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Inquiring minds headed to Israel

Gov. Ron DeSantis is about to lead a four-day trip to Israel, with nearly 90 tag-alongs that include Cabinet members, top-tier lobbyists, state lawmakers and religious leaders.

The governor publicly announced the trip in April, but since then the planning of the trip and questions about it have largely been kept secret. But as the voyage gets closer, the drip-drop of details are putting a spotlight on some of what’s in store.

One lingering question is how much the trip will cost Florida taxpayers. DeSantis’ spokeswoman Helen Ferre said about 80 members of the entourage are paying their own way.

At least one person footing their own bill said they’re staying at the Hilton in Tel Aviv, where they’ll be joined by a number of other members of the delegation who may be traveling on the taxpayer dime.

What’s the cost for one of those rooms? Accommodations range from $556 to $1,133 per night, according to the hotel’s website.

While questions about the cost and the substance of state officials’ meetings remain, two news organizations have announced they will be sending reporters to keep Floridians informed.

As of Thursday afternoon, two reporters have signed on to take the trip to Israel: Jeff Schweers, a state government reporter with the USA TODAY Network in Florida, and AG Gancarski, a reporter with Florida Politics.

“Coming next week (and assuming he gets past customs), intrepid reporter @AGGancarski will be reporting from @GovRonDeSantis and the Florida Cabinet’s historic trip to Jerusalem,” tweeted Peter Schorsch, the publisher of Florida Politics.

Schweers also got a last-minute OK from his company to make the trip.

By Ana Ceballos.

Patsy Palmer remembers her late husband, Sandy D’Alemberte. Plus, she wants your stories.

Sandy-DAlemberte-3x2An outpouring of praise for the Southern gentleman and legal giant described as “the definition of a statesman” continues to flood social media, the web and email inboxes as Floridians mourned Monday’s sudden death of Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte.

D’Alemberte, a former president of the American Bar Association and onetime president of Florida State University who also served as dean of the school’s College of Law, was extolled as a brilliant legal scholar who made a lasting imprint on education, civil rights, criminal justice and the courts.

With a shock of white hair, a trademark bow tie and a soft, Southern drawl, was a legal icon who influenced decades of Florida governance and was called “a force of nature” by Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady, a conservative Republican who is was on the other end of the ideological spectrum from D’Alemberte.

D’Alemberte and his wife, Patsy Palmer, had celebrated their 30th anniversary on May 13, Palmer said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

She said her husband, who was nearly 20 years her senior, “lived fully up until the very, very end.”

Palmer stressed that her husband remained “the Sandy D’Alemberte that you met years ago” until his unexpected death at a Lake City hospital Monday afternoon.

“We will always remember that radiant Sandy D’Alemberte that we all saw and knew for so many years. He will never stop being that person. So as awful as it is that he is gone and we do not have more of him, we do not have to watch him being diminished and miserable,” she said.

For years, Palmer, also a lawyer, has been a constant presence at her husband’s side, whether at Bach Parley concerts in a downtown church or working the halls of the Capitol.

Palmer recalled that she and her husband met just a few days before her 39th birthday, and he was nearly 56 when they tied the knot.

“We had communities and friendships and values in common, and on top of that we were very much in love. He opened so many worlds for me,” she said.

“Sandy” was “a leap and the net will appear kind of guy,” a contrast to her more cautious approach to life, Palmer said.

“I was really the partner who said I’m not sure there was a net,” she added.

“We shared so much, in terms of what we cared about and what we believed in. He opened many worlds to me, and I just feel that if it was a partnership I was a particularly lucky part of that partnership,” Palmer said.

Palmer didn’t hesitate when asked what could be done to honor the Florida icon and show their support for his widow.

She wants stories.

“What I really hope, as people remember him over time — and that includes reporters — if people have stories about him, that they could memorialize those somehow,” Palmer said.

Folks with anecdotes can write them on index cards, type them up or make voice recordings, Palmer suggested.

