Good Friday morning. At least the hurricane forecasts are getting better. At least for Florida, that is. The 5 a.m. National Hurricane Center advisory for Tropical Storm Nate shows it’s more likely to strike the central Gulf Coast, perhaps as early as Saturday night, as a low-end hurricane. Lots can change in that time and, since the Florida Gulf Coast will likely be on the storm’s most powerful side, flooding could be dangerous in the Panhandle. (Hurricane Dennis in 2005, for instance, landfall around Pensacola but caused serious flooding in the village of St. Marks south of Tallahassee 216 miles away.) … And speaking of hurricanes …
Story Continued Below
TESLA FOR PUERTO RICO? — Can Elon Musk help save Puerto Rico? With a little bit of Twitter and an opportunistic governor, Ricardo Rosselló, maybe so. More than two weeks after Hurricane Maria struck, more than 90 percent of the island remains without power. But from the crisis emerges a potential opportunity, as Earther’s Brian Kahn pointed out in this piece: “Puerto Rico Has a Once In a Lifetime Opportunity to Rethink How It Gets Electricity.” And when a guy named Scott Stapf saw the story last night, he decided to tweet about it and ask Elon Musk. Here’s how it unfolded last night and this morning on Twitter:
— Scott Stapf (@stapf): “Could @elonmusk go in and rebuild #PuertoRico’s electricity system with independent solar & battery systems?” http://bit.ly/2fWu55s
—@elonmusk: “The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too. Such a decision would be in the hands of the PR govt, PUC, any commercial stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of PR.”
— @ricardorossello: “@elonMusk Let’s talk. Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your #TeslaTechnologies? PR could be that flagship project.”
—@elonmusk: “I would be happy to talk. Hopefully, Tesla can be helpful.”
—@ricardorossello: “Let’s talk today; I will be in touch. I have no doubt #Teslasolar will work w/#PuertoRico to globally showcase the power of its technology.”
IN THE DARK — The Trump Administration has its story and it’s sticking to it: It’s doing a great job in Puerto Rico. It’s not a widely shared belief among Puerto Ricans or among those who aren’t Trump supporters or members of President Donald Trump’s administration. As the Washington Post reported yesterday, FEMA decided to remove from its webpage two embarrassing statistics that help people objectively track reconstruction: the number of people without power (90%) or without clean drinking water (46%). Still on FEMA’s website: the stats measuring the size of its response. Trump’s visit this week also had a made-for-TV Potemkin Village quality that didn’t show him the full scope of horrors on the island.
EVERYTHING IS AWESOME! — “Vice President Mike Pence praises relief efforts for Puerto Rico during visit to Central Florida,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Steven Lemongello and Jeff Weiner: “As criticism mounts of the federal response to Hurricane Maria, Vice President Mike Pence visited Central Florida on Thursday and promised the administration is doing all it can to help hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. ‘We will tirelessly reach every road and every community to bring aid to every Puerto Rican in need, and we will not stop until the job is done,” Pence told a crowd of about 300 at Iglesia de Dios in Kissimmee, which he called “the heart of the Puerto Rican community in Florida.” Read more
EVERYTHING IS NOT AWESOME! — “Puerto Rico health system on life support two weeks after Hurricane Maria,” by USA Today’s Oren Dorell: Read more
— “Vulture Capitalists Circle Above Puerto Rican Prey,” by Moyers & Company’s Bill Moyers: Read more
— “Trump Is Right: We Need to Forgive Puerto Rico’s Debt,” by The New Republic’s Bryce Covert: Read more
— “Hurricanes will hit jobs numbers hard,” by CNN Money’s Chris Isidore:Read more
— “Repealing the Jones Act would help Puerto Rico. But it could hurt Florida,” by Miami Herald’s Alex Daugherty: Read more
PEOPLE ARE AWESOME! — Bianca Padró Ocasio (@BiancaJoanie): “Río Piedras. That feel when curfew’s in 35 minutes.” http://bit.ly/2fPXV8b”
— “Scenes from Puerto Rico: A ride with Luis, one of San Juan’s only cab drivers,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Bianca Padró Ocasio: Read more
— @pablodellano: “Luis, the taxi driver: ‘If there’s a Boricua exodus to Florida, Rubio’s going to f— himself and Trump is also going to go f— himself.” http://bit.ly/2ksIeZF
NO BAILOUT FOR YOU! — “White House walks back Trump’s Puerto Rico comments as Wall Street reels,” by POLITICO’s Ben White and Colin Wilhelm:On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump casually told Geraldo Rivera on Fox News that the United States would have to wipe out $75 billion in debt owed by Puerto Rico to bondholders around the world. Wall Street promptly freaked out, sending Puerto Rican bonds into a tailspin and leading the White House to move swiftly to clean up Trump’s seemingly offhand remarks. Read more
WELCOME TO FLORIDA — “Gov. Scott: Florida Enters New Host-State Agreement to Help Displaced Puerto Ricans,” via press release: “Governor Rick Scott announced that the Trump Administration has approved his request to enter into Host-State agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This agreement approves 100 percent federal reimbursement for costs incurred by the State of Florida related to the accommodation of those displaced by Hurricane Maria. In Florida, this includes sheltering operations and other support for those who are currently in Florida and for those who are still arriving from Puerto Rico. Click HERE to see the agreement.”
