Surprise! Corcoran disses DWS

House Speaker Richard Corcoran ridiculed Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for asking Florida lawmakers to convene a special session to deal with a Confederate statue in the nation’s capital.

Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican who may be pondering a run for governor, called the Broward County Democrat “out of touch” for making the request.

The Legislature voted in 2016 to replace Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, a figure who critics say has a tenuous connection to the state, during a nationwide backlash against Confederate symbols in the wake of the 2015 shooting deaths of nine African-American worshippers at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C.

The latest dust-up over the statue of the civil war general comes as cities throughout Florida engage in sometimes heated debate over what to do with Confederate monuments, an issue obviously highlighted by the events in Charlottesville last weekend.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King got into the fray yesterday, demanding that all Confederate monuments be removed.

Scott continues stealth jobs mission

Nobody’s biting yet, but Gov. Rick Scott remains in Tennessee’s capital city for a second day of business recruitment.

The governor’s schedule showed Scott meeting early Thursday with building materials manufacturer Louisiana-Pacific Corp., better known as LP, in Nashville, followed by a meeting simply listed as “business development meeting.”

The trip, which kicked off without any pre-announced hoopla as had been his style when venturing the past couple of years into states with Democratic governors — including Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York and California — featured meetings Wednesday with officials from Tractor Supply Co. in Brentwood, Tenn., along with Nashville-based electronics company Griffin Technology and tire company Bridgestone Americas.

By Jim Turner.


Jeb Bush, Dr. Oz, urge Trump to deem opioid crisis a national emergency

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and TV sensation Mehmet Oz, better known as “Dr. Oz,” are urging President Donald Trump to declare the opioid epidemic sweeping the country a national emergency.

Bush, Oz and a handful of advocates penned an op-ed for HuffPost, urging the president to heed the advice of the White House Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, created by Trump earlier this year.

“The declaration of a National Emergency would give this epidemic the full attention it deserves and allow states to access federal resources to act swiftly and definitively to save the lives of more than 33,000 Americans annually through evidence-based treatments and programs that have been proven to work,” Bush and the others wrote.

Jim Hood, CEO of Facing Addiction, was among those pleading with Trump to take action.

The non-profit organization has launched an online campaign asking people to sign a letter to Trump — who’ll get a briefing on the issue today from Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price — and the members of the commission asking for a national emergency declaration.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican mulling a run for governor, will help host an event in Palm Beach County today focused on curbing deadly opioid abuse in Florida, one of the state’s hardest hit by what some advocates are calling a pandemic.

Nevada gambling regulators ponder pot

budWith the advent of recreational marijuana in Nevada, at least one of the state’s gambling regulators wants weed to be included in “responsible gaming” policy.

According to a report by CDC Gaming Report’s Aaron Stanley, Nevada Gaming Control Board member Terry Johnson expressed concern about adding the impacts of marijuana to those of alcohol or problem gambling in the state’s regulations governing responsible gaming.

“We have existing regulations that talk about impairment from alcohol and gambling, but the statutes and regulations are silent on… what happens when the persons might be impaired from marijuana intoxication and continue to gamble,” Johnson, who has served on the NGCB since 2012, said, after explaining that an operator had been recently fined for allowing a patron to continue to gamble while visibly intoxicated from alcohol.

Johnson spoke yesterday at a University of Nevada-Las Vegas event hosted by the American Gaming Association.

Florida, which legalized medical marijuana last year, doesn’t have any gambling regs on the books specifically dealing with pot, either.

Nevada regulators concerns may be heightened by what could be the nation’s first marijuana mega-store opening soon near downtown Las Vegas.

Click here for more on that.

Supreme Court warns of scams

The state’s high court is warning of “several widespread email and phone scams” where tricksters tell targets they have to pay money to avoid going to a Florida court to face charges.

The scams appear to target individuals with limited English-language skills, the elderly, health-care workers, or relatives of people who recently died, according to a press release issued by the Florida Supreme Court this morning.

Courts don’t work that way, SCOFLA spokesman Craig Waters said in the press release.