“I want him to continue, vivid. I want to keep knowing more about him. I would love it if people just got stuff to me, and I will hold onto it and treasure it,” she said.

Anyone with an anecdote or remembrance they would like to share with Patsy Palmer is encouraged to send an email to darakam@gmail.com, and we will make sure she receives all messages and recordings.

Florida’s first Lottery chief to DeSantis: Axe the warning!

Tennessee Education Lottery President and CEO Rebecca Paul Hargrove, who was Florida’s first Lottery secretary, is asking Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto a controversial measure that would require Lottery tickets and promotions to carry a warning that the games may be addictive.

The warnings could cause a $61 million hit to education in Florida, and could have a major impact on lottery sales nationally, according to Hargrove, who’s also the president of the World Lottery Association.

The Florida bill (HB 629) would require warnings to take up 10 percent of the space on the front of a ticket. Retailers also have to post warnings wherever the tickets are sold.

House Speaker José Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, pushed the proposal.

“The bottom line is, what’s important for people to know is that (the) Lottery, unlike other types of things that we consider possibly habitual or dangerous, is carried out by the state and does nothing to warn people of its habitual nature,” the speaker told reporters earlier this month.

Hargrove said she’s not aware of any other state that requires a warning to take up 10 percent of the front of the ticket, and warned that the warning message will have a “substantial negative impact” not only on the Florida Lottery but on the industry as a whole.

The warning “interferes” with bar codes on the tickets, cautioned Hargrove, who repeatedly referred to the “good causes” supported by state lotteries in her letter to the governor.

And the warning will have a “substantial negative impact on the aesthetics of the ticket,” the 36-year Lottery veteran warned.

“The play area of the ticket is the core of the appeal of these games to the consumer. Reducing the play area of the ticket will reduce the entertainment and play value of the instant game,” she predicted.

Retailers may not want to sell the instant scratch-off games “due to the negative image this warning message conveys about addiction,” Hargrove added.

The warnings could lead to a $235 million reduction in Lottery sales, which would result in a $61 million hit to education. In addition, retailers would lose about $14.1 million in commissions.

Hargrove also said she’s worried that Florida’s warnings could spread to other states.

“Our industry would not want Florida to set in motion a trend in legislatures that ultimately leads to a reduction in dollars for lottery beneficiaries, including college scholarships, pre-K funding, healthcare funding, programs that support senior citizens and state budgets,” she wrote.

‘Homeless encampment’ headed to Broward? Thanks, President Trump!

After learning that “the federal government will be sending hundreds of migrants to Broward County to alleviate the highly publicized problems at the U.S. Mexico border,” Broward Mayor Mark Bogen suggested the immigrants may be better off at one of President Donald Trump’s hotels.

Broward County officials issued a press release Thursday, chiding the Trump administration for what could be an influx of hundreds of undocumented immigrants into a region sorely lacking in affordable housing.

The threat from Trump follows the Republican-dominated Legislature’s passage last month of one of the nation’s strictest bans on “sanctuary cities.”

According to the press release, “hundreds of immigrants will be arriving in Broward County on a weekly basis without designated shelters or funding to house them, feed them, and keep them safe.”

Broward Mayor Mark Bogen called the situation “a humanitarian crisis,”  and pledged the county will “do everything possible to help these people.”

“If the President will not provide us with financial assistance to house and feed these people, he will be creating a homeless encampment,” the mayor added.

If the county can’t find the resources to house the migrants, Bogan suggested “we bring them to the Trump hotels and ask the President to open his heart and home as well.”

Here’s the rest of the release:

Mayor Bogen says a sudden influx of immigrants will further strain Broward County’s social services and will cause further harm to immigrants who will be left here with no money, housing or basic knowledge of the area. Broward County will reach out to all charities, non-profits, businesses and other resources to try to help the migrants who will be arriving here.