STORM DOLLARS — “Contractor overseeing ‘I-4 Ultimate’ considering Irma recovery costs from state,” by POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon: here
HUH — “After Irma, state doesn’t waive fees for KidCare insurance,” by Miami Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas: Read more
DID HE FLY COMMERCIAL? — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is in Florida, visiting Big Cypress National Preserve, on the second day of a three-day trip to view damage cause to national parks by Hurricane Irma. More here on Zinke’s flight patterns.
WHAT THE …. ? — “Cocoa canoe washed up by Hurricane Irma may date to 1600s” by Florida Today’s Rick Neale: “There’s a 50-50 chance that the wood used to make the canoe that washed ashore in Cocoa during Hurricane Irma dates between 1640 and 1680 — generations before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. … The dugout canoe was discovered Sept. 11 along the Indian River Lagoon shoreline by Cocoa photographer Randy ‘Shots’ Lathrop. He was checking out hurricane damages on his bicycle in the Indian River Drive neighborhood. A Florida Division of Historical Resources archaeologist inspected the 15-foot log vessel, and radiocarbon dating results were released Thursday.” Read more
… NON-STORM NEWS …
TALLAHASSEE REPORT — Today’s the final day for the public to submit proposals to the Constitution Revision Commission. Potential changes to the state constitution, which need to be approved by 60 percent of voters, can still be filed by the commission’s 37 members until the end of the month. State economists in Tallahassee will meet to score a host of bills ahead of the 2018, including a proposed Small Business Saturday sales tax holiday proposed by state Sen. Rene Garcia, and a proposal from state Sen. Dorothy Hukill to increase the corporate income tax from $50,000 to $75,000. The economists will also consider proposed language that would increase that exemption to $100,000.