“People can avoid being victimized with a little foreknowledge. Most importantly, state courts in Florida do not make initial contact by email or by phone to tell people to appear before a judge or to pay money. You normally would be told in person or by regular-delivery mail,” Waters wrote.

The alert also details the different kinds of scams reported thus far:

  • One scam sends emails saying that the recipient – often a health-care worker – is a defendant in a “Court of Appeals” case about a “Health Care Service Violation.” In reality, no Florida state court would ever make its initial contact with any “defendant” by email.
  • A separate telephone scam targets Spanish speakers in Southeast Florida, especially Dade and Broward Counties. It often displays a fake caller ID phone number that spoofs the actual phone number of the Florida Supreme Court clerk’s office.  Usually the caller tells the intended victims they must pay money or make a wire transfer to avoid being charged with offenses like kidnapping, child pornography or human trafficking.
  • A third scam targets the family or heirs of people who recently died, claiming that someone else owes money to the deceased person’s estate. Usually the scam occurs by asking the family or heirs to pay an upfront “tax” or some other fee in order to receive payment. At least one email scam of this type included the bogus signature of a Florida judge.
  • A fourth scam widespread throughout the United States can come by phone or email and relates to jury duty. Usually it falsely claims that the person must pay a fine for missing jury duty or must disclose sensitive personal information like a Social Security number that can be used in identity theft.

The court cautions anyone receiving similar emails or phone calls not to give out their personal information, and to contact law enforcement or the attorney general’s office.

Waters also advised individuals who want to check out such suspicious email or phone calls to forward them to the Florida Supreme Court at supremecourt@flcourts.org.


Will the big boxing of kush be a trend?

IMG_2721Could it be a sign of what’s to come in Florida?

A pot mega-store is slated to open on tribal land near downtown Las Vegas next month, according to a report yesterday in the Las Vegas Sun.

The 15,800-square-foot Nuwu Cannabis Marketplace — about the size of a Walmart Express — will open next month.

The tribe aims to capitalize on the legalization of recreational marijuana in Nevada, approved by voters in November.

With 13 checkout lanes, the pot shop will be the largest in the nation, according to tribal leaders.

“We’re pretty sure this is bigger than anyone here will have ever seen,” Las Vegas Paiute Chairman Benny Tso said. “We want to raise the bar on the cannabis industry, and we want the industry to come with us.”

The outlet is intended to be a marketplace, where customers already know what they want, rather than a dispensary, Tso said in the report.

It’s unlikely Florida — where only medical, not recreational, marijuana is legal — will see any big-box pot stores any time soon.

And we don’t know yet if the state’s tribes intend to start marijuana operations on tribal lands.

Mast heads back to Israel, minus the baggage

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast will return to Israel, this time as part of a Congressional delegation scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to an announcement release by the Palm City Republican today.

The itinerary for the trip, sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, lays out what is expected to be a deep dive into the current conditions in Israel and the rest of the Middle east.

But while it might be intellectually taxing, the tour should be a lot less taxing, physically, than the some of Mast’s previous time spent in the region

Mast, a U.S. Army Ranger veteran wounded in Afghanistan who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, spent a month in early 2015 volunteering with the Israel Defense Forces at Tel Hashomer outside Tel Aviv. While there, Mast spent time packing medical kits and moving heavy loads of supplies.

“Our countries share the common ideals of freedom, democracy and mutual respect for all people,” Mast said in Thursday’s press release. “This trip is a great opportunity to hear directly from Israeli government and military leaders about how our two nations can work together to further advance these values.”

In addition to a powwow with Bibi, the agenda includes tours of historic sites, military bases and meetings with former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Dr. Michael Oren and United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, as well as Israeli military leaders, professors and entrepreneurs.

Mast’s Middle East summer travel comes as U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a St. Petersburg Democrat, prepares for a similar journey, also organized by the American Israel Education Foundation. Crist is among 19 other Democrats on the trip, led by House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, which includes meeting with Netanyahu, Friedman and a visit to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

As the Republican governor of Florida in 2007, slipped a handwritten note into the Western Wall in Jerusalem, asking that the state be spared from storms.

Crist continued that prayerful tradition for nine years.


By Jim Turner.