Breakfast bites: Grant out as CIO; Buchanan gets challenger; Dade gets a new court clerk; and more…

by | Jun 12, 2023

Get caught up on news nuggets you might have missed…

Jamie Grant steps down from Florida CIO post
James Grant, Florida’s Chief Information Officer, is resigning from his position on July 1 after a three-year tenure. In his resignation letter to Governor Ron DeSantis, Grant highlighted achievements such as strengthening cybersecurity, assisting disaster response efforts, and modernizing infrastructure. He acknowledged the challenges of managing digital infrastructure in a historically decentralized environment, but praised DeSantis for his support. Grant says efforts to establish a new division within the Department of Management Services faced turf battles and institutional resistance but credits DeSantis for backing his efforts to update the state’s tech infrastructure.  Grant’s next move hasn’t been announced.

Buchanan draws Democrat challenger (via News Service of Florida)
Rep. James Buchanan, R-Osprey, has drawn a Democratic challenger as he seeks a fourth term in the Florida House. Sarasota Democrat Nancy M.H. Simpson opened a campaign account this week to run in Sarasota County’s House District 74, according to the state Division of Elections website. As of April 30, Buchanan had raised $27,567 for his re-election campaign, a finance report shows. Also in the race is North Port Republican Michelle Pozzie, who had raised $2,694 as of May 31. Buchanan, who is chairman of the House Agriculture, Conservation & Resiliency Subcommittee, faces a Monday deadline for filing updated campaign-finance numbers.

GOP State Rep. appointed by DeSantis as Miami Dade Clerk of Court (via News Service of Florida)
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday named state Rep. Juan Alfonso Fernandez-Barquin, a Republican, to serve as Miami-Dade County clerk of the court and comptroller. Fernandez-Barquin, an attorney, was first elected to the House in 2018 and most recently chaired the House Ethics, Elections & Open Government Subcommittee. Friday’s appointment will likely lead to a special election in Miami-Dade’s House District 118. Luis Montaldo has served as interim clerk of court since longtime clerk Harvey Ruvin died Dec. 31.

Citrus struggles
Florida citrus officials are concerned as the current growing season comes to a close with the lowest citrus production in nearly a century. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that Florida will produce 15.75 million boxes of oranges this season, down from 41.2 million boxes in the previous season. The industry was already expecting a smaller harvest due to a reduced “fruit per tree” count before hurricanes Ian and Nicole caused further damage. Federal assistance approved after the hurricanes is still awaited, and growers emphasize the need for hurricane relief. The estimated total production of slightly over 18 million boxes is the lowest since 1927-1928. The citrus industry also faces challenges from citrus greening disease and development pressures. The proposed state budget includes increased funding for the citrus industry, particularly for citrus protection and research. The orange and grapefruit crops are expected to be the lowest since the 1930s and 1910s, respectively.

Jacksonville braces for stadium tax fight
The Jacksonville Jaguars have unveiled plans for a stadium renovation project estimated to cost $1.4 billion, with over $1 billion to be funded by the public. The proposal suggests a 50-50 cost-sharing agreement between the city and Jaguars owner Shahid Khan. Under this plan, Jacksonville would contribute between $800 million and $934 million for the stadium renovation, while Khan would invest $550 million to $668 million in developing an entertainment district surrounding the stadium. Despite claims by stadium proponents, economic research has consistently shown that publicly funded sports stadiums do not provide significant public benefits. Critics, including Skylar Zander from Americans for Prosperity, have voiced concerns about the proposal, citing the financial burden on Jacksonville residents. This announcement follows Nashville’s recent approval of a similar deal, allocating $1.2 billion in public funds for a new Tennessee Titans stadium.

DeSantis, other Republicans blast DOJ “weaponization” against Trump
Republicans in Florida, including Governor Ron DeSantis and members of the state’s congressional delegation, are criticizing the indictment of former President Donald Trump, who is facing charges over his handling of classified documents after leaving the White House. They argue that the indictment represents a biased and politically motivated weaponization of federal law enforcement, pointing out the perceived lack of action against figures like Hillary Clinton and Hunter Biden. The indictment coincides with the revelation in Congressional hearings of a document alleging that President Joe Biden, during his tenure as vice president, accepted a $5 million bribe from a foreign national to influence public policy. Republicans claim that this simultaneous timing is not coincidental, but rather an attempt to distract from the alleged corruption of the Biden family.


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