Page 1

Stay calm and Session on

+

Your guide to keeping your cool during the final weeks of Session

BUDGET LINGO | CAPITOL CORNERSTONES | MEET THE PUPPY CAUCUS | WHY PINK FOR SINE DIE?


In 2021, influence has never mattered more. With over 30 lobbyists, we’ve never had more influence.


PUBLISHER’S | NOTE

@PeterSchorschFL

Take a breath

I

t’s easy to get caught up in the hectic race to sine die. There are bills to pass (or quash, depending on where your loyalties lie), budget battles to be fought, and sprinkles to be liberally (or conservatively) applied. But if the past 12 months have taught us anything, it’s to remain calm, even in the midst of the craziest times. As the end of the 2021 Legislative Session approaches, take a moment to celebrate the small victories and enjoy the little moments that make this 60-day Session unique. That’s what we’re trying to do with this issue of INFLUENCE Magazine. Rosanne Dunkelberger takes us on a tour of Tallahassee to highlight some of the local goods and services we all could use this time of year. We scope out the best places to grab a calming beverage, tea or otherwise, and break down 10 places to chill out after a long day. An issue about the 2021 Legislative Session wouldn’t be complete without introducing you to the very good girls and boys taking over the Florida Capitol. These furry friends are begging for treats, not appropriations, and they are putting smiles on the faces of colleagues, lobbyists and visitors alike. We want you to be Zen, but we also know there’s plenty of business left to do. That’s why we’ve recruited Chris Dudley, a lobbyist extraordinaire at The Southern Group, to break down the budget lingo to help you through the final stretch of budget negotiations.

2

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

I’m also using this issue to tip my hat to the men and women who get things done in the capital city. Sorry, members and staffers, we aren’t talking about you. Instead, it’s a salute to the unsung lobbyists and the association executives who have been around for years. These men and women don’t always get the credit they deserve. Without them, Florida would be a much different state. Sure, they aren’t the hot shot up-and-comers anymore, but you can bet they won’t be hanging up their hats any time soon. And we’ll reflect on the life of Marvin Arrington, a well-respected lobbyist who died in 2002 and is the reason those in the know don pink on the final day of Session. All that, plus the usual roundup of movements on the fourth floor, advice from insiders, and updated rankings of the Top 25 lobby firms by revenue. With just a few weeks left until the hanky drops, I think we can all heed some advice from across the pond: Keep calm, and carry on.

Peter Schorsch Publisher

Peter@FloridaPolitics.com


INFLUENCE MAGAZINE A FloridaPolitics.com Publication

PUBLISHER

DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS

EDITOR-AT-LARGE

CREATIVE DIRECTOR

CONTRIBUTORS Rosanne Dunkelberger Janelle Irwin Ryan Nicol Scott Powers Drew Wilson

Peter Schorsch

Phil Ammann

Ron Brackett

S P E A K YO U R M I N D D E C I D E YO U R PAT H S E R VE YO U R AU D I E N C E

Christy Jennings

A.G. Gancarski Rochelle Koff Jacob Ogles Rebecca Renner Alex Workman

ART Bill Day Jordan Gibson

STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERS Colin Hackley Mary Beth Tyson

DIGITAL SERVICES MANAGER

Abby Hart Alex Workman

Daniel Dean

WHO WILL BE YO U R G U I D E ?

SUBSCRIPTIONS Subscribe at InfluenceMagazineFlorida.com

INFLUENCE Magazine is published quarterly by Florida Politics, LLC, a subsidiary of Extensive Enterprises Media, LLC. 204 37th Avenue North, St. Petersburg, Florida 33704. INFLUENCE Magazine and Extensive Enterprises Media are not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photography or artwork. Editorial contributions are welcomed and encouraged, but will not be returned. INFLUENCE Magazine reserves the right to publish any letters to the editor. Copyright April 2021, Extensive Enterprises, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited.

L E A R N M O R E: C H O O S E S D S .CO M

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

3


One block away from the Capitol.

4

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


6 feet ahead of the competition.

cccfla.com | 850.222.9075 |

@CapCityConsult Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

5


SPRING 2021

INFLUENCE MAGAZINE

PHOTO: The Workmans

features

78 FIND YOUR CHILL As Session 2021 gears up for its frantic final weeks, here’s some advice on how to stay calm in Tallahassee throughout the chaos. Above –Front Row: Jared Willis, Billie Ann Gay, Ellen Anderson Second Row: Jasmyn Henderson, Christie Mason Third Row: Aly Coleman, Samantha Sexton, Chris Turner, Victoria Price Fourth Row: Sarah Busk Suskey, Keaton Alexander, Justine Hicks Cover – Front Row: Aly Coleman, Jasmyn Henderson, Jared Willis Second Row: Sarah Busk Suskey, Chris Turner, Victoria Price, Ellen Anderson Third row: Billie Ann Gay, Keaton Alexander

74 Calm Amid the Clamor Karen Moore and her eponymous public affairs firm credit a culture of teamwork within the company for decades of success during the fast-moving and ever-changing Session.

90 The Puppy Caucus We double-dog-dare you not to go “awwww” when you meet these pooches of The Process.

113 Capitol Cornerstones

With years of experience in and out of government and deep knowledge of their subject and The Process, these advocates may not be in the spotlight, but their work is the bedrock of innovation in Florida’s public policy. 6

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


As we relaunch and reimagine Florida, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is uniting Florida’s business community for good, fighting for economic opportunities and growing private-sector jobs. We’re standing on the front lines to solve issues that impact Florida’s competitiveness, as well as the future of Florida’s business climate. Download or digitally view your copy of our 2021 Jobs and Competitiveness Agenda today!

www.FLChamber.com/WhereWeStand Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

7


INFLUENCE MAGAZINE

departments

30

11 14

34 24 Eat, Drink and Enjoy! A compendium of stories about the gustatory delights to be found in the Capital City. Rochelle Koff visits La Florida, an oasis of deliciousness in the shadow of the Capitol and directs us to local sources for charcuterie, cheese boards and “adult Lunchables.” Josh Aubuchon helps find your perfect bar and Rosanne Dunkelberger encourages you to indulge in teatime.

52 Let’s Make Lots of Money A look at the Top 25 legislative lobbying firms, ranked by earnings.

PHOTOS: The Workmans

70 The Budget Defined Talk of sprinkles and turkeys and shading out can confuse those new to the process of creating Florida’s budget, but veteran lobbyist Chris Dudley spells it all out.

8

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

24 66 The New Meeting Strategic Digital Services has seen the future of meetings and built a studio to help clients create high-quality virtual get-togethers.

107 The Joy of Flying Charter Joe and Wendy Smith enjoyed their Aero Air jet flight so much they bought the company.

51 On the Move Political Aficionado’s Guide

11

148 Remembering Marvin Arrington

Briefings from the Rotunda

39

Fourth Floor Files

47

David Ramba and friends wear pink on the final day of Session to honor an honest broker who died too soon.

Insiders Advice

55

The Big Question

152


More solar to ewe, Florida. Our commitment to the environment is clear: we produce more solar energy per customer than any other utility in Florida. By 2023, our focus on clean energy will reduce emissions so much, it’s as if we removed one million cars from the roads. Even our cute lawn crew is green, keeping emissions lower than traditional mowing. Not baaaaaad.

TEC101220

Learn more about how we’re producing energy for good at tampaelectric.com/environment.


Training the Most New Doctors in Florida

1,926 residents and fellows at HCA Healthcare hospitals in Florida

More than any other hospital system in Florida

st

21 hospitals partnering with 5 major universities in Florida Florida International University Nova Southeastern University University of Central Florida

HCAHealthcare.com

University of Miami University of South Florida


the Political

Aficionado’s  Guide to ...

GOOD READS | FILM | BEST STUFF |

TELEVISION

Chill Out, Unplug, and Unwind These six books will help relieve your stress. BY REBECCA RENNER

T

PHOTO: The Workmans

he Trump Era is finally over. Even though the Florida-Man-in-Chief has been evicted from the White House, the effects of his four years in the nation’s capital lingers on in politics — and in our country’s collective anxiety. Good thing reading books can reduce stress as much as 68%, according to a 2009 study from the University of Sussex. If you’re stressed about the world, instead of reading the latest Bob Woodward tome, reach for a copy of something a bit more calming. Try one of these selfhelp and pop psychology books to start taming your stress.

Dominic Calabro, CEO and President of Florida TaxWatch, takes a moment out of a busy Session day to clear his mind with a good book.

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

11


“Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About The World — And Why Things Are Better Than You Think” Hans Rosling

You’re wrong about the world. No, really. The amount of things you don’t know vastly outnumbers the things that you do, and yet, you probably stress daily about myths you’re certain are true. Swedish physician Hans Rosling gives us another option, which he calls factfulness, “The stress-reducing habit of only carrying opinions for which you have strong supporting facts.” In this book, Rosling dispels common stereotypes and false beliefs while reminding readers that we should learn more rather than worry.

“How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy” Jenny Odell

Technology consumes our lives, particularly when we try to keep up with politics. From constant news alerts popping up on our phones to repeatedly refreshing Twitter to see politicians squabbling in real time, we’re always online and on edge. Then when the pandemic hit, our work followed us home. As the world fell apart around us, we were still supposed to be working. What if we could break away with all of that? Jenny Odell contemplates the possibilities of doing nothing in this manifesto against our productivity. Read this book as a reminder to create time and space for yourself.

12

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

“Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind” Judson Brewer

We’re living in unprecedented times. So, it’s unsurprising that so many of us are dealing with anxiety. The condition comes from more than just forgetting to unplug. It’s rooted in our brains’ wiring, our bad digital habits, our addictive behaviors, and how our culture says we should always strive to do more. Anxiety happens when the thinking part of our brains fails to tame our irrational impulses. Neuroscientist and psychiatrist Judson Brewer uses his research and his experience with patients to offer science-backed techniques for taming the beast that is anxiety.

“Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art” James Nestor

“Breathe.” Someone probably reminded you to do that the last time you were losing your cool. It’s good advice. Taking a few deep breaths will calm you no matter how worked up you might be. There is more going on in the simple act of breathing than you might think. In “Breath,” journalist James Nestor follows the story of breathing, traveling to Asia to learn the hidden science behind ancient breathing practices, consulting American athletes, doctors, pulmonologists and more. This book is both spiritual and scientific. Read it to gain a new appreciation for the mystery and beauty of breath.

“Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha” Tara Brach There are plenty of things in this world that you would love to change. What about things in yourself? In this classic book, Tara Brach advocates for radical self-love, encouraging readers to accept themselves for who they are, free of criticism and doubt. By incorporating personal stories, case histories, Buddhist teachings and guided meditations, Brach guides readers on a journey of healing from the damage of fear and shame to find their most authentic, comfortable and comforted selves.

If all else fails, go outside and look for some birds. A new study from Goethe University in Germany shows that people feel more satisfied with their lives when they experience the biodiversity of nature, especially when they live in close proximity to wild birds. So, pick up a copy of the National Audubon Society’s “Field Guide to Florida,” hit the trails, and leave your political stress behind.


120 S. Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301 O: (850)727-7087 | F: (850)807-2502 WWW.RAMBACONSULTING.COM


the Political

Aficionado’s  Guide to ...

GEAR

Products for less stress

T

by rosanne dunkelberger he Florida Legislature didn’t invent stress, but it sure has managed to create an environment that would challenge even the most enlightened guru’s inner calm. With places

Fashionable Fidgeting

When your thoughts are humming and your anxiety is jumping, discretely calm down with kinetic and sensory jewelry by Aradabella Designs. Their offerings include a statement ring with a bezel that rocks back and forth to keep your hands busy as well as a brass-collar necklace with a chain that can be pulled 14

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

to go, people to see and things to get done, here are a few products that can help without heading off to the ashram for a few months of post-Session meditation.

back and forth to burn some kinetic energy. Another necklace incorporates black lava beads. Pick an essential oil to match your self care du jour — marjoram is good for lifting your mood and stress relief — put it on the beads and take whiffs as needed. $35-$100, adarabelladesigns.com


CBD

CBD Solution 1

By now, everyone has heard about the value of CBD products for calming and relaxing. Vital Tonics, a Miami-based, Latina-owned company, takes it a step further with its all-purpose The Tonic ($120), which uses nanotechnology to break down CBD molecules so they can bypass digestion and lead to on-the-spot

CBD Solution 2

The House of Wise has created CBD drops and gummies designed for a woman’s needs, with special formulations developed for stress, sleep and sex (This one is currently sold out. Go figure). Available in

relaxation. Vitall Tonics also offers a cellulose face mask ($20), bath soak ($30-$82), balm ($20) and fragrance candle ($62) that the company claims “smells just like a sexy man who just smoked a joint.” And if your pooch is stressing, there are dog treats ($32) too. shopvitaltonics.com

drops ($85), gummies ($90) and a combo package of both ($150). And they’re organic, non-GMO and gluten free. The website has a great primer on CBD and how it works. houseofwise.com

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

15


Give Yourself a Hug If daytime stress and anxiety bleeds into nighttime sleep, consider the benefits of a weighted blanket for the bed, or just relaxing on the couch. This version comes in 15 or 20 pound weights and features tiny glass beads sewn into the blanket to provide a few pounds of evenly distributed weight. The comfy 60x80 blanket is plush Sherpa material on one side and a velour-like fleece on the other. The gentle pressure on your body helps naturally relax the parasympathetic nervous system. $84.99, restasy.com

Mini Meditation Tech-Assisted Meditation

Braintap is a guided meditation app with short sessions (10 to 20 minutes) connected to a headset ($647) using sound and light that allows the user to relax, reboot and revitalize by creating a “symphony” of creative brainwave activity. It features six different “bundles” — sleep, weight, optimal health, stress, worry and children — a monthly subscription costs $9.99 for each or $29.99 for all six. braintap.com

16

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

The Meditative Movements techniques developed by Ellie Peterson combine physical exercises with the breath and spoken core value affirmations. Better yet, the movements can be done by anyone and are only three to five minutes long. Peterson has written a book, “Meditative Movements Beginner’s Journey,” that can be downloaded in PDF form to help you unite “body, mind and being in an empowering way.” $8.95, meditativemovements.com

Meditation


LSN Partners is a full-service consulting firm offering strategic advice and advocacy in the areas of: Government & Regulatory Affairs Government Procurement & Contracts Emergency Management Economic Development & Incentives Business Development Communications & Messaging Land Development Public-Private Partnerships

GLOBAL REACH with a LOCAL PERSPECTIVE INDUSTRIES SERVED Transportation & Aviation | Infrastructure | Telecommunications | Real Estate Financial Services | Information Technology | Healthcare | Energy | Utilities LSN assists clients in all 50 states, over 200 cities and 11 countries

LSNPartners.com Miami * Ft. Lauderdale * Tallahassee * Washington, D.C.


WE WORK OUR TAILS OFF FOR YOU!

PinPoint Results LLC is a government relations firm specializing in legislative and executive branch lobbying, procurement and consulting.

150 S. MONROE ST., SUITE 303 | TALLAHASSEE, FL 32301 | 850.445.0107

18

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


Aficionado’s  Guide to ...

the Political

TELEVISION

Scratch that political itch, without too much wonk BY JANELLE IRWIN TAYLOR PHOTOS THE WORKMANS

Evan Donovan, right, analyzes former President Donald Trump’s legacy in Republican politics on WFLA News Channel 8.

E

van Donovan isn’t your typical anchor, but he might be the news anchor politics needs in local television news. In an industry that caters more and more to entertainment — shocking or obscure headlines triumph over hard news — Donovan is trying to strike a balance between the important and sometimes wonky and the day-to-day workings of local, state and federal politics that affect his

viewers’ lives, even if they don’t always care to hear about it. “My approach is that you have to remember that people who are tuning into a television show want to be entertained. They could easily get the info a lot quicker by reading it on a website,” Donovan said. “But they want to see the emotion behind something, they don’t want to just read about it.”

With that in mind, Donovan is building his Sunday morning political show, “Battleground Florida,” into a source of information that appeals to the state’s political class while still offering value to viewers who might not be as inclined to follow the daily grind of policymaking and governance. Donavan started with WFLA News Channel 8 in the Tampa market in the fall of 2017. He quickly took ownership of a

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

19


nameless Sunday morning show with an eye toward policymaking and named it, appropriately, “Politics on Your Side,” a nod to the station’s slogan, “8 on Your Side.” He renamed it “Battleground Florida,” a nod instead to Florida’s unique place on the national political stage in early 2020. The show is fluid. Some weeks its focus is local — controversial, or impactful City Council initiatives, local elections, a transportation referendum. Other weeks, especially during the 60 days of the Legislative Session, it focuses on state issues. When appropriate, Donovan pivots to the national. Donovan fills a void in local television news, one that tends to either ignore or over-simplify complicated politics. While the evening news might dedicate just 45 seconds to a story about groups opposing, say, the Florida Legislature’s attempt to stiffen voting rules or criminalize certain protests, Donovan stacks his show with expert guests. He invites lawmakers to describe, and defend, their policies in a roundtable format. He invites advocates to push back. Often, he welcomes other reporters to shed nitty-gritty light on otherwise dense topics. He hopes to build his show into a destination not just for the common viewer, but for Florida’s political elite. But with news sites dedicated solely to politics readily available, and with the obvious need to cater to two entirely different viewerships, his quest isn’t an easy one. Nevertheless, challenge accepted. Donovan points to a recent interview with Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried. It’s no secret Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat is mulling a run against Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022. “I knew she wasn’t going to break news that she was running for Governor, though you always hope that will be the case, but at the very least I wanted to get her on the record with something that was newsworthy,” Donovan said. So he asked her whether she had ruled anything out, something that as of that time, she hadn’t said. “She said the U.S. Senate was off the table,” Donovan explained. It wasn’t earth shattering, but it was, indeed, news. And it was information anyone would value — from the hobby politico who scours Facebook for commentary to the political strategist keeping their finger on the pulse. It’s no wonder Donovan wants to be a pioneer for hard politics on soft television. He began his career about as far from a newsroom as one could get, as a trader for a prestigious hedge fund. He got his under20

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

graduate degree not in journalism, but in finance and international business. He left Wall Street for something different. With a drive to travel abroad, Donovan took a job in London managing an ATM business serving parts of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It wasn’t until 2009 that he began his career in broadcasting, joining the WLOS newsroom in Asheville, North Carolina, where he developed a thirst for politics covering the state’s controversial transgender bathroom bill and its disputed 2016 gubernatorial election. Even Donovan’s ascension into Florida’s largest media market was unconventional. When he interviewed for a job with WFLA in September of 2017 it was right before Hurricane Irma struck the state. After his interview, Tampa International Airport shut down in anticipation of a potential direct hit, stranding him in Tampa. Instead of taking the station’s offer to rent him a car to drive back home, Donovan proposed something different. “I told them, ‘I got into this business to drive into storms not away from them,’”

Donovan said. “I offered to stay through and report on the storm.” He then called his agent and, likely to a shocked response, said he was giving the station a free trial run. Donovan spent several days reporting from within the station on power outages and other storm-related updates. He slept on a cot in a back-up studio and replenished his wardrobe — he had packed only for a quick interview — by making a trip to Walmart. To this day, Donovan said his Irma interview is still “pretty legendary” around the station. “I could have gone to a lot of different stations, but this particular station had this show,” Donovan said. “Florida politics are as important as any other state.” It’s not as prestigious, perhaps, as a career on Wall Street, or as worldly as working for an international company. “But I enjoy being at the center of what’s happening and telling people what happened,” Donovan said. You can catch Donovan in the host’s seat on “Battleground Florida” at 9:30 a.m. every Sunday.

Evan Donovan, left, combines the pull of TV news with the wonk of insider politics.


An initiative by

“TOMORROW’S LEADERS START HERE”

CAMPAIGN SCHOOL & COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP TRAINING Free to Attend • Non-partisan • Open to Everyone ONLINE AND INTERACTIVE COURSE TAUGHT BY POLITICAL AND POLICY EXPERTS Day 1 Preparing to Run / Day 2 Organizing your Campaign / Day 3 Running to Win

Nominate someone to run for elected office, even yourself! FIPL.org/Nominations “This is an incredible (and free!) offering that I would highly recommend to those interested in improving their communities through elected office.” -Patrick S., Alachua County Graduate

“I found the course to be absolutely worthwhile, not only with its central theme regarding campaigns - but also personal and professional life as well.”

JOIN TOMORROW’S LEADERS 350 Graduates 10% of attendees ran for office in 2020 80% of students plan to run in the future

-Michael A., Broward County Graduate

For more information and to register for an upcoming school: Visit www.fipl.org | Call (850) 688-8940 | Email info@fipl.org


FOOD

RELENTLESS. We've worked inside the halls of government, managed war rooms and protected brands, all while advising some of Florida's most influential trade associations, leaders, CEOs and Fortune 100 executive teams. Our passion for what we do drives our work product every day, which translates pr into success for our clients.

ISSUE ADVOCACY | CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS | HIGH-STAKES CAMPAIGNS | FULL-SERVICE MEDIA

217 S. Adams St., Tallahassee, FL 32301 | 850.222.2140 | BascomLLC.com 22

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


Where

proven science and

cutting-edge technology

meet over three decades of real-World experience.

