Rick Scott

Rick Scott: ‘The weather’s not bad, either’

Florida U.S. Sen. Rick Scott put on his Sunshine State cheerleader outfit to promote President Donald Trump’s “relocation” to Florida.

Scott, who served for two terms as Florida governor prior to his election to the U.S. Senate a year ago, chastised Orlando Sentinel guest columnist Bob Morris, who poked fun at Trump for his move.

Scott said he found it “interesting” that a Florida paper would publish a guest columnist who mocked “his own state just to make a political point.”

(We thought that’s what op-ed writers do, but nevermind.)

“The partisanship has driven everyone crazy. But I refuse to let our extreme, negative and partisan culture interfere with the truth,” Scott wrote in a letter to the editor.

More from Scott’s missive to the editor:

The truth is, Florida is the best state in the nation — to live, to work, and to raise a family. It’s ridiculous that someone would try to diminish the fact that our state has low taxes, as if that wouldn’t be motivation for a family to move here. Anyone who would argue otherwise has clearly never had to struggle to support a family.

I’m glad the president is choosing to make Florida home, just like I’m glad every time a family or business chooses Florida. So let’s stop making everything about politics and just take a minute to appreciate what a great state Florida truly is.

The weather’s not bad either.

Deutch, Scott join chorus demanding firing of former principal who questioned Holocaust

Casting doubt on whether the Holocaust took place not only cost a Boca Raton high school principal his leadership post, but created waves in Washington, D.C.

A day after Palm Beach County school administrators reassigned William Latson from his onetime job as principal of Spanish River Community High School for comments he allegedly made about the Holocaust, Florida Congressman Ted Deutch chimed in.

School officials said Latson made a “grave error in judgment in the verbiage” Latson used in April 2018 when responding to a mother’s inquiry about Holocaust education at the high school.

“I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee,” Latson wrote.

School officials said Latson was counseled after his comments were reported, and that “he also spent several days at the United States Holocaust Museum to increase his personal knowledge.”

Despite the efforts, “his leadership has become a major distraction for the school community,” and Latson was reassigned to a district position, officials said.

But in a press release issued Tuesday, Deutch took umbrage at the words used by both Latson and district officials.

Deutch, the founder of the Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism, said he was “shocked” that the high school principal couldn’t say that the Holocaust “is a factual, historical event.”

“And I cannot believe the school district labeled this incident and the principal’s leadership a ‘distraction,’” Deutch said.

As a result, Deutch said he wants to make Holocaust education a bigger priority at the national level.

“My Task Force, together with Senator Jackie Rosen and her colleagues in the Senate, and Elan Carr, the Administration’s Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism, will make Holocaust education a national priority,” Deutch said in the release.

“Holocaust denial feeds anti-Semitism, which leads too often to violence and death, here in America and around the world. Bold steps are required – by all of us – to ensure the history of the Holocaust and the Nazis’ efforts to eradicate the Jewish people are never questioned – anywhere,” he added.

On the other side of the aisle, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott also called for the firing of Latson, not just his reassignment.

“There is no excuse for what he expressed. There is no excuse for holocaust denial. There is no excuse for anti-Semitism of any kind,” Scott tweeted.

The Washington chatter may have prompted the Palm Beach County school district to schedule a press conference about the matter.

Palm Beach Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy said Tuesday afternoon he will address reporters at the Fulton-Holland Educational Services Center in Palm Springs at noon tomorrow.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Randy Fine, a Palm Bay Republican who is Jewish and who was one of the first legislators to demand that Latson be fired, continued to pile on.

— By Ana Ceballos.

 

 

Post-debate “oops” moment: De Blasio channels Che — in Miami

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It’s typically una cosa buena to show off your Spanish-speaking creds in Miami.

But not so much for New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, who sparked outrage after he reportedly quoted Marxist revolutionary and guerrilla leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara earlier today.

“The eyes of the world are on Miami-Dade and on this airport,” De Blasio said at a rally in support of employees protesting poor working conditions at Miami International Airport. “Hasta la victoria siempre!”

The Spanish phrase — Until victory, always! — has long been associated with Guevara, from his purported “farewell letter” to Cuba.

De Blasio’s comments quickly drew condemnation, and Florida Democrats demanded that the presidential contender apologize.

Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo (@TerrieRizzo) tweeted:

“Mayor Bill DeBlasio does not speak for Floridians or the Florida Democratic Party and he would be wise to apologize.”

State Sen. Annette Taddeo blasted De Blasio on Twitter, saying she was “utterly disgusted.”

State Sen. José Javier Rodrigues also slammed the presidential hopeful in a tweet followed by this post from Javier Estevez, a Miami Democrat running for the state House:

De Blasio’s gaffe gave a boost to Republicans, who’ve been busy painting Democrats — in Miami for two nights of debate that will wrap up this evening — as a bunch of socialists.

 

 

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About all that hype over Boeing’s move … much ado about not much?

Boeing’s relocation of its Space and Launch division headquarters from northern Virginia to the Space Coast will be more aspirational than material when completed later this year, as few actual jobs are tied to the move.

“We’re not sharing numbers now, but it will be a small number of senior divisional leaders and support staff,” replied Dan Beck, a spokesman for Boeing Defense, Space & Security, on Wednesday.

Transplanted workers, who will start moving this summer, will occupy a Boeing facility already in Titusville, Beck added.

Seattle-based Boeing, which for six decades has maintained a presence at Cape Canaveral, noted in a release that the move won’t impact company space operations in California, Texas, Alabama, Colorado and Louisiana.

Still, the move was heralded by Florida officials as a testament to the Sunshine State being a leader in innovation and job growth.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a release he expects the move will “bring increased investment to the Space Coast,” while state Rep. Randy Fine, a Republican from Brevard County, in the same release said, “Florida families will benefit from this great news.”

Frank DiBello, president and CEO of Space Florida, said the move “solidifies Florida’s position in becoming the global leader in space exploration.”

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott declared in a release that “it’s no surprise that Boeing chose our great state.”

And U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio described the announcement as Florida continuing “to be a leader in space exploration and development.”

State Rep. Tyler Sirois, a Merritt Island Republican, called the move “the latest example of Florida’s resurgent commercial aerospace industry.”

In its release, Boeing noted the timing comes as the company increases a partnership with U.S. Air Force partners at Cape Canaveral and with the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base.

“Expanding our Boeing presence on the Space Coast brings tremendous value for our commercial and government space programs,” said Jim Chilton, Space and Launch senior vice president, in a company release.

— By Jim Turner.

 

Rick Scott gets hung up

He’s back. Sort of.

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With no fanfare we’re aware of, the official portrait of Florida’s 45th governor, Rick Scott, appeared on the wall beside other recent chiefs of state in the hallway.

The portrait of Scott, who’s now a U.S. senator, shows the former governor seated on the desk in what used to be his office. The background features a Florida flag and a picture of his wife, Ann.

Here’s a little Florida history about the portraits, from the Museum of Florida History:

Beginning with Governor Francis Fleming in the 1890s, every chief executive of Florida has had an official portrait painted and hung in the state capitol building. Over the years, an interesting variety of artistic styles has accumulated. In the mid-1950s, the state legislature commissioned Tallahassee artist Clarabel Jett (1908–96) to create oil-enhanced photographs of all Florida governors whose portraits were not yet in the state collection. In 1986, the legislature transferred custody of the portrait collection to the Museum of Florida History.

All of the Governor’s portraits are represented at the Historic Capitol. The more recent governors’ portraits appear in the first-floor hallway of the new Capitol, beginning with Claude Kirk (1967-1971). In keeping with the tradition of official governors’ portraits, our current governor, Ron DeSantis, will not commission his portrait until the end of his term.

By Jim Turner.

The Florida connection to that Super Bowl-banned weed ad and a $63 million pot deal

img_1116CBS generated a lot of buzz by just saying no to a Super Bowl ad trumpeting the benefits of medical marijuana, and of course, #BecauseFlorida, there’s a connection to the Sunshine State.

Acreage Holdings, the Canadian-based MMJ company backed by former Speaker of the House John Boehner, was willing to pay $5 million for a 60-second ad, according to reports. But CBS put the ixnay on the spot.

But the Super Bowl kerfuffle isn’t the only news Acreage made this month.

Acreage Holdings paid $63 million — in CASH $$$$ — to acquire Nature’s Way Nursery of Miami, Inc., also known as Green Owl Pharms, according to a press release issued by the company.

