Good Tuesday morning. Let’s start with the read-it-here-first news.
CIRCULAR FIRING SQUAD — “As 2020 looms, Florida Democrats splinter over 2018 losses,” by POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon: Florida Democratic Party Chair Terri Rizzo and her supporters are bracing for a coup attempt after the party’s streak of statewide election loses. The party has yet to gather for an Election Day post-mortem after two statewide Democratic candidates were tossed out of office. A meeting is scheduled for March 1, but a petition signed by 25 Democratic county chairs and committee members has called on Rizzo to hold it a month earlier. “Every elected official I’ve talked to is furious,” said state Rep. Evan Jenne (D-Dania Beach). “Their refusal to discuss the issues has been a problem. They made stupid tactical decision after stupid tactical decision.” Read more
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BONDI TO BALLARD — After eight years of serving as Florida’s attorney general, Pam Bondi is joining the ever-growing lobby firm of Ballard Partners, leading the firm’s new corporate regulatory compliance practice that “will focus on serving Fortune 500 companies to implement best practices that proactively address public policy challenges such as human trafficking, opioid abuse and personal data privacy,” a press release says. Bondi’s hiring follows two years of Beltway speculation and gossip that she’d go to work for President Trump’s administration or even for FOX as a commentator. But Bondi can make at least three times more working in the private sector than for the White House, and she gets a measure of privacy back that she wanted by working for Ballard.
BALLARD IS A MONSTER — Ballard Partners, already a topflight firm in Tallahassee, has expanded significantly in Washington in the era of President Trump, whose company was represented for years in Tallahassee under Brian Ballard. The firm had about 90 domestic clients and roughly eight foreign clients last year. In the fourth quarter of 2018, the firm’s Lobbyist Disclosure Act revenue was $4.85 million (up from $3.6 million in 2017’s Q4) and its total revenue for 2018 was $18.5 million (compared to $9.9 million in 2017), according to the firm. Last week, Ballard announced the hiring of former White House spox Raj Shah and former Albright spox Jamie Rubin to roll out Ballard Media Group.
AFTER BONDI — “Florida’s new attorney general: We’re ‘upping our game’ on fraud,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Lawrence Mower: Read more
NORDBY RETURNS — Daniel Nordby, former general counsel for Gov. Rick Scott, is returning to Shutts & Bowen LLP, where he’ll work as a member of its appellate practice group.
OPEN GAETZ — “GOP Congressman Talks To Trump About Marijuana And Slams ‘Stupid’ Anti-Cannabis Republican Colleagues,” by Marijuana Moment’s Tom Angell: “A Republican congressman called his colleagues ‘stupid’ for blocking marijuana research and spoke about his cannabis conversations with President Trump in a Fox Business interview on Thursday night. ‘In every conversation I’ve had with the president about medical cannabis, he’s been very supportive,’ Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said in an interview with network host Kennedy. ‘But Jeff Sessions did so much to get in the way we really couldn’t get the ball rolling.’” Read more
DEBBIE SAYS NO TO BIGOTRY — “Rep. Wasserman Schultz says she won’t join Women’s March over anti-Semitism controversy,” by POLITICO’s Katie Galioto: “Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Friday she will not walk in the Washington Women’s March [on] Saturday due to the national organization’s association with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has made anti-Semitic comments. ‘While I still firmly believe in its values and mission, I cannot associate with the national march’s leaders and principles, which refuse to completely repudiate anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry,’ the Florida Democrat wrote in a USA Today op-ed.” Read more
SEMPER PARATUS — “Cortez’s Coast Guard unit isn’t being paid during shutdown. Here’s how you can help,” by Bradenton Herald’s Ryan Callihan: “Members of the U.S. Coast Guard missed their first paycheck due to a partial shutdown of the federal government Tuesday, but the local community is banding together to support servicemen in their time of need. In a Facebook post that skyrocketed in popularity Saturday afternoon, Star Fish Company Market & Restaurant, 12306 46th Ave. W., announced a donation drive to accept gift cards on the behalf of the Cortez Coast Guard unit.” Read more
