Good Friday morning. Who’s ready for a South Florida early bird special?
Destination unknown — The oddity that has been the 2019 Florida GOP’s Statesman’s Dinner, which will feature President Donald Trump, has taken another twist. On Thursday, just two days before the event, party executive director Peter O’Rourke told the Palm Beach Post he didn’t “know anything about” its location. Just so that comment doesn’t whiz by, let’s rephrase it a bit: The state party’s top staffer told a reporter he did not know the whereabouts of the GOP’s biggest event of the year two days before the event was to take place.
Put it down — Later that day, party leaders confirmed to the rank-and-file that the program would start at 5 p.m. at the JW Marriott Turnberry Resort and Spa in Aventura, according to an email obtained by POLITICO. Also of note, according to the email, is attendees will not be able to take cell phones into the event: “If you do not wish to check your mobile device, please do not bring it to the event.” Concerned about leaks?
Mystery road — So after all this, the party’s biggest annual fundraiser is sold out, but there were definitely bumps along the way. Let’s take a walk down memory lane: The event was originally planned for Disney World, but then it was canceled, err, postponed. Then it was back on, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis, and the president would be coming. (There was some suggestion that this abrupt announcement caught some people off the guard). Then GOP leaders kept the location shrouded in a bit of mystery — although top lobbyists and fundraisers knew weeks ago it would held at the Turnberry rather than Trump’s nearby resort in Doral. And potentially the biggest snag? The speech conflicts with the SEC championship football game.
End game — But at this point for the Republican Party of Florida, only one thing matters: They got Trump. We have no doubt plenty of cash will be raised.
— WHERE’S RON? — Nothing official announced for Gov. DeSantis.
ENEMY TERRITORY — “South Florida is the bluest part of Florida. So why is Trump stumping for votes in the ‘People’s Republic of Broward’?” by Sun Sentinel’s Skyler Swisher: “Trump ventured into unfriendly territory and held a packed rally the BB&T Center in Sunrise. This weekend he’s headlining an Israeli-American Council conference in Hollywood and speaking at the Republican Party of Florida’s Statesman’s Dinner in the Aventura area in Miami-Dade.”
GOING LOCAL — “Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders applaud Bakari Burns’ Orlando City Council win,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Ryan Gillespie: “Democratic presidential hopefuls Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders on Wednesday night each tweeted their congratulations to political newcomer Bakari Burns, who on Tuesday won a seat on the Orlando City Council over former state senator Gary Siplin.”
ISLAND SUPPORT — “Joe Biden gets 25 new endorsements from Puerto Rico,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Steven Lemongello: “Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign calls the endorsements “the largest bipartisan slate of Puerto Rican endorsements in a primary election” and said they build on the support Biden has already received from Puerto Rican elected officials in Florida including state Rep. Amy Mercado, D-Orlando, and state Sen. Vic Torres, D-Kissimmee.”
ANOTHER ONE — “Florida Democrats launch plan to boost vote-by-mail turnout in 2020,” by POLITICO’s Gary Fineout: Florida Democrats, with a financial boost from former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, plan to spend nearly a half-million dollars on a campaign to urge Hispanic and African American voters to cast their ballots by mail in the 2020 presidential election.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — While in South Florida this weekend, President Donald Trump will also be giving the keynote address at the annual conference of the Israeli-American Council National Summit. The Democratic National Committee released a statement to Playbook from Mark Mellman, head of the Democratic Majority for Israel, ahead of the event. And as you can imagine, Mellman is highly critical of Trump: “Donald Trump’s record is a direct affront to America’s cherished values. Instead of respecting diversity, encouraging pluralism and extending a helping hand to immigrants, Trump has too often aligned himself with the forces of white supremacy, bigotry and exclusion. In foreign policy his abandonment of the Kurds and his attacks on NATO demonstrate he is, at best, an unreliable ally. His feckless policy has made a two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict harder to achieve, while increasing Iran’s power and influence in the region, despite his stated intent. Neither the American people generally, nor the pro-Israel community specifically, will reward Trump for fomenting hatred at home or for offering symbolic gestures and pursing counterproductive polices abroad.”
MOVING UP — Susie Perez Quinn has been tapped to serve as director of government affairs for the National Governors Association. She has a long resume working in Washington politics, but most recently served as a top adviser to former Florida Sen. Bill Nelson.
PENINSULA AND BEYOND
TERRIBLE — “Robbery suspects, hostage and bystander killed after hijacking, dramatic police chase,” by Miami Herald’s Joey Flechas, Douglas Hanks, Devoun Cetoute and David Ovalle: “Armed robbers hijacked a UPS truck after a robbery in Coral Gables, leading police cars on a harrowing chase up Interstate 75 that ended Thursday night in a dramatic and deadly shootout on a busy street in Miramar. The FBI on Thursday night acknowledged that four people were killed: the two robbers, a UPS driver who was taken hostage and a bystander who was inside an idle car at the scene. An image captured by the Miami Herald showed someone dead behind the wheel of a dark-colored sedan, its windows covered up by authorities. In one bystander video that surfaced Thursday night online, the sedan appeared to have just turned right at the intersection, about 350 feet away from the UPS truck.”
WHAT? — “Orlando police officer suing department for gender, disability discrimination fired while awaiting retirement decision,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Tess Sheets: “An Orlando police officer who is suing the department for gender and disability discrimination was fired on Thursday, as her application for disability retirement awaits a decision.”
AWFUL — “Judge orders emergency hearing for Florida inmate paralyzed in vicious attack by guards,” by Miami Herald’s Julie K. Brown: “A Florida woman whose neck and spinal cord were broken in a brutal beating by guards at Lowell Correctional Institution in August has been transferred from the prison infirmary to an outside medical facility, but her lawyer says he doesn’t know why she was transferred or where she is.”
CONTROVERSIAL VOTE — “Tallahassee commissioners move ahead on hearing to ban conversion therapy,” by Tallahassee Democrat’s Karl Etters: “After dozens of impassioned pleas Wednesday night, the City Commission moved forward on an ordinance that would ban the practice of conversion therapy in Tallahassee.”
BEHIND THE CURTAIN — “Laborland: In a theme park parking lot at night, a worker sleeps in her car. This is life in America’s most visited city,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Chabeli Herrera: “This is the place where the pixie dust loses its sparkle. It’s where the low-wage workers who power Orlando’s tourism machine leave the attractions, hotels and eateries and fade into a community that doesn’t have enough affordable housing, public transportation or opportunities in industries with higher-paying jobs.”
MOVING UP — “After historic pay raises, a family of Disney workers can finally afford to move a bigger home,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Gabrielle Russon: “For the past two years, three generations of women pooled their paychecks from $10-an-hour jobs at Disney’s Magic Kingdom to survive in Central Florida.”
SIGN OF THINGS TO COME? — “At $60 million a mile, the Keys may abandon some roads to sea rise rather than raise them,” by Miami Herald’s Alex Harris: “Last month, the Keys asked the state for $150 million to address sea level rise. Newly released cost estimates show the county could blow that entire amount on a few miles of road elevation.”
LOCKED UP — “They fled a nightmare in Venezuela, only to wind up in U.S. immigration prisons,” by Miami Herald’s Sonio Osorio: “Venezuelans who crossed the Mexico-U.S. border to apply for U.S. asylum are languishing in detention centers in Louisiana, waiting for replies for six months and more.”
NEVER FORGET — “A memorial for Hillsborough lynching victims is coming,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Paul Guzzo: “‘A good community does not run from its history,’ said Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera, who supports a memorial.”
SECRETS — “Miamian trying to buy anti-tank weapons was busted. Did offshore secrecy hide his assets?” by McClatchy DC’s Kevin G. Hall and Shirsho Dasgupta: “When Miami resident Vincent Ghahremani was arrested in a DEA sting operation trying to buy Russian anti-tank weapons on behalf of what he thought was a Mexican drug cartel, he’d kept enough secrets to fill a trunk. Born in Iran but using a Spanish address and traveling under a Norwegian passport, Ghahremani, 47, relied on secrecy for his varied global ventures. To facilitate the secrecy, he turned to Formations House, an offshore services provider in London.”
COMING SOON — “For The Black News Channel, Knowledge Is Power,” by 850 Business Magazine’s Steve Bornhoft: “In a couple of ways, Bob Brillante intends that his latest project, the Tallahassee-based Black News Channel, distinguish itself from other enterprises offering what passes for broadcast journalism. One, he said, the channel will be culturally specific, produced by and tailored to an African American audience. Secondly, he said, it will deliver news. ‘We will not be ideologically driven at all,’ Brillante said.”
EXPANDING — “Ravaged by opioid deaths and HIV, Broward approves needle exchange. Miami is the model,” by Miami Herald’s Ben Conarck: “On Tuesday, the same day that Broward authorized a needle exchange of its own, Miami-Dade commissioners made that pilot program permanent, passing the ordinance unanimously with little discussion and all the commissioners joining in as co-sponsors. ‘It’s huge,’ said state Rep. Shevrin Jones, a Broward Democrat who co-sponsored the bill that became this year’s needle exchange law. ‘You’ve got the two largest counties in the state of Florida who have passed life-saving pieces of legislation.’”