HTTP://CLEARVIEW-RESEARCH.COM

|

(850) 681-8530 Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

23


FOOD

LA FLORIDA:

GOOD NEWS FOR DOWNTOWN TALLY

Welcome

by rochelle koff photos the workmans

J

ean Uthmeier arrives at work in the predawn hours, baking bread and pastries, preparing her new downtown business for the day. “There was some talk in the beginning that we didn’t have to cook everything in-house but I said ‘No,’” said Uthmeier, who launched La Florida Coffee & Wine Bar on Feb. 22. “We really want fresh things, fresh fruit and fresh ingredients that are healthy, not food that’s frozen and just warmed up.” So whether you visit La Florida at 7 a.m. or 7 p.m., you’ll find homemade goodness to start — or end — your day on a bright note. For Uthmeier, it’s a labor of love. “I love that baking affords us the opportunity to be creative in the kitchen, like an artist, but with food, so we can make things that not only look beautiful but taste beautiful,” she said. “And bread is the staple of every culture. There’s something so personal and spiritual about making bread for people.” The venue is already becoming a welcome respite in Kleman Plaza, offering convenience and comfort. The building had been vacant since March 2020 when Tallahassee Community College decided to close the Starbucks branch it built and operated. Uthmeier has spruced up the place, which has a light-filled interior and outdoor seating. Fresh

24

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


Yummmm

Ready to toast

Top of the line

Make yourself at home

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

25


FOOD

In the morning, La Florida offers fresh fruit and breakfast sandwiches, generally served on flatbread or a biscuit, as well as homemade bundt cakes and muffins — usually blueberry, lemon and seasonal flavors. You might be lucky enough to find still-warm chocolate chip cookies. During the Session, customers like Kevin Doyle, Executive Director of Consumer Energy Alliance, have already become regulars. “Being only a few steps from the Capitol building, it is great to be able get some fresh air on the short stroll over after sitting in committee meetings and to meet friends and colleagues for a nice coffee break,” said Doyle, at the cafe on a recent morning for such a break. “I am a fan of their lattes and their standard brewed coffees are great.” At lunch, the display counter will add turkey, ham or Italian sandwiches on the cafe’s own French baguettes or sourdough, which you can eat on premises or grab and go. Early evening, there’s a more convivial spirit as customers snack on a cheese board, charcuterie platter, pimento dip or house-made bruschetta with cocktails made with prosecco or vermouth, local beer or wine from family owned vineyards from Spain to Oregon. La Florida is also doing in-house events and getting more catering opportunities, which has been a welcome surprise, Uthmeier said. A native of Detroit, she worked for a family owned travel business for nine years. Uthmeier focused on pilgrimage excursions, leading faith-based tours to Rome, Israel and shrines in Europe. With travel halted, the cafe “was a beautiful window for me to express my passion for food and people and culture in Tallahassee,” she said. Uthmeier moved from Washington, D.C., to Tallahassee when her husband, James Uthmeier, was hired as acting general counsel to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. You’ll often see Jean toting the couple’s 11-month-old daughter in a carrier while she’s keeping tabs on the business with her sisterin-law Julie Swanson, the shop’s manager. Jean Uthmeier has a vision for the cafe that goes beyond a pleasing menu. “Our goal,” she said, “is to get people to loosen ties, appreciate fine coffee, wine and hors d’oeuvres in relaxed company and view downtown Tallahassee as something more than a work destination.”

Have a seat

Location: Kleman Plaza, 300 W. Pensacola St. Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mon, Thurs, Fri 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tues & Wed 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sat Ready to celebrate

26

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


Be our guest

Thirsty?

So close

Good Joe

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

27


28

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


A SEAT AT THE TABLE ACROSS FLORIDA & THE U.S. MIAMI | JACKSONVILLE | ORLANDO | TALLAHASSEE | NEW YORK CITY | BOSTON

www.convergegov.com Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

29


FOOD

by josh aubuchon photos the workmans

I

lobby for the craft beer industry, enjoy a pint and live in Tallahassee. Right now, during the Legislative Session everybody who’s anybody in The Process is in my hometown. If you need to go grab a drink, I feel I’m uniquely qualified to suggest some of the best spots around Tallahassee — and what sets them apart from the run-of-the mill bar.

Proof Brewing Company

1320 S. Monroe St.

Bar 1903

209 E. Park Ave. Housed in the old Tallahassee Library building downtown just a couple of blocks from the Capitol. Quiet and intimate setting. Get a classic Old Fashioned or choose from a wide variety of craft cocktails.

30

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

Top-notch craft beer + fantastic food + a spacious beer garden = a perfect spring day in Tallahassee.

Eve on Adams

101 S. Adams St. Taproom-only beers on offer. Family and pet friendly.

Best place to watch the sun set. On the 17th floor atop the Doubletree by Hilton, this lounge offers incredible views and indoor and outdoor seating.


There are few better ways to remain calm during the last weeks of Session than by enjoying a craft beer or well-made cocktail.

Il Lusso

201 E. Park Ave. The Process’ see-and-be-seen spot with great ambience.

Leon Pub 215 E. 6th Ave.

Superb wine list and cocktail offerings. Steaks, chops and pasta are the stars of the menu.

Can you say “dive bar”?

Waterworks 1133 Thomasville Road

Quirky and fun with just the right amount of kitsch. Tiki drinks like the classic Mai Tai and house specialties such as the Mystery Drink and Yellow Bird.

A beer bar before craft beer was a thing. Serving everything from the latest craft beer offerings to foreign imports to mass-market swill.

Salty Dawg

3813 N. Monroe St. Great place to get out of the political bubble. Nothing fancy. Drinks, cheap pub grub, pool and darts.

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

31


Thank

YOU

Our team extends our gratitude to our heroes and first responders in the war against COVID-19. Thank you to the doctors, nurses, grocery workers, restaurant staffers, manufacturing and research teams, essential government workers, and so many others.

(850) 205-9000 32

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

mhdfirm.com


Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

33


FOOD

take time for during session’s hectic final days, tea can provide a much needed moment of calm by rosanne dunkelberger | photos the workmans

Left: Hugo Tea Company’s glass Teapot Boli allows the tea fancier to enjoy watching loose-leaf tea steep — their currant blend, featuring the fruit combined with rooibos, hibiscus petals and lemongrass stalk, is shown here. Right: While Americans are used to seeing black tea, the blends come in a variety of colors and texture. Shown here are the delicate jasmine green tea, a flower-bud-filled tisane and a currant tisane that brews into a rich red color.

34

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


“There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.” –Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living

I

f you’re having a “Serenity now!” moment or looking to find your chill after a trying day, might we suggest indulging in the world’s second most popular drink? (In case you’re interested, water is the first.) While it has caffeine, tea offers less of a jittery jolt than coffee, and there are pleasures to be found in enjoying it hot or iced or exploring the variety of flavors to be found in the brew. Tea has a storied history that begins in China, where it was originally used for medicinal and religious purposes. Be it black (the version most Americans drink), green, oolong or white, tea comes from one source – the evergreen leaves and buds of the camellia sinensis bush. “Black tea, green tea, white tea, oolong — they all come from the same plant. These different names come from basically

how they’re harvested and how they’re processed,” said Wyatt Jordan, manager and tea maven at Paper Fox Coffee in Tallahassee. To make black tea, the leaves are picked and then put through an oxidation process. Green tea is more lightly processed by steaming. Oolong is somewhere in between. White tea is rare, with a refined flavor. “Herb” tea actually is a misnomer. If you’re having a drink brewed from chamomile, mint, verbena, ginger or other herbal sources, it’s more properly called a tisane or infusion. And if the liquid is boiled for a time to release the active ingredients, it’s called a decoction. Unlike the single-plant tea, “a tisane is like the Wild West, where it’s kind of anything that can be steeped in water,” Jordan said. Brewing your own tea doesn’t have to be on par with the Japanese chanoyu

ceremony — a process for making green tea so fraught with tradition and meaning it can take a lifetime to master. Just heating water to nearly boiling and dropping a black tea bag in for three minutes will do it. Green and white teas require lower water temperatures and a little more finesse, but should taste fine when made by a rookie, according to Jordan. “What I actually like about tea is that even if you make a decent amount of mistakes, it’s very forgiving,” he said. “That’s part of how relaxing tea is for me. Doing a pour-over coffee you can mess it up in a lot of different ways.” One can stick to the basics — tea, sugar, maybe a lemon slice — or be more adventurous. Many cultures have made contributions to tea drinking, such as India’s chai, an aromatic brew pairing black tea with freshly ground spices such as cloves, Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

35


FOOD

Choose your brew: (left) The fruit-forward currant tea is refreshing poured over ice. Recipes for the spice-filled chai latte (top right) vary but usually include cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and ginger. Matcha, a ground green tea that dissolves when whisked, is delicious served as a latte (center right) or mixed with almond milk (bottom right).

36

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom and pepper. Kombucha — origin unknown, but thought to be Manchuria — is an effervescent, fermented, sweetened black tea often flavored with fruit. The Paper Fox has its own version of the London Fog, an Earl Grey tea latte featuring steamed milk and vanilla and lavender flavorings. “It’s hands-down the most comforting drink I’ve ever had,” Jordan said. Or go with one of America’s contributions

to tea culture: a combination lemonade and tea drink named for its famous creator, Arnold Palmer. When Paper Fox first opened three years ago, its founders were casting about for a mascot, Jordan said. One of their frequent customers would create origami foxes to share with others in the coffee shop “to the point where we had these little paper foxes all over the shop and our registers” and they were inspired to make the folded fox their logo. After reaching out to the man who made

the paper ornaments, he told them “It was a form of therapy for him because he was going through a really rough time in his life (and) he found a lot of joy in folding up these little foxes and giving them to people,” he explained. “We really, really like that. The idea of giving people joy,” Jordan said. “You get to have a moment.” Proprietors of The Paper Fox invite customers to relax and “have a moment” of relaxation.

Adams Street Advocates is a boutique government relations firm that specializes in successfully helping businesses do business with government.

AT TH E INTE RSE C TI ON OF B US IN E S S A N D G OVE RN M E N T www.adamsstadvocates.com Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

37


Thank you, Doctors!

The FMA is proud to represent Florida’s heroic physicians, who are serving tirelessly at the epicenter of a global crisis to protect the public health. We thank them for their dedication to patients in times of uncertainty, joy, sorrow, and every moment in between. Learn more at www.FLmedical.org 38

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

FLORIDA MEDICAL ASSOCIATION


Briefings from the Rotunda

RFB

Hogan, Kelly join The Southern Group

T

he Southern Group is adding to its influence in the Sunshine State. The firm announced that Tasi Hogan and Nicole Kelly have joined the firm’s team of government affairs professionals. The addition of Hogan and Kelly expands the firm’s insight and influence throughout Florida. “We are thrilled with these new additions to the firm and believe their strong connections in the Tallahassee and Orlando markets will fuel The Southern Group’s continued growth in 2021,” said Paul Bradshaw, the firm’s founder and Chairman. Hogan, who in 2019 was named one of INFLUENCE Magazine’s “Rising Stars,” worked on nearly 20 successful Central Florida campaigns including those of Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Sen. Victor Torres and Rep. Kamia Brown. Her resume also includes a stint as the regional political director with the Biden for President campaign. Hogan will be based out of the Orlando office, while Kelly will call the firm’s Tallahassee office her home base. A Tallahassee native and Florida State University graduate, Kelly began her career as a legislative analyst. Before joining The Southern Group, Kelly spent nine years as a governmental consultant at Colodny Fass. The Southern Group is one of the top lobbying firms in

Left: Tasi Hogan Right: Nicole Kelly the state. TSG represents various clients across several industries and routinely places among the top 5 state-level lobbying firms in quarterly earnings. The firm has six offices across Florida and also operates in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

Gunster is growing its ranks

T

he law firm announced recently that Sha`Ron James has joined its government affairs and lobbying practice as a government affairs consultant and of counsel attorney. James brings more than 20 years of public and private sector experience to the firm. “Sha`Ron’s unique regulatory and public service experience in the insurance industry is an outstanding addition and greatly expands our government affairs practice, with already unmatched experience and reputation,” said Bill Perry, the managing shareholder at Gunster. “We are excited about the additional expertise she brings to our firm expanding our ability to advise clients on insurance regulatory matters that impact their business.” James spent three years as the insurance consumer advocate for the state of Florida. In that role, she represented the general public and insurance consumers before the Florida Department of Financial Services, the Office of Insurance Regula-

tion, the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Division of Administrative Hearings in insurance and health care regulatory matters. Before taking on the role as consumer advocate, James served as the Division Director for the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Rehabilitation and Liquidation. A recognized diversity and inclusion advocate, James serves as the charter President of the National African American Insurance Association of Florida. She is also the co-founder of the HBCU IMPACT Initiative, a national program whose mission is to diversify the insurance industry through empowerment, exposure and mentorship of students at historically Black colleges and universities. James received a bachelor’s degree from Florida A&M University, a master’s degree from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, and her law degree from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

39


BFR

Briefings from the Rotunda

Lee Killinger joins Florida Crystals

Becker names Omar Franco senior director

M

F

lorida Crystals Corp. has tapped Lee Killinger to be its new Director of environmental affairs. In his new role, Killinger will support the government affairs and legal departments, including coordinating with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the South Florida Water Management District and federal agencies on regulatory and permitting issues. He’ll also monitor legislative and regulatory trends at federal, state, regional and local levels. “Lee understands and has experience in a wide range of policy issues and is well respected within the public and private sectors,” said Pepe Fanjul Jr., the Executive Vice President of Florida Crystals. “Lee was an instrumental part of our team, providing sound advice for nearly 10 years, and we couldn’t be more pleased to bring his talents in-house.” Killinger previously represented the Palm Beach County agricultural company from 2007 to 2015. “For decades, Florida Crystals has been on the forefront of agricultural policy and environmental stewardship and has consistently taken a thoughtful approach to dealing with significant policy, legal and regulatory issues that require action,” Killinger said. “I am thrilled to be rejoining the team that continues to show an unwavering commitment to protecting the environment for this and future generations.” Before joining Florida Crystals, Killinger served as the Director of public policy and government relations at The Mosaic Company. He also previously served as a lobbyist at Anfield Consulting, the legislative director for The Nature Conservancy, and the general/legislative counsel for the Florida Association of Counties. Early in his career, Killinger served as the assistant general counsel and in legislative affairs for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, where he played an important role in drafting and advocating for the Everglades Forever Act, the successful blueprint for Everglades restoration south of Lake Okeechobee.

40

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

ulti-practice firm Becker recently announced Omar Franco has been named Senior Director. The appointment marks the first time a nonlawyer at Becker has received that title, a status that provides Franco many of the same benefits as an equity shareholder. “Omar exemplifies the attitude, mindset and adherence to Becker culture that our firm values and which makes Becker unique,” said Gary C. Rosen, Becker’s managing shareholder. “He has always been a true, selfless leader focused on the best interests of our office. He’s a team player who is well respected by clients and colleagues, and that’s why we created a pioneering new category that gives Omar additional firm benefits and stature.” A veteran federal lobbyist, Franco has been leading the firm’s Washington office since it was founded 11 years ago. Franco has expanded the office, which focuses solely on federal lobbying, substantially over the past decade, growing revenue and expanding its client base. Franco represents a wide variety of clients, including Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, higher education institutions and municipal governments. He was named a “Top Lobbyist” by the National Institute of Lobbying & Ethics in 2020. Becker also announced it recently promoted lawyers Patrick Howell, Scott Kiernan and Donna DiMaggio Berger to equity shareholders.


Briefings from the Rotunda

RFB

LSN Partners taps Hernández to lead comms division

M

ike Hernández is taking his talents to LSN Partners. The Miami Beach-based consulting firm announced Hernández, a veteran communications professional, was joining the firm to head its communications division. Hernández brings more than 15 years of experience and expertise to the firm and specializes in corporate and political messaging, crisis communication management and communications. For more than three years, Hernández has served as a Senior Vice President at Mercury, a prominent public relations firm in its own right. Before that, he served under former Miami-Dade County Mayor  Carlos Giménez  as Director of communications and a senior adviser. Giménez now serves in Congress, having won the seat in Florida’s 26th Congressional District last cycle.

He was also the Senior Director of governmental relations and public affairs at Penn Schoen Berland, a global research consultancy. And in 2008, Hernandez joined President Barack Obama’s team to boost the efforts of the Hispanic media messaging. “Many of us at LSN have worked with Mike in one capacity or another over the last 10 years,” said Marcelo Llorente, a co-managing partner at the organization. “Each time we were further impressed by his talent. We are happy to welcome Mike to the team.” In addition to his experience in the communications, Hernández has spent nearly two years as a political analyst for Telemunch 51 in South Florida. A Florida International University graduate, he also serves as the President of the FIU alumni association.

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

41


BFR

Briefings from the Rotunda

Franklin taps Holzmann as press assistant

M

adeline Holzmann is taking her talents to Washington. U.S. Rep. Scott Franklin, a Lakeland Republican, has tapped Holzmann to serve as a press assistant. Holzmann joins the congressional office after two years at Florida Internet & Television, where she most recently served as the Communications Director. In that role, Holzmann advocated for cable and internet businesses in the Sunshine State. Named a “Rising Star” by INFLUENCE Magazine, Holzmann previously worked for Attorney General Ashley Moody’s scheduling team during her 2018 campaign. A Florida State University graduate, Holzman also worked with political consultant Anthony Pedicini.

42

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2020, Franklin served as President and CEO of Lanier Upshaw before it merged into BKS Partners in January 2020. A Navy veteran, Franklin serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations and the Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies and Information Systems. He also sits on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, as well as the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy and the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.


Kaitlyn Bailey Owen Edward Briggs Natalie King Ron Pierce

www.RSAConsultingllc.com

Improving Business Improving Lives Headquarters Palm Coast, FL Teams located throughout the State

Serving Florida’s state and local governments with expertise and solutions for all of your public sector needs. www.coastalcloud.us

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

43


BFR

Briefings from the Rotunda

Eugene O’Flaherty joins Ballard Partners D.C. office

E

ugene O’Flaherty is the newest member of Ballard Partners growing Democratic bench. O’Flaherty, who joined the firm’s Washington office in March, previously served as chief legal counsel to then-Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, who is now Secretary of Labor in the Biden administration. O’Flaherty joins the firm’s roster of former high-ranking Democratic officials — including Congressman Robert Wexler, President Bill Clinton’s State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin, and Congressman Al Lawson’s Chief of Staff Tola Thompson — in the Washington office. “Gene’s leadership role with the city of Boston, his knowledge of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation and his outstanding service as a top legislator in the Massachusetts House of Representatives significantly expands our firm’s reach and capabilities,” Brian Ballard, the firm’s President and founder, said. Appointed to the role of corporation counsel for Boston in January 2014, O’Flaherty served as a senior cabinet adviser to the Mayor and was responsible for providing advice on all legal matters involving the Mayor, Boston City Council, and all city departments, board and commissions. Before his time with Boston, O’Flaherty served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for 17 years and has been practicing law since 1994. “We are honored to have Gene join our exceptional team of professionals and are eager to provide our clients with his wisdom and guidance,” Ballard said.

Montiel joins Miamibased Marin & Sons

M

arin & Sons is welcoming a new member to its family. The Miami-based firm announced it has hired Maurico “Monty” Montiel. A former legislative assistant, Montiel will focus on the company’s Tallahassee practice, representing clients before the Florida Legislature. He will also help the firm with its efforts in South Florida. Montiel previously served as a legislative assistant for then-Rep. Carlos Trujillo. He went on to work for then-Rep. Manny Diaz before Diaz left the House for a Senate bid. Diaz brought Montiel to his Senate team after winning the Senate District 36 seat in 2018. Marin & Sons is a public relations and communications firm. In addition to its Miami office, the firm has an office in Tallahassee. The firm’s footprint also stretches outside Florida, with offices in New Orleans; Columbia, South Carolina; and Washington, D.C. The firm is also well-established in the Sunshine State’s political scene, handling several South Florida-based clients running for Florida House seats and local races. Clients have included Republicans Bibiana Potestad, Demi Busatta Cabrera, Daniel Perez and Juan Fernandez-Barquin. 44

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


Cavalry Strategies specializes in strategies that protect and build an organization's brand Tackling a new initiative? Turning a crisis into a win? Send in the Cavalry!

Public Affairs

Cavalry Strategies guides organizations in winning the daily news cycle by driving proactive messages that keep an organization achieving its objectives. We are experienced in delivering national and state-based earned media.

Crisis Management

Times of crisis can often be paralyzing to an organization. Cavalry Strategies specializes in crisis management strategies to protect or restore an organization's brand. Through years of experience responding to hurricanes, the H1N1 pandemic, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and more, Cavalry Strategies' experience in disaster situations can stabilize and strengthen an organization during vulnerable times.

Brand Strength

Sometimes finding an organization's voice or message can be most difficult for the people who are the closest to it. Cavalry Strategies guides organizations in building their brands and/or achieving a messaging objective - whether it is for a legislative session, a crisis situation or simply a new initiative.

Melissa Sellers Stone | CEO

225-772-3059 | Melissa@CavalryStrategies.com 204 S. Monroe St., Suite 201, Tallahassee, Florida 32301 Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

45


SCIENCE WILL BRING

46

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

US BACK TO NORMAL.

See the progress at PhRMA.org/coronavirus


FOURTH FLOOR>FILES LOOKING FORWARD TO AN END-OF-SESSION PIZZA PARTY. Significant other? Children? Grand kids? My wife is Morgan Briggs, and we have two dogs, Paras and Cailin. In 25 words or less, explain what you do. I am an advocate for wonderful clients whom we represent at both the state and local levels in hopes of creating public policy that ensures a brighter future for tomorrow. Without using the words Democrat, Independent or Republican, conservative, or liberal, describe your political persuasion. My views tend to be toward reasonable government and regulations to ensure we are promoting the wellbeing of the community. … I believe it is our government’s role to promote the well-being of individuals, not provide it.  If you have one, what is your motto? “The only easy day was yesterday.” – U.S. Navy SEALS During your career, have you had a favorite pro bono client? Yes, the Sunshine State Athletic Conference (SSAC). It allows like-minded schools to compete in athletics in a fairer and more equitable environment. Three favorite charities. Pepin Academies Foundation, United Way Suncoast, and Vinik Family Foundation Any last-day-of-Session traditions? One year Team RSA ordered pizza to the Capitol. We sat on the floor of the Rotunda and had a picnic as we waited for our final bills to pass. We should make that a yearly tradition. What are you most looking forward to during the 2021 Legislative Session? I am looking forward to seeing what public policy passes. … It will be interesting to see all that gets accomplished this year.

