05/18/2017 06:49 AM EDT
By Marc Caputo (email@example.com; @MarcACaputo) with Bianca Padró Ocasio (firstname.lastname@example.org; @BiancaJoanie), Sergio Bustos (email@example.com; @sbustosFL) and the staff of POLITICO Florida
Good Thursday morning. It might be safe to look at your cable TV news show, Facebook or Twitter account again because the hair-on-fire hysteria roiling our politics should take a breather now that a special counsel has been appointed to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election and, perhaps, any alleged collusion between President Trump campaign and Putin's government. This could take a while, but in the short term it lowers some of the heat. That's not to say we'll have light.
WHY IMPEACHMENT'S UNLIKELY - "GOP Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen bashes Trump's 'raw grab for power,' mentions Clinton impeachment," by POLITICO Florida's Marc Caputo: One of President Donald Trump's biggest Republican critics in Congress, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, said the GOP-led House is unlikely to try to remove him from office even though his "raw grab for power" might be more serious than the case that ultimately led her to vote for President Clinton's impeachment almost 20 years ago. The House's resistance to impeaching Trump, she indicated, is rooted in the composition of gerrymandered Republican-majority districts, where voters would punish representatives for going against the president they adore. Read more
- "Hill Republicans, including Rubio, increase calls for Comey to testify," by POLITICO's Seung Min Kim, Rachael Bade and Kyle Cheney: Read more
- "Buchanan reacts to Comey memo," by Herald-Tribune's Zac Anderson: Read more
- "Mast, Republicans want to see Comey memo on Trump meeting," by Palm Beach Post's George Bennett: Read more
- "Daily Trump drama forces Miami Republican lawmakers to react, over and over again," by Miami Herald's Patricia Mazzei: Read more
- "Looks like Curbelo was first Republican lawmaker to suggest Trump could be impeached," by Miami Herald's Patricia Mazzei: Read more
- "Curbelo changed his tune on a special counsel," by Washington Post's Paul Kane and Terri Rupar: Read more
TRUMP'S CHAOS IS NOT NORMAL CHAOS - "There's always going to be chaos and things in Washington like this," Gov. Rick Scott said on FOX yesterday.
HACK-A-LAGO - "Any Half-Decent Hacker Could Break into Mar-a-Lago," by ProPublica's Jeff Larson, Surya Mattu, and Julia Angwin: "Two weeks ago, on a sparkling spring morning, we went trawling along Florida's coastal waterway. But not for fish. We parked a 17-foot motor boat in a lagoon about 800 feet from the back lawn of The Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach and pointed a 2-foot wireless antenna that resembled a potato gun toward the club. Within a minute, we spotted three weakly encrypted Wi-Fi networks. We could have hacked them in less than five minutes, but we refrained. A few days later, we drove through the grounds of the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, with the same antenna and aimed it at the clubhouse. We identified two open Wi-Fi networks that anyone could join without a password. We resisted the temptation." Read more
FREE WIFI? - "Trump in Palm Beach: What comes with a $200,000 Mar-a-Lago membership?" by Palm Beach Post's Shannon Donnelly: "In Palm Beach, money whispers. Celebrity and power, however, command. So when a New York real estate developer named Donald Trump moved to town and turned an iconic residence into a private club, there were folks who were happy to pay $50,000 to join the fledgling operation. But not all ... Post-election, the price for those last spots rocketed to $200,000. So, what exactly does one get for that king's ransom - and the yearly membership fee, recently hiked from $2,000 to $14,000 per year, and the $2,000 minimum dining requirement? Well, a possible glimpse of the president, if he's there, and maybe the chance to exchange a few words with the Leader of the Free World, which alone is worth the ducat to opportunistic types." Read more
BEFORE BUILDING THAT WALL - "Immigration arrests up 38% nationwide under Trump," by USA Today's Alan Gomez: "In the 100 days since President Trump signed an executive order to enhance immigration enforcement, the arrests of undocumented immigrants is up 38% from the same time period in 2016, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data released Wednesday. ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan said his agency is focusing on undocumented immigrants with criminal records, the 'bad hombres' that Trump spoke about throughout his presidential campaign. But the data show that the biggest jump in arrests involved undocumented immigrants without a criminal record, a 156% increase from last year." Read more
... CAPITAL REPORT ...