“This is irresponsible policy.  To bring hundreds of people here every week without providing the necessary resources to house and feed them is inhumane. Although our Commission has not had the chance to address this issue, in my opinion, the people that we can’t find shelter for and will become homeless, I would suggest, that we bring them to the Trump hotels and ask the President to open his heart and home as well,” said Mayor Mark Bogen.

Broward County is not a sanctuary city and the Florida Senate recently passed a controversial bill banning such cities in the state.  President Trump has threatened to send people who illegally cross the border to communities that are considered immigrant friendly.

Gruters, horses brag on session; Eskamani gets angry

Subtlety apparently wasn’t the goal in videos featuring lawmakers from opposite sides of the aisle, pushed out after the 2019 legislative session wrapped.

Sen. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican who’s also the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, got a majestic, campaign-style video featuring a lot of horses and a basso voiceover.

Meanwhile, Orlando Democrat Rep. Anna Eskamani, Florida’s answer to U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, went her own route.

Eskamani recruited her twin sister, Ida, to act as her “Anger Interpreter” in a video inspired by comedy duo Key and Peele’s ‘Luther the anger translator.’

In a follow-up tweet, Eskamani, who’s known throughout the Capitol for what seems to be a perpetual smile, made it clear that the video was all in good fun.

“Want to make sure y’all know that we made this video with nothing but love & gratitude for our colleagues and to the legislative process. I do my best to always present as my authentic self, and w/out laughter we have nothing.  ❤️”

For those not in the know, Luther made a political splash in 2015, when he gave some assistance to then-President Barack Obama during the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

So, you don’t have to look it up, here’s the Obama version.

 

By Jim Turner and The Dara.

Too much winning for ‘Governor Ron?’

DSC_2851-SPresident Donald Trump told a crowd Wednesday that his brand of “winning” may have been too much for Gov. Ron DeSantis.

As he was wrapping up an approximately 90-minute speech during a campaign rally in Panama City Beach, Trump recalled DeSantis coming at some unspecified time to see him in the White House.

“Governor Ron, he’d say, ‘President please,’ in the Oval Office, ‘please we’re winning too much, we’re not used to this Mr. President, we’re not used to this,’ ” Trump, whose endorsement of DeSantis in last year’s gubernatorial race helped boost the former congressman to victory, said.

“ ‘For years and years, we’ve been losers, we’ve been losing Mr. President,’ ” Trump continued to quote DeSantis. “ ‘Now we’re winning, the people of Florida can’t stand winning so much. Can you maybe pull it back a little bit Mr. President?’ ”

“And I said, ‘No I can’t Ron, I’m sorry,’ ” Trump said.

DeSantis’ spokeswoman, Helen Ferré, helped to translate Trump’s remarks.

“The President was using good humor to say that Governor DeSantis is taking great care of Florida,” she said in an email.
By Jim Turner.

Stew ’em if ya got ’em? Denver hearts magic mushrooms

Because Colorado.

The mile-high city just got higher after Denver voters gave the thumbs-up to a proposal effectively decriminalizing magic mushrooms.

Denver will now become the first city in the nation to give the nod to psilocybin mushrooms, which can cause users to trip their brains out but which studies now show can be useful in treating depression.

Voters narrowly approved the measure by less than 2,000 votes. The Denver Post reports that some ballots have yet to be counted, but they’re not expected to change the results, which will be certified on May 16.

From the Post:

“It’s been one hell of a 21 and a half hours,” Initiative 301 campaign manager Kevin Matthews said. “If these results hold, this is an example of the absurd comedy of the great metaphor. Against all odds, we prevailed. This is what happens when a small team of dedicated and passionate people unite under a single idea to create change.”

The proposal requires the po-po to treat possession of psychedelic shrooms as their lowest priority. It’s similar to an initiative that paved the way for the legalization of pot.

Again, from the Post:

“Our victory here is a clear signal to the rest of the country that we’re ready for a broader conversation around psilocybin and its potential benefits,” said Matthews, a 33-year-old stay-at-home dad.