PRESSURING FOR CHANGE — “Scott wants CRC to address nursing home safety,” by POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon: Gov. Rick Scott wants a panel considering changes to the state constitution to propose stronger protection for nursing home residents. The push comes following 12 deaths at a Broward County nursing home in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. The nursing home lost power to its air conditioner during the massive storm. In a separate action, Scott issued an emergency rule requiring such facilities to have generators by Nov. 15. Lawmakers have also proposed bills to require facilities to have on-site generators. In a statement on Thursday, Scott said the CRC should “find more permanent measures” to ensure resident safety. Read more
OLD FOLKS AT HOME (AND VOTING) — “Still booming with retirees, The Villages gives Trump, GOP edge in Florida,” by the Tampa Bay Times’ Alex Leary: “For several consecutive years, The Villages has been the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States, drawing retirees to an area northwest of Orlando with endless recreation, relative affordability and an almost jarring level of cleanliness and order … the explosive growth has fueled a remarkable, somewhat under-the-radar demographic trend that is playing an increasingly key role in the country’s most prized swing state. Overwhelmingly white and Republican, The Villages and surrounding areas have offset the rise in Hispanic residents in Central Florida, part of the vaunted I-4 corridor where elections are decided. In a state with a history of bitterly close elections, small shifts matter greatly and this one played a key role in Donald Trump’s narrow victory.” Read more
TRUMPED — “Superintendent Avossa tweets Post reports fake news, then apologizes,” by Palm Beach Post’s Charles Elmore: “The head of the nation’s 11th-largest school district apologized for ‘bad judgment’ in a late-night Twitter blast with a ‘fake news’ hashtag as he took issue with reporting by The Palm Beach Postabout a near tripling of district officials making more than $140,000 a year — including some he knew from previous jobs.‘Ask @pbpost for facts — not false narratives — trying to cause a problem,’ Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa tweeted at 12:03 a.m. Oct. 1. ‘I love my staff and teachers — we are getting results — #fakenews.’ School Board member Marcia Andrews said she brought up the tweets with the third-year superintendent. ‘I was very concerned about that,’ Andrews said. ‘I expressed to him my concern it’s just not the way to behave.’” Read more
HEALTHCARE WARS — “Medical debt biggest cause of South Florida homelessness, Survey Says,” by Miami New Times’ Jessica Lipscomb: “[E]ven with Obamacare intact, many Floridians remain vulnerable without health insurance. Census surveys say the Sunshine State has one of the highest uninsured populations in the nation, and of the top 25 metro areas, Miami ranks in the bottom three for health-care coverage. Among the local homeless population, medical debt now tops the list of reasons people end up on the streets, according to a new survey in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. In fact, the top three reasons people in South Florida become homeless are all medical-related issues. Drug addiction and mental health rank just below medical debt on the list.” Read more
DANGER! — “Lake O hits highest level since 2005, raising concerns its dike could fail,” by the Tampa Bay Times’ Craig Pittman: “Rainfall from Hurricane Irma has pushed the water level in Lake Okeechobee to its highest point since 2005. Now, with more wet weather in the forecast, nearby residents fear a collapse of the 80-year-old dike around the lake. As a result, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is dumping large volumes of lake water out into coastal estuaries — exactly as it did last year, when those releases caused a massive toxic algae bloom that closed Atlantic coast beaches over the Fourth of July weekend. Meanwhile, Corps officials have stepped up inspections of the dike to three to four times a week to make sure its continuing leaks don’t grow to the point of endangering people living near it. ‘We recognize that as the water level continues to rise, there is an increased risk of failure,’ Corps spokesman John Campbell said. The dike around the lake is classified as one of the most vulnerable in the nation. The earthen embankment on the south end of the lake is older, and thus more in danger of being breached, he said.” Read more
FREE SPEECH — “White supremacist Richard Spencer to speak at UF Oct. 19,” by POLITICO Florida’s Daniel Ducassi: White supremacist Richard Spencer is set to speak on the University of Florida campus on Oct. 19, the school announced Thursday. “Despite not being invited by the University of Florida, National Policy Institute’s President Richard Spencer is scheduled to speak on October 19 on campus,” a UF statement said. “Although UF leadership has denounced Spencer’s white supremacist rhetoric, the University, as a state entity, must allow the free expression of all viewpoints.” Spencer’s group, the National Policy Institute, has rented space at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts at 2:30 p.m. on the school’s Gainesville campus. The group had previously sought event space for Spencer to speak on Sept. 12, but the school denied that request “based on specific security threats.” Under the agreement between NPI and UF, the school is charging the group $10,564 to rent the space and for security within the venue itself. That is far short of the security costs the school expects to take on. Read more
DON’T COUNT ON THIS PASSING — Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) and Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) said Thursday they plan to introduce a bill to ban the manufacture, sale, and use of “bump stocks,” a rapid-firing device used by the gunman in this week’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.
— “NRA moves to head off gun control fight in Congress. The influential gun lobby calls for new regulations — not legislation — to ban so-called ‘bump stocks,’” by POLITICO’s Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey and John Bresnahan. Read story here
POISON PILL? — “White House plans to demand immigration cuts in exchange for DACA fix,” by POLITICO’s Josh Dawsey, Andrew Restuccia and Matt Nussbaum: “The White House is finalizing a plan to demand hardline immigration reforms in exchange for supporting a fix on the DACA program, according to three people familiar with the talks — an approach that risks alienating Democrats and even many Republicans, potentially tanking any deal. Read more
— “Flake tries to strike DACA compromise,” by POLITICO’S Burgess Everett. Read story here.