“The combination of policy and demographics in Florida makes it one of the largest growth cannabis markets in the U.S. and we could not be more pleased to close this deal,” said Kevin Murphy, Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Acreage.  With the fourth largest population in the U.S., Florida is expected to quickly become the fifth largest cannabis market with an estimated $1.1 billion in retail cannabis sales by 2022, according to Arcview Market Research.

It’s worth noting that Green Owl hasn’t started selling anything yet, and according to the latest update from OMMU, hasn’t even started cultivating cannabis.

Nature’s Way sued the state failing to get a license way back when from what’s now the Office of Medical Marijuana Use. But, after an administrative law judge scorched the state for using a flawed system to decide which applicants were granted the coveted licenses, the Department of Health settled with Nature’s Way in July and granted them a license.

More from the Jan. 4 press release announcing Acreage — whose legal team includes Florida regulatory whiz John Lockwood — had closed on the Nature’s Way deal:

Acreage paid the shareholders of Nature’s Way $67 million plus assumption of certain transaction expenses of the sellers, with $63 million payable in cash, of which $10 million had previously been escrowed in November at the time the parties signed the definitive transaction agreement.  The remaining $4 million in consideration will be paid in units of a subsidiary of Acreage, High Street Capital Partners, LLC.  The units are exchangeable for Subordinate Voting Shares of Acreage at the election of the holder.

Nature’s Way holds a vertically integrated operating license to operate a cultivation and processing facility as well as up to 30 medical cannabis dispensaries, which Acreage anticipates will carry The Botanist retail banner and soon-to-launch cannabis products. Acreage anticipates that it will invest significant financial capital throughout Florida to build out its cultivation and retail operations.

Acreage already operates in more than a dozen states, including Colorado, California and Massachusetts, according to the company’s website.

The pot license sales keep coming, despite a decided shift in attitude toward MMJ from new Gov. Ron DeSantis, who quickly made separated himself from his predecessor, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott. DeSantis blamed lawmakers for creating “cartels” through the state’s current vertical-integration system, and has given them until mid-March to do away with a ban on smoking medical marijuana.

 

 

“Mechanical failures” right out of the gate prompt Oliva, Fried to call for state plane

galerie_military_aviation1That didn’t take long.

For just the handful of days since he was sworn in Tuesday, new Gov. Ron DeSantis has been buzzing around the state on a plan seized in a drug bust by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

But as DeSantis and his entourage were en route to a press conference in South Florida Friday afternoon, the plane was diverted to St. Petersburg due to “mechanical failures,” according to the governor’s office. On board with the governor were Attorney General Ashley Moody; DeSantis’ chief of staff, Shane Strum; and three other EOG aides, according to the governor’s office.

Former Gov. Rick Scott, a mega-millionaire who used his own private jet to travel around the state, sold off the state plane shortly after taking office as part of a government cost-cutting spree.

But DeSantis, with a reported net worth of just over $310,000, likely doesn’t have the dough to plunk down for an air bus.

The “mechanical failures” of the plane carrying the governor of the nation’s third-largest state — which, oh by the way, has an annual budget of more than $80 billion and is, dare we point out, gosh-darn HUGE — and one of its three Cabinet members, days after they took office, drew a hasty response from House Speaker Jose Oliva on the “need for safe and reliable transportation for the governor.”

“The Members of the House of Representatives are thankful that the Governor’s plane landed safely after reporting mechanical difficulties.  Today’s incident, combined with the sheer size of our state, starkly reminds us that we need a safe and reliable means of transportation for the chief executive. The House stands ready to work with the Governor’s office to ensure such transportation is obtained,” Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, said in a statement.
The plane isn’t available to Cabinet members, just DeSantis, but Moody was part of the group headed to the Fort Lauderdale area for the press conference where the governor announced he had suspended embattled Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
The plane kerfuffle prompted new Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried to chime in.

“As statewide public servants in one of the largest states in the nation, an efficient method of air transportation is prudent to best serve our constituents, conduct state business, and carry out the duties of our offices. Cost-effective and responsible use of state aircraft would enhance our situational response and our availability to the people of Florida. I’m grateful that Governor DeSantis, Attorney General Moody, and all onboard landed safely – today’s aircraft incident underscores the importance of dependable transportation for Cabinet members,” Fried said in a statement.