ANOTHER ONE — “DeSantis suspends Democratic election chief, accepts resignation of another,” by POLITICO’s Matt Dixon: “Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday dispatched two South Florida Democratic election chiefs that faced GOP scorn after overseeing botched 2018 election operations … DeSantis suspended Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher Friday on the recommendation of Secretary of State Mike Ertel. In a scathing letter, Ertel cited Bucher’s ‘combative incompetence.’ Separately, DeSantis also accepted the resignation of Broward County Supervisor Brenda Snipes.” Read more
BUCHER SAID SHE’S not ‘ready to give up now‘ …
SPEAKING OF SUSPENSIONS … — “Broward Health defendants reject plea offer, trial date set,” by Sun Sentinel’s David Fleshler: “Several Broward Health defendants rejected plea offers Thursday, leading a judge to set a date for trial on criminal charges of violating Florida’s open-meetings law. At a hearing in Fort Lauderdale, lawyers for four of the five defendants said their clients planned or were likely to turn down a proposal from prosecutors that would have reduced the charges to one or two non-criminal infractions, with $500 fines for each, plus prosecution costs.” Read more
DESANTIS AUGUSTUS — “Ron DeSantis’ imperial governorship – a mixed bag with great potential,” by The Florida Squeeze’s Kartik Krishnaiyer: “Governor Ron DeSantis has entered office with a bang. He’s spent his first two weeks in office suspending local elected officials, reversing Rick Scott’s policies on a few key matters and generally showing he’s able to use the power of the governorship as effectively as Richard Corcoran who is now in his administration, used the post of House Speaker … Regarding DeSantis his power grabs leading to an imperial governorship are both good and bad for the state.” Read more
RACE AFTER THE RACE — “DeSantis touts African-American appointees following heated campaign against Gillum,” by Miami Herald’s David Smiley: Read more
— “Ron DeSantis at Winter Park MLK Jr. event: ‘We’re a better country for… his leadership,’” by Orlando Sentinel’s Tess Sheets: Read more
STRONG START — “Ron DeSantis goes shock-and-awe in his first 10 days as Florida governor,” by Miami Herald’s David Smiley: Read more
SCOTT SEPARATION — “Ron DeSantis withdraws 46 last-minute appointments made by former Gov. Rick Scott,” by Naples Daily News’ Ana Ceballos: Read more
SECRECY RULES — “Florida police are now withholding crime victim information” – AP: “Some law enforcement agencies in Florida have begun withholding information about crime victims — including the names of people killed — due to their interpretation of a measure passed by voters last fall. Florida voters signed off on Amendment 6, a sweeping proposal that broadened the rights of crime victims and increased the mandatory retirement age for judges … Since the amendment took effect on Jan. 8 some police agencies around the state have stopped releasing basic information about crime victims.” Read more
FLASHING SIREN — “Miami-Dade had evidence teen did not murder rabbi but charged him anyway, lawsuit alleges,” by Miami New Times’ Jerry Iannelli: “The case is one of the biggest black eyes in the history of the Miami-Dade Police Department and State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s administration. In 2015, local cops, elected officials, and Rundle stood at a lectern and declared that then-15-year-old Deandre Charles had murdered Joseph Raksin, a prominent New York City rabbi … But roughly a year later, prosecutors were forced to admit Charles didn’t kill the rabbi. In an explosive lawsuit filed in federal court last Thursday, Charles’ lawyers say they now have proof that both Rundle’s office and the detective involved, Michael Brajdic, possessed evidence from the beginning that proved Charles’ innocence.” Read more
BIGOT FALLOUT — “Hallandale braces for protests after commissioner’s anti-Muslim rant,” by Sun Sentinel’s Susannah Bryan: “She sparked a political firestorm nationwide after accusing Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of being a Hamas-loving anti-Semite who might ‘blow up Capitol Hill.’ Hallandale Beach Commissioner Anabelle Lima-Taub has been called un-American and worse by critics who have flooded City Hall to condemn what some are calling a bigoted Facebook post she made on Jan. 8, five days after Tlaib, a Muslim and Palestinian-American, was sworn into office.” Read more
WAY DOWN SOUTH IN DIXIE — “City files to dismiss lawsuit by pro-monument group,” by The Ledger’s John Chambliss: “The city has filed a motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit that attempted to stop the relocation of the Munn Park Confederate monument, claiming that Save Southern Heritage was unable to establish any violations in its initial complaint. The southern heritage group had argued in its complaint that the city could be in violation of the group’s First Amendment rights, violated its own city ordinances and ‘trampled on the assemblage of well-recognized Constitutional liberties enjoyed by the citizenry through the Historic Munn Park Cenotaph.’” Read more
CHECK FANTASY LAND — “Treasure hunters search for Jose Gaspar’s lost riches,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Brontë Wittpenn: Read more
WHERE PINE IS KING — “St. Joe Company plans a ‘very important role’ in Hurricane Michael recovery,” by Panama City News Herald’s Ed Offley: “In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, the St. Joe Company is looking to help rebuild Bay County. The company has announced or reaffirmed its involvement in several projects since the storm, including developing a 592-acre residential community in east Bay County to help alleviate the shortage of workforce housing caused by the storm, continuing with plans to build a hotel at the Panama City Marina and plans to develop a 200-acre retail and residential village in Mexico Beach.” Read more
HURRICANE COUNTIES — “Bill directs $50M for conservation in areas hit by Hurricane Michael,” by POLITICO’s Bruce Ritchie: A bill filed by a state Senate committee chairman would direct $50 million in designated conservation spending toward projects in 14 Panhandle counties hit by Hurricane Michael. FL SB376 (19R) from Sen. Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, would direct $50 million to the Department of Environmental Protection for projects including reforestation, ecosystem management, debris removal and beach renourishment. Hurricane Michael caused $50 million in damages to state parks in the region, according to the DEP. Ten state parks received extensive damage and three parks remain closed. Read more
— “Venezuelan government says it put down military uprising,” by Miami Herald’s Jim Wyss: Read more
— “Broward County Artist Discovers Family History Through Her Work For The Sistrunk Art Fair,” by WLRN’s Caitie Switalski: Read more
— “WPB residents face uneasy co-existence with homeless,” by Palm Beach Post’s Tony Doris: Read more
— “In Hillsborough County’s suburbs, the coyote next door is here to stay,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Anastasia Dawson: Read more
— “Battle over Virgin Mary painting at a trailer park goes to a higher authority — the attorneys,” by Bradenton Herald’s Mark Young: Read more
— “Jacksonville’s old City Hall Annex brought down with a bang,” by Florida Times-Union’s Tessa Duvall: Read more
— “Bay County Courthouse added to US Civil Rights Trail,” by Panama City News Herald’s Eryn Dion: Read more
SPEEDBUMP — “Officer runs over two people lying on road to watch eclipse, cops say,” by Sun Sentinel’s Megan O’Matz: “Of course in Florida, something strange was bound to happen during Sunday’s total lunar eclipse of the moon, aka the ‘Super Blood Wolf Moon.’ Police in West Palm Beach say one of their officers ran over two people who were lying on a dark road — presumably watching the eclipse. The pair were hospitalized for non-life-threatening injuries, according to a statement released by the police department.” Read more
RACIST WITH A GUN — “Video: Man Pulls Gun on Black Kids at MLK Day Protest in Brickell, Calls Them the N-Word,” by Miami New Times’ Meg O’connor: “On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, dozens of people across South Florida participated in ‘wheels up, guns down’ events, which are meant to show there are better things to do than crime. Dirt bikes and ATVs sped through the area. Police handed out traffic tickets, arrested more than a dozen people, and seized ATVs, which are not supposed to be driven on city streets. In Brickell, one confrontation took a terrifying turn. Video captured by a member of the Dream Defenders, a Florida civil rights group formed near the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement, shows a woman screaming at a group of young people, who appear to be in their teens or younger, participating in the event on bicycles.” Read more
MLK WAS A HURRICANE — “Florida State football apologizes after Martin Luther King Jr. Day tweet draws backlash,” by USA Today’s Tom Schad: “The Florida State football program apologized Monday for a tweet sent from one of its accounts that attempted to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The program received social-media backlash when an account that bills itself as ‘the official page of Florida State football recruiting’ — @FSU_Recruiting — tweeted an edited picture of King wearing a football glove and appearing to do the tomahawk chop.” Read more
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