PHOTO: The Workmans

If you could have another lobbyist’s client list, it would be… None, ours… next question. Professional accomplishment of which you are most proud? In 2017 we worked with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, Sen. Dennis Baxley and Rep. Chris Latvala to tackle child exploitation through internet crimes. There was a loophole in

the law that allowed an ISP provider to let a potential child predator know when they were under active investigation. We successfully lobbied to close that loophole. Lobbyists are often accused of wearing Gucci loafers; do you own a pair of Gucci loafers? If not, why not? No, I do not. ... We are constantly moving and working for our client’s interest. Sometimes it feels like sneakers would be the optimal choice. Who is your favorite Florida Capitol Press Corps reporter and why? Peter Schorsch, of course! No comparison, but the Girl Scout cookies are a major plus! Other than Florida Politics.com, your reading list includes… Always start the day with the Sunrise Podcast. I usually then switch to the Wall Street Journal, Axios, and Politico. What swear word do you use most often? F@8K What is your most treasured possession? My family! Family means everything to me. The best hotel in Florida is… The Vinoy in St. Pete. You have just learned that you will be hosting a morning talk show about Florida politics. Who are the first four guests you would invite to appear? The RSA Family! Ron Pierce, Natalie King, Kaitlyn Bailey, and Krista Landers, and I’m going to cheat and bring one more on, our Chief Treat Officer, Sammi Pierce. Favorite movie. Not a movie, but a series: “Band of Brothers.” It’s about my grandfather’s generation, who gave so much to save the world. When you pig out, what do you eat? I am a sucker for Oreos and milk. If you could have dinner with a historical figure no longer living, who would it be? Maj. Dick Winters, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion Commander, E Company.

Edward Briggs

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

47


FOURTHFLOOR>FILES FOURTH A FAN OF PERSONAL FREEDOM AND HIS CLASSIC LIMOUSINE. Significant other? Children? Grand children? My wife is Alia FarajJohnson, and our daughter is Peyton, 12. In 25 words or less, explain what you do. I tirelessly represent clients interests before the legislative and executive branches of state government. Without using the words Democrat, Independent or Republican, conservative or liberal, describe your political persuasion. I believe in personal freedom and if you hear the words “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help,” you know you have a problem. If you have one, what is your motto? “Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can accomplish today.”

Rob Johnson

Three favorite charities. American Heart Association, St. Jude, and The March of Dimes Any last-day-of-Session traditions? Working hard until sine die and head home to my family What are you most looking forward to during the 2021 Legislative Session. Reconnecting with friends from around the state

PHOTO: The Workmans

48

During your career, have you had a favorite pro bono client? I spent 16 years inside state government and had the opportunity to work on the Babcock Ranch acquisition. Which was historical.

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

If you could have another lobbyist’s client list, it would be… I’m good with mine. Very blessed. Professional accomplishment of which you are most proud? Having served three statewide elected officials at the highest levels of state government — Gov. Jeb Bush, Attorney General Bill McCollum, and Attorney General Pam Bondi — I’ve had an opportunity to work on many issues that have made a positive impact on the lives of my fellow Floridians. Lobbyists are often accused of wearing Gucci loafers; do you own a pair of Gucci loafers? If not, why not? No, because I place more stock in being comfortable. Who is your favorite Florida Capitol Press Corps reporter and why? Do you think I’m foolish enough to answer this question? Other than Florida Politics.com, your reading list includes… CNN, CBS, Fox News, and Drudge What swear word do you use most often? I have a 12-year-old … Stupid is a bad word. What is your most treasured possession? My 1950 Chrysler Crown Imperial limousine The best hotel in Florida is… The Pearl in Rosemary Beach You’ve just learned that you will be hosting a morning talk show about Florida politics. Who are the first four guests you’d invite to appear? Gov. Ron DeSantis, Peter Schorsch, Will Weatherford, and Alia Faraj-Johnson Favorite movie. “Rounders” When you pig out, what do you eat? Decent Pizza If you could have dinner with a historical figure no longer living, who would it be? Ronald Reagan


Evacuations. Rescues. Safety. More than 14,000 public safety agencies subscribe to FirstNet, Built with AT&T.

©2020 AT&T Intellectual Property. FirstNet and the FirstNet logo are registered trademarks of the First Responder Network Authority. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.


FLORIDAPOLY.EDU

DEVELOPING TOMORROW’S VIDEO GAMES, TODAY Academic, research, and internships go hand-in-hand at Florida Poly. Our alumni are turning internships into jobs as prestigious organizations across Florida. Computer Science alum Jacob Thornton ’19 turned his internship with video game publisher 704Games into a full-time gig. Now a software engineer with the company, Jacob spends his days working on some of the world’s most popular console and mobile video games. The education and hands-on experience he received at Florida Poly prepared him to code in multiple programming languages and gaming engines. 704Games, based in Charlotte, NC, is the exclusive developer of NASCAR video games.

Our alumni are making the world a better place. |floridapoly.edu|

50

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


FOURTH FLOOR>FILES DAVID CAN BEAT GOLIATH, BUT IT TAKES PREPARATION AND HARD WORK. Significant other? Children? Grand kids? I am in a committed and loving relationship with my amazing girlfriend, Nancy. In 25 words or less, explain what you do. As a lawyer and lobbyist, I help my clients navigate all branches of government, at every level, as well as political environments, personalities, and community dynamics. Without using the words Democrat, Independent or Republican, conservative or liberal, describe your political persuasion. I believe that few things are more important than personal accountability. I also believe that government intervention should be the last resort because once government encroaches into any facet of our lives, it is almost impossible to peel it back. If you have one, what is your motto? The words of my father: “You are no better than anyone, you are just more fortunate.” and “All you can do in life is work through the problem.” During your career, have you had a favorite pro bono client? The WOW Center in Miami-Dade County, an adult day training center that supports and serves over 200 adults with developmental disabilities ages 21 to 80. Three favorite charities. Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services, Casa Valentina, and The WOW Center. Any last-day-of-Session traditions? Spend as much time as possible with my colleagues, have my bags packed for an early departure, and drink some of Dean Cannon’s wine that is older than me.

PHOTO: The Workmans

If you could have another lobbyist’s client list, it would be… I have been very fortunate thus far in my career to have garnered the trust and confidence of my clients, both those that I have generated and those that I have serviced since joining my firm. I wouldn’t trade that trust and confidence for anything. Professional accomplishment of which you are most proud? Several David versus Goliath-type of policy issues over the years where good public policy won the day when it was not supposed to, because of tedious preparation and tireless hard work. Also, buying a rental property per year since graduating law school.

Lobbyists are often accused of wearing Gucci loafers; do you own a pair of Gucci loafers? If not, why not? Absolutely not, that is not my style in the least. I’ll rock the Cole Haan loafers with the Nike Air soles until they fall apart on the Capitol steps. Who is your favorite Florida Capitol Press Corps reporter and why? I don’t have a favorite reporter, but I will never forget accidentally hitting the door close elevator button on a very shocked Jim Rosica (I meant to hit the “door open” button). Other than Florida Politics.com, your reading list includes… My constants are the Miami Herald, The News Service of Florida, Politico Florida Playbook, and, of course, the Sayfie Review. What swear word do you use most often? Come mierda (It’s Spanish, Google it.) What is your most treasured possession? The saved text messages and voicemails I have from my late father, Danny Salzverg. The best hotel in Florida is… The Breakers in Palm Beach. You’ve just learned that you will be hosting a morning talk show about Florida politics. Who are the first four guests you’d invite to appear? Former Speaker Larry Cretul, former State Reps. Jose Felix Diaz and Mike Abrams, and former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. They all have tremendous insight, different perspectives and are a pleasure to be around. Favorite movie. It’s a tie between “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Departed.”

Joseph Salzverg

When you pig out, what do you eat? Cuban food in Miami and Mayuri Indian Buffet in Tallahassee. If you could have dinner with a historical figure no longer living, who would it be? Honestly? Jesus Christ, I have a lot of questions for him.

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

51


52

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

53


54

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


{ insiders’ ADVICE

How not to get your priorities killed: An insider’s guide to surviving budget conference by travis cummings

T

he House and Senate will soon pass their respective budgets, and the focus will move to allocation decisions at the presiding officer level and the budget conference can begin in two to three weeks. Lobbying will ramp up, although it is more focused because many member projects and other funding requests will be dead. Members and special interest groups will regroup to see where their priorities stand and try to make another run at appropriation sub chairs, big chairs and the Speaker and Senate President. While I didn’t have the necessary intellect to master the appropriations process, I did learn the following do’s and don’ts from a member and lobbyist perspective (in no particular order): 1. Take time to fully understand the House rules on the appropriations process. Know what is in play and what isn’t. 2. Be brief and organized. Ol’ Chris Schoonover or Rep. Michael Grant can teach a class in this regard. There is now much greater transparency in the budget process so that anyone can retrieve more details when needed. I once had a client tell me “less is more,” which hurt my feelings. When advocating during the budget process, however, this couldn’t be more true. 3. It is effective when representatives and senators are aligned in their budget priorities. 4. At this stage, it is important to narrow the asks and to be flexible on the amounts. Lobbyists should work both chambers and not think that giving a “list” to Appropriations Chairs Sen. Kelli Stargel and Rep. Jay Trumbull equals success. 5. Balance is important versus being overly persistent and aggressive. And, as with any job, laziness doesn’t prevail.

Good ol’ Ronnie Book will have 418 budget requests and knows he doesn’t get everything. But he and his team sure do hustle. Among others, Reps. Ramon Alexander, Anika Omphroy, Jason Shoaf, Jayer Williamson and Josie Tomkow always had the right style and approach. And David Browning wasn’t valedictorian at Palatka High, but he works every angle and always has a backup plan. 6. While the decision tree during budget conference narrows even more, you have to be present to win. I remember sitting at home one Saturday during the budget conference my sophomore term, often texting or calling House Chief of Staff Kathy Mears about a water project. Not a smart move, although she was graceful. I had three kids under age 6 at home, and I am not saying that all members have to be at the Capitol 24/7 during budget conference. Once you have effectively communicated your priorities, you just hope for the best. 7. Treat all House and Senate staff with respect and appreciation. These folks are really in the trenches, working day and night. Ignoring this advice is a sure way to Mears’ and Mat Bahl’s dog houses — rightly so. 8. The budget process is member driven. Lobbyists and other interest groups are a very necessary part of the Legislative Process, but the good ones will admit that the success rate dwindles without committed support from a Legislator. Travis Cummings is the Vice President of Benefits at The Bailey Group. He served eight years in the state House of Representatives, the last two as Chair of the Appropriations Committee.

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

55


"Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing." – Muhammad Ali

DEDICATED ADVOCATES

www.dacfl.com | 850.583.2400 201 East Park Avenue, Suite 200B, Tallahassee, FL 32301

56

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


{ insiders’ ADVICE

Starting a new business during Covid-19 pandemic represents a giant leap of faith for this millennial by amy bisceglia

S

ometime in the future when we all look back at the COVID-19 era, we’ll reflect on how it plunged our entire country and world into a shared and prolonged transformative period of our lives. This seemingly endless disruption of our prior normalcy has become the new normal, for now. Most of us have surprised ourselves in how we have endured this very difficult year-plus of trying to stay safe and healthy. We surely have missed many elements that contributed to our former quality of life: vacations, family gatherings, holidays, large in-person events for sports and culture, and even working together in larger groups with direct interaction. We have Zoomed into a virtual life that has largely become a virtuous life by being smart and careful about protecting ourselves and others. And we have come to appreciate the basic qualities and values that are much more integral to our lives: family, faith, and friends. When 2020 began with no concern yet about a fast-approaching pandemic, I made a decision to start my own business. As the pandemic began to envelop us all, some would have considered it crazy or courageous that I still pushed forward with my venture, or adventure, into the entrepreneurial world. It was neither. It was just a leap of faith, comforted by reflecting on everything that I had already done in the first decade of my career. I knew that experience prepared me well for a public affairs/governmental relations consultancy of my own. I had just enough confidence in my core competence to believe that I could make this work, even in a pandemic. If it didn’t work out, I believed — I knew — that I could always find a worthwhile job working for someone else, again.

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

57


insiders’ ADVICE}

58

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

public service, public affairs, politics, and The Process, there may never be a perfect time for going out on your own to test those appealing but turbulent waters of being in business. By trying it myself, I will never have to wonder much later in life what it might have been like to work for myself in diverse service to others. Rather than looking back in disappointment on missing an opportunity to find out, I am boldly looking forward to all that’s ahead. I am forever grateful to those who have been mentors — including Steve MacNamara and the late Greg Turbeville,

who encouraged me into The Process and also introduced me to accomplished women mentors, Heather Turnbull and Claudia Davant, whom I still learn from today. They all believed in me and my ability to shoulder the burdens of this work. I will welcome the responsibility, opportunity, and privilege to do the same for others. Much like our belief that “we’re in this together” in facing the great threat of our time in this pandemic, neither are we alone in challenging ourselves in our careers and lives.

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

Even when safe behaviors caused us to be shut down and out from normal activities because of COVID-19, I stuck with the plan to go forward in a new business. Along with the rest of the world, this past year was full of challenges, setbacks, victories and so many memorable moments. However, while the world slowed down, I had to keep moving ahead with the surety that government services were going to be tested now more than ever. My knowledge of The Process of public affairs, lawmaking, policy, budget, and procurement became vital to helping those who need assistance to receive the attention their issues and needs deserve. Drawing on former experience and input from trusted advisers, I started my own lobbying operation — AB Governmental Affairs. It worked out nicely that my monogram represents the first two letters in the alphabet. Surely, I had concerns that positioning myself as a solo female lobbyist to clients might make business/client development harder to achieve in the COVID-19 environment. This industry is tough enough even when you have a large firm’s support and backup. So, flying solo has been very daunting, and has been complicated by the pandemic. Even at a time when no one could predict what the next day held, it was a perfectly suitable time for re-inventing myself. Doubling down on self-improvement, I enrolled in the Masters of Applied American Politics and Policy program at Florida State University — to broaden my worldview of this profession and to bring more credibility to my practice. It has helped me develop new ways of thinking in developing strategies to meet clients’ goals. I have been blessed to work on issues that matter — ranging from securing our state’s non-public Jewish day schools, providing for elder care, advocating for at-risk youth services, and championing access to prescription drugs for vulnerable and underserved communities. While I may be a solo practicing consultant early in this new venture, I am certainly not alone or lonely. I have been fortunate to continue to work alongside some of the best in the business. Daily, I learn from others who have helped me along the way by their mentoring and excellent examples. Frankly, the path I have pursued has been filled with some obstacles and detours. Whose isn’t? At times, it has been a little scary — as with any decision to do something new and different. But the destination in my sights is independence — and despite any and all challenges, I’m already there just by choosing this course, persevering, and powering through every day. Among the many among us who love

Amy Bisceglia, founder and CEO of AB Governmental Affairs, is a veteran government relations professional who believes that real courage is just about facing and dealing with anything and everything that crosses our paths every day.


2021 Florida Session SLGC Membership

$750 per month - 3 month minimum •

Unlimited Play Tuesday through Sunday

Unlimited access to Driving Range Tuesday through Sunday

Cart Fee included

Access to locker room

Access to the Burr Family Renegade Grill

$500 per month - 3 month minimum •

Unlimited Play Tuesday through Sunday

Unlimited access to Driving Range Tuesday through Sunday

Cart Fee not included

Access to locker room

Access to the Burr Family Renegade Grill

Contact Lori Wilkey for further details: lori.wilkey@clubcorp.com Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

59


Advocacy. Strategic Counsel. Experienced Insight. We are a team of high-energy, results-driven lobbyists and advisors determined to help our clients succeed in today’s fast-changing governmental and political landscape. What’s different about us? As a boutique consulting firm, we take a true team approach to serving clients at the local, state and federal levels of government. When you engage our firm, you get all of us—from our principals to our consultants, all of our diverse experience, our deep relationships built for decades, and our complete dedication to your success. We’re proud of our long-time client relationships and our reputation for achieving results while maintaining the highest ethical and professional standards. Get to know us at RubinTurnbull.com.

Tallahassee 60

|

Ft. Lauderdale

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

Miami

Washington, DC


{ insiders’ ADVICE

This is what is truly wrong with The Process, and after 50 years, I ought to know by steve uhlfelder

F

or most of my working life, I have lived in Tallahassee, being a part of The Process. That inevitably involved politics, public affairs, public service, business, and the often-frenetic pace of warring factions pressing a passionate point of view to influence a desired outcome. The democratic process isn’t often pretty, peaceful, or positive. But in 50 years of being around it, there are often memorable peaks scaled. Like a golfer’s single best shot in 18 holes of play, those are the times best remembered for truly meaningful policies, achievements, change, and goals attained in the quest to solve problems and make Florida and our country better places to live, learn, work, visit or retire. I have been so blessed with wonderful public and private sector experiences. I’ve met and learned from some of the most amazing people since I left the University of Florida law school in 1971. Fortuitously good timing provided the privilege to meet Reubin Askew when he was running for Governor in 1970, and I was UF student body President. We student leaders organized an “Askew for Governor” group at the university. Meeting Askew changed my life by offering me a cherished first opportunity for public service, working in his administration. He was one of the most principled public servants in my lifetime. My connection with Askew and Sandy D’Alemberte landed me the job as the first Executive Director of the Constitution Revision Commission, back in 1977, where I was fortunate to work with some of the finest public servants — most importantly former Gov. LeRoy Collins, widely considered one of the best governors anywhere, ever. My friendship with him began then and lasted until his death. I saw him regularly and learned so much about selfless leadership from him. Collins was an amazing man who had the conviction and courage to do the right things when it wasn’t easy — particularly on civil rights.

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

61


insiders’ ADVICE} wasn’t easy. I have met other good men and women during my lengthy journey in Tallahassee. Most legislators and governors that I knew — like Jeb Bush, Lawton Chiles, Bob Martinez, Charlie Crist, and Bob Graham — always sought to govern ethically and with compassion. Spoiler alert: This part of my essay is my version of Tom Cruise’s Jerry Maguire, writing his manifesto — a “mission statement” about the sports agent industry in which he worked, titling his late-night creative burst: “The Things We Think and Do Not Say.” Here’s the biggest unspoken truth about what’s wrong with our Process. It’s rarely openly talked about in the more-modern years of Florida politics. But it infects the body politics daily. It is the profoundly negative impact and influence of money in the system. In the days of Askew and Collins, The Pro-

PHOTO: The Lonely Fox

The late, great D’Alemberte was another exemplary role model. I worked closely with him when he was Constitution Revision Commission Chair, as well as when I was on the Board of Regents and Board of Governors and he was President of Florida State University. He was also a man of courage and conviction. I learned that serving in government, as an elected or appointed person, is a sacred public trust to honor with integrity. D’Alemberte and Askew led the effort to place the Ethics in Government amendment in the Florida Constitution through our state’s first citizen initiative. Ironically, today, legislators are trying to limit the ability of the people they serve to activate similar reform and change. Why? Having practiced law and lobbying for nearly half-a-century, my career and character were molded by these great men — and by my father, who also stood up for civil rights in the '50s and ‘60s when it

Steve Uhlfelder served as counsel to Gov. Askew, chair of the Board of Regents under Gov. Chiles, volunteer CEO of the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund under Gov. Bush and was Chair of the international Fulbright Scholarship Board under President George W. Bush.

62

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

cess was a lot less partisan, and it seemed money had not yet become the monstrous factor that it surely is today. Reubin Askew ran for Governor as a little-known state Senator from Pensacola in 1970 and spent less than $300,000 for his statewide campaign. The last race for Governor consumed nearly $200 million. I doubt Askew or Collins could stomach our campaign financing system today with unlimited money pouring into gubernatorial and legislative races, and local and federal races. Sick truth: The tidal wave of checks always flowing to legislative leadership committees, candidates and issues are accompanied by an appalling lack of checks and balances on that perpetual stream of money. Surely, anyone needs funds to run for office — local, state, or national — but with no real limits on the runaway power of PACs and nearly no downtime on fundraising, the system is seriously tainted. Most men and women who I have met in The Process run for the right reasons and aren’t excited about raising contributions full-time. I don’t see it getting any better because of the Citizens United case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that spending limits on campaigns are unconstitutional. Someday, we all should hope that will change. Talk privately and honestly with any accomplished lobbyist — large, medium, or sole practitioner firms — and they’ll likely disclose that you cannot be an effective lobbyist for your clients, or successful today in a major firm, without raising millions of dollars for legislative leadership committees and individual legislative campaigns and PACs. The larger your client base, the more you must raise and contribute, and the more you raise the more influential you become in the process. Collins and Askew would be horrified by the influence of money in The Process today. It’s like the Wild West with unlimited fundraising and donations. In retirement now, I am comforted by not having to raise money for the “leadership funds” that are awash with cash. Years ago, one Senate President-elect told me that he was disappointed that I had not met my campaign money “quota” — and he was very upset. Quotas based upon your client base actually do exist — and they are so toxic and wrong. It’s not right — but the beat goes on, with no interest or movement to change this sad and tragic status quo. This is no way to run our government. It risks our democracy becoming government of, by and for the monied interests. We must do better.


L I B E RT Y PA RT N E R S of Tallahassee, LLC

Jennifer J. Green, CAE, DPL President

Melanie S. Bostick, DPL Vice President

Timothy “Tim” Parson, DPL

Director of Government Relations

@LibertyPartners

@LibertyPartnersTLH

(850) 841-1726 | www.libertypartnersfl.com Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

63


64

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

65


by rosanne dunkelberger

photo the workmans

F E AT U R E

VIRTUAL BUSINESS MEETINGS DON’T HAVE TO LOOK BAD

S

trategic Digital Services (SDS) knows a thing or two about how the pandemic affected the world of business in 2020. The digital-first advertising and marketing agency, co-founded by millennials Matt Farrar and Joe Clements in 2014, grew 800% over the past year, grossing between $8 and $10 million. Reading the tea leaves, SDS has invested in a new studio-for-hire with all the bells and whistles required to conduct business in a remote, quality way. “The business world isn’t going to go back to people flying across the country for a one-hour meeting; you can see from the last year that’s not actually necessary to do business,” Clements said. “A lot of common business and professional interactions are going to stay remote because it’s far more efficient, but a lot of that remote experience is very poor — bad lighting, bad sound, bad backgrounds. “If we’re going to spend more of our time interacting in this virtual environment … there is going to be a demand for something better than a camera on your laptop.” he continued. “We can run an entire remote, broadcast-quality production on behalf of a client.” With all of its equipment on wheels, the studio can be configured for multiple purposes, including remote media appearances, a virtual town hall, conferences, sales calls and client pitches.

