By Marc Caputo ([email protected]; @MarcACaputo) with Emily Goldberg ([email protected]; @ejgold94), Sergio Bustos ([email protected]; @sbustosFL) and the staff of POLITICO Florida

Good Wednesday morning.

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WIPE OUT? Last night, President Donald Trump seemed to deliver some pretty big news in an interview with Fox News Channel’s Geraldo Rivera when he referenced Puerto Rico’s $72-billion, pre-storm debt and said “we’re going to have to wipe that out.” Is that a bailout (which Trump once opposed)? How would that work? Would Congress support that? Unfortunately, Rivera didn’t ask. “My Aunt Ellie doesn’t care about that,” Rivera said, cutting off the president as he made news. “She wants some help; she wants to hear from you.” Thanks, Geraldo. Anyway, as POLITICO has noted repeatedly, Trump’s management of reconstruction in Puerto Rico could have political consequences in Florida. And up until last night, there wasn’t a lot of praise for POTUS among Puerto Ricans.

BODY COUNTS AND DEBT — “Trump brings harsh edge to Puerto Rico trip: The president dings the hurricane-ravaged U.S. territory for having ‘thrown our budget a little out of whack,’” by POLITICO’s Nolan D. McCaskill and Matt Nussbaum: Read more

— “Trump says San Juan mayor has ‘come back a long way,’” by POLITICO’s Louis Nelson: Read more

EXODUS TURNING POINTS — “Puerto Rican families with ties to Central Florida struggle with decision to stay or leave,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Bianca Padró Ocasio:“The trail of torn gas signs and zinc metal roofs that the wind curled up like paper almost two weeks ago decorate the powerless streets of Santurce, a neighborhood in San Juan. Word is slowly spreading that lines at gas stations are getting shorter, and people walk the streets to and from work for a lunch break at the closest open Burger King. The crisis in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria — which magnified conditions on an island already facing a severe economic crisis — has left families with ties to Central Florida with a choice: Do they stay and rebuild the home they love, or leave for a new beginning?” Read more

— “Scenes from Puerto Rico: ‘I discovered that behind the trees, people had been living,’” by Orlando Sentinel’s Bianca Padró Ocasio: Read more

— “For a Puerto Rican family, a fateful decision is made, echoed across the island,” by Bradenton Herald’s Tim Johnson: Read more

— “Cruise ship carries thousands of hurricane evacuees to Fort Lauderdale,” by Miami Herald’s Chabeli Herrera: Read more

— “After Puerto Rico trip, Florida Dems strike non-partisan tone,” by POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon: Read more

… IRMA UPDATE …

— “Hurricane Irma shut down Zoo Miami for a month. The gates will open again soon,” by Miami Herald’s Elizabeth Koh: Read more

— “Hurricane Irma: Trump raises debris reimbursement for Florida to 90%” by Palm Beach Post’s George Bennett: Read more

— “Pam Bondi investigates Randy Perkins’ AshBritt, a Hurricane Irma debris cleanup company,” by TC Palm’s Lucas Daprile: Read more

— “PSC moves forward with ‘fact intensive’ review of Irma outages,” by POLITICO Florida’s Bruce Ritchie: Read more

… NON-STORM NEWS …

SCOTT’S PATRONIS CHARM Gov. Rick Scott has followed a general rule in politics: don’t endorse in Republican primaries. But state CFO Jimmy Patronis, appointed by Scott to replace retired predecessor Jeff Atwater, doesn’t have a major primary opponent in his first statewide election next year. So Scott is standing by and raising money for the CFO’s Treasure Florida political committee on Thurs., Nov. 9 at Universal Citywalk – The Groove in Orlando. The invite is here

DACA DEAL — “GOP lawmakers say Trump wants tough measures in Dreamers deal,” by POLITICO’s Seung Min Kim and Burgess Everett: “House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he made the case to Trump that funding for a border wall should be part of any legislative package on DACA. Asked if Trump agreed, McCarthy said yes — which would go counter to an agreement that Democratic leaders thought they had struck last month. One other new requirement, according to one Republican senator who attended: Congress needs to pass a bill that addresses solely the current population of DACA recipients, rather than a broader circle of young undocumented immigrants.” Read more

MORE FIREPOWER — “Rifles could add to defense of Volusia, Daytona beaches,”by the Daytona Beach News-Journal’s Patricio G. Balona: Read more

BOOTED — “U.S. to expel 15 Cuban embassy staffers,” by POLITICO’s Louis Nelson:“The U.S. government has ordered 15 staff members from the Cuban Embassy in Washington to leave the country, a State Department official said Tuesday, a step intended to bring diplomatic operations between the two nations into parity after the U.S. cut its staff in Havana last week. The official said the expulsion of Cuban diplomats should not be taken as an indication of a larger policy shift toward Havana, nor should it be read as the U.S. government blaming its Cuban counterparts for a series of sonic attacks against American diplomatic personnel. It was those attacks that prompted the State Department last week to order more than 60 percent of its embassy staff in Havana to leave the island.’” Read more