FAIR-WEATHER DENIER - "Gov. Scott doesn't let politics get in way of investing in firm that believes in climate change," by Florida Bulldog's Dan Christensen: "When Rick Scott ran for governor in 2010, he told a reporter he wasn't convinced that global warming was real. In 2015, the Scott Administration was reported to have told state employees to lay off using 'climate change' and 'global warming' in official communications. Today, the governor's office dodges questions about Scott's position on the use of those terms, saying instead, 'Governor Scott is focused on real solutions to protect our environment.' Still, the ultra-wealthy Scott hasn't let his politics get in the way of making money. Through First Lady Ann Scott, the governor has a substantial financial stake in a sizable mosquito control company that recently declared on its Facebook page that 'mosquitos will only get worse thanks to #climatechange' and '#globalwarming.'" Read more
UN-STALKED - "Florida AG Bondi gets keep-away order for alleged stalker," by AP's staff: "Bondi says [William Norman Wilkes] came to her house twice, once banging on her door and peeking in a window at 3 a.m. She said he also sent unwanted Facebook messages. Wilkes agreed in court Wednesday to stay away from Bondi." Read more
"Braynon to governor: We'll work with you to block override," by Miami Herald's Mary Ellen Klas: Read more
MONEY GROWS ON TREES - "Confidential documents show money in Florida's medical marijuana industry," by Miami Herald's David Smiley: "As differences over pot shop restrictions burned a medical marijuana bill to ashes in Tallahassee, one of Florida's largest legal cannabis operators courted millions of dollars from new investors and touted a lucrative plan to open dozens of storefronts around the state. A private equity firm's confidential pitch deck obtained by the Miami Herald shows that only days ago Surterra Florida was seeking investors to buy a $10 million minority stake while also arguing against limits on the number of retail outlets any licensed operator can open. Some potential investors were lured with projections that show Surterra grossing $138 million in sales by 2021 thanks largely to the operation of 55 retail outlets - nearly four times the cap desired by the Florida Senate." Read more
TAX CUT WARS - "Polk County commissioners snub local legislators," by The Ledger's John Chambliss: "Who needs Tallahassee? In a slight directed at local legislators, Polk County commissioners voted 5-0 on Tuesday to not have the annual Polk County Day in the capital. The proposal was made by County Commissioner Todd Dantzler, who added in the motion that county commissioners will not ask for a joint legislative-delegation meeting before the session begins. The vote comes after a session in which legislators supported a broader homestead exemption. It will give voters the opportunity to increase the property-tax exemption from $50,000 to $75,000. But if it passes, cities and counties may be forced to cut services, raise taxes or a combination of both." Read more
CASH FLOW WOES - "Conservation easements program could run out of money by end of year," by POLITICO Florida's Bruce Ritchie: A state agriculture department official told Cabinet aides on Wednesday the conservation easement program could run out of money by the end of the year even with a $10 million appropriation from the Legislature. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam had requested $50 million for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program next year after receiving $35 million for this budget year. But the Legislature appropriated $10 million in the 2017-18 state budget only in the late hours of budget negotiations. Read more.
NO DRILLING BABY - "Commission co-chaired by Bob Graham opposes Trump's offshore drilling order," by POLITICO Florida's Bruce Ritchie: Members of a federal oil spill commission, including former U. S. Sen. Bob Graham and former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator William K. Reilly, are warning the Trump administration against accelerated leasing for oil drilling in areas that include the South Atlantic coast off Florida. President Donald Trump issued an executive order in April aimed at expanding offshore drilling for oil and natural gas. The order directed the Interior Department to review ways to expand drilling in several areas that included off Florida's Atlantic Coast extending south to Cape Canaveral. Read more
JUST ONE - "Valenstein only candidate to be interviewed for DEP top job," by POLITICO Florida's Bruce Ritchie: Noah Valenstein is the only candidate slated to be interviewed by the Cabinet on May 23 for secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, making him the likely pick for the top agency job. Valenstein has been executive director of the Suwannee River Water Management District since October 2015. He served in the governor's office from 2012 to 2015 as policy director for agriculture, environment and energy issues. Read more
TOP THREE - "Transportation panel sends FDOT recommendations to Scott; Dew unexpected finalist," by POLITICO Florida's Matt Dixon: During a brief conference call Wednesday, state transportation officials voted to send three names to Gov. Rick Scott, who must decide who will serve as his next top transportation official. The biggest switch from a Florida Transportation Commission meeting held last week to discuss the issue was Florida Department of Transportation chief of staff Mike Dew. He is among the three finalists submitted to the governor. Read more
- "Rubio, Nelson, Bondi chime in on ways to reform VA, protect veterans," by POLITICO Florida's Christine Sexton: Read more
- "Belleview commission adopts medical marijuana ordinance," by Ocala Star Banner's Katie Pohlman: Read more
... STATE AND BEYOND ...