66

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


“THE CAROUSEL STUDIO IS THE PRODUCT OF SDS’ CUTTING-EDGE APPROACH TOWARD MARKETING AND OUR PASSION FOR CREATING EXCEPTIONAL CONTENT.”

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

67


Results Matter. Public Affairs Strategic Counsel Political Communications Legal Communications Crisis Communications Media Relations ALIA FARAJ-JOHNSON PRESIDENT

T. 850.212.8317 E. Alia@AliaStrategicGroup.com ALIASTRATEGICGROUP.COM 68

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


Experienced Innovative Effective Public opinion affects your goals. We affect public opinion.

850.296.7142 | TALLAHASSEE.TUCKERHALL.COM Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

69


Get smart fast about

Budget lingo

F E AT U R E

by rosanne dunkelberger photos the workmans 70

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

T

he Legislative Session is like two trains running at the same time on different tracks — or a coin with two sides. One side is policy, where substantive bills get filed and move through a thoughtful and sometimes-complex committee process. Many bills have up to six committee hearings in both the House and Senate where members can listen to public testimony and debate the merits of the proposal before final debate on the floor. The other side of the coin is the budget, the most important item every year and the only constitutional requirement of the Florida Legislature. Budget proposals tend to reflect the priorities of the chamber leadership.The real work of the budget happens well before Session even starts and picks up again in the final two weeks. Working on both policy and budget issues during the 60-day Legislative Session requires a skilled advocate who knows the rules and nuances to navigate them both. We asked Chris Dudley of The Southern Group for a quick primer...

BACK OF THE BILL — There’s a lot of good stuff in the back of the bill. Growing up when my dad was in the Legislature, he always said to me, “Read the bill, Chris, it’s the most important thing you can do.” And not just the staff analysis, but the entire bill. While I tend to go through and look at client items first, there are a ton of nuggets in the final pages. The back of the bill contains some of the most important budget issues in the entire bill, including reappropriating dollars and directing how dollars can be spent. SPREADSHEET — The lifeblood of the budget conference process, the budget spreadsheet details each specific appropriation of both House and Senate budgets, how much money has been appropriated and the source of funds. As the conference committee process begins, House and Senate members will make offers on every


“The final 72 hours of the budget conference are the most intense and most important of Session. It’s the time to keep your foot on the gas and keep advocating for your clients.”

item on the spreadsheet. They can accept the offer and “shade out” the line, make a counteroffer, or request the issue be bumped up to the next level.

BUMPED — Being bumped means you’re still alive, but you have work to do. During the budget conference process, when an item fails to reach consensus at one chairmanship level, it gets bumped to the next highest level for negotiation. Ultimately, the House Speaker and Senate President are the final arbiters of bumped items, which can reflect some of the biggest policy decisions each Session or key member projects. CLOSED OUT/SHADED OUT — When agreement has been reached by the budget conference committee on a specific budget item, it is “shaded out” or closed out. The shading reflects the actual graying out a row on the budget spreadsheet to reflect the issue is closed out. The budget conference may start with 50 pages of spreadsheet rows and columns, but it won’t end until every issue is closed out. I have always looked at this as a funnel. At the beginning, you’re doing your best just to get everything in there. And you’re working diligently to shade as much out as you move through the process as the funnel narrows so that when you get really to the end, you have only a handful of issues still

out there to focus on. If your line item has been shaded out for less than you were asking for, you try at that point for a little Hail Mary and hope the presiding officer may have a little money left (see: Sprinkle) get it back up to where you need it.

CONFORMING — Conforming bills are ones that change the state statutes to reflect decisions made in the general appropriations act — aka the state budget.  However, unlike the implementing bill with a one-year effective date, conforming bills also are general bills and have the effect of changing policy to reflect the priorities and policies of the state budget. While not as heavily debated as substantive policy bills, conforming bills are a vital piece of the budget process and can have a significant policy impact.  For example, the proposal by House Speaker Chris Sprowls to extend Medicaid coverage to a mother and child for up to one year will be the result of a Medicaid conforming bill of the state budget.

IMPLEMENTING — The implementing bill, which is only effective for one year, implements specific provisions of the state budget. MEETING NOTICE — The rules of the House and Senate dictate the amount of time a meeting must be publicly noticed before a committee may meet and take formal action on Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

71


F E AT U R E

an agenda item. Typically, committee meeting agendas are published 48 hours before the start of the meeting. However, during the budget conference, the meeting notices drop to only one hour.

PROVISO — While a specific line item will appropriate the dollars, the proviso specifies the program or the policy that must be followed to spend those dollars. However, the Governor has the power to not only line item veto a specific appropriation, the Governor also can line item veto a line of proviso that appropriates money to a specific project.

SPRINKLE — The best acronym for sprinkle is IYKYK! The holy grail of the budget conference process, sprinkle is a pot of money held by the presiding officers to augment existing programs or projects during the budget conference process. The term has come to reflect the ability of the presiding officers to “sprinkle” dollars to close out

the budget conference process and are reflected as “Supplemental Funding Issues” during the final meeting of the budget conference.

TECHNICAL ISSUE — Not every amendment is a substantive proposal. A technical amendment may fix a grammatical error, spelling mistake or even statute citation. TRUST FUND SWEEP — Trust funds are created to protect specific dollars and provide a transparent “account” that reflects the collection of fines, fees, taxes, federal dollars, etc. Gas tax dollars, for example, go into the State Transportation Trust Fund and are used to build roads. When you buy a scratch-off lottery ticket, those dollars go into the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund and are used to support educational programs such as Florida’s Bright Futures program. On occasion, the Legislature will raid trust funds and move some of

those dollars into the state’s general revenue account to be used across the state budget to fill holes or provide additional funds for programs. The most significant trust funds and the ones with the most money are dedicated to road building, affordable housing, and environmental and land protection. These trust funds have strong advocates that argue vocally to keep the funds appropriated for their intended purpose and not be swept.

TURKEY — As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What is a turkey to some is a vital local community project for another. In legislative parlance, a turkey is funding for a specific local project that has not been “approved” by a state agency, by either being included in their legislative budget request or being on an agency-approved list of projects awaiting funding.  Avoiding Florida TaxWatch’s famous “Turkey” list is always a goal.

Chris Dudley is a partner at The Southern Group and has been active in The Process for 27 years. His practice focuses on legislative and budget issues and he is most active in transportation and education issues.

72

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


TEAM A TRUSTED

TAMPA | TALLAHASSEE | MIAMI | DC

WWW.CORCORANPARTNERS.COM Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

73


spotlight

Key to the Calm

Teamwork fuels one of Florida’s top public affairs agencies to create client wins by peter schorsch

74

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


“Moore has created an atmosphere that allows team members to focus on doing great work. It’s because of this atmosphere both our team and our clients win.” Karen Moore said that as other agencies and industries are pondering where they can cut, Moore’s leadership team tries to find ways to add benefits, including teambuilding events, mental health days, a corporate wellness program, and 100% paid employee health benefits. And in March 2020, when the weight of COVID was just beginning to make itself known, Moore made a bold pledge to employees that all of them would keep their jobs.

E

very Legislative Session is high energy, at turns exhilarating and often exhausting. It’s 60 long days of intense discussions, competing priorities and pivoting decisions, from that first coffee meeting on the Capitol’s 10th floor until the sine die handkerchief dropping ceremony. It can be hard to find the calm amid the clamor. But Moore, one of the state’s top public affairs agencies, always manages to do it. The secret to success, they say, is a teamwork-forward culture. It sounds simple, but it’s the result of decades of cultivating a culture often referred to internally as “the Moore DNA” — and it feels something like a trust fall where nearly 50 teammates have your back. Managing Director Liz Underwood and her team have to be ready to act immediately to respond to media inquiries and coverage, help clients prepare for committee testimony, or shift strategies. Being part of a seasoned, integrated team helps her leverage extensive relationships and expertise, whether it’s organizing a press event, tracking real-time issue conversations or launching a digital campaign. “We have the most amazing team of people who are willing to jump in at any moment to help each other – from our CEO to our interns,” Underwood said, adding that a smart solution or helping hands are just a few footsteps away at Moore’s Tallahassee headquarters. “I would not be able to provide clients with the best counsel and support without the help of my teammates.” For one of the largest public affairs teams in the Southeast, teamwork is the key to getting results for clients. In an industry known for turnover, nearly 25% of Moore team members have been with the agency for 10 years or more. In fact, Inc. 5000 recognized the agency as one of its Best Places to Work. And with a continued focus on corporate culture, talent acquisition and talent development, Moore has garnered an impressive 92% employee retention rate. “Moore cares for its team in the right way,” Moore Director Courtney Cox said. “Our entire agency is empowered to deliver success for each of our clients, and we celebrate all our wins — big or small. Moore has created an atmosphere that allows team members to focus on doing great work. It’s because of this atmosphere both our team and our clients win.” Karen Moore, founder and CEO, said her agency is one where employees are better recognized for their ability to join arms with colleagues to create success than to “bulldoze” and create it all on their own. Leadership invests in them, they invest in each other, and all of that relationship energy is paid forward in the agency’s relationships with clients. Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

75


spotlight

“If you have a revolving door at an agency, what does that mean to the interruption of your mission? If you have to onboard, that sets you back,” she said. “Nothing frustrates a client more than their point person turning over. They have to re-educate and re-establish a relationship. There is no interruption in our relationship and success.” Karen Moore pointed to Nanette Schimpf, a Vice President and 19-year veteran at Moore. Schimpf has served some clients for nearly two decades. “The sense of team is a very real and a daily thing here at Moore,” Schimpf said. “An email asking for feedback or another perspective is met with a flurry of responses. Because we care about our team members as much as we do our clients. It’s all family.” Karen Moore said as other agencies and industries are pondering where they can cut, Moore’s leadership team tries to find ways to add benefits, including team-building events, mental health days, a corporate wellness program, and 100% paid employee health benefits. In March 2020, when the weight of COVID was just beginning to make itself known, Moore made a bold pledge to employees that all of them would keep their jobs. This benefits clients because it generates energized, healthy, inspired professionals who are equipped to help clients reach their mission even under the stress of a fast-moving state Session or ever-changing federal landscape. That’s the art side of Moore’s success. The science comes when the agency uses powerful data to drive key decisions and anticipate changing tides. A focus that Terrie Ard, President & COO says is utilized across the entire agency. “Success for our clients happens because we put a real priority on supporting the team and their families by cultivating a family-first culture,” Ard said. “At Moore, you are recognized for your professional life but empowered to be the best you can be in your personal life.” One of the reasons that O’Dwyer’s last year ranked Moore as the top public affairs agency in Florida is its performance during the Legislative Session, where everything can change at the ninth hour — or over happy hour. Different interests are competing for

76

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

airtime and attention from elected officials. Moore is arm-and-arm with their lobbying partners — together they can pivot to make the client successful. “Everyone is at the start line carrying their issues and it’s an all-out sprint,” Underwood said. “It requires really nimble coordination, daily, within our own internal team.” “In our industry, there are always going to be times when you feel like you are drinking water out of a fire hose,” Moore Director Logan Lewkow said. “What Moore does better than anyone is that we build a strong foundation of strategy and action with an integrated approach.” Beyond the team and culture, The Moore Agency keeps the calm by not relying on just one channel or strategy for the success of their clients. As a full-service agency, they are executing strategies across the full gamut, including branding, digital marketing, coalition building and influencer engagement to ensure all the pressure is not just on one activation or tactic for results. In many cases, this multi-channel approach makes the difference between tremendous victories versus just small wins. Not only is the multi-channel approach and diverse experience of the team a strategic weapon, but with offices in Central and South Florida, Moore covers the state and drives relationships with key thought leaders, media contacts and influential organizations on behalf of clients. This is further exemplified by the lead of the South Florida office and Managing Director Nic Breeding, who applies his 20 years of service across the George W. Bush White House, two cabinet secretaries and with multiple congressional candidates to many of Moore’s clients throughout South Florida. “I believe that through the work we do on behalf of clients, every day we can say we made the life of somebody in the state of Florida a little better,” Karen Moore said. “The work we do touches not only individuals, but their families and communities. Our efforts help them have better opportunities, quality of life, access, mobility, jobs. It’s gratifying to go home every night and say, ‘I did something really good today.’”


“I believe that through the work we do on behalf of clients, every day we can say we made the life of somebody in the state of Florida a little better.”

– Karen Moore

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

77


F E AT U R E

78

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


at e w s t ’ Don ion! s s e S the With just weeks before sine die, INFLUENCE Magazine offers this tour ofTallahassee destinations and services that will help you keep your cool during the last weeks of Session. by rosanne dunkelberger Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

79


F E AT U R E

I

t’s the last few weeks of Session … pressure cooker time. Your days are filled with skull sessions to plan strategy, keeping an eye out for poison-pill amendments, bending the ears of the powerful — or having your ear bent because you are powerful — dashing from office to meetings to floor sessions all while the opening “dum dum dum de de dum dum” of Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” is thrumming through your brain. Stop. Take a breath. Give yourself a little time to let off steam before the lid blows. Chances are you’re a go-go person wound even tighter these days because of the zero-sum game and high stakes that are part and parcel of The Process. You’re the type of individual who finds it doubly difficult to “just relax.” “Type-A personalities are more prone to stress because of their nature to be competitive, time-urgent, impatient and aggressive. When we are stressed, the influx of hormones can cause headaches, shoulder tension, insomnia, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain,” said Dr. Philip Scuderi, a chiropractor, anti-aging and

80

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

wellness expert and founder of Basis Medical in Palm Beach County. “It can be especially difficult for type-A personalities to de-stress through traditional methods like meditation because of their impatience and emphasis on time.” The fight/flight stress response floods the body with cortisol and other chemicals that increases inflammation and potentially impacts physical and mental health, said Dr. Howard Rankin, a clinical psychologist, writer and speaker. “Many stressors today aren’t about physical fighting, yet we have the same response.” Without the fighting or flighting, those chemicals can stick around in the body and cause harm. “This is one of the reasons why physical exercise is the best stress manager — it effectively uses the pent-up energy, as well as providing feel-good chemicals like dopamine, and enhancing brain function in both the short and long term,” Rankin said. Almost to a person, wellness experts suggest walking — outdoors, not on a treadmill — as an ideal stress reliever. Even 15 minutes can prove beneficial.


PHOTO: The Workmans

With more than 600 miles of trails for walking, biking and paddling, the areas in and around Tallahassee offer abundant opportunities for enjoying life alfresco. Less than a mile southeast from the Capitol is Cascades Park and its broad, paved sidewalk. Head the same distance west on College Avenue and stroll Florida State University’s campus, which includes an informative Legacy Walk.

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

81


F E AT U R E

Head north on Thomasville Road for one of the area’s most picturesque walks — Maclay Gardens State Park. The park is a masterpiece of ornamental gardening and the “peak bloom” season lasts throughout April. Prepare to be amazed by an abundance of azaleas, camellias, flora and water features as you walk along its brick-paved pathways. For a more rugged experience, the adjacent Lake Overstreet Trail is five miles of long, winding natural surfaced roads through hardwood forest and around the lake.

82

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


PHOTOS: The Workmans

If an energetic workout is your thing, or even if you’re not sure what will help you beat the stress, Midtown’s Sweat Therapy Fitness offers a smorgasbord of small-class workouts as well as personal training. The workouts include yoga, barre, boxing, strength training, rowing TRX and RealRyder indoor cycling. The studio offers an introductory special — three workouts for $25. If you have memberships at 9Round, Orangetheory, Planet Fitness, Anytime Fitness or Gold’s Gym back home, all have locations in Tallahassee (a drop-in fee may apply). You’ll find Axios Lifestyle Spa just a few doors down from Sweat Therapy. Calling itself an “urban sanctuary,” the spa offers massage as well as a variety of relaxing self-care services including facials, body scrubs (Hungarian Herbal Mud Treatment, anyone?) and visits to their Salt Therapy room. Keep the healing feeling going with a visit to the juice bar for fresh-squeezed juices, smoothies and acai bowls.

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

83


F E AT U R E

Rising Om Yoga in Midtown’s Betton Place offers yoga classes for beginners and longtime practitioners but takes it to the next level with a variety of “hot” classes. Working out at 105 degrees, “the heat helps to stretch and warm up the body more, so you’re able to get deeper into postures,” said owner and director Brittani Whittington. In addition to turning up the thermostat, heat is also provided by Far infrared heaters that warm the body, not the air. “There is a deep therapeutic element to that added heat. And of course, you’re sweating way more than you would be in a non-heated class. So that feels really cleansing to the body,” she explained. If all this sounds too intense, there’s also a Sunday evening Yin Yoga at the opposite end of the spectrum. “It’s all on the floor, laying down and stretching. We use blankets and big bolster pillows,” said Whittington. “It’s very meditative, very soothing for the nervous system. We hold stretches anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes.” A new client special offers 30 days of unlimited classes for $59. Virtual classes are available, too.

84

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


Wine Bar off North Monroe Street. Make a visit, and you might just run into Gus Corbella, Stephanie Smith, Carlecia Collins, Jason Unger and Samantha Sexton. “It’s more of a wine lovers’ bar than a Legislative Process bar,” Corbella said “The great thing about it is that people that go there are all wine lovers or are people that are wanting to learn more about wine. Hummingbird is staffed by very knowledgeable sommeliers — and good friends — who also are wine-loving people. You can share good wine with people who are also appreciating good wine over laughs and good conversation, and it’s always more fun than just casually drinking at home.” There’s also food, live music sometimes and seating indoors or on the back deck under a massive oak tree.

PHOTOS: The Workmans

Craving some comfort food? A Philly cheesesteak? The best seafood in town? Birria like your grandma used to make? Turkish Doner? Farm-to-Table? Tallahassee doesn’t have a Cheesecake Factory, but it does have an abundance of locally owned restaurants serving a variety of worldwide cuisines if you know where to look. Lucky for you, the Tallahassee Foodies Facebook group has done the legwork with a listing of local restaurants. It’s nearly 30,000 members will crowdsource whatever cuisine, ambience or price point you’re looking for. Just hop on the site, ask, and wait for the suggestions to roll in. If the fruit of the vine is the way you unwind, consider a detour off the beaten (Gov Club) path and head to Hummingbird

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

85


F E AT U R E

If you’re hoping to find a place where you can really get away from it all, take a trip to SoMo (South Monroe) and the Driftaway Float Center. Slip into a pod filled with 11 inches of water and 1,000 pounds of epsom salt, close the lid and float in the dark for an hour. Lights and meditation music are available, but owner Jeff Spinks favors getting naked and going for a total blackout. “It’s a little weird at first, but

once you get used to, it’s pretty cool. You kind of just lose track of your body … like floating out in space.” It might take a little getting used to the sensation of the water and air being the same temperature as your body and hearing only the sound of your breathing and heartbeat. “Some people get a little fidgety while they’re in there. It’s a very unique environment, not having any input. It is very qui-

et and nothing stimulates you,” Spinks said. He said being in the tank evokes the opposite feeling of the fight-or-flight response: “Some people call it the relaxation response … when your body knows that. ‘OK, I don’t need to worry about any sort of external things coming to hurt me,’ so your body can kind of turn inwards and just kind of reset and heal itself a little bit better.”

For those who might be thinking, “I’ll get around to relaxing once Session ends,” Mary Barley emphatically says no. The well-being coordinator for Leon County government and a certified Heart Map provider said nipping stress in the bud while it occurs is what people should be aiming for. And it doesn’t take much time or equipment. If you have an Apple watch or fitness band that reminds you to breathe every so often, take deep breaths for a minute or two, she advised. “The breathing is one thing, but if you can, activate a positive emotion — gratitude, appreciation, love or compassion. Think about your grandchildren or a serene place, whether it’s out hunting in the peace of the early morning, or the beach or riding in a boat, if that does it for you,” Barley said. “Bring that into your mind so that you can try to flip from that depleting emotion to a renewing emotion. That is the key, probably more important than anything else that you could do.”

86

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


s s e r t s e D A ‘Sense’ible Way to

Start your day off with this morn-

ing exercise described in the Namaste Wellness blog (namastewellness.com) that focuses on activating your five

senses. Evidence shows the practice can reduce stress and anxiety.

taste? Is it pleasant? What’s the consistency? Notice every sensation.

Smell

Throw a few coffee beans into the

grinder, or select your favorite tea or

Start at the beginning of your day, in

a favorite essential oil. Place your cho-

your kitchen, after minimizing distractions.

sen aroma under your nose, close your

Sight.

Stop and try to catalog all the right

angles you can see (doors, windows, tables, walls, mirrors, cutting boards, appliances, etc). This helps put your

eyes, and focus on the fragrance. Take a few deep breaths and notice what this smell triggers for you.

Touch

Go into your freezer and pick out an

attention right behind your eyes, into

ice cube, big enough to fit in the palm

your present space and out of the latest

of your hand. Hold it in your hand un-

news story.

til it melts completely. For the first 10

Sound

seconds or so, it feels kind of silly, but that switches to intensity pretty quick-

Grab your headphones or plug up

ly. It usually takes about two minutes

the speaker and play as loud as you are

for the ice cube to melt, and it can be

comfortable with a favorite go-to song

unpleasant — but that tactile discom-

on your playlist at the moment.

fort is precisely the point. Your mind

Taste. Go into your fridge or pantry

can’t attend to anything else at that

and look for something with vivid fla-

moment when your body is experienc-

vors, such as honey, salsa, dark choco-

ing discomfort. It forces you to focus

late, salt, lemon, or a piece of cheese.

on your sense of touch completely, and

Focus on letting your receptors take in

away from other worries.

the flavors and sensations. What do you

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

87


WITH YOU WHEN IT COUNTS.

