eye, Disney and Rupert Murdoch's new Fox Corporation, which counts the Fox Broadcasting Network and Fox News among its core assets.

"Disney World was packed on New Year's Eve. How much would people pay to go during the holidays?" via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — The price between Christmas and New Year's Eve costs $50 more than the less busy periods of the year. "The 'right price' for a Disney ticket is whatever customers are willing to pay," according to Dean Stansel, a research associate professor at Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business. "Since Disney World hit capacity and actually turned people away on New Year's Eve this year, apparently they could have charged an even higher price than they did for tickets on that day." The current price could jump by as much as $100 during the busy holiday season without noticeably shrinking crowds, suggested University of South Carolina associate hospitality professor Scott Smith, an Orlando native who still follows the theme parks.

How much would you pay to go to Walt Disney World during the holidays? A lot more, apparently.

"Disneyland's Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride breaks down on its opening day" via Summer Lin of the Miami Herald — The ride opened around 8 a.m., and it shut down about two hours later after 11 boarding groups had already made it through. The ride was back up within the hour. The attraction had broken due to "the kinds of technical issues that have bedeviled the version of the ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios since it opened there on Dec. 5," according to The Orange County Register. It broke down again around 2:30 p.m.

"David Beckham's MLS team in Miami takes field for first time" via Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press — After more than six years of planning, Inter Miami took the field for the first time. The expansion MLS club's inaugural training camp opened at Barry University, with about two dozen players on the field. "It's real," said Paul McDonough, Inter Miami's sporting director. "Every day we do something, every milestone we hit, everything becomes more real." Beckham wasn't at the workout and is not expected in town for a few more weeks. McDonough has been with the club for the last year and a half or so and is still working on a final roster, with about a half-dozen more signings expected in the coming weeks. Coach Diego Alonso bounced from group to group, barking instructions.

— SUPER BOWL'ING —

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday, belatedly to U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Rep. Al Jacquet, Jim Horne of Strategos Group, the brilliant Marva Johnson, Michael Johnston, Florida Power & Light's Christine Jones Knepper, our friend Jen LuxTopher Morrison, and Rick Oppenheim. Best wishes to Sen. Tom Lee, as well as Jon Costello, and House candidate Bruno Portigliatti.

___

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.

John Legend and Patrisse Cullors on How to Fix the Criminal (In)Justice System - The Intercept

Posted: 15 Feb 2020 11:14 AM PST

[unable to retrieve full-text content]John Legend and Patrisse Cullors on How to Fix the Criminal (In)Justice System  The Intercept

Deaths Continue In Mississippi Prisons - The Intercept

Posted: 01 Feb 2020 12:00 AM PST

Hundreds of people stood in front of a stage in downtown Jackson, Mississippi, waiting for the rally to start, when a woman's voice rang through the crowd. "What we gonna do?" she shouted. "SHUT IT DOWN!" the crowd yelled back.

"What we gonna do?"

"SHUT IT DOWN!"

"What we gonna do?"

"SHUT IT DOWN!"

The protesters had gathered at the intersection of Mississippi and North Congress, in the shadow of the state Capitol. Hip-hop blared from the speakers, activists circulated leaflets, and posters carried messages for the news cameras clustered on a nearby platform. One read: "Somebody's hurting our people and we won't be silent anymore."

Just before noon, activist Sharon Brown took the mic. A member of the Mississippi Prison Reform Coalition — and leader in the recent push to change the state flag — she traced the crisis across the state's prisons to its legacy of slavery, brutally embodied by the Mississippi State Penitentiary, known as Parchman Farm. For more than 100 years, Parchman has been the site of forced labor, a plantation where incarcerated men still work in the fields. In recent weeks, photos and videos from contraband phones had exposed rat-infested cells, unusable toilets, and graphic evidence of medical neglect. As the images went viral, an outbreak of violence and a slew of deaths between December and mid-January thrust Mississippi prisons into the national spotlight.

Protesters rally against the conditions at Parchman State Penitentiary in front of the Mississippi State Capitol building on Jan. 24, 2020. At the rally, Eva Scott, left/top, displayed a photograph of her nephew, Antonio Taylor, who was incarcerated at Parchman and was found dead in his cell in December of 2019.Photos: Andrea Morales

"I wanna thank those brothers behind the walls that had the courage to let the world know of the injustices," Brown said. "To let the world know that they are beaten, broken, tired." The latest death had been reported just two days earlier, on Wednesday, January 22. According to the Mississippi Department of Corrections, 49-year-old Thomas Lee was found hanging in his cell that morning, inside Parchman's Unit 29. This brought the death tally to 10 in less than a month. In the meantime, many families had not heard from their loved ones since the upheaval began.

Sallye House stood in the front row, in gloves, a winter hat, and a T-shirt reading "FIX YOUR PRISONS." She had made the two-hour drive to Jackson from Batesville, with her daughter and son-in-law. It was her second protest in two weeks. At a vigil outside Parchman on January 11, she described how the toilet in her son's cell had been broken for months, forcing him to urinate and defecate in plastic bags.

House carried a red folder containing copies of letters she had written to local officials over the years, begging for help for her 38-year-old son, Alchello. "My sole reason for reaching out to you is my son's HEALTH and WELFARE," House wrote in one letter from July 2016. Alchello had been transferred to Parchman after being violently attacked at a different prison. House had begged for him to be moved but was horrified when he was sent to Parchman, where he had been stabbed by a gang member years before. It was also Parchman where Alchello had contracted sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease affecting the lungs and other organs — and where he was now being denied adequate medical care. "Please send someone to his cell and take a look at his appearance," House wrote. "His face is skin and bones. His neck and chest bones are sticking out."

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Sallye House, left, at the march in Jackson on Jan. 24, 2020. She carried a photo of her son, Alchello House, who is incarcerated at Parchman.

Photos: Liliana Segura/The Intercept

Her next letters sounded even more urgent. "Dear Sir or Madam, I need your help desperately!" House wrote in January 2017. For almost six months, she said, her son's unit had constantly been on lockdown, meaning he could not buy food from the prison canteen, which he relied upon to supplement the meager portions provided by MDOC. She included pictures — "it is a matter of life and death." The last letter, from January 2018, revealed Achello had thyroid cancer. "If he dies while suffering in these conditions there will be NOTHING done about it. That is why I am asking to move him BEFORE something happens to him." Yet two years later, Alchello remained in Unit 29.

The rally lasted three hours. The speeches were brief and raw, testimony steeped in trauma and righteous anger. There were demands for accountability and calls for action — to contact legislators, to vote, to demand that Parchman be closed. But there was also an overwhelming sense of a deeper problem, too vast for words like "reform." There were too many familiar stories, too many mothers like House, exhausted from years spent screaming into the void. "I'm just really emotional," said Ann Adams from the stage. Her son was healthy when he went to prison in 2012, she said, but now he had seizures and suffered from malnutrition. She had not seen him in nine years.

Vera Young nodded in recognition throughout the rally. "That's what's happening to my son," she said. She had come downtown in blue hospital scrubs, ready for her work shift later that day. As the rally wound down, she told me that her son is also housed in Unit 29. A case manager had said that he was OK, but she had not heard from him in weeks. "He's always told me, from the time he's been at Parchman, 'Mama, if you don't hear from me, there's something wrong with me.'"

A solitary cell in Unit 32 of the Mississippi State Penitentiary, the state's super-maximum-security prison, in Parchman, Miss., Feb. 27, 2012. A growing number of states are rethinking the use of long-term isolation for inmates after the conditions at Unit 32 prompted a lawsuit that led to the unit's closing. (Josh Anderson/The New York Times)

A solitary cell in Unit 32 of the Mississippi State Penitentiary, the state's super-maximum security prison, in Parchman, Miss., on Feb. 27, 2012.

Photo: Josh Anderson/The New York Times via Redux

An Escalating Crisis

It was not long ago that Mississippi's criminal justice system was hailed as a burgeoning success story: a state that went from decades of federal prison monitoring to a model for reform. In 2010, following years of litigation by the American Civil Liberties Union, MDOC finally shut down Parchman's Unit 32, where men had been held in punishing isolation for 23 hours a day. Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps was lauded for reducing the number of people in solitary confinement across the state, "saving money, lives, and sanity," as the New York Times wrote in 2012. Then, in 2013, Mississippi legislators voted to create the bipartisan Corrections and Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force, whose policy recommendations would save millions in taxpayer money by reducing recidivism — and forestalling a ballooning prison population that had grown by 300 percent over 30 years.

But the promised changes never took root. Epps was arrested on corruption charges in 2014. And the state's nascent criminal justice reforms unraveled before they had even begun. Last year, an investigative series by ProPublica and the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that the millions that were supposed to be reinvested to improve reentry had instead been used to cover corporate tax breaks. "Meanwhile the number of prisoners is creeping back up, and the lack of funding and staff is contributing to worsening conditions."

Today, one of the biggest problems plaguing Mississippi's prisons — cited by families and officials alike — is a dangerous lack of qualified staff. The number of guards has gone down from almost 1,600 in 2014 to 731, according to the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting. Starting salaries are the lowest in the country, creating further incentive to smuggle and sell contraband cell phones.