FRACK! — “Hulk actor wants to smash fracking in Florida,” by the Tallahassee Democrat’s Jeff Burlew: Actor Mark “Ruffalo will join Floridians Against Fracking in a conference call Friday night to discuss efforts to enact a statewide ban on the controversial drilling technique.” Read more
BECAUSE MIAMI — “An angry porn star told cops about a Miami drug ring. Now, a fugitive has surrendered,” by Miami Herald’s David Ovalle and Jay Weaver: Read more
… ODDS, ENDS AND FLORIDA MEN …
THE COLD WAR NEVER ENDED — “Mysterious Soviet buoy surfaces in South Florida,” by Sun Sentinel’s Lisa J. Huriash: “Some international intrigue, Soviet-style with a Cuban twist, has kicked up along the shores of South Florida. A 1,200-pound Soviet buoy that surfaced off Dania Beach looks like it belongs in a James Bond movie. “Гидрометслужба СССР” — which is Russian for “Hydrometrical Service of the USSR” — is painted in black on its side. Exactly where the rusty, Cold War-era relic came from, and what it was used for, remain a mystery. Workers at Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park pulled it off the beach just days after Hurricane Irma swept through town. They think it floated 350 miles from Cuba, given Cuba’s historically close ties with the Soviet Union.” Read more
THE NON-MAGIC KINGDOM — “‘The Florida Project’ portrays the underbelly of Kissimmee’s famous tourist strip,” by Orlando Weekly’s Monivette Cordeiro: Read more
— “Miami Beach Police arrest man for making parody police Twitter account,” by Miami New Times’ Jerry Iannelli: Read more
— “School district PR firm linked to online comments,” by Herald-Tribune’s Elizabeth Dijinis and Brian Reis: Read more
— “State senator says FPL isn’t preparing Miami’s nuclear plant for sea-level rise,” by Miami New Times’ Jerry Iannelli: Read more
PYTHON! — “Researchers: Pythons changed mosquito’s diet in Everglades,” by AP: “University of Florida researchers have more data showing invasive Burmese pythons decimating populations of native mammals in the Everglades. Entomology professor Nathan Burkett-Cadena led a team collecting Culex cedecei mosquitoes in Everglades National Park. They analyzed animal DNA in the mosquitoes’ guts to determine what they had bitten. The researchers compared their 2016 findings to a similar 1979 study. Before pythons arrived, hispid cotton rats comprised about 15 percent of the mosquitoes’ diet. The rest included raccoons, opossums and deer. Burkett-Cadena says rats now make up three-quarters of the mosquitoes’ diet because pythons have eaten so many other mammals.” Read more
FOR MORE political and policy news, check out Politico Florida’s home page: http://politi.co/1jkJUyL. And please follow our staff @mdixon55, @sbustosFL, @christinesexton, @dducassi, and @bruceritchie on Twitter.
SUBSCRIBE to the Playbook family: POLITICO Playbookhttp://politi.co/2lQswbh … New York Playbook http://politi.co/1ON8bqW …Florida Playbook http://politi.co/1OypFe9 … New Jersey Playbook http://politi.co/1HLKltF … Massachusetts Playbook http://politi.co/1Nhtq5v …Illinois Playbook http://politi.co/1N7u5sb … California Playbook http://politi.co/2bLvcPl … Brussels Playbook http://politi.co/1FZeLcw … London Playbook http://politi.co/2xfDPuK … All our political and policy tipsheets http://politi.co/1M75UbX
Want to make an impact? POLITICO Florida has a variety of solutions available for partners looking to reach and activate the most influential people in the Sunshine State. Have a petition you want signed? A cause you’re promoting? Seeking to increase brand awareness amongst this key audience? Share your message with our influential readers to foster engagement and drive action. Contact Jesse Shapiro to find out how: [email protected].