Political & Election Lawyers

kato.law

Elections • Government Relations Campaign Finance • Tax-Exempt Entities 88

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

Natalie Kato


From Pensacola to the Florida Keys... OUR MEMBERS ARE HELPING TO

BRIDGE THE DIGITAL DIVIDE Now, more than ever, staying connected is essential. FIT members offer high-speed internet at a low cost. Programs like Connect2Compete, Internet Assist, and Internet Essentials provide qualified households access to high-speed broadband so that Floridians can e-learn, telework, and access the internet for around fifteen dollars a month. Qualified applicants may include public housing residents, low-income veterans, seniors, students, and low-income households.

InternetandTVFL.com 246 E 6th Ave., Tallahassee, FL 32303

@FLInternetTV 850.681.1990 Spring 2021 INFLUENCE

|

89


F E AT U R E

e th t e e M

pup

90

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


ppy caucus by rosanne dunkelberger photos the workmans

W

Briar Burgess (center) was a front-page sensation during committee weeks before Session when Sen. Danny Burgess brought the spaniel puppy to the Capitol. Her human siblings (left to right) Adeline, Danny III and Nora Rose think she’s a great addition to the family too.

hile partisans from opposite sides of the aisle might knock heads about issues, there’s one group that finds “bi-paw-tisanship” is possible when licking, ball chasing and friendly greetings are in the mix. Say hello to the Puppy Caucus, a rollicking bunch of doggie companions to legislators and influencers that serve as ambassadors for their friends, charming even the most jaded political operatives. If they were envious sorts, other members of the furry faction might be jealous of Briar Burgess, who, in addition to having her own Twitter handle (@legallybriar) and avatar, made a front-page, above-the-fold appearance in the Tallahassee Democrat. The Cavalier King Charles spaniel accompanied Sen. Danny Burgess during committee weeks, romping through the halls of the Capitol. A 6-month-old puppy, Briar is utterly adorable, with big expressive eyes, floppy ears and chestnut and white Blenheim coloring. Her human dad not-so-humbly declares the pup has the breed’s personality to match her pretty looks. “They are just so friendly and loving,” Burgess said of the toy spaniels, which were “bred to keep the queen’s pillows warm back in the day in England. …. It’s so hard to get up in the morning because she is probably one of the best snuggle companions you could ever hope for.” Briar, the Burgess family’s first family pet, arrived at their Zephyrhills home via Santa for Christmas. “They have a way of calming you down and keeping you focused and centered. If only I knew this sooner,” Burgess said. She also has been an asset to Burgess as the former Representative, Mayor and Executive Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs begins his first term as a Senator.

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

91


F E AT U R E

“... If you want a friend in politics, get a dog, ... I actually think if you want to make friends in politics, bring a dog along. It was just so fun to see the happiness, the joy, the collegiality that just having a puppy can bring.” – danny burgess

“What’s the old saying? ‘If you want a friend in politics, get a dog,’ right? I actually think if you want to make friends in politics, bring a dog along,” he said. “It was just so fun to see the happiness, the joy, the collegiality that just having a puppy can bring.” Burgess said he wanted to “bring a little bit of joy into the building and around The Process” with Briar, and he considers his mission accomplished. “It took off in a way that I never imagined.” The five humans in the Burgess family — Burgess, his wife, Courtney, and children Adeline, 7, Danny “the third”, 5, and toddler “Princess” Nora Rose — also are in Tallahassee for the Session, “crammed in our new family RV,” the Senator said. “There’s something to the minimalist lifestyle.” On weekends, “we find ourselves adventuring in state parks (and) exploring the Panhandle, and areas of Florida we wouldn’t otherwise get to see. It’s truly become quality family time that we’ve come to very much appreciate.” Tito “like the vodka” came into Sen. Shevrin Jones’ life last August. The champagne-colored French bulldog was set to make his Tallahassee debut during the Session’s opening week but had to cancel the trip because of tummy troubles.

92

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

Jones acknowledges being a little anxious when the pup finally does make his first long trip from South Florida to Tallahassee. “My biggest fear is to put him on a plane or put him in the car,” he said. Jones lost his brother three years ago and said a therapist he was seeing for lingering depression asked him to recall some of the moments he remembered with him. When Jones talked about the two of them taking care of their dog, Pretty Boy, she suggested he consider getting a dog. “My therapist was right,” he said. Jones describes Tito as “very energetic” but attuned to his moods. “He truly has the personality that matches to me what I need,” Jones said. “When I’m having a moment, it’s like he knows (and will) just come sit next to me. I love coming home to him. Even when I was out and about, it really gave me a reason to rush back home.” Tito does have a legislative priority — SB 650, informally known as the dog chain law, which would ban tethering unattended dogs and cats outside. Jones is a co-sponsor of the bill. Politics is in the blood of Mac, who came into the life of


Corey Staniscia, legislative aide to Rep. Chip LaMarca, just a few days after the 2020 election. “My wife is a police officer. So it was kind of … Now the campaign was over and COVID was still kind of around. We said, ‘Look, it’s now or never’ and that’s when we decided to get the pup,” he said. Mac, a “poodle/Shih Tzu mixed with some kind of yorkie” has become an honorary employee in LaMarca’s Lighthouse Point district office.

Sammi (upper left) commutes between Brandon and Tallahassee with PR consultant Ron Pierce and can be found chumming around with Briar (below) and officemate Kaitlyn Bailey Owen, senior lobbying associate at RSA Consulting Group.

“The Representative has always been dog friendly,” Staniscia said. “Even during his County Commission days, he was known as the dog commissioner (and) passed a couple ordinances that were pro dog.” The 6-month-old puppy “loves new people. We don’t have much foot traffic these days, but he loves when the mail gets dropped off,” Staniscia said. “He loves to jump in on the Zoom calls with the Representative. The lobbyists and the residents … all get a kick out of it. “He’s always going to take a meeting, that’s for sure,” Staniscia said of his canine companion. Mac is short for Macaroni. “We’re an Italian family. And it’s an Italian legislative office,” he explained. A proposal to help find a solution for K9 dogs injured in the line of duty is being worked on and won’t make it to the floor this Session, but it is one that is on Mac and LaMarca’s radar for the future. Where legislators meet, influencers follow, and it’s no different for the puppy caucus. Sammi, a 6-month-old corgi, is already a road warrior, trekking between the Brandon and Tallahassee’s offices of her owner, Ron Pierce, President and CEO of RSA Consulting group. Photos on Sammi’s Twitter feed (@RSApup) show her offering up a basket of blue tennis balls to Briar Burgess, in an attempt to curry favor. Between Pierce’s 16-year-old son wanting a companion, the staff’s desire for an office dog and the temptations provided by his firm’s pet shop client, All About Puppies, getting Sammi was inevitable. And Pierce is beyond happy. “She’s fantastic with people. Anybody that walks through the doors are automatic friends,” he said. “She’s so funny. The first time she meets you, she immediately runs up to you, rolls over and expects a belly rub.” Pierce said Sammi has become a good officemate, although there is at least one issue. “She’s chewed one wire and a couple of things here and there,” he said. “We’ll deal with it through Human Resources. Everything will be fine.”

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

93


AT GRAYROBINSON, WE ARE GAME CHANGERS.

MAKE THE CONNECTION. FLORIDA | WASHINGTON, DC | GRAY-ROBINSON.COM 94

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


10 PLACES TO

l l i h c

by chelsea workman

photos the workmans

S

tart with the most hectic time of the year, add a dollop of inconvenience courtesy of COVID restrictions (the Civic Center, really?), then pour on generous amounts of pressure, deadlines and changes. It’s the perfect recipe for a meltdown as the Session winds up to its frenzied finale. To help you find a little chill amid the whirlwind, Tallahassee locals have compiled a list of 10 great places to find peace and (almost) solitude, some just a stone’s throw away from the Capitol.

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

95


10 PLACES TO CHILL

Lichgate was created in the mid-20th century by a Florida State University English professor. Located off High Road — about a 10-minute drive from the Capitol — the grounds include a massive live oak, a small cottage, multiple community run gardens and a labyrinth. Bring a blanket and stretch out your legs in the grass of our little green oasis.

96

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

Lichgate


Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

97


10 PLACES TO CHILL

22nd Floor

La Florida 98

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


Governors Club Library 22nd FLOOR Those in The Process often work at or visit the Capitol for meetings. Despite the constant movement, there is a consistent quiet spot under the same roof. The 22nd floor serves as the highest point in Tallahassee, and with its 360-degree views, you could spend hours finding familiar places from a new perspective. On a clear day, you can even see the St. Marks Lighthouse.

LA FLORIDA Need to get off the Capitol complex, but don’t want to go too far? La Florida is the perfect spot to fuel up with coffee during the day and wine down in the afternoon, all while staying in the heart of downtown. Like many other spaces around Tallahassee, the name is a nod to history, from the Spanish territory of the same name in the 1500s.

BAR 1903 Now an anachronism surrounded by the gleaming offices of Ballard Partners, the building began its life as a private subscription library in 1883. This historic building, named for Florida’s eighth governor, David Walker, was home to a few different businesses before Jesse Edmunds and Seven Hills Hospitality transformed it into Bar 1903. The small space makes for the perfect place to hide away while enjoying some of the best cocktails from decades past. GOVERNORS CLUB LIBRARY When you enter the Governors Club, you

Bar 1903

can go many different directions, but up on the third floor, when you can’t walk any farther, you land in a place people view as the finest room in the building. Lined with cherry and mahogany panels and a wood burning fireplace, the library is a magnificent space crafted by local Tallahassee artisans. It has been used for afterdinner drinks and all-day games of bridge, and it continues to be a special place to those who spend time there. If only the walls could talk…

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

99


10 PLACES TO CHILL

Need to let off some steam on the golf course? The Capital City Country Club is less than five minutes away from the heart of The Process, and it provides multiple opportunities for peace and quiet. The 18hole course is lined with Spanish oaks and full of rolling hills, and the additional amenities give you more reasons to relieve some stress while enjoying the beautiful Tallahassee landscape.

Capital City Country Club 100

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


Talented. Tested. Trusted. Public Relations

Happy New Year from the On3PR Team! Christina Johnson | McKinley Lewis CORPORATE & POLITICAL STORYTELLING COMMUNICATIONS Laura Rambo | Katie Householder EXPERTS

GRASSROOTS ADVOCACY

Grassroots Advocacy | Corporate Communications | Storytelling Experts P. O . B o x 1 3 6 9 | Ta l l a h a s s e e , F L 3 2 3 0 2 8 5 0 . 3 9 1 . 5 0 4 0 | c h r i s t i n a @ o n 3 p r. c o m | O n 3 P R . c o m

On3PR.com Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

101


10 PLACES TO CHILL

Lafayette Heritage Trail Park For the early risers or the adventure seekers, this park is one of the best places in Tallahassee to take a hike and enjoy the sunrise views. Head east from downtown to get some fresh air, kayak across Lake Lafayette or make your way to the JR Alford Greenway or Tom Brown Park from multiple walking and biking trails.

102

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


Nestled between Tallahassee City Hall and the Capitol, British Olympic Courtyard was dedicated by Princess Anne, the oldest daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, in honor of the British Olympic Team training in Tallahassee for the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. It continues to be a quiet retreat in the midday shadow of the Capitol.

British Olympic Courtyard Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

103


10 PLACES TO CHILL

Lewis Park

Ology Power Mill 104

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

Back in the 1800s, Captain William C. Lewis asked the City Council if he could plant the second of now seven parks along Park Avenue. It established the pattern for the area known as the Chain of Parks. Unlike some of the others in the chain, Lewis Park has since been kept unpaved as a wide-open green space with shading oaks covered in Spanish moss.

The local Tallahassee beer scene has grown exponentially over the last few years and Ology Brewing Company is among some of the greats in town. Unlike any other brewery, Ology recently opened Tallahassee’s first distillery, producing vodka and rum. It is slated to add more to the lineup in the near future. It’s worth extending your stay through the weekend for a tour of the facilities and enjoying a drink in the beer garden.


Sheriffs join President John F. Kennedy as he presents AAA Safety Patrol Medal to a Junior Deputy in 1962.

President Harry Truman Becomes Honorary Member of FSA — 1957

Governor Reubin Askew Receives Crime Briefing from Sheriff — 1973

Governor Bob Graham Signs Public Safety Legislation with Sheriffs — 1979

The Office of Sheriff

LEADING, INFLUENCING AND UNITING FOR 200 YEARS (and counting) Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

105


FIGHTING FOR THE SMALL BUSINESSES THAT CREATE JOBS & POWER FLORIDA’S ECONOMY

#joinFRLA 106

|

|

FRLA.org

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

|

850.224.2250


The Business of Time A Pensacola charter jet company banks on giving it back to state capital execs and families by peter schorsch

T

he Cessna Citations look like corporate jets, but according to Aero Air Charter partner Wendy Smith, they’re really time machines — fantastic craft that offer executives and families alike precious hours and days they would otherwise lose to commercial flights or long drives. Smith and her husband, Joel, a tech entrepreneur and investor, first traveled with Aero a few years ago on a vacation with their two young sons. After considering how much of their limited time off would be spent wrangling kids and luggage through airports and rental car counters, Wendy decided the stress of travel was undermining the very purpose of it: to relax with her family.

Runup: A quality experience becomes a business venture “I was a flight attendant in my first career, so I can navigate airports with my eyes closed, but it’s still a draining experience,” Wendy said. “I hadn’t really considered a charter because I always thought of private jets as incredibly expensive, exclusive, and difficult to schedule.” Even so, the need to protect her family time eventually led her to call Aero. She found to her surprise that the people were actually friendly and the flights were easy to book. Another pleasant discovery was that the cost of the charter for four people wasn’t nearly as much as she initially expected.

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

107


FEATURE

“...when I thought about what I was really paying for — my peace of mind, time with my husband and sons, and stress relief — I realized it was a bargain.”

“It wasn’t cheap, of course, but it wasn’t outrageous either,” she said. “And when I thought about what I was really paying for — my peace of mind, time with my husband and sons, and stress relief — I realized it was a bargain.” She added that people often tell her that they need a vacation-after-the-vacation to recover. “When anyone wants to compare commercial flights to charter, I encourage them to factor in the real cost of that ‘second vacation’ as well.” Takeoff: Aero under new ownership It’s one thing to treat your customers well enough that they come back. It’s quite another to impress them so much they buy the company. That’s exactly

108

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

what happened with the Smiths. “It was just such a cool experience from beginning to end,” remembers Joel, who started flying small planes in his teens. “We literally walked in and introduced ourselves, handed the team our luggage, and were in the air in minutes. It was the first time since I was a kid that I considered the flight one of the fun parts of vacation.” It was on that trip the Smiths realized that Aero might be the best-kept travel secret in all of Florida. The pair liked the business model and believed the private airline was ripe for expansion. So, when Joel exited AppRiver, the global cybersecurity company he founded with Michael Murdoch in 2002, the couple purchased Aero. “We love what we call a 10-star experience,” Wendy said. “And we knew we could

build on the great service Aero offered and deliver that to all our passengers.” Horizon east: Aero connects the capital city The Smiths also expanded Aero’s fleet to three Citation jets, carrying seven to nine passengers, depending on the model and configuration. The company has ferried executives to and from out-of-town meetings, vacationers to warm- and cold-weather destinations, and organ transplant teams — along with their life-sustaining donations — to hospitals across the Southeast. Now, Aero has its sights on Florida’s desperately underserved capital. The Sunshine State’s mid-sized cities like Tallahassee have always been notoriously hard to get to, often requiring connecting flights through larg-


“Some of us really need to escape the madness for a weekend every now and then. I can see a growing marketfor lobbyist-sanity getaways.”

er hubs or long waits for direct flights with limited availability. According to longtime top-tier lobbyist Bill Rubin, this makes the state capital seem even more remote to his clients from other parts of Florida and out of state. “Technology is wonderful, but people are better,” Rubin said. “There are so many times, especially during the Legislative Session, when you really need to get a client to Tallahassee or Washington for an in-person meeting, but there’s just no practical way to do it. I think charter service fills this niche in a very effective way.” Rubin joked that the reverse is also true. “Some of us really need to escape the madness for a weekend every now and then. I can see a growing market for lobbyist-sanity getaways as well.”

Touchdown: Charter service answers COVID-19 challenges Most experts agree that it will be years before America’s commercial airlines fully recover from the havoc wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. And that recovery will mean lots of changes to the industry that most travelers would consider long overdue: shorter lines, cleaner facilities, less crowded aircraft, and a more user-friendly experience overall. In short, the commercial carriers are going to need to emulate charter companies like Aero in order to regain their competitiveness in the travel industry. Wendy sees this as a positive trend for both the airlines and Aero. “When COVID hit, we were able to react quickly and introduce an enhanced, scientifically recommended

cleaning routine between flights,” she said. “We had all our employees get tested regularly and made sure they could get vaccinated as soon as possible.” As a result, Aero was able to keep pace with the increased demand caused by the airlines’ drastic reduction in service. As Aero was called on to rescue stranded travelers and fill the gaps left by canceled flights, the company was introduced to people who might not have considered a charter service before. “Without exception, our first-time flyers told us, ‘We’re doing this again!’ as they arrived at their destinations,” Wendy said. “We’ve got a solid business now and that tells me we’ve got lots of room to grow in the years ahead.” If Rubin’s assessment is correct, much of that future growth could be to and from Tallahassee.

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

109


No Person Goes Hungry, No Food Goes to Waste.

During the pandemic, many Floridians found themselves out of work and turning for the first time to Farm Share for their next meal.

Farm Share rose to the challenge, distributing over 3.3 million meals every week at no cost, throughout the state of Florida. Farm Share supports Floridians during their hardest times, and there’s still much work to be done.

110

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


MAKE YOUR MARK.

We ensure our clients make a lasting impression. At the Capitol. On policy issues. As a trusted leader. We are Moore Public Affairs. moorepublicaffairs.com #

1 Public Affairs agency in Florida by O’Dwyers.

CAMPAIGN DEVELOPMENT

I

DIGITAL STRATEGY

I

MEDIA RELATIONS

I

STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT Spring 2021 INFLUENCE | 111


Best in Florida. Best in the Southeast. For 20 years Moffitt has ranked among the country’s top cancer hospitals. Our Tampabased facility is the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center based in Florida. This distinction recognizes our scientific excellence, multidisciplinary research, and robust training and education. We proudly bring together renowned researchers and doctors in translational medicine for scientific breakthroughs. At Moffitt, we are developing the next generation of personalized cancer care, giving patients precisely the treatment they need—and less of what they don’t. We give more people hope—and the best outcomes.

Courageous

112

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


C A P I T O L

C O R N E R

S T O N E S

Defining institutional knowledge by andrew meachem photos mary beth tyson

T

hey represent insurance companies or the trial lawyers who take insurers to court. One of them was the state’s first Education Commissioner, and two more helped him make sweeping K-20 reforms. You might have seen one of them on national television, talking about the national debt. But most of the people on this list lack statewide name recognition. If they show up in news stories it will be somewhere in the dense middle, not the headline. We have regularly honored on these pages — and rightly so — legislators transitioning after term limits, influential mayors and tomorrow’s leaders under 30 whose work got them noticed. This time we are raising a glass to the people you don’t notice, precisely because they do their jobs so well. We call these lobbyists or association heads cornerstones because they bear an indispensable load and because they are located in exactly the right place. These are some of the most effective professionals at their positions in the state, and they aren’t going anywhere.

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

113


C O R N E R S T O N E S

J A S O N A L L I S O N

E

arly in the pandemic, there was a period in which the lowest collective public knowledge about COVID-19 intersected with the worst possible news. Caseloads and deaths were suddenly skyrocketing. Workplaces were shutting down. Jason Allison’s wife, Katie, turned from the television and asked him, “What does it mean?” Normally Allison was the man with the answers. As Florida’s Chief Information Officer, he had consolidated the state’s computer infrastructure and upgraded its security. His longrange program plan for the Agency for State Technology he led included multiple possible upgrades to information security and survivability in worst case scenarios. Back in the late 2000s when directing IT for disease control in the Florida Department of Health, he had even undergone pandemic drills. But this was new. “I don’t know what it means,” he told Katie. In 2014, he had risen to the state’s highest IT position as the first Director of the Agency of State Technology, not because he had all the answers but because no one was better at identifying the problems and finding solutions. Allison resigned the first day of the Session in 2017 to take a new job as public affairs director of Foley and Lardner in Tallahassee. He is still front and center with IT, helping the law firm’s clients do business with local and state government, comply with regulations and keep the firm’s software competitive. But everything he learned before came in handy, including getting people on board with screen sharing or messaging platforms.