PAY FOR PLAY? — “Question posed by Menendez trial: What is a constituent?” by AP: “Sen. Bob Menendez’s fate could turn on a simple question: What is a constituent? Specifically, could Dr. Salomon Melgen, Menendez’s longtime friend and now co-defendant, be considered a constituent even though he lives in Florida and Menendez represents New Jersey? How U.S. District Judge William Walls rules on that issue could affect whether jurors in the senator’s trial draw the inference that Melgen’s out-of-state residence supports the government’s theory that Menendez’s actions were motivated by alleged bribes, Menendez’s defense team has argued. The Democrat is charged with accepting free luxury hotel stays and flights on Melgen’s private jet in exchange for lobbying for Melgen’s business interests with officials in the departments of state, health and homeland security.” Read more

— “Meeting with former health chief is focus of Menendez trial,” by AP: Read more

CAN’T BE WORSE THAN MORRIS — “Times-Union gets new ownership with closing of purchase by GateHouse Media,” by The Florida Times-Union: “For the first time in nearly 35 years, The Florida Times-Union is under new ownership. The newspaper and 10 others have been purchased by GateHouse Media in a transaction that closed Monday. GateHouse announced in August that it would purchase The Times-Union, The St. Augustine Record and papers in Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas and Texas from Morris Communications Co. The acquisitions, for which GateHouse has said it would pay $120 million, also include non-daily publications and associated websites and digital assets. ‘We’re extremely proud to have the opportunity to uphold the traditions of journalism and community service that the Morris family has shown over the past 72 years,’ said Kirk Davis, CEO of GateHouse Media. ‘We look forward to being an integral part of these communities, and working closely with local businesses.’” Read more

NEW NAME — “Nonprofit consultant Rob Panepinto announces run for Orange County mayor,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Steven Lemongello: “A candidate from outside politics is joining an Orange County mayor’s race that features two prominent officeholders. Rob Panepinto, a nonprofit and business consultant from Winter Park, said Monday he was a candidate to succeed Teresa Jacobs in 2018, saying he wanted to bring a perspective from the public/private partnership side.” Read more

OLD NAME NEW OFFICE — “Chip LaMarca running for state House, won’t seek re-election to Broward County Commission,” by the Sun Sentinel’s Anthony Man: Read more

SOAKED — “As suns dries St. Johns County Monday, flood concerns remain in coastal areas,” by the St. Augustine Record’s Stuart Korfhage: “St. Johns County was treated to a much-needed day of sunshine Monday after dealing with localized flooding over the weekend after a deluge of rain. According to the National Weather Service, some areas in the southern part of the county received an estimated 10-15 inches of rain over the weekend as a result of the nor’easter that swept over the area. Current conditions will continue to create dangerous surf conditions and high winds of 15 to 25 mph today and Wednesday. And the threat of coastal flooding will likely remain for weeks. Dave Shuler, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, said the northern half of St. Johns County saw just 2-4 inches of rain over the weekend while the area from about the city of St. Augustine south experienced considerably more serious precipitation.” Read more

HEALTH RULE CHALLENGED — “Health coach sues Florida Department of Health,” by AP: “A Florida health coach is suing the state Department of Health because she was forced to shut down her diet advice business. The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Pensacola claims that the state is violating Heather Kokesch Del Castillo’s first amendment rights to free speech by not allowing her to talk with clients about nutrition. While Del Castillo is certified as a health coach by a private organization, she isn’t a licensed nutritionist or dietitian, nor does she claim to be, according to the suit filed on her behalf by the Institute for Justice. The suit says the state is denying her right to provide her opinion and advice to willing listeners.” Read more

BIRTH OF A LAWSUIT — “Lawsuit seeks to stop Hollywood from renaming streets honoring Confederates,” by South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Susannah Bryan: “A lawsuit aiming to block Hollywood from renaming three streets that honor Confederate commanders has been filed by several residents who live on Lee Street. They claim Hollywood violated its own ordinance by not letting residents who live on those streets vote on a name change. ‘We think a referendum should be held on those three streets,’ said Doug Guetzloe, a spokesman for the Tampa-based Save Southern Heritage, which is representing the plaintiffs. ‘They illegally waived the ordinance. We don’t think what they did was proper.’” Read more

TARGETED — “Rubio and Florida GOP Offer Vegas ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ While Taking Thousands of Dollars From NRA,” by Miami New Times’ Tim Elfrink: “Rubio has taken $14,850 in donations from the NRA … [Rep. Mario] Diaz-Balart has accepted $26,450 … [Rep. Carlos] .Curbelo has accepted $7,450 from the NRA.” Read more

HENRY JOEL LEVINE Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine announced the birth of his first son, Henry Joel Levine, on Twitter. And, though Levine (the mayor, mind you) might run for governor, his possible future Democratic opponent Gwen Graham made sure to give him an attaboy via Twitter.

