Scott trying on Zappos for size

Gov. Rick Scott turned up in Las Vegas Friday, working the business development crowd as the state’s monthly jobless numbers — down to 4.1 percent — came out.

Scott’s daily schedule had him meeting with a trio of businesses — involving air travel, a steel-framed construction system and shoes, — during a trip that received little advance billing from his office.

 Allegiant Air, already the dominant carrier at St. Pete-Clearwater International airport was first on the list of meetings with Scott, followed by online shoe and clothing shop Zappos (an Amazon subsidiary) and, finally, GigaCrete.

Posted by Jim Turner.

Doggone it: Regulators rile gambling competitors

Florida gambling regulators this week gave a Miami track permission to do away with dog races but to keep more lucrative slots and card games.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation allowed Magic City, in Miami, to ditch the dog races in exchange for operating jai alai matches.

The decision was rooted in a 1980 law that allows Miami-Dade and Broward pari-mutuels that have the lowest betting handle for two consecutive years to convert to summer jai alai permits. But if those pari-mutuels do not seek conversion, other facilities can seek the permits.

Owners of Mardi Gras, a rival dog track of nearby Magic City, sought to intervene in the case. But the state agency rejected those efforts in the declaratory statement issued Wednesday.

In an early-morning interview Friday, Dan Adkins — vice president of Hartman and Tyner, which owns Mardi Gras — told The News Service the agency’s decision wasn’t what lawmakers intended when they passed the law decades ago.

But Adkins said he wasn’t sure if he’ll appeal the decision.

“We probably won’t. I’m getting tired of playing by the rules. Everybody else gets away with breaking the rules, gets away with going around scamming the system. That’s what this is. So maybe I’m going to have to find my own way to game the system,” Adkins, repeatedly saying he did not blame lawyer John Lockwood, who represents West Flagler Associates, or his Magic City competitor for trying to push the envelope.

Even so, Adkins maintained, “this is not the way this regulated industry should operate, especially when people are gambling on it.”


JJR asks Bondi to investigate opioid manufacturers

State Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Miami Democrat who’s running to replace veteran Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, is asking Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to launch an investigation into pharmaceutical companies that manufacture opioids to determine whether their drugs have played a role in what some describe as an opioid epidemic.


Officials in several other states — including Ohio, Illinois, New York, West Virginia, California and Mississippi — have filed lawsuits against the drug manufacturers, including one based in Florida.

More than 25,000 people in the U.S. died after overdosing on opioids like fentanyl, oxycodone and hydrocodone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read Rodriguez’s letter here.


“Flag-drop” races under scrutiny, again

It’s clear gambling regulators weren’t keen on a horse race between two aging nags on a dirt path, with the race launched by a red rag on a stick.

But what’s less clear is whether the regulators had the authority to punish a tiny North Florida horse track that ran the race.

The controversial “flag drop” race three years ago at Hamilton Downs between two horses owned by the same woman was the focus of a hearing Tuesday before a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal.

Read the story here.


Scott jobs search light shines on Mag Instruments

IMG_1797Florida Gov. Rick Scott got into the “Made in America” act as his buddy, President Donald Trump, used the White House as a backdrop to showcase home-grown products earlier this week.

Trump highlighted at least a single item from each state, including Florida’s North Venice drinkware manufacturer Tervis Tumbler Co.

Yesterday, Scott — who’s consistently poached for jobs in states led by Democrats — shot off a letter to Anthony Maglica, creator of the ubiquitous Maglite flashliight. Scott invited Maglica to move his Ontario, Calif.-based Mag Instrument Inc. to the Sunshine State so the products can be labeled as “Made in the USA.”

In extending a welcoming hand across the nation to Maglica, the governor also dissed the Golden State.

“As you know, California Governor Jerry Brown and the California Legislature have been no friend to businesses in your state,” Scott wrote.  “Governor Brown’s tax and spend administration has spent year after year passing burdensome and unnecessary laws that make it harder for businesses to succeed. Now, they are insulting the very American manufacturing that makes our country so great by not allowing you to put a ‘Made in USA’ label on your American designed, engineered and manufactured flashlights. This makes no sense.”

Scott, widely rumored to be prepping for a U.S. Senate run next year, told Maglica that Florida “would be proud to have the ‘Made in USA’ label” stamped on his products.

Mag Instrument, which makes the baton-like flashlights (we have blue!) often wielded by law enforcement officers, didn’t immediately respond for comment.

But Maglica — who launched his company more than six decades ago — penned an op-ed piece published in The Wall Street Journal last month, in which the inventor complained about his plight.

“My company manufactures flashlights in the Golden State, but Sacramento considers them foreign,” he wrote.

While the Maglite flashlights are assembled at its Ontario — east of Los Angeles — factory, some of the components, most notably the LED lights, are imported.

California law prohibits manufacturers from using the “Made in U.S.A,” “Made in America,” or similar labels on products “if the merchandise or any article, unit, or part thereof, has been entirely or substantially made, manufactured, or produced outside of the United States.”

By Jim Turner and Dara Kam.

Motion in the ocean — Putnam, DeSantis at Lobsterfest

More than claws may be cracked when two potential Republican gubernatorial rivals show up at the Lobsterfest Dinner hosted by the Palm Beach County Republican Party next month.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, an announced candidate, and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the Flagler County congressman who is considering a run, are scheduled to appear at the Aug. 17 event, which will be held at the tony Polo Club in Boca Raton. The GOP club is billing the dinner as the “premiere political event” of the summer.


Putnam is the frontrunner in the race to succeed Gov. Rick Scott, having amassed more than $11.6 million in unspent money through the end of last month. But supporters of DeSantis have started a political committee that could aid his bid, reporting $943,000 in cash.

Although billed by the Palm Beach Republicans as the “premiere political event” of the summer, several other potential GOP contenders for governor are not listed as attendees at this point, including House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate budget chief Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who is supposed to announce whether he intends to join the gubernatorial fray on Aug. 16 (the day before the lobster event).

But with conservative political activist James O’Keefe, head of the Project Veritas group, as the guest speaker, the lobster dinner presents a perfectly pitched backdrop for a potential DeSantis-Putnam showdown, with the candidates maneuvering to win the backing of the most conservative voters in their party.

Also scheduled to appear at the event are two other prominent Republican leaders, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and U.S. Rep. Brian Mast. The $145 tickets can be obtained at

Posted by Lloyd Dunkelberger.

Brogan saying bye-bye to PA

broganFrank Brogan, a onetime education wonder-boy in Florida, is quitting his job as chancellor of Pennsylvania’s state university system.

The resignation announcement, effective Sept. 1, was unexpected when made Monday afternoon, according to a story posted by, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News website:

“The chancellor of Pennsylvania’s state university system, which is about to undergo changes in the wake of financial and enrollment woes, will retire Sept. 1, a decision that was announced unexpectedly Monday afternoon.

 Chancellor Frank T. Brogan, 63, informed the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s board of governors last Wednesday, just before a much-anticipated report on restructuring the system was released to the board and the public, said Kenn Marshall, a spokesman for the system.”

 The Morning Call noted the move coincides “with a consultant’s report that found the agency plagued by weak leadership and dysfunctional management.”

Brogan, who served as lieutenant governor under former Gov. Jeb! Bush, rose through the education ranks, from an elementary school teacher to superintendent of Martin County Schools. Brogan, 63, was elected Florida’s education commissioner in 1994. He also served as president of Florida Atlantic University and chancellor of the State University System of Florida before leaving for the Keystone State job in 2013.

Posted by Jim Turner.