114

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


“It was embraced very quickly,” Allison said. “All of a sudden we had platforms galore from Webex to Zoom to Microsoft Teams to GoToMeeting. Everybody had accounts or was signing up and actually facilitating a lot of meaningful dialogue.” Though online meetings have their advantages — no travel time, for one — they are less than ideal. “It’s incredibly efficient,” Allison said. “But I will say I do miss the personal interaction with lawmakers and people inside of government, lawmakers or people inside the executive branch. I’m looking forward to the day when we can get back to some degree of normalcy with that.” A Florida State graduate, Allison worked in the Health Department’s Division of Disease Control, then as senior IT business consultant for the state’s Agency for Enterprise Information Technology. The AEIT was a previous incarnation of a reorganized entity he would go on to lead, and itself a 2005 reorganization of the Florida State Technology Office. After three years in that role, Allison managed a $9 million budget as Chief Information Officer for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation; then spent two years as IT policy coordinator for the Office of Policy and Budget, part of Gov. Rick Scott’s executive office. All of which set the stage for serving as Executive Director and CIO of the newly constituted Florida Agency for State Technology (AST). The previous IT hub, the Agency for Enterprise Information Technology, had been disbanded in 2012. So when the AST launched on July 1, 2014, it did so as the first centralized IT authority in two years. One of the first tasks was to consolidate the hardware by moving most of it from the former Northwood data center to the Southwood center because of environmental concerns, Allison said. By any measure, this was a daunting task. “It was going to be such a great effort between all the various agencies and their leadership, the Legislature and

“It’s incredibly efficient, but I will say I do miss the personal interaction with lawmakers and people inside of government, lawmakers or people inside the executive branch. I’m looking forward to the day when we can get back to some degree of normalcy with that.”

of course the Governor’s support for them to be able to do that,” Allison said. “I mean, that was something that prior to having to do it was forecast to take two to three or maybe four years for the move. And it happened between 90 and 120 days. We were able to move that whole data center without any sort of down time or impact on system services, which was just fantastic.” Aside from keeping the systems running smoothly, Allison pushed forward with goals he had outlined in a 2015 report to the Legislature. These included converting outdated technology to cloud-based services, replacing legacy systems with space-efficient standardized hardware and prioritizing hiring and retaining skilled workers. “We laid a lot of groundwork from a best practices standpoint,” Allison said. “We brought a little organization into the chaos.” In 2017, he moved to Foley and Lardner, where that background of problem solving comes in handy. There is no IT team behind him anymore, he is an “army of one.” But big picture goals are much the same and mirror the challenges any good IT specialist must consider,

such as an ongoing priority of security. News events such as the 2020 Solarwinds hack, a cyberattack thought to come from a foreign government penetrating hundreds of U.S. government organizations, get his attention. “You certainly cannot underestimate the ingenuity and how smart and technically capable some of these people are for good or bad reasons,” he said. He believes that computing will become increasingly more seamless, a trend exemplified now by interconnected laptops, phones and tablets. Sometimes, the state’s former IT wizard gets the best tips from his sons, ages 12, 15 and 16. “My kids teach me things about my iPhone,” Allison said. “Every now and then I think I know it all and it just blows my mind. Some of the simplest stuff I didn’t realize and had been staring me right in the face, and I’d done it this way for three years — when it was as simple as, ‘Swipe right and hit this and you can see all of those photos.’” “It never ceases to amaze me what someone can teach me on any given day,” he said.

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

115


C O R N E R S T O N E S

M I C H A E L

C A R L S O N

T

related to what’s called an assignment of benefits. It’s a real problem. We really want you guys to take a look at this.’” It was starting to look like sinkhole litigation in the early 2000s, a time when there were at least as many lawyers promising to sue over sinkholes as there were sinkholes. “People were claiming that a crack in their driveway was a sinkhole they needed $10,000 for,” Carlson said. “So we began to think, ‘Here we go again,’ and

he stories followed a similar arc. Homeowners were reporting bad experiences with contractors they had hired to fix water damage from a non-catastrophic source such as a plumbing leak. At some point a water remediation specialist might get involved to repair associated problems such as mold or damaged floorboards. But there was good news: The vendor would fix the leak plus all of the related damages for a flat fee billed to the homeowner’s insurance company. Customers would pay nothing. All they had to do was sign. Their troubles, it turns out, were just beginning. The Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF), an association of property and casualty insurance carriers, heard the stories in 2012 from one of its members. “State Farm claims managers were reporting that they were seeing this rash of claims, that they were way overpriced and that there were lawsuits on these claims,” said Michael Carlson, PIFF’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “And these claims were all basically the same.” So began PIFF’s investigation into Florida’s “post-loss” assignment of benefit (AOB) laws, which allow a third party to “stand in the shoes” of an insured person who has signed an AOB document. The contractor could then seek direct payment from the insurance company. Lobbyists asked other insurers and other peers what they had heard about AOB abuses, Carlson said. Then they went to lawmakers. “We started telling the Legislature in 2012, ‘Hey, we’re seeing something

When insurance companies paid less than the amount claimed or denied the claim altogether, contractors sued in the homeowner’s name, something the AOB agreement expressly permits. These lawsuits typically demanded the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees also be paid by the insurer. “You could have lawsuits over $1,500 or $5,000 that would need to be settled for some amount less than that,” Carlson said. “And there would be a $2,500, $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000 legal bill attached to it. So we realized that this was really a cottage industry of water vendors with a cottage industry of very good trial law firms, working together to market these claims and then litigate these claims. And the people that are really benefiting were the lawyers. They were making a boatload of money over these things.” PIFF’s effort to rein in home repair insurance scammers would take seven years to play out. “Legislators would say, ‘You know, that issue hasn’t actually matured,’” Carlson said. “Which is a catchphrase I hadn’t really heard before.” There were, or course, possible reasons for their hesitation. “Assignment of benefits” isn’t the sexiest name for a scandal. Would the public catch on to an acronym that didn’t make grasping the outrage any easier? There was also the fact that homeowners had signed these agreements they now claimed not to understand; their rights championed by the industry charged with paying claims. “Unfortunately, people sometimes want to evaluate a public policy matter that involves trial lawyers on the one hand and insurance companies on the

“I enjoy the policy and political challenges and the people I work with and for. I’m in the compa-

ny of Tallahassee’s smartest advocates working to improve and protect the state we love.”

116

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

that’s what happened.” AOB laws were intended to simplify a homeowner’s access to emergency repairs. In practice, they gave too much leverage to contractors and their attorneys. Homeowners were hiring water remediators recommended by the plumber, some of whom had paid up to $1,500 for the referral. “In the case of a water remediation, that person comes in, tears out your drywall, dries out your house, and then you hire a contractor to rebuild,” Carlson said. “The water vendor is the one in most cases who was doing more work than was necessary and charging more for it.”


other as us squabbling over issues,” Carlson said. “There’s a natural tension between people who have to pay insurance claims and people who stand to benefit from those claims.” PIFF put together a broad coalition of insurers, chambers of commerce and other stakeholders to plan a media information campaign. They bought radio spots, advertised on social media and held town meetings. An elderly couple told legislators about a contractor who botched work on their home, then sued their insurance company in their name and without their knowledge. As evidence poured in from publicly available sources such as Citizens Property Insurance that AOB cases had indeed risen, so did opposition from trial lawyers. Lobbyists made a point of visiting legislators in their districts and revisiting the issue. “We had to go in and rebut the vendor arguments and the trial lawyer arguments,” Carlson said. “We had to do that every year and with increasing volume. We made sure that every time we talked to a member of the House or the Senate we listed this as priority number one.” They credited legislators for having listened in the past. “Session after Session we would say, ‘You know our case. You know insurance rates are rising. People should not be forced to pay more because of the actions of a small group of third parties who are just trying to enrich themselves at the expense of the insurance-consuming public.’” His lobbyists were not alone. The state’s Office of Insurance Regulation was also pushing for AOB reform, as were other consumer activists. The bill that emerged, HB 7065, eliminated oneway attorney fees, added a formula that encourages reasonable settlements, and caps assignments of benefits at $3,000 during emergencies. On July 1, 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 7065 into law. Carlson called the new law “the most singular achievement we’ve had on the property side since the PIP reform measures we passed in 2013. I think we all felt relieved

and very pleased that we were able to help all these people who were going to be taken advantage of.” Peers were happy for him. Allison Aubuchon, who owns her own communications company, said Carlson “has one of those minds that has a really deep understanding of these important insurance issues.” Just as important, she added, “When you talk about insurance and policy wonk stuff, it sounds a little bit dry or boring and people tend to glaze over. But I think people find Michael to be a re-

ally friendly, caring, kind personality. He just works with so many people in the process that as they get to know him, I think people really appreciate him just as a friend and colleague.” So how did the gang at PIFF react to HB 7065? “We celebrated that day,” Carlson said. “Then we got right back to work, and we’re still working on a variety of other challenges, any time there’s an opportunity for somebody to profit off an insurance claim in this state.”

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

117


C O R N E R S T O N E S

C L A U D I A

H

er career plan was about to take shape, Claudia Davant knew. She had graduated from law school and been through rounds of interviews for a spot with the Manhattan district attorney’s office. But when that went astray at the last minute, she didn’t know what to do. One of her best girlfriends suggested Washington, D.C. “She said, ‘You could move in with me, and you can 118

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

D AVA N T wait tables until you find a job?’” said Davant, the founding partner of Adams St. Advocates in Tallahassee. “I was like, ’Oh, I think that’s a great idea. I think it’s awesome. Washington definitely needs another lawyer, especially one who doesn’t have an Ivy League degree. But what the heck?’” By Washington-style six-degrees-of-separation, she was soon sit-

ting in the office of Sen. Storm Thurmond, whose aide -- another friend of Davant’s -- had pitched him on this bright University of South Carolina graduate who had just come to town. “He had this raspy, iconic voice,” she recalled. “He said, ‘I hear you’re looking for a job. How would you like to work for me?’ “It was the best change of plans I ever made,” she said.  She was reading legalese again, a language she understood. But unlike school, this job put her in the legal laboratory where it all starts. She discovered that what she wanted lay in “learning about issues and influencing and impacting the changing of real law.” From there Davant went to work for the Michigan Speaker of the House and the South Carolina Department of Commerce. By 2000 she had moved to Tallahassee for AT&T. She served as the state president of regulatory reform at AT&T, which was undergoing a makeover following a market downturn and its buyout of BellSouth years away.  “What really caught my attention was the fact that she was by far the most respected person out of that whole group,” said Heather Turnbull, then a legislative aide. “She was a go-to for legislators if they wanted (information). They wanted her at the table all the time.” Talk about a need to hire women had not reached the crescendo it has since achieved. Davant made a point of that as well.  “She definitely gave a bunch of the most successful women in our business their start in politics  and mentored them,” said Turnbull, who is herself now managing partner of Rubin, Turnbull & Associates in Tallahassee. “I really believe they’re success stories today because of her.” All of that differed from Davant’s vision growing up in Columbia, S.C. “At the ripe old age of 13, I told my father that I wanted to be a lawyer because I just discovered that you could get paid to argue,” she said. “He said, ‘Well, baby girl, I think that probably does sound like the right job for you.’”


A post-AT&T position with the multinational firm Accenture combined her lobbying skills with legal work and sales. “That was a lot of fun for me because it probably was the first time that I hadn’t been considered overhead and really contributed to the bottom line,” she said. “That was wildly interesting.” With success came increased demand, until a near-constant travel schedule signaled it was time for another change. An opportunity to join National Strategies proved to be the next right thing. The national firm charged Davant with establishing a presence in Tallahassee, a timely mission since some of her strongest legislator contacts from her AT&T days were now committee chairs or leading either branch of the legislature. “I figured if I was ever going to try my hand at multi-client lobbying, that would be the time,” she said. In 2012 Davant founded her own firm, Adams St. Advocates. She wanted to choose clients for whom she could provide the best service, whose product or mission aligned with her own. Lobbying fees from Davant and Vice President Amanda Fraser have grown year over year, approaching as much as $280,000 in the third quarter of 2020. Seventeen clients range from a software firm to Broward County government, from nonprofits to a telehealth provider to the Florida Pharmacy Association.  “I have a unique perspective on Claudia’s career,” said Bascom Communications and Consulting president Sarah Bascom, “and her evolution from in-house for billion dollar corporations to    a national multi-client    firm to now owning her own boutique firm.  “What makes a lobbyist today a cornerstone is the history that many don’t have, and the ability to adapt and successfully personalize  today’s clients’ needs for strategic advocacy.”   With Adams St. approaching its tenth year, the puzzle pieces of an inspiring career might have come together.  “I know it’s been said over and over again that if you want a friend in politics, get a dog,” she said. “I don’t find that to be the case at all. The thing I love most about my job is that I get to work with really good people and really good friends.” 

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

119


Your strategic partner when your next move decides the game

“Tactics is knowing what to do when there is something to do; strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do.” Savielly Tartakower

sachsmedia.com | 850.222.1996 Public Relations | Public Affairs | Research | Crisis | Digital 120

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


C O R N E R S T O N E S

M E L A N I E D I M U Z I O

M

elanie DiMuzio is a natural. She excels in all of the requisite areas for a lobbying career, including the twin powers of learning fast and a proclivity to forging and maintaining long-lasting friendships. The reams of data she has inhaled for the Florida Senate, a governor and now Duke Energy go down smoothly because of the most important ability of all -- that of choosing and committing to those choices. Born in Clearwater, DiMuzio was 10 and attending a Catholic school in Tampa when her family moved to Charlotte County. Her father, who for 19 years had supported his family waiting tables at Tampa’s swankiest steakhouse, had gotten his insurance license. She summarizes the move by talking about the area’s myriad water routes to the Gulf of Mexico, and the laidback lifestyles of the people who spent their time on it. “What was cool,” she said, “is that I met some fantastic people. They’re a hidden gem.” A volleyball standout at Charlotte High School, DiMuzio fielded multiple offers before accepting a full scholarship to Mississippi State University. An outside hitter, she racked up more than 300 kills and as many digs for the Bulldogs her senior year.   “Best people you’ll ever meet,” she said of her teammates. She majored in elementary education but by graduation had set her sights on the Florida legislature. Lobbying ran in her family. An uncle who represented BellSouth had passed along old school tips for years. Carrie DiMuzio Madden, a future Senate and Republican Party of Florida finance director and Melanie’s older sister, was in town and told her who the players were.  Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

121


We Salute Our

Health Care FHCA thanks our long term caregivers for their tireless dedication to protecting and caring for Florida’s frail elders.

122

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


C O R N E R S T O N E S

“I think our industry is fantastic. We’re moving past coal; natural gas technology is out there and solar is doing great for the company right now, too. We’re always looking at new ways to provide that base load for the customer.”

DiMuzio took an hourly job in the office of Sen. Rudy Garcia (R-Hialeah). “I was presenting bills on the third day, back when you could.” She met two women, Marion Hammer and Beth Gosnell, who had won respect and wins under their belts in what was then a male-dominated profession, and learned from them.  In 2002 DiMuzio heard about a special events coordinator vacancy about to open up directly under Gov. Jeb Bush, who had just been reelected.  “It was right up my alley,” she said. “It’s what I enjoy doing. I like to work at parties, not necessarily be a guest at parties.” The new job required mastering not just details of the next event but of the people who would be there. She prepped by studying know-your-legislators guides and got to know them using tools she had possessed most of her life -- a straightforward, upbeat demeanor that relaxes; and a memory that sheds nothing but that can keep confidences forever. The next promotion, to deputy director of legislative affairs, signified a profound shift. DiMuzio had now moved from eager underling to a Rolodex card the underling would

have been sure to make just a couple of years earlier.   “So that was my first real launch into lobbying,” she said, “dealing with the agency’s  bills and the governor’s priorities too.”   She chuckled. “That was a heck of a way to start.” It helped that legislative affairs director Chris Flack was a skilled political strategist and a resource on policy. Asked if anyone filled the role of mentor in her career, she named Flack, himself a former rank-and-file lobbyist. She remained deputy director until two months before the end of the Jeb Bush administration in 2007 to work on on the gubernatorial campaign of Charlie Crist, then a Republican. She then served as Crist’s appointments director his first year in office. DiMuzio started with Progress Energy in 2008, rejoining Flack, who would go on to become a vice president in the company, which merged with Duke energy in 2012. “(Flack) saw in Melanie what the collegiate coaches, Marion Hammer and Governor Bush saw in her,” Carrie Madden told Influence in an email. “She has the ability to understand the rooted issue quickly, she sees rela-

tionships around her as if they were moving chess pieces, and most importantly she has a magical combination of not only being a vault but also fiercely loyal. You don’t wonder where you stand with her.” “I think our industry is fantastic,” she said. “We’re moving past coal; natural gas technology is out there and solar is doing great for the company right now too. We’re always looking at new ways to provide that base load for the customer.” Her career straight out of college is a success by any measure, but DiMuzio measures it in relationships. Former Gov. Bush remains a friend. The core of his former legislative office is still intact, albeit for Duke Energy, with Duke lobbyist Cameron Cooper keeping track of legislation. She sometimes runs into Marion Hammer at Publix, and they catch up. Somebody asked me once where I see myself in five years,” she said. “I like doing exactly what I’m doing.”

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

123


C O R N E R S T O N E S

J O E A N N E H A R T

I

n most professions, those with the deepest knowledge in a given field take on roles no newcomer or even less experienced veteran can fill. A long-standing firm’s founders, a newspaper’s resident historian or a college’s founding faculty members are given the kind of tasks that cannot be accomplished by willpower alone, to weigh events in a way that instinctively reassures even when the news is bad. That’s the way things worked in the Florida Legislature as well — until 1992, when voters passed an amendment establishing term limits. Suddenly, terms in the Senate and the House of Representatives could total no more than eight years. The ability to marinate in areas about which a Legislator is passionate, in coastal ecology or insurance law or the infrastructure needs of a district — and thereby to develop expertise — gave way to something very different, the merits of term limits notwithstanding. “The way I look at term limits is that there’s the good, the bad and the ugly,” said Joe Anne Hart, the Florida Dental Association’s chief legislative officer. “The good is that it does give more people the opportunity to run for office. The bad part is that they don’t stay long-term, so they don’t have that institutional knowledge. They’re not the experts on the issue, they’re just trying to know as much as they can get for the right now and for the vote. “And the ugly is that there are members who are jockeying for leadership positions and they haven’t even gotten elected yet. This is the quandary that we are in.” A part-time job in 1995 led to the career that would allow her to accumulate knowledge and relationships for 25 years and counting. It all started with a mistake. Hart entered Florida State University as an undergraduate with her sights set on law school. To make sure that was a good idea, she applied in her senior year for an office assistant’s job at Watson, Daley and Gosnell, which did some legal work but was primarily devoted to lobbying. “During the interview I asked the guy who was interviewing me, ‘What kind of a firm is this?’” Hart said. “He said, ‘It’s a lobbying firm. I’m a lobbyist.’ And I said, ‘What’s a lobbyist?’” Subsequent conversation with Richard Watson, the lawyer who hired her, revealed that a young lobbyist with the right stuff could make a good living without a law degree. They worked hard, especially during Session or campaign cycles, 124

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

but worked with a wider variety of issues than many lawyers without the constant demands for billable hours. She joined the Florida Association of Counties after graduation, attacking a secretarial job with the intensity she might otherwise have devoted to torts, contracts and legal research. Much of the work centered on child welfare, substance abuse and mental health.


“I basically learned every nook and cranny of the Department of Children and Families, and at the time they were going through a reorganization,” she said. She lobbied legislators on behalf of the Association of Counties, which connected eligible residents with the help they needed. “I think when the light went on for me was after that trial run, when I was able to develop relationships with legislators that quite frankly have lasted beyond some of their terms in office,” she said. As a governmental organization, the association did not enjoy the networking afforded by political action committees. Those cordial relationships with legislators could take months to initiate and often started by attending county commission meetings. “A lot of your time is listening,” she said, “because you have to work closely with county government reps to un-

derstand what the local issues are, and you have to do that from a perspective of 67 counties.” Commissioners set up joint meetings with legislators, and those connections stuck. “Sometimes people don’t keep at the front of their minds that legislators are just regular people like we are,” Hart said. “Once you get to know them, you might possibly meet their spouses, their kids and family members.” Sixteen years ago, Hart joined the Florida Dental Association, which represents more than 8,100 dentists. Perhaps the biggest battle since was with insurance carriers who insisted on publishing prices for services they didn’t cover on top of the ones they did. It took five years and an arbitration personally carried out by then-Sen. Jack Latvala before insurance lobbyists backed off and the loophole that permitted the improper price quotes finally closed.

JOHNSON

As chief legislative officer, she has mentored young women seeking to follow the path she had taken out of FSU. Alexandra Abboud joined the FDA willing to help run a PAC or administrative work when Hart hired her in her early 20s. “She said, ‘You can do this work for a couple of years; if you’re good at it we’ll throw lobbying on your plate,’” said Abboud, now a lobbyist who considers Hart a mentor as well as her boss. With term limits now a fixture and past experts fading away, that long-term perspective can still be found in “committee staff who have been there 25, 30, 35 years and know these issues inside out,” Hart said. “I have the institutional knowledge. I’ve seen the pendulum swing from one way to the other — and depending on how much longer I’m here, I may see it swing again in a different way.”

BLANTON

RELATIONSHIP IS EVERYTHING

We don`t have clients we have partners

TEAMJB.COM Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

125


C O R N E R S T O N E S

J I M H O R N E

W

hen Gov. Jeb Bush reflected on who he would name to be Florida’s first Commissioner of Education, he might have picked an academic. An administrator from, say, a state university would be steeped in policy and state government and might be able to buttress the Governor’s expansion of school choice and a new grading system with research from other school districts or even other countries. But those measures were controversial, opposed by teachers unions and many parents. In that atmosphere, the Governor apparently realized he did not need institutional gravitas or alignment with attention-getting research so much as he needed a stick of dynamite. He called Sen. Jim Horne. The effort to merge Florida’s K-12 systems and the instruments by which we measure their success started in 1998 with a constitutional amendment. The state would guarantee all students a quality education with measurably high standards free of charge. It also created a statewide Board of Education consisting of seven members, one of whom is the Education Commissioner. The part that attracted the most heat all related in one way or another to cost. Critics challenged the fairness of using state funds to pay private school tuitions for students unhappy with public schools. Some eyed vouchers and charter schools, which also get state funding, as a vote of no-confidence against teachers that would make their jobs harder or endanger their careers. At first blush, Horne looked like an odd choice to streamline schools and assess their quality. The Orange Park Republican says he ran for public office for the first time at the urg-

126

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

ing of friends, who had already heard the rant about evils done by professional politicians. “They sort of laid down the challenge,” Horne said. “You should run for office if you feel that way.” He chose the Senate, unaware of the conventional wisdom that the path to the Senate starts in the House of Representatives. In the first poll of the Republican primary, just 3% of voters supported him — a poll, he has noted in telling the story, with a margin of error of 5%. He knocked on doors, made his case and won the election. His prescription for critics of school choice was blunt: Fix your schools and parents won’t pull them out. The Commissioner post called for Horne to oversee 67 school districts, 28 community colleges and 11 universities. He conducted workshops with educators in the early days. The workshops were no mere greeting tour and included asking the educators to submit a consolidated budget for their district. “I thought at the outset that it was probably just a political appointment,” Duval County School Board member T.W. Fair told the Florida Channel in 2001. “I was not too excited about a CPA-type, ex-politician leading such a historic effort. Boy, was I wrong.” A former Appropriations Chair, Horne also stressed the bottom line, estimating the “cost of failure” at around $1 billion in lost opportunities. The Florida Channel documentary shows Gov. Bush sharing praise for Horne’s qualifications: “He is passionate about education. He is creative and innovative. He understands education finance probably better than anybody I have met in Tallahassee.”