AT LEAST IT'S NOT FLINT - "North Miami Beach Gives Public Water Utility Serving 180,000 People to Private Firm," by Miami New Times' Jerry Iannelli: "Here is a brief but not exhaustive list of negatives surrounding North Miami Beach's plan to outsource its water utility to a massive private company: The FBI looked into the deal. So did the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office. The city's own Public Utilities Commission did not sign off on the plan. The city's workers' union opposed the move. Scores of residents (and multiple city employees) allege everything from willful negligence to shady dealings on the part of commissioners. One of the other major companies bidding for the project quit and said the deal had essentially been rigged for a single bidder. A pile of research exists warning that deals like the one in question don't tend to be financially prudent." Read more
IT'S GETTING HOT IN HERE - "It hasn't been this hot in Florida to start the year since 1895, report says," by Tampa Bay Times' Samantha Putterman and Claire McNeill: "Florida is hot. This may sound obvious, but it's never been more true. Well, at least for the past 122 years. Florida recorded its hottest average temperatures for the first four months of the year since 1895, according to a climate report by the National Centers for Environmental Information. Another record was shattered Tuesday with a high of 96 degrees in Tampa, according to the National Weather Service. And the scorching temperatures come amid a drought that has led to Florida's most active wildfire season since 2011." Read more
WAVE OF RESEARCH - "UM researchers find new way to measure hurricanes: 'gravity waves'," by Miami Herald's Jenny Staletovich: "Hurricane forecasters may have a new tool in solving the vexing problem of understanding storm intensity: gravity waves. Gravity waves are produced when air moving around the atmosphere gets pushed from one place to another. In a hurricane, those waves can come in quick, short bursts as powerful thunderstorms around the storm's eye wall swish air up and down like a plunger in a toilet bowl. Scientists have long known they exist, measuring them in the stratosphere about 20 or 30 miles [above] a storm. Now, for the first time, University of Miami scientists have ventured into the heart of the storm, measuring the waves where they start. And early indications suggest wave power relates directly to storm power." Read more
DIXIELAND DISPATCH - "Chiles gets 'threat' after Confederate flag disruption," by Tallahassee Democrat's Jeff Burlew: "Some classrooms at Chiles High School were near empty Wednesday after an anonymous threat was posted on social media the night before, hours after a campus disturbance occurred involving student displays of the Confederate flag. The threat never materialized. But it prompted Leon County Schools to beef up security at the school throughout the day. And it caused a number of parents to keep their kids home." Read more
HAITIAN HELP - "Fla. lawmakers, humanitarian groups press Trump to renew TPS for Haitians," by POLITICO Florida's Sergio Bustos: With a decision deadline looming next week for the Trump administration, Florida lawmakers and humanitarian organizations are beating the drum in support of allowing more than 50,000 Haitian immigrants - including thousands in South Florida - to live and work in the U.S. and avoid deportation under a special immigration program. Read more
UNREPENTANT - "Freed after more than 35 years in prison, Puerto Rican nationalist defends use of violence," by Univision and AP: "Oscar López Rivera, the Puerto Rican nationalist who spent more than 35 years behind bars for his role in a violent struggle for independence from the United States, was released from house arrest in Puerto Rico on Wednesday. Now 74, he is celebrated as a hero by many despite being convicted of crimes against the United States, and will be honored next month in New York City's massive Puerto Rican Day parade...'" Read more
... ODDS, ENDS AND FLORIDA MEN ...
CIRCUS LEAVES TOWN - "A history of Ringling Bros. circus, soon to close forever," by AP's staff: "The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is drawing to a close this weekend after 146 years of performances and travel that at times have been marred by tragedy and celebrated in film, but also constant. The circus has its roots in a spectacle that began two decades before the U.S. Civil War, equal parts freak show, zoo and museum. Traveling performances began in 1871, and 10 years later it officially became the circus that generations grew up watching. It has evolved over the years, most recently with its decision to retire its elephant acts." Read more
- "Flight diverted to Orlando airport after man tries to open cabin door," by Sun Sentinel's David Harris: Read more
- "Miami-Dade urges Florida to postpone awarding $800 million redo of I-395 project," by Miami Herald's Douglas Hanks: Read more
- "Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran misleads about education legislation negotiations," by PolitiFact Florida's Kristen M. Clark and Amy Sherman: Read more
- "Warrant issued for Peeping Tom suspect who used coat hook cameras," by Miami Herald's David J. Neal: Read more
- "Vero Beach man tells of his kidnapping while wife shopped: Video," by TCPalm's Elliot Jones: Read more
- "Keep America's bonds with Colombia strong," by Marco Rubio for Miami Herald: Read more
- "House squatter answers door naked; wrestles with deputies," by AP's staff: Read more
- "LIGHT LUNCH: Man sues woman for $17.31 movie ticket after bad date," by AP's staff: Read more
- "Atheists want prayer to be removed from public meetings," by Orlando Sentinel's staff: Read more
FAR FROM REHAB - "Notorious treatment center operator Chatman gets 27 years in prison," by Palm Beach Post's Lawrence Mower and Jane Musgrave: "U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks told Chatman he had exploited and sexually abused patients and called the drug treatment center operator's actions egregious. [Kenneth 'Kenny'] Chatman, 46, showed no emotion when the judge handed down the sentence and, when given a chance, didn't address the judge. His attorney said he had been made into a 'scapegoat.' Chatman's distraught wife, Laura, was sentenced to three years for signing papers so her husband, a felon, could open drug treatment centers in Broward County and Lake Worth. She faced up to 10 years." Read more
IGUANA! - "Woman lifts toilet bowl lid to find an iguana lounging in the commode," by Miami Herald's Carli Teproff: Read more
THE SERPENT WAS NOT SUBTLE - "Snake bites Florida man who tries to kiss it," by AP: "News outlets reported that the unidentified man was bitten on the tongue Tuesday in Bostwick, an unincorporated area in Putnam County and had to be airlifted to a hospital, where he was listed in critical condition. WTLV in Jacksonville quoted a friend of the victim as saying the man had been drinking while handling the seemingly calm eastern diamondback rattlesnake. But when he moved toward the reptile as though to kiss it, the snake bit him." Read more
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