A shield used by guards next to a cell door in Unit 32 of the Mississippi State Penitentiary, the state's super-maximum-security prison, in Parchman, Miss., Feb. 27, 2012. A growing number of states are rethinking the use of long-term isolation for inmates after the conditions at Unit 32 prompted a lawsuit that led to the unit's closing. (Josh Anderson/The New York Times)

A shield used by guards is propped next to a cell door in Unit 32 of Parchman on Feb. 27, 2012.

Photo: Josh Anderson/The New York Times via Redux

But while officials have long decried the phones as enabling criminality — particularly by prison gangs — it's no secret that the phones are a crucial lifeline for those on both sides of the walls. Phone calls can be prohibitively expensive — and families describe a constant lack of information from official channels. It was only because of cell phones that the public learned of a disturbing development in early January: The MDOC had quietly reopened Parchman's Unit 32. A photo had gone viral on social media, showing five men in striped prison jumpsuits lying on the ground in a filthy cell. Lawyers later confirmed that the images came from the long-shuttered housing unit, where clients said they were being forced to sleep on the concrete floor and denied showers, food, and running water.

The escalating crisis was made even worse by a lack of leadership among state officials. The upheaval began with a spate of violent incidents in the last days of 2019, before Mississippi's newly elected governor, Tate Reeves, was sworn into office. Three deaths at three different prisons led to a statewide lockdown on New Year's Eve. That same day, MDOC Commissioner Pelicia Hall announced she would resign. As the lockdown continued, hundreds of men were moved from Parchman to a facility in Tutwiler, run by private prison giant CoreCivic. "During the entire process, the inmates' needs have been met," the MDOC said in a press release.

On January 17, activists and community members packed a room inside the state Supreme Court for a regularly scheduled meeting of the Corrections and Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force. The death toll inside the prisons stood at five. The lockdown had been lifted at all prisons except Parchman, where hundreds of men were still awaiting a transfer, according to MDOC. In the meantime, a high-profile lawsuit had been filed in federal court, while a second prison official announced his retirement.

"At least a few of the task force members appeared to be caught off guard by the public's interest in their meeting," wrote the Clarion Ledger. Judge Prentiss Harrell stressed the progress in the state since its policies became law in 2014, including a savings of almost $50 million. While unfortunately the money had not yet gone to increased wages of prison staff or improvements in the facilities, Harrell said, he thought the legislature would be open to such things in the coming session. "We do believe the pendulum is swinging."

Yet the focus on funding tends to eclipse an obvious factor that has driven the crisis in Mississippi's prisons: too many people in prison for too long. Activists had long pushed for meaningful sentencing and parole reforms in Mississippi, including revising the state's habitual offender law and making it easier to grant early release to "geriatric inmates." Although the task force seemed open to such ideas, it was unclear whether lawmakers would heed the call. The crisis had inspired no-nonsense rhetoric, including from former governor Phil Bryant. "Someone asked earlier 'Who's responsible for what's happening at Parchman?'" he told reporters in early January. "The inmates. The inmates are the ones that take each other's lives. The inmates are the ones that fashion weapons out of metal. The inmates are the ones that do the damage to the very rooms that they're living in."

On January 23, the day after the Mississippi Prison Reform Coalition announced the rally in Jackson, Gov. Tate Reeves held a news conference at the state Capitol. In glasses and a dark windbreaker emblazoned with the Mississippi state seal, Reeves read from a prepared statement, announcing that he had visited two of the state prisons in the past 24 hours. One was Parchman; the other was Walnut Grove Correctional Facility, which has stood empty since 2016. The governor was considering transferring men out of Parchman and into Walnut Grove, which would be privately run. "The majority of the prison can hold inmates as early as tomorrow," he said.

But like reopening Unit 32, moving people to a private prison seemed like an obvious step in the wrong direction. The former juvenile facility run by GEO Group had closed after a federal investigation exposed harrowing conditions, including sexual misconduct by staff described as "among the worst that we have seen in any facility anywhere in the nation." One judge famously wrote that Walnut Grove "paints a picture of such horror as should be unrealized anywhere in the civilized world."

Reeves acknowledged that there had been problems at the facility in the past. But he gave a practical explanation for the idea. The cell walls at Walnut Grove were made of poured concrete rather than cinder blocks, he said, which would make it harder to pass contraband.

"A lot of these things will seem like common sense," he said. "That's because they are."

The Mississippi State Penitentiary, where Eddie Lee Howard Jr. has been on death row for two decades for the murder and rape of an 84-year-old woman, in Parchman, Miss., Sept. 10, 2014. A disputed bite-mark identification is at the center of Howard?s appeal, which cites that the method used in the obscure field of forensic dentistry is unreliable, due to be filed on Monday with the Mississippi Supreme Court. (Andrea Morales/The New York Times)

The Mississippi State Penitentiary, known as Parchman Farm, in Parchman, Miss., on Sept. 10, 2014.

Photo: Andrea Morales/The New York Times via Redux

Worsening Conditions

I last visited Parchman in 2016, as part of a tour organized through an academic conference at Ole Miss. The prison offers tours to schools, churches, and other groups, and the visit was carefully curated. Prison personnel welcomed our group into a visitor's center containing rocking chairs and vases of fake flowers, along with a display of contraband collected over the years — shanks made from pens, spoons, and other materials. "They make 'em out of anything," the guide said.

A tour bus drove our group across the prison's sprawling grounds, passing fields where men harvest crops. The fieldwork is supposed to address "inmate idleness," according to MDOC, as well as providing healthy food. "They do squash, broccoli, greens," the guide said. After providing a hearty lunch — grilled shrimp, teriyaki green beans, and pecan cobbler — the food services director shared a story of a man who trained under him while incarcerated at Parchman. "He's been released and is cooking in Memphis," he said proudly.

There was at least one moment of blunt honesty during the tour. It came from a man 40 years into a life sentence, who spoke to the group about the need for education programs. "There is no rehabilitation in Mississippi," he said. "Don't kid yourself." In the decades he had been at Parchman, sentences had gotten harsher — in Mississippi and across the country — while program after program had been stripped away. There used to be a choir, a radio station, a print shop, he said. "All of that's gone."

One woman on the tour became emotional remembering her childhood trips to Parchman, where she would see her father in what was known as extended visitation — weekendlong visits where incarcerated men could spend more time with their families. Mississippi ended the practice in 2012. Then, in 2014, MDOC put an end to conjugal visits. The risk of pregnancies was a concern, our guide explained. "Who's going to take care of that child?"

In a state that claims to want to reduce recidivism, however, eliminating such programs has undoubtedly done more harm than good. Studies have long shown that stronger ties to family increase the likelihood of success after prison. And those previously incarcerated in Mississippi say that curtailing visitation and other programs have made a dehumanizing experience even worse. Al Coleman was at Parchman in the 1990s, during the time that many states began to eliminate educational opportunities inside prisons. He worked in the fields, picking cotton, potatoes, and okra. Such labor was supposed to keep violence at bay, but Coleman saw rapes and killings during his time there.

"Prison has always been violent," he said. "It's like walking into a zone with a bunch of time bombs waiting to explode. … If you're being treated like you're nothing, like you're a dog, an animal, and you're not getting the right amount of food, water, you don't have no way to use the restroom, the frustration constantly builds." The main difference he sees now is that people on the outside can see the evidence for themselves.

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Jessica Young, left, and her mother, Kathy King Roberson, at the march in Jackson, Mississippi, on Jan. 24, 2020.

Photo: Liliana Segura/The Intercept

On the day after the rally in Jackson, Jessica Young went to visit her brother, Cedric, at Marshall County Correctional Facility, a private prison run by the Utah-based Management and Training Corporation. He'd been transferred to MCCF from Parchman months earlier, but the conditions were not much better. The visitation room was freezing; her brother said it was much colder in the housing units.

Cedric was convicted in 2017 for a crime he swore he did not commit. When he first got to prison, he was not given a change of clothes for months. Photos revealed disgusting meal trays, dull-colored clumps of food impossible to identify. "We were scared to post them because we didn't want anything to happen to him," Young said. But now that the images are out in the open. They are less afraid.

The visit lasted from 11 until around 2:30. Later that night, she heard from her brother again. He told her that he had returned to his unit to find out that a man had died at the prison that day. "The whole time we were in visitation with him, there was an inmate in the back, dead," Young said. A cell phone video captured the scene; men calling out for attention while the lifeless body laid there. Guards are supposed to do routine checks of each housing units, but there was nobody answering. "It's devastating," Young said. The problems were much bigger than Parchman, much bigger than Unit 29. "The entire MDOC as a whole is hitting rock-bottom."

The man who died was later identified as 38-year-old Jermaine Tyler. The next day, another death was reported at Parchman: 26-year-old Joshua Norman, a man from Young's hometown. Then, two more deaths, at two different prisons across the state: 28-year-old Limarion Reaves on January 29, followed by 52-year-old Nora Ducksworth at MCCF, on the 30th. In total, 14 men died in Mississippi prisons since December 29.

In the meantime, the governor gave his first State of the State address at the state Capitol. He had a big announcement. "I have instructed the Mississippi Department of Corrections to begin the necessary work to start closing Parchman's most notorious unit, Unit 29," he said. Although logistical questions remained, he said, "I have seen enough. We have to turn the page."

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