Perhaps the most noticeable effect of the new approach was the advent of traditional A through F grades replacing 1 through 5 numerical scores, which had been in place for 20 years but did not galvanize anyone to change, possibly because it was unclear. “You got a 2,” Horne said. “What does that mean? Is that equivalent to B? Or is that a D? Everybody understood what A through F meant.” He would argue that a poor grade does not create a crisis so much as reveal one, which is the point. “When you begin to put a bright spotlight on schools, it’s kind of like going in and turning the light on and you see the roaches scurrying about.” “I’m a big believer in competition, choice and accountability,” he said, three nouns that crop up frequently in his speech, a tough-minded trinity. He believes state dollars for vouchers or charter schools pushed each approach to improve. “Charters have to get better because the public system gets better. The public system gets better when the charter schools get better.” It’s true — in May 2004, students who took the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test were reading at or above grade levels for the first time since officials started measuring it, according to the Associated Press. Scores of older students are less encouraging. The National Bureau of Economic Research in 2019 found eighth-graders revisiting 2002 levels, which equaled the national average. In 2016, only 14 states graduated at lower rates than Florida’s high school students, the National Assessment for Educational Progress found. Horne resigned in August 2004,


three and a half years after starting a commute to Tallahassee from his Orange Park home and family. He is a lobbyist now, although “strategist” might be a closer description on many days, he said, advocating for education issues and health care. “I got a chance to go be Commissioner of Education, and for a period of time to do a lot of really powerful reforms while there was vigorous debate,” he said. “We tried to make sure we implemented them in the right way.” From his improbable run to years of hard won victories for approaches he believed in, Horne has changed the conversation about education for years to come. “I have been blessed,” he said. “When I look back, I didn’t deserve to win in my first run at office. I didn’t deserve to get appointed to my dream job of Commissioner of Education. Somebody has kind of pulled me through, and it’s just been a great ride.”

“He is passionate about education. He is creative and innovative. He understands education finance probably better than anybody I have met in Tallahassee.” gov. jeb bush

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

127


CONGRATULATIONS

LOGAN

JMI’s Logan Padget has been named one of the 2021 Rising Stars of Florida Politics. Along with JMI Alumni: Ivey Rooney Yarger & Emily Duda Buckley From all of us at

D

SAY

ADVOCATE

Public Relations l Communications Marketing l Action Communications

www.YellowFinchStrategies.com

128

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


C O R N E R S T O N E S

G A R Y H U N T E R

F

lorida real estate was booming in the 1980s and everybody wanted a piece of the action — including third- and fourth-rate developers who had no business building anything and savings and loan associations willing to invest in risky projects in the hopes of staving off insolvency. As usually happens in these situations, there was a big crash. Out of the rubble, a demand for qualified real estate analysts and consulting services arose. Gary Hunter came of age as a lawyer and lobbyist during that period. He has since developed an expertise in large sector community planning, environmental law and a variety of legislative attempts to balance property rights against a community’s best interests. “Gary definitely perfectly fits the bill of a true influencer in Tallahassee, but one who prefers to fly a bit under the radar,” said Eileen Stuart, a fellow partner at Hopping, Green and Sams, the state’s leading lobbying firm in land use and environmental law. “Unless of course you are steeped in the worlds of large scale development, growth management, property rights and large scale agriculture. Then you absolutely know Gary Hunter.” He joined the law firm in 1992 and learned at the elbow of Wade Hopping, a former Justice on the Florida Supreme Court and a founder of the firm. Hopping advocated for at least seven legislative proposals that have since become law, including the 1999 Florida Forever Act, a popular conservation measure. Perhaps the one most affecting Hunter was the 1995 Bert Harris Act, which forbade governmental entities from placing “inordinate burdens” on an owner’s existing or planned property use. Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

129


C O R N E R S T O N E S

Hunter participated in subsequent tweaks to the act, which has been amended three times since 2008. “It has evolved over time but maybe more so today than maybe initially after the law went into effect,” he said, “because nobody really appreciated the significance of it at the time.” In related work, he has represented developers ordered to mitigate predictable consequences of the development; for example, by building or widening roads to accommodate

“You can’t ask a developer to build a new school if the developer’s project doesn’t create the need for a new school,” Hunter said. “You cannot ask a developer to go build a six-lane highway if the developer’s project only causes demand for a two-lane highway.”

130

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

an increase in traffic or extending water and sewer access to accommodate future residents. Such requirements (or “extractions,” the legal term), typically imposed as a condition of granting a permit or variance, must be proportional. “You can’t ask a developer to build a new school if the developer’s project doesn’t create the need for a new school,” Hunter said. “You cannot ask a developer to go build a six-lane highway if the developer’s project only causes demand for a two-lane highway.” What about projects such as shopping malls, airports or anything else that by definition affects an area beyond the property line? Hunter played a critical role in those discussions, too. In 2015, he lobbied on behalf of several of the state’s largest land owners pushing to end Florida’s Development of Regional Impact law. The DRI law originated in 1972 and eventually included extensive reports and documentation depending on size, as well as hearings extending as high as the state level for “any development which, because of its character, magnitude, or location, would have a substantial effect upon the health, safety or welfare of citizens of more than one county.” The DRI represents a time before regional planning councils, comprehensive plans or the 1989 Community Planning Act, Hunter said. “And so you had this statute that was put in place that said, ‘Here are the procedures you go through.’ Well, roll the tape literally 45 years forward and exactly the opposite is the case. All those added layers were doing was adding cost.” Those costs get passed to consumers, he said. For a residential development, excessive development costs can tack on $60,000 to $90,000 to the price of a home. “That puts a house out of reach for a lot of people, even when interest rates are at 2 percent,” he said. Hunter grew up on a farm in central Georgia. He owns a timber farm now and enjoys taking the concerns of agricultural clients before legislators. He relies on the ethic modeled by his mentor, Hopping, who died in 2009. “He was informed on what he was going to talk about, even if the subject was one of controversy or if what he might share with a legislator or policymaker wouldn’t be something they’d like to hear,” he said. “He would tell them the truth, and he would be able to answer any question any policymaker had on any issue. I’ve tried to follow that model.” He counts planned residential communities among his most exciting work. Lakewood Ranch, in Manatee and Sarasota counties, currently ranks number 2 on RCLCO’s top 50 best-selling planned communities with an age restriction in the country, behind The Villages. Lakewood Ranch occupies the top spot nationwide among communities for all ages, according to RCLCO Real Estate Advisors. Babcock Ranch, in Sarasota and Lee counties, was made possible by a 74,000-acre land purchase by the state engineered by Wade Hopping in the mid-2000s. Babcock Ranch started marketing new homes in January 2018 and now numbers more than 1,000, with more than half of those sales coming in 2020, according to Babcock’s website. Hunter has helped these and other communities implement “stewardship districts,” in which bond sales to residents help cover infrastructure costs. “I have been able to be involved in the creation of a lot of these districts around the state and seen them flourish and thrive,” Hunter said. “People want to live there. They truly are communities once they get built.”


Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

131


C O R N E R S T O N E S

J A M E S M A G I L L

I

t was the kind of call no campaign manager wants to get. Even the timing made Mac Stipanovich nervous. Stipanovich knew the bus carrying then-Gov. Bob Martinez who in 1990 was seeking reelection had left Jacksonville at 1 and was due in Miami in a couple of hours. That would put the bus roughly in the middle of the state. Not a good time for incoming news. “The bus broke down,” his right-hand man, Jim Magill, told him. “We’re not going to make the event.” Even more alarming than the content of the call was the fact Magill had made it. This was his idea guy, his longtime whiz-kid protege. Magill wasn’t the loudest guy on the campaign trail or the cockiest. But he normally found solutions. That ingenuity was part of the reason Stipanovich first hired him to work on campaigns in Tallahassee, and sometimes for in-between stretches at Tampa’s Fowler White law firm. Magill had talent. “So being the sympathetic, understanding guy I am, I said, ‘Magill, here’s the deal. We have a campaign event in Miami late this afternoon. You be there, with the candidate, on time.’ And I hung up.” Magill had grown up in North Palm Beach in a cerebral family. “We talked politics, watched the Watergate hearings,” he said. Still, he did not think he was bound for a career in politics. He spent the first chunk of college majoring in theater design. He changed his major to political science and transferred to Florida State University. Almost immediately, he began demonstrating competence. Magill worked as an Appointments Director and then Deputy Campaign Director for Gov. Bob Martinez, who lost his reelection campaign in 1990 to Democrat Lawton Chiles.

“Whether I agree with everybody’s politics or not, there are 160 (legislators) who were elected to come up here intending on doing the best thing for the people in their district. I’ve got to respect that from the outset.” 132

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


No problem. Magill supported Martinez in Washington as a special assistant for congressional affairs in the newly created White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, then he served for a few years each as a legislative analyst for the Florida House and Director of state Senate campaigns for the Republican Party of Florida. He served as Gov. Jeb Bush’s top lobbyist from 2002 to 2004, a phase he particularly enjoyed. Magill describes lobbying more as baskets of tasks and skills than any one or two things. “Listening is critically important,” he said. “People are talking to you about how government works, who does what and how to navigate through the wonders of the legislative process or executive branch process.” Equally important, he believes, is respecting the seriousness and sincerity of others’ political convictions. “Whether I agree with everybody’s politics or not, there are 160 (legislators) who were elected to come up here intending on doing the best thing for the people in their district. I’ve got to respect that from the outset.” Stipanovich and Magill were colleagues at Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney, the White Fowler firm’s name after a merger. Asked to reflect on the traits he saw in a young Magill that have only expanded since, Stipanovich said: “The personality to get along with anybody, and the willingness to do just about anything — whether that’s drinking till 2 a.m. with clients or playing kickball with his kids at 10 a.m. the next morning.” And the issue of how to get Bob Martinez from a broken down bus in the middle of the state to Miami in two or three hours? That problem disappeared. Magill chartered a plane and a limo on the campaign’s credit card. He got his candidate to his event in plenty of time.

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

133


C O R N E R S T O N E S

K E L LY

M A L L E T T E

E

ven for an audience of schoolchildren, Kelly Mallette makes her case in PowerPoint and an unbreakable chain of evidence. Is anyone’s parent a nurse? A few hands go up. “I say, ‘Well, they have the Nurses Association, and the association has a lobbyist.’” Maybe some parents are doctors,

134

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

lawyers or pharmacists with lobbyists working on their behalf. You like Disney World, right? Do you enjoy visiting a state park? They have lobbyists too. Ditto for any state universities you might be attending. Nearly every aspect of daily life is somehow affected by legislation, she tells the students after proving the point conclusively.

“The issues dealt with in Tallahassee are closer than you think,” she said. “I guess that’s the point for regular people.” Despite the popularity of her career day presentation, Mallette is a parent, not a teacher. She is also one-third of the workforce of Ronald L. Book, a perennial top-five earner among Florida lobbying firms, routinely beating out companies several times its size. “She is definitely one of those humble people who lets Ron shine,” said Heather Turnbull, a partner at Rubin, Turnbull and Associates and a longtime friend. “But everyone in The Process, from elected officials and their staff to those of us in the lobbying corps know she is basically the one doing the daily work.” As government affairs director, Mallette prides herself on being part of a three-person team with special skills and overlapping strengths. There is Ron Book himself, the founder and CEO, a mentor to many and one-man terminal of South Florida connections. Consultant Rana Brown can find the one line on page 3,744 that, on reflection, alters the meaning of the bill. “We all work to make sure all three of us are informed enough on everything so we can really be interchangeable,” Mallette said. “We like the way we do things. It all just kind of works.” A Miami-Dade County native, she got her first whiff of politics competing on her high school debate team. After college she worked as an aide to Sen. Ron Silver, then the Legislature’s longest-serving member and the influential chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Occasionally she helped draft amendments, a task that today would be handled exclusively by fulltime staffers. She still lives in her native Biscayne Village, where she served on the City Council and where she and her husband, Juan Fonseca, have two children. Book hired her 19 years ago and commuting became a necessity. “Juan keeps the trains running while I’m in Tallahassee,” Mallette said. “But he always does it with a happy heart,


and that’s what’s great about him. In Tallahassee she built upon her appropriations experience. Said Turnbull, “There is no one better at appropriations than Kelly. If I ever had a question about appropriations, I would go to her. Here we are 20 years later she is still the person.” She believes local politics hold their elected leaders accountable in ways larger governments cannot. “While it can be a microcosm of bigger politics, that’s not necessarily so,” she said. “I don’t know that the city I live in is totally reflective of all of Dade County politics. But it’s got its own feel, it’s got its own rhythm. There are homeowners’ associations in Florida with larger budgets than our city has.” Add it all up and you get a level of contentment that has pleasantly surprised her. “I think that I always wanted to work in politics,” she said. “So I feel blessed to continue to have the opportunity to do that.”

HEAR THE STORIES BEHIND THE POLITICS.

ROTUNDAPODCAST.COM

A PRODUCTION OF GOMES MEDIA STRATEGIES

TA L L A H A S S E E / F L

CHARLESTON / SC

COLUMBIA / SC

New Look. Same Results.

NorthPublicRelations.com

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

135


C O R N E R S T O N E S

K I M

MCD O U G A L

“Kim is a statewide leader in education policy and has played a tremendous role in guiding the education policies ... including providing record funding for our students, keeping higher education affordable and expanding school choice options,” gov. rick scott

A

s an aspiring teacher, she cherished moments of connection. “I loved seeing the face of a student when they got what I was saying,” said Kim McDougal, who made a critical decision after graduating from Tulane University. “That was really super cool. But then I thought, ‘I want to do more than just in the classroom.’” Instead of the workforce, she entered graduate school at Florida State University, leaving with a doctoral degree. McDougal now enjoys a reputation as one of the state’s foremost K-20 education authorities, a top adviser to Govs. Jeb Bush and Rick Scott and five commissioners of education. Jim Horne, a former state Senator and the first appointed Education Commissioner after the 1998 constitutional revision, remembers his senior adviser and legislative affairs rep as “smart and fiercely loyal.” “When I say ‘smart,’ that covers the waterfront of content and expertise,” Horne said. “But she also has the proper political instincts. She has always been a person who can not only look deeply into the policy, but she understands it in the context of the politics that are playing out in the moment, which is a rare talent, I believe.” Even more than her acumen, lawmakers appreciated McDougal’s willingness to take on new roles — or multiple roles — when asked. When she

136

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

served as legislative affairs adviser in 2003 and 2004 for Horne, he showed his appreciation with a visual aid. “I actually awarded her a framed picture of a yellow T-shirt with a bus track over it,” Horne said. “Because she was the only person I know who would just volunteer to go under the bus for me.” McDougal earned a master’s degree at FSU and might never have landed in politics but for her next decision — to keep going for a Ph.D — and the most vexing roadblock she faced in getting it. Her dissertation was rolling along, and she was enjoying talking to 20 top football coaches to glean their secrets on organizational structure. The challenge of how to create the report online fell at exactly the wrong time. In 1989 access to personal computers was nowhere near today’s levels. As a cash-strapped grad student, McDougal couldn’t afford to buy a computer or hire someone to transcribe her handwritten data. She spotted a newspaper ad for part-time work at the state’s Office of the Auditor General, audit division. The office functioned as the research arm of the Legislature. “I thought, ‘That’s exactly what I need, a really boring day job so I can keep working on my dissertation,’” McDougal said. The research job allowed her to hire someone to get her dissertation on a

computer. She was still working there in 1994 when the Legislature upgraded the office and broadened the scope of its research. The new Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPAGGA) aids lawmakers in budget and policy deliberations. For several years in the 1990s, McDougal’s job entailed presenting education research to legislators. From then on, she didn’t need to look for any more jobs. The jobs came to her, starting with the advisory post with Horne under Gov. Bush. Over the next two decades she took on numerous leadership roles and multiple simultaneous job descriptions. She coordinated education policy under Bush, and for a time, oversaw the Office of Policy and Budget. McDougal was with the Department of Education, engaged in workforce issues, when she got a call from Gov. Scott’s office: “Can you come back?” “I thought, ‘Oh my god, who goes back to that twice?’” she said. She started in 2012, as the Governor’s special adviser on education. Four months later she moved to education policy coordinator, then deputy chief of staff and legislative affairs coordinator. In April 2016, Scott’s trusted chief of staff left to start her own consulting firm. It is a grueling post that entails running interference on behalf of the Governor and, with his authority, with


legislators and state agencies. The job has been called the most powerful unelected position in state government, or colloquially, “the Governor’s designated SOB.” The Governor asked McDougal, then the deputy chief, to become his fifth chief of staff in five years. She agreed, a decision that would mean carrying some of the load in the state’s response to two hurricanes and the Pulse Nightclub shootings, plus advising a successful reelection campaign. After 15 months, McDougal announced in 2017 that she was leaving to pursue private sector opportunities. Scott publicly praised the depth and breadth of her legacy. “Kim is a statewide leader in education policy and has played a tremendous role in guiding the education policies I have fought for while in office, including providing record funding for our students, keeping higher education affordable and expanding school choice options,” Scott said. McDougal now works as a senior government affairs consultant at GrayRobinson, a law and lobbying firm. She helps some clients develop businesses, others to advance in the legislative or executive branches of government. That might include working to distill a message or balance needs against costs on an ever-shifting political terrain — all of the things she did with the state or, before that, in the teaching profession she never really left. “I love all the people in The Process,” McDougal said. “I love that you’re playing chess, not checkers, the higher level strategy game, and all of that is predicated on relationships.” “It took me 26 years to get here,” she added. “I’ve helped a lot of people along the way. I hope I made a difference.”

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

137


C O R N E R S T O N E S

J A N E T O W E N

J

anet Owen had reached levels of success in her career as a young civil litigator at a Jacksonville law firm that many would consider a peak, but she wasn’t satisfied. “I liked it,” she said, “But as I spent more time there, I felt like I was moving money among and between upset people. Somebody paid more than they wanted or somebody didn’t get as much as they wanted.” That job ended because she married an Orlando lawyer, Ronald Owen. A year later she learned of a legal counselor’s job at the University of North Florida. She started in 1994 and stayed 24 years, carving out a legacy as Vice President for governmental affairs and associate general counsel. Owen moved to the University of Central Florida in 2018 as Vice President of governmental relations and associate general counsel, where she is the principal liaison between the university and legislators and chief fundraising strategist. In the early days at UNF, she knew little about the Legislative Process. She soon caught up and for many years has been regarded as a superstar in the tightly knit world of university advocates. “Janet is, I think, hands down right now the best lobbyist in the state university system,” said longtime Florida State University lobbyist Kathleen Daly, a colleague since the late 1990s. “And I don’t think any of the other lobbyists will find that to be offensive.” Peers describe Owen as a clear communicator and sharp policy analyst who can narrate the legal implications of bills like no one else. “She is so appreciated because the rest of us have legislative experience but not as much legal, in terms of the law and its history, why the statutes were laid out that way in the first place and what would happen if they changed,” Daly said. Owen knew she had found her niche in higher education. The battles there centered on a unifying goal, the improvement of her 138

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


“She is so appreciated because the rest of us have legislative experience but not as much legal, in terms of the law and its history, why the statutes were laid out that way in the first place and what would happen if they changed.” kathleen daly

institution and state universities. They allowed her to navigate through layers of authority, from the Board of Trustees to the Governor’s Office. “I know I prefer to be in a group of people tackling a problem,” Owen said. “I don’t know if that’s because I had sisters who were 19 and 14 when I was born. Even though I love them dearly, I kind of was raised like an only child. I just know I love being around people and accomplishing something together.” The largest such project was surely the rewrite of the state’s education codes in 2001, from kindergarten through college. Owen was named to a multidisciplinary team that met many times over 2001 and 2002. The bill was part of an overhaul of the legal structure of public education, merging traditional school divisions by age into one entity. Among other things, House Bill 2017 required schools to revise accreditation standards; amend prerequisites and other degree requirements; establish “civic literacy” standards in gaining knowledge of history and government institutions; allow access by charter schools to libraries, museums and the arts; and to establish means of reviewing the effectiveness of these revisions. Kathy Mizereck, the Executive Director for the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges,

chaired the committee of education leaders who performed that difficult work at a time before much of the data they would need was available online. Owen played an indispensable role. “Janet, whether it’s two people she’s talking to or 102 people, is always a thoughtful and quick voice of reason,” said Mizereck, who is also the education adviser to Senate President Wilton Simpson. “Her command of both the law and the policy and also understanding the people really makes her valuable because she has a really great brain and she had a really great heart.” The bill passed with all of the statutory changes the committee had recommended. “I just remember how elated we were,” Owen said, “It was a long slog, but as a team we felt very accomplished that we had been able to do that.” Another career highlight came and went more quickly. In 2003, Archbishop Desmond Tutu spent a semester at the University of North Florida, during which school officials tried to maximize his use as a visiting scholar. The South African cleric, whose activism landed him in jail and won him a Nobel Peace Prize, taught a course called Truth and Reconciliation and another on resisting apartheid. As the semester was taking shape, Jacksonville Sen. Tony Hill contact-

ed Owen. Would the archbishop be willing to give a joint congressional address to commemorate February’s Black History Month? “I was just a bystander, I wasn’t responsible for any of it,” said Owen, who nonetheless did arrange the schedule by which Tutu read from his works to fifth-graders at the Governor’s mansion and spoke to the Legislature that evening, just one event that comes to mind when asked to name any career highlights. Interacting with people who have achieved great things and helping them reach students are “just the kind of experiences that I think people who have worked in higher ed can have,” she said. Perhaps her favorite leisure activity awaits her at home, where she shares a love of reading with the Rev. Ronald Owen, who also followed an instinct a dozen years into his legal career and became an Episcopal priest. The couple is now celebrating a gift to each other: Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. “The paint is now dry,” she said. “We are now able to put books in it.”