— Mayor Philip Levine @MayorLevine: “Welcome baby Henry Joel Levine to the world! Mom is doing great” — pics http://bit.ly/2g8YMkVAnother pic of Phil and Henry http://bit.ly/2yWKwDv

—@GwenGraham: “Congratulations, Caro and @MayorLevine! There is no greater joy in life than parenthood. God bless your family and baby Henry Joel.”

WEEKEND WEDDING — Sarah Hodgkins, a legislative assistant for Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), got married this weekend to Austin Ankney, a data scientist for the government. “The ceremony was at Bethany United Methodist Church in Somerset, Pennsylvania and the reception was a good old-fashioned barn party at Horizon View Farms in Rockwood, Pennsylvania. Sarah and her now husband met at Juniata College 2 months before they graduated in 2012.” Pics http://politi.co/2xYRMAWhttp://bit.ly/2hL7Z6J

SPOTTED: Shelby Hodgkins, Katrina Bishop, Kevin Hartley, Amanda Anger, Kiley Bidelman

WATER FARMING — “State officials tout water farm expansion to capture lake’s discharges,” by POLITICO Florida’s Bruce Ritchie: State officials said Tuesday that an expanded water storage facility on private land in western Martin County will help reduce discharges to estuaries from Lake Okeechobee. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been discharging water from the lake to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers to protect a flood control dike around the lake. Such discharges were blamed for coastal algae blooms in 2016 that reduced tourism and led state Senate President Joe Negron to file legislation to provide $800 million toward an Everglades water storage reservoir. The measure passed. Negron was on hand Tuesday when the Caulkins Water Farm was expanded from 413 acres to 3,200 acres, allowing the storage of 35 billion gallons of water per year from the C-44 canal on the former citrus farm, according to Caulkins Citrus Co. Read more

PLAY BALL — “DeBartolos give boost to new Hillsborough sheriff’s political committee,” by POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon: A political committee boosted by a familiar football family has been formed to support recently sworn-in Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister. The committee — Law Enforcement for Responsible Government — was created Aug. 14, two weeks before Gov. Rick Scott appointed Chronister interim sheriff after the retirement of David Gee. Chronister, who served as a colonel in the department, was the only applicant for the interim post. The biggest early contributions are from members of the DeBartolo family. Eddie DeBartolo, who has given the committee $25,000, is best known for owning the San Francisco 49ers when the team won five Super Bowls. Read more

MORE MONEY! — “Study: State universities need billions for facilities maintenance,” by POLITICO Florida’s Daniel Ducassi: A report examining the state university system’s campus buildings found that lawmakers will have to boost funding substantially just to maintain existing facilities. The report was presented Tuesday to the facilities committee of the Board of Governors of the State University by campus facilities planning consulting company Sightlines. The existing need for the entire system — situations where systems like air conditioning, electrical and plumbing have already failed or are operating with decreased efficiency or increased costs — totals nearly $1 billion dollars. That’s before accounting for another $2 billion needed over the next 10 years to prevent those kinds of failures and inefficiencies. Read more

… ODDS, ENDS AND FLORIDA MEN …

— “People urged to avoid some Fort Lauderdale waterways due to leaked sewage,” by Sun Sentinel’s Adam Sacasa: Read more

— “Brevard County urges residents to limit sewage,” by Florida Today’s Jim Waymer: Read more

— “Board mulls changes to performance funding system,” by POLITICO Florida’s Daniel Ducassi: Read more

— “At The Christmas Palace, you will find the most Miami holiday decorations EVER,” by Miami Herald’s Connie Ogle: Read more

— “Hialeah Cop Accused of Forcing Teen to Strip Never Punished, Back on Patrol,” by Miami New Times’ Jerry Iannelli: Read me

— “A naked and drunk Florida man with a shotgun. Nothing good came of that, cops say,” by David Goodhue for The Miami Herald Read more

BEAR! — “VIDEO: Bears attack Boynton woman’s car after family evacuated for Irma,” by Palm Beach Post’s Alexandra Seltzer: “Travis Gonzalez and his wife Denisse, worried about their three sons’ safety ahead of Hurricane Irma, decided to leave Lake Worth. What was supposed to be a 12-hour drive to the closest place with availability — Pigeon Forge, Tenn., a touristy mountain town in the eastern part of the state — took two days. Once there, they met another family of five: Black bears. Sebastian Gonzalez, 8, first spotted the bears on the roof of his grandmother’s Chevy Tahoe, Sebastian’s father Travis Gonzalez recalled Tuesday. Then grandma came out and yelped, ‘They’re in my car!’ And unbeknownst to the Gonzalez family, the bears had inadvertently locked themselves inside the car.” 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.

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