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“Freed” or “Fried?” Ag commish stand-up segment in agency promo

It’s not exactly a page out of a David Letterman skit, but Florida Department of Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried did a brief comedy bit to promote her agency’s new website.

Fried used the pronunciation of her last name — “freed” — to tout the launch of the fdacs.gov in a video.

Fried, whose name is pronounced “freed,” says on the video that her agency is giving Floridians “an opportunity to have a more user-friendly website, whether to renew a license, “find your local farmer’s market,” or file a consumer complaint.

Fried then demonstrates the ease of filing a consumer complaint by typing one into her laptop. (A random observation: Why is her desk so neat?!)

After posting the complaint, the ag commish immediately receives a call from someone asking for “Miss Nikki Fried?” The unfortunate telephone rep, however, mispronounces Fried’s name as “fried.”

Fried corrects the pronunciation, but before the operator mistakenly refers to her again as “Miss Fried” before the call ends. Fried takes it in stride.

“I guess the new website can’t fix everything, but why don’t you check out fdacs.gov and see for yourself,” she quips.

Georgia cashing in on Hurricane Dorian stourmism

Georgia is telling evacuating Floridians that they’ve got hotels and other amenities available, as Hurricane Dorian takes aim at the Sunshine State.
Emily Murray, a spokeswoman for the Georgia’s Department of Economic Development, said the state has launched a website that includes the down-low on hotels and lodging, links to emergency resources and other info about the Peach State for evacuees.

“We’re here to help. Below are resources to help you find hotel and lodging availability, assistance from our Visitor Information Centers and other important emergency resources. If you are concerned about your travel plans for existing reservations, contact your hotel directly,” the website advises.

Murray said in an email that Georgia also has a partnership with Expedia.

Meanwhile, the Wild Adventures Theme Park in Valdosta is offering free admission to Hurricane Dorian evacuees this Labor Day Weekend.

“We understand that being away from home during a storm like this comes with a lot of emotions, including frustration, anxiety, fear, and even boredom,” Molly Deese, Wild Adventure vice president and general manager, said in a release. “We hope that opening our doors to our Florida neighbors this weekend will help provide some moments of relief and fun as they seek shelter.”

The free entrance — available Saturday through Monday — requires proof of residency or a valid ID from a county under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders, which could be tricky as Florida has yet to order any evacuations as of Friday afternoon.

— By Jim Turner.

Latest installment in Morgan v. Gillum feud: ‘Massa mentality’ and shaming

For the second day in a row, Orlando trial lawyer and political kingmaker John Morgan and Florida Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum are going mano-a-mano on social media.

The feud between the two escalated Wednesday, when Morgan, during an appearance at a Tiger Bay Club luncheon in the capital city, threatened to sue the former Tallahassee mayor, if Gillum ever runs for office again.

Morgan told the crowd of political insiders that he believes he has a “cause of action” against Gillum over his decision to leave more than $3 million in the bank ahead of the 2018 November election. Gillum narrowly lost to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

After Morgan’s remarks to the Tiger Bay Club in Tallahassee garnered headlines on Wednesday, Gillum — who’s been trading barbs with Morgan on Twitter throughout the summer — took the fight to a new social media platform: Instagram.

“John Morgan suffers from what I like to call the ‘Massa’ mentality. A condition where your wealth and ‘supremacy’ deludes you into thinking that you own people,” Gillum wrote in a Thursday morning, alongside a post of a News Service of Florida story entitled “Morgan Warns Gillum Not to Run Again.”

Gillum added in the Instagram post: “He may own many slaves, but I am not one of them.”

Morgan fired back on Twitter and on Instagram three hours later:

@AndrewGillum if you gave someone $250K to build an orphanage & instead they kept the money to promote themselves I think you would be outraged!! That’s what is happening here. I don’t have slaves, but I am fighting to eliminate slave wages in Florida. My people make $15/hr. You really should be so ashamed of what you did. #FollowTheMoney 💸

When one of Gillum’s Instagram followers asked him about the unspent campaign money, Gillum — who’s now a CNN contributor — provided a lengthy response:

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— By Ana Ceballos.

 

 

Sotomayor: Florida death penalty rule ‘Kafkaesque’

Franz_Kafka_1917U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor signed off on a recent decision denying a stay of execution for Gary Ray Bowles, a serial killer who targeted gay men, before Bowles was put to death shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday.

But Sotomayor hinted that the state’s rules may need to be revisited.

Here’s an ABA Journal article breaking down Sotomayor’s statement:

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor expressed concern last week about a Florida procedural rule that makes it difficult for death-row inmates to assert claims that their mental disability is a constitutional bar to execution.

Sotomayor called the rule “Kafkaesque” in a statement on cert denial for Gary Ray Bowles, a serial killer who targeted gay men, report Bloomberg Law, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and CNN. Bowles was executed Thursday.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Atkins v. Virginia in 2002 that executions of mentally disabled inmates violate the Eighth Amendment.

In Hall v. Florida in 2016, the U.S. SuprU.eme Court struck down Florida’s bright-line IQ threshold for asserting a mental disability that would exempt inmates from execution. The Florida Supreme Court ruled that same year that the Supreme Court decision applied to prisoners sentenced before the 2016 Supreme Court ruling.

But the Florida Supreme Court has also held that inmates claiming retroactive protection under Hall must have asserted an earlier claim of intellectual disability based on Atkins. Bowles didn’t raise his claim of intellectual disability until 2017, according to an Aug. 13 Florida Supreme Court decision denying his claim.

Sotomayor criticized Florida’s requirement for inmates to have asserted an intellectual disability claim before the Supreme Court overturned Florida’s bright-line IQ rule. Under the rule, Florida did not consider an inmate to be mentally disabled unless he or she had an IQ of 70 or below. Bowles had prior IQ test scores of 74, 80 and 83.

“This Kafkaesque procedural rule is at odds with another Florida rule requiring counsel raising an intellectual-disability claim to have a ‘good faith’ basis to believe that a death-sentenced client is intellectually disabled (presumably under the limited definition of intellectual disability that Florida had then imposed),” Sotomayor said.

Sotomayor also said Florida’s procedural rule “creates grave tension with this court’s guidance in Montgomery v. Louisiana,” a 2016 Supreme Court decision giving retroactive effect to an earlier decision barring mandatory life in prison without parole for juveniles.

Sotomayor said Bowles’ cert petition raised an Eighth Amendment claim but did not address concerns based on Montgomery.

“Because I do not believe that the questions as presented merit this court’s review at this time, I do not disagree with the denial of certiorari,” she said. “In an appropriate case, however, I would be prepared to revisit a challenge to Florida’s procedural rule.”

DeSantis team defends judge … on Twitter

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office pushed back Wednesday against a news website that questioned the residency of a recently appointed judicial circuit judge.

The Florida Daily reported Tuesday the Seminole County Property Appraiser’s website lists Michael Kraynick as holding a homestead in Seminole County, “about two miles over the border from Orange County since 2016.”

The website also noted that Kraynick, in his application to the Judicial Nominating Commission, listed the Seminole County address for his home and voter registration.

The state Constitution requires justices and judges to live and be registered to vote within their court’s jurisdiction.

DeSantis’ spokeswoman Helen Ferre tweeted Wednesday the residency issue was corrected before Kraynick took the oath of office.

In June, DeSantis appointed Kraynick and Diego Madrigal III as judges in the 9th Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Orange and Osceola counties.

In the release from the governor’s office, Kraynick is listed as a resident of Winter Park, which is an Orange County suburb.

— By Jim Turner.

Dispatch from Dept. of We Used To Serve Together, starring Patronis and Kriseman

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis engaged in a tweetstorm earlier this week with St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman over a lawsuit involving a city firefighter diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

Patronis, who also serves as the state’s fire marshal, took shots at Kriseman after hearing a report that the city had denied benefits for Lt. Jason Francis, who began his cancer treatments two months before a new state law that expanded cancer benefits for firefighters went into effect.

Patronis, who has more than 15,000 Twitter followers, accused the city of “splitting hairs with a first responder’s life,” adding in the tweet, “We must not allow these heroes to slip into a bureaucratic hole.”

Kriseman, a Democrat who has roughly 2,000 more Twitter followers than Patronis, replied: “Jimmy, happy to provide you with facts. Let me know.”

That prompted Patronis, a Republican, to up the ante by noting that he and Kriseman served in the state House together.

“I know your heart. You can change any policy you wish with a simple majority of your @StPeteFL Council. It’s time to step up to provide the necessary changes for this hero,” Patronis tweeted, with the addition of “#Dotherightthing.”

Kriseman shot back: “Not council purview. We’re doing the right thing. My comms director tweeted our statement and facts to you. Thanks.”

The new law, pushed by Patronis, provides benefits to firefighters diagnosed with certain types of cancer. It also helps firefighters pay their bills while undergoing cancer treatment by providing lump-sum payments of $25,000 upon diagnosis. The Florida League of Cities opposed the measure, raising questions about how local governments would pay for the expansion of benefits.

Francis’ problem, from the city of St. Petersburg’s view, is that it’s uncertain whether the law, which went into effect after the firefighter was diagnosed, is retroactive.

But that wasn’t good enough for Patronis.

“Mayor @Kriseman, sometimes the legislature has to pass policy that can’t seem to get resolved at the local government level. Legislative intent was to cover Firefighters with cancer, there is nothing prohibiting you create a local solution for this hero,” Patronis tweeted, drawing another volley from the obviously irked mayor.

“Classic Trump playbook from my GOP friends: tweet first, facts never. Like Lt. Francis & his legal team, we are seeking clarity on the statute either from the court or Tallahassee. Hoping the Legislature offers clarity so cities like mine can provide firefighters their due,” Kriseman snapped.

But it didn’t end there.

Patronis, in a post that included the hashtag “#leadership failure,” retorted that the city should just act.

That led Kriseman to post a release from the city, which said Francis has received more than 100 hours of donated annual leave from colleagues and city officials, and that the “city, as well as Lt. Francis’s own lawsuit, seek clarity from a court or from the Florida Legislature to clarify this benefit.”

— By Jim Turner.

National Dems get into Good-Buchanan grudge match

bullseyeNational Democrats have put a target on Congressman Vern Buchanan, adding the Southwest Florida district to its roster of “offensive battlefield” seats.

The latest move makes a total of three Florida seats currently held by Republicans the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hopes to flip next year.

But battle for CD 16 has an interesting twist: State Rep. Margaret Good, a Sarasota Democrat, defeated Buchanan’s son James last year in a high-profile race for the open House seat.

So the battle between Good, a Sarasota lawyer who drew national attention for flipping a seat that had been held by Republicans, and Buchanan, who’s served in Congress for more than a decade, could shape up to be a super Sunshine State grudge match.

Here’s Good’s reaction from a press release issued after the DCCC announced it was adding CD 16 to its targeted congressional seats:

“This campaign is about the people in this district—about healthcare, water quality, and good-paying jobs. We want a representative that listens to and works hard for her constituents. That’s the kind of representative I am and this campaign reflects that work ethic. I welcome everyone and anyone who wants to work for the best interest of the people of our community to join us.” — State Rep. Margaret Good.

And here’s what DCCC Political Director Kory Kozloski said in a memo about the race for CD 16, which includes parts of Sarasota and Manatee counties, and other battleground battles:

  • In 2018, the Democratic House candidate earned 45.4% of the vote, the strongest performance for a Democrat since Florida’s redistricting in 2012, and a 5.2-point improvement on 2016.
  • The district is 32% college educated — outpacing the statewide numbers by 11% — and is almost 90% suburban, a major factor as Republicans struggle to manage a nationwide exodus of suburban voters from the Republican party.

Buchanan now has the dubious distinction of joining Republican U.S. Reps. Ross Spano and Brian Mast on the national Dems’ hit list, a position the congressmen are likely to use to drum up support in GOP circles.