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

139


C O R N E R S T O N E S

J E F F P O R T E R

I

nsurance companies and the policy holders suing them always seem to be at war. Their battles generate a constant flickering on all horizons, if few downright explosions. The players contrast greatly and are at times polar opposites. In one corner stands one of the largest industries in the world, with no bigger shareholder than the United States, where insurance companies create 3.1% of the GDP. Homeowners and retailers stand in the other corner, some with means, others down to their last hope. The Florida Justice Association and its 3,000 lawyers are the primary divers to give civil litigants political advocacy. The dozen lobbyists for the FJA (formerly the Association of Florida Trial Lawyers) bring salient issues from their members to legislators. “Our 3,000 members represent consumers, patients, drivers or homeowners,” said Jeff Porter, the association’s Deputy Executive Director. “We are really the only consumer oriented organization or anything like that that’s decently funded in the state of Florida.” A former legislative aide for North Florida legislator Charlie Dean before he moved to the Senate, Porter drives communications in an organization that depends on networking and efficiency. Though not a lawyer, he fluently anchors many of the issues clients face to basic constitutional principles. “You have the right of access to the courts for redress of any injury,” he said. “You have a right to a civil jury trial and to be compensated for your damages, which is the Seventh Amendment of the Constitution, in the Bill of Rights. We pride ourselves in backing political candidates who understand those values and free market principles.” A sense of mission, of advocating for underdogs, runs through the associa-

140

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


“We cannot afford to be bystanders this election cycle. ... It is absolutely critical that we have pro-justice legislators seated when reapportionment occurs.”

tion and its political action committee. The stakes are especially high this Session, a news item on the website warns: “We cannot afford to be bystanders this election cycle. ... It is absolutely critical that we have pro-justice legislators seated when reapportionment occurs.” A weekly email produced by marketing staffers, the FJA Reading File, includes a guest column written out of a rotating pool of lawyers. The file has steadily grown in popularity since its launch four years ago, from six total contributors to 18. The camaraderie offers a respite from a battle with insurance companies, which has only intensified. As of early March, only a couple of dozen workplace lawsuits involving COVID had been filed in Florida, Porter said. By last July, efforts to make judgments against employers harder to collect — say, by elevating the standard

for negligence to gross negligence or willful misconduct — had begun in several states. In January, a report presented to the Legislature warned that Florida’s property insurance industry was “spiraling towards collapse” because of a sue-happy climate that’s hurting us worse than hurricanes. The report said premiums had risen to an additional 17% higher than states of comparable risk. It recommended legislators take numerous steps, including cutting a window of time in which to sue from three years after the damage occurred to one year and all but eliminating attorney fee multipliers. Porter believes such efforts set a “really dangerous precedent” in holding employers to worker and customer safety standards. “And frankly, it goes against free market principles, if you think about it,” he said.

WORKING TO MAKE FLORIDA THE SAFEST STATE IN AMERICA THROUGH WORKPLACE SAFETY TRAINING, RESEARCH, & DATA.

TYPES OF TRAINING

OSHA Courses Defensive Driving Courses Workplace Safety Courses First Aid

National Safety Council's Advanced Safety Certificate FDEP Approved Water/Wastewater/Distribution

Backed by over 105 years of Florida Chamber of Commerce expertise, the Florida Chamber safety council is an incubator of research, leadership, and education for Florida Employers. Learn more and book your training at FLChamberSafety.com

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

141


C O R N E R S T O N E S

A L E X

S A N C H E Z

A

ddressing international students — like some of the business students at the University of Miami he spoke with during a recent Zoom lecture — always reminds Alex Sanchez of the relative strength of the banking system in the United States. That awareness guides his mission as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Florida Bankers Association (FBA). “They have students from all over the world,” he told INFLUENCE. “Our country has the strongest banking industry in the world, the best well-capitalized banks are right here in the United States.” His message to Washington: Let’s keep it that way. “In any new administration there are always challenges and opportunities,” Sanchez said. “It doesn’t matter who is in office. But now with President [Joe] Biden in office, we want to make sure our industry is not over regulated.” His advocacy focuses not only on private enterprise but the interplay between banks and government. Sanchez was a member of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board from 2003 to 2010, and he currently serves on the advisory board of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. He has been a frequent guest of Maria Bartiromo on the Fox Business

Channel, where he recently spoke against a proposal by U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to create more federal banks. Sanchez struck a similarly cautious tone in a guest column in the Wall Street Journal in March in which he tallied up the national debt increases under Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump to $28 trillion — a war, a recession and a pandemic notwithstanding. “There will always be a good excuse for spending trillions in borrowed money that we simply do not have,” he wrote. Sanchez learned frugality from his parents, who practiced it. He remembers boarding a plane at age 4 on Sept. 3, 1962, one of the Freedom Flights offered by the United States to Cuban refugees. Neither the opportunity awaiting in the United States nor the shadow of the regime he escaped ever left him. He grew up in the Bronx with just enough, thanks again to his working parents. Sanchez served nearly five years in the Air Force — “I wanted to give thanks to America as an immigrant and couldn’t think of a better way than serving in our nation’s military,” he said — and graduated from the University of Iowa’s law school. Subsequent positions included a

Miami law firm specializing in business law, as assistant general counsel for the former Consolidated Bank (now NationsBank), as general counsel for the Florida Department of Commerce, and a senior corporate attorney for GTE Information Services in Tampa. He took the helm at the Florida Bankers Association in 1993 and has been the primary driver of its growth. “He was just relentless,” said Rebecca Matthews, a former FBA Vice President of communications. “Whether it was a smaller community bank, the regional sized banks to the mega banks like the J.P. Morgans, he went all in on membership. He needed the mom and pop bank that was started in Wakulla and the huge international ones too.” Sanchez met regularly with contacts in Washington and Miami, another banking center, said Matthews, who now works with Automated Health Systems. “He really broadened the reach outside of Florida,” she said. “It was amazing to see that network that he has built.” An energetic speaker, Sanchez has enjoyed lecturing in recent pre-pandemic years at the University of Edinburgh and giving several commencement speeches at Bangor University in Wales.

“They have students from all over the world. Our country has the strongest banking industry in the world, the best well-capitalized banks are right here in the United States.”

142

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


Back home, he navigates politics by principle rather than party. He will say repeatedly that socialism doesn’t work. “The capitalism versus socialism debate ended years ago and capitalism won,” he wrote toward the end of an autobiographical piece on foxbusiness.com. Wariness about government overreach does not mean he opposes government interventions in

times of need, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic. On the contrary, he is proud of Florida’s banks for channeling more than 400,000 business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. For the success of the Florida Bankers Association, Sanchez singled out the other members of his executive team for praise: Lesley Jordan, Senior Vice President and CFO; Pete Brokaw, Senior Vice Pres-

ident for education; Kenneth Pratt, Senior Vice President for government affairs; Anthony DiMarco, Executive Vice President for government affairs; and Pamela Ricco, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “They are the ones who along with our bankers make the Florida Bankers Association the vibrant and strong organization it has been,” he said.

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

143


C O R N E R S T O N E S

S T E P H E N R . W I N N

B

ills get passed by meeting an apparent need, but they also are passed because of goodwill and trust. And there is no clearer exemplar of that dynamic than Stephen R. Winn. Florida osteopaths have at the head of their government relations firm a man steeped in connections made through common cause, of bonds sustained past death and promises kept. Winn’s approach to career ambitions recalls an era vanishingly few Americans even remember, one that handed out gold watches for decades or service. Winn is surely among the wisest players within the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association (FOMO), which he has served for 47 years, the last 38 as Executive Director. He might have inherited some of his father’s congeniality. Certainly Steve Winn learned much about politics from the late Senator Sherman S. Winn, who became one of the state’s biggest tourism backers and served as the Senate’s President Pro Tempore in 1977-78. The Winns were living in Mount Vernon, New York, in 1956 when Sherman Winn launched his plan to move the family to South Florida, the first phase of which was taking a desk clerk’s job in North Miami. By 1965 he had been elected Mayor of that suburban city. When he ran for the state House in 1969, Steve helped coordinate the campaign, which put Sherman Winn in Tallahassee. That opened up more connections, one of which landed Steve in the middle of the 1972 Democratic National Convention, and a spark was lit. As special assistant to Gov. Reubin Askew, the younger Winn met Sen. Ted Kennedy, singers Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel and outgoing Demo-

144

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


cratic National Committee Chairman Lawrence O’Brien, who would become NBA Commissioner a few years later. “It was an exciting time for me,” Winn said. “An awesome time.” The Legislature set the stage for Winn to live out most of his career in Tallahassee. Many extended family members moved there, too, and now live within a few miles of each other. The abundance of people he admired and organizations he wanted to help rose like a bubbling pot, enhancing life and work. “I know a lot of lobbyists feel they sort of have to live a Monday through Friday existence through Session, and then a weekend existence with their families,” Winn said. “It’s truly been a blessing having my entire family in Tallahassee.” He is the last person to draw a hard line between work and play. Those leisure times allow competitors to relax and see the person on the other side.

“Strong relationships are very hard to build nowadays,” he said. Capitol Alliance Group lobbyist Taylor Patrick Biehl emphasized the loyalty of a man he regards as a mentor. “My dad was a Marine,” Biehl said. “And he always preached that in a lifetime, you will be fortunate if you have enough true friends to count on one hand. And Steve is one of those guys. He’s one of the most giving people. Some of those guys have been around a long time. They take people under their wings. They’re selfless.” Lately, the same ethic applies to a permanent gesture to men and women who were last seen in Vietnam. Vietnam Veterans of America wants to erect a 7-foot-tall bracelet near the Florida Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which lies across the street from the Capitol. The bracelet was designed after identification wristbands millions of Americans wore in the 1970s to remember military personnel missing in

action or taken prisoner in Vietnam. Winn, a Vietnam-era veteran, has been representing the organization pro bono as the bracelet proposal makes its way through committee. Winn has relied on his fine-tuned ear for interpersonal rhythms, some of those skills learned and some innate. With the bracelet monument, he said, “I’ve tried to go to individuals who I felt I could deal with on both sides of the aisle and deal with the leadership. That’s the way I’ve handled it so far.” As of late March, the POW-MIA Vietnam Veterans Bracelet Memorial, sponsored by Sen. Danny Burgess and Rep. Mike Giallombardo, had passed the Senate and was awaiting a second reading in the House. “One day we’ll be able to show our Governor, who is also military,” Winn said. “He will have the ability to sign a bill that honors individuals who have been forgotten.”

“My dad was a Marine,and he always preached that in a lifetime, you will be fortunate if you have enough true friends to count on one hand. And Steve is one of those guys. He’s one of the most giving people. Some of those guys have been around a long time. They take people under their wings. They’re selfless.”

taylor biehl

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

145


WE’VE GOT YOUR BACK, NO MATTER HOW YOU GO BACK TO SCHOOL. WITH OUR NEXT-GENERATION SCHOOL SAFETY SOLUTIONS, SCHOOLS CAN BETTER RESPOND TO EVERYDAY INCIDENTS AND PREPARE FOR CRITICAL EMERGENCIES.

146

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


DETECT HOW CAN YOU DETECT WHO IS COMING TO YOUR SCHOOL?

ANALYZE

COMMUNICATE

RESPOND

HOW CAN YOU ANALYZE ACTIVITIES TAKING PLACE ON YOUR CAMPUS?

HOW DO YOU INSTANTLY COMMUNICATE?

HOW CAN YOU PROVIDE A QUICK AND INFORMED FIRST RESPONSE?

Motorola Solutions, Inc. 500 West Monroe Street, Chicago, IL 60661 U.S.A. motorolasolutions.com MOTOROLA, MOTO, MOTOROLA SOLUTIONS and the Stylized M Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Motorola Trademark Holdings, LLC and are used under license. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. © 2020 Motorola Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved. 10-2020

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

147


FEATURE

Why we wear pink by david ramba

T

he last day of Session is a day of joy for some and a day of agony for others. It is the end of an intense few months of pushing legislation, meeting new members, making new friends, and finishing battles. Legislators and the lobby corp share an assortment of emotions. The last scheduled day of Session also is when lobbyists and legislators wear pink to remember those who aren’t with us anymore and to remember that we all believe in The Process. Marvin Arrington loved The Process and bringing us all together. The gregarious lobbyist loved cooking for us at his house or anyone else’s who would put up with him making a total mess in their kitchen. He brought legislators and lobbyists to the table together to learn more about each other’s families, their children, and their issues. To Marvin, lobbyists were not only experts in their field but an essential part of The Process. Because of these conversations, better legislation was an outcome for all sides. After dinner, even if we disagreed on the legislation, we knew each other’s intent and could still be cordial and respectful in our discussions. The pink jacket originated when a young insurance lobbyist named Robert Hawkes embarked on a trip to the Florida Derby. He accidentally ripped his pants getting out of the plane. The crowd of lobbyists, which included Marvin and Paul Sanford, stopped by Jacks for Slacks to get Hawkes some new britches and, while there, a few pink jackets were purchased for the Derby. Once back in Tallahassee, Marvin occasionally felt spry enough and wore his jacket to the Capitol advocating for his clients. According to former Speaker James Harold Thompson, “Anyone that was man enough to

wear pink at his age was man enough for us to listen to.” Jovial and trustworthy, Marvin stood as an honest broker of information on any issue for which he lobbied. On March 19, 2002, Marvin was driving to his office and suffered a heart attack pulling into his parking garage at Highpoint Center. In the most stressful of times, with bills on the line and budget negotiations in gear, we all had to stop and lean on each other. Even more heartbreaking than losing Marvin at the young age of 43 was that he left behind his wife, Lynn, and two young children, Reynolds and Maggie. When Reynolds was a young boy, his constant talking led us to believe he would follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps (Marvin’s dad, C. Fred Arrington, served in the Florida House in the 1950s). Marvin would be proud to know Reynolds is still in Tallahassee and has followed in his footsteps, on the cooking side. Starvin’ Marvin’s BBQ Company continues to be supported by the Tallahassee community and lobbyists alike. In 2018 Reynolds had a son and appropriately named him after his father. Lobbyists Jeff Hartley, Gary Guzzo, and others that knew Marvin continue to offer help, support, and plenty of orders of BBQ to support our friend. On this final day of the COVID Session, whether you are sitting in your office or joining friends watching the final hours, wear some pink and remember those we have lost as well as the lessons they have left us. Remember that the battles we had, although vigorous at times, do not define who we are and are not. Appreciate those who deal honestly and with integrity, celebrate the end of Session, and let us return to our families and friends. Marvin wouldn’t want it any other way.

David Ramba has been haunting the halls of Tallahassee since 1991, starting with the Community Bankers of Florida before attending law school. Ramba subsequently worked in the House while in law school, then sewed his oats as Legislative Counsel at the League of Cities before entering private practice in 2000.

148

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021


PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

149


F E AT U R E

Florida’s seaports have leveraged federal and state port infrastructure programs to invest billions in freight mobility infrastructure, increasing the flow of goods through Florida. These investments support an industry providing over 900,000 jobs and generating $117.6 billion in economic activity. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida’s seaports have remained open and active, ensuring a steady flow of critical cargo such as medical supplies, food and fuel to Floridians and the entire Southeast, while also putting safety measures in place to protect the port industry workforce.

When you think economic success, think Florida first.

Port Canaveral | Port Everglades | Port of Fernandina | Port of Fort Pierce | JAXPORT Port of Key West | Port Manatee | PortMiami | Port of Palm Beach | Port Panama City Port of Pensacola | Port of Port St. Joe | Port St. Pete | Port Tampa Bay

150

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

502 East Jefferson Street | Tallahassee, Florida 32301 | flaports.org


PHOTO: The Workmans

Thinking pink If you want to show respect for the late Marvin Arrington, it’s possible to be fashionable without making a total commitment to the color pink. “Wear something that shows a little accent,” advises Arron Gober, owner of Arron’s Fine Custom Clothing. “Everybody in the Capitol will get it. They’ll understand what you’re saying when they see the pink.” Gober suggests “a tie or a pocket square or cufflinks or even socks.” A pink shirt also is a possibility and, like the other accessories, can be used for everyday wear. Even a pink jacket doesn’t have to be solid. Pink is bright and blends perfectly with many of the blues and grays that are popular today. But if you want your pink to be loud, proud and perfectly tailored, Gober has pink fabrics to choose from to create a custom sport jacket. “There’s a beautiful pink seersucker out there that is a wonderful statement for a Southern traditionalist,” he said.

LEGISLATIVE, LOBBYING AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS With over 85 years of combined experience representing clients before the Florida Legislative and Executive branches, LLW’s Legislative team zealously advocates for our clients throughout the state, helping them navigate through the governmental and regulatory processes.

For more information, contact Lori E. H. Killinger

850.222.5702 lkillinger@llw-law.com 315 South Calhoun Street, Suite 830, Tallahassee, FL 32301

TAMPA JACKSONVILLE ST. PETERSBURG TALLAHASSEE WEST PALM BEACH 904.353.6410 727.245.0820 850.222.5702 813.775.2331 561.640.0820

www.llw-law.com

See things differently.

Lewis, Longman & Walker, P.A. is a statewide law firm with 30 attorneys and 25 years of experience practicing in the areas of legislative, lobbying and governmental affairs, pension and bond counsel, environmental, transportation and infrastructure, land use, real estate and litigation. LLW’s team has experience assisting special districts and local governments as general counsel, special counsel and lobbyists. For more detailed information on our qualifications, visit our website at www.llw-law.com.

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

151


The Big Question

Q: WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU WILL DO ONCE YOU ARE FULLY VACCINATED?

RON BOOK “I received dose #1 on 12/28 and dose #2 on 1/18 and my two weeks passed and while I may have relaxed a bit, I still continue to wear a mask, wash my hands with frequency, avoid crowds, but am at least emotionally relaxed and without fears.”

REGGIE CARDOZO “Sailing on a Disney Cruise with the Schorsch family!”

GUS CORBELLA “Gratitude for making it through this turbulent year in good health, and gratitude that my loved ones have as well. I have missed exploring the planet

and the adventures that come with traveling to new places. I can’t wait to do so again soon in the company of those I love.”

JUAN DEL CERRO “There are two things I look forward to doing, one more than the other. First off, I intend to plan more date nights with my wife. I think that was taken for granted over the last year. Second, going to have to Google excuses to use when I don’t want to go to an event, because “can’t, COVID” won’t cut it anymore.

DON GAETZ “Take my 87-year-old mother-in-law clubbing for her birthday. Then go

sailing in a squall with my son and soonto-be daughter in law. And read canceled children’s books to my amazing 7-monthold granddaughter and her mom and her mom’s mom. Really.”

CYNTHIA HENDERSON “When I get vaccinated, I will joyfully visit my Mom, who suffered a bad stroke, in her new nursing home. Currently I have only seen her through a chain link fence. I can’t wait to bring her ice cream and big hugs!”

FRED PICCOLO “Give out free hugs.”

RON SACHS

MELISSA STONE “Ride on an airplane!”

152

|

INFLUENCE Spring 2021

ILLUSTRATIONS: Bill Day

“My wife and I look forward to safely helping lots of family and friends celebrate a new beginning — a ‘happy new normal’ post-pandemic live rock ‘n roll band, fish fry beach party at Bald Point. That’s where we’ve been blessed to spend many shut-in days watching the Gulf and its creatures.”


EXCELLENCE IN ACTION Through innovative faculty research, powerful student achievements and exciting academic offerings, we encourage brilliant ideas, energize state and local economies, and fill our community with pride. Because at UCF, there’s excellence around every corner.

NATIONAL ACADEMIC RANKINGS

1 1 16 2 5

NO.

SUPPLIER OF AEROSPACE AND DEFENSE GRADS —

SIXTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR Aviation Week Network

RANKED

NO.

VIDEO GAME DESIGN GRADUATE PROGRAM IN THE WORLD The Princeton Review & PC Gamer

RANKED

NO.

HOSPITALITY AND TOURISM PROGRAMS IN THE WORLD ShanghaiRanking

RANKED

NO.

TRANSPORTATION AND SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM ShanghaiRanking

RANKED

2 2 14 2 12

NO.

FOR DEVELOPING CRITICAL SKILLS FOR AEROSPACE AND DEFENSE GRADUATES Aviation Week Network

RANKED

NO.

RANKED

NO.

BEST UNDERGRADUATE ONLINE PROGRAMS

U.S. News & World Report

FOR BOOSTING SOCIAL MOBILITY Education Reform Now

RANKED

NO.

RANKED

UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA

OPTICS AND PHOTONICS GRADUATE PROGRAM

U.S. News & World Report

16 1 2 40 NO.

MOST INNOVATIVE UNIVERSITY

U.S. News & World Report

RANKED

NO.

HOSPITALITY AND TOURISM PROGRAM ShanghaiRanking

RANKED

NO.

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND HOMELAND SECURITY GRADUATE PROGRAM U.S. News & World Report

RANKED

NO.

PUBLIC RESEARCH UNIVERSITY Washington Monthly

RANKED

Spring 2021

INFLUENCE

|

153

ucf.edu


ONE OF AMERICA’S BEST HOSPITALS. AND YOUR BEST CHOICE FOR SPECIALIZED CARE. Once again, Tampa General Hospital was named one of America’s Best Hospitals and named the #1 Hospital in Tampa Bay by U.S. News & World Report. Our strong collaboration with our private practice physicians, USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, Tampa General Medical Group physicians and our dedicated team of nurses and health care professionals continues to make this award-winning care possible. Even in the most trying of times.

154

|

NAMED ONE OF AMERICA’S BEST

DESIGNATED HIGH-PERFORMING

• Cardiology & Heart Surgery

• Cancer

• Diabetes & Endocrinology

• Geriatrics

• Gastroenterology & GI Surgery

• Neurology & Neurosurgery

• Nephrology

• Pulmonology & Lung Surgery

• Orthopedics

• Urology

Primary INFLUENCE Spring 2021 teaching hospital for the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine

TGH.org

Profile for Extensive Enterprises Media

INFLUENCE Magazine – Spring 2021  

INFLUENCE Magazine – Spring 2021  

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded