Wednesday, April 25, 2018
News Roundup

Insiders predict Clinton win in Florida

Time for our final Florida Insider Poll of the 2016 election cycle.

We surveyed more than 160 of Florida's most experienced politicos — campaign operatives, fundraisers, political scientists, lobbyists and the like — about their predictions.

The results?

• Almost two-thirds expect Hillary Clinton will win Florida, all but guaranteeing she wins the White House.

• More than 3 out of 4 think she will win the presidency, regardless of whether she wins the Sunshine State.

• Almost 95 percent expect Republican Marco Rubio to beat Democrat Patrick Murphy for U.S. Senate.

• Nearly 9 in 10 expect the medical marijuana ballot initiative to pass.

•Seven in 10 doubt that the utility-backed amendment relating to solar power — and opposed by most consumer groups — will reach the 60 percent threshold needed to pass.

"I expect in Florida the main difference between Donald Trump losing and Marco Rubio winning will be the Hispanic vote. But we will see soon enough!" said one independent voter.

"Trump's worst week of entire campaign (first debate, twitter wars, tape) came at best time for (Clinton) — right when (mail ballots) were dropping and being returned," a Republican said. "If Trump loses, you can point to that week specifically."

Don't freak out over this Insider Poll, Trump supporters, or get smug, Clinton backers.

This is an utterly unscientific poll that reflects conventional wisdom of Florida's political elites. These are the same folks who last summer overwhelmingly expected Jeb Bush to be the Republican nominee.

We allow participants in our Insider Polls to weigh in anonymously to encourage honest assessments. This week's participants included 63 Democrats, 90 Republicans and 11 people registered to neither major party. Their names are listed online at tampabay.com/buzz.

Firefighters balk

Proponents of Amendment 1 lost a crucial supporter Friday as the union representing the state's professional firefighters withdrew its endorsement of the utility-backed amendment and demanded that the political committee pull television ads featuring firefighters.

Firefighters had been heavily featured in hundreds of ads run by Consumers for Smart Solar, the political committee financed by the state's largest electric companies. The ads urged voters to support Amendment 1 and implied that rooftop solar panels could be a fire hazard.

"It is clear to the elected executive board of this organization that our membership would prefer to pursue any future firefighter safety regulations related to the still developing alternative energy industry through legislative or rule-making action, as opposed to a constitutional amendment that many believe to be misleading,'' the Florida Professional Firefighters said in a press release issued late Friday.

The campaign has promoted the amendment as protecting consumers and encouraging solar, but the amendment would inject into the Constitution language that the utilities want to impose new fees and costs to rooftop solar users. After weeks of complaints from members, the executive board reversed its endorsement, suggesting that the amendment was misleading.

"We assure Florida's firefighters that their safety remains our top priority and this decision, by no means, indicates that we will be any less vigilant in advocating for their health and well-being when it comes to rapidly evolving, environmentally friendly, and sometimes confusing alternative energy systems," said Jim Tolley, FPF president.

Richard C. Silvestri, a retired fire captain for the city of Miami, was among those who complained to Tolley about the endorsement of the amendment. He said that saying that portraying solar panels as a fire hazard was "one of the biggest scams on Floridians in the history of the state."

Silvestri recently installed solar panels on his home in Fort Pierce, and he said that the process required numerous permits and inspections — including by Florida Power & Light — to be hooked up to the grid.

"I am in an expert's position to say the procedure followed was above and beyond,'' he wrote in the letter to Tolley, which he provided to the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald. "The only way these solar installations could be any more unsafe than the thousands of other electrical and electronic devices in use on the grid either in businesses, homes, factories, marinas, airports, etc. would be if they are installed without permits."

Sarah Bascom, spokesperson for the Consumers for Smart Solar political committee, said it was in the process of removing television and online ads as requested by the firefighters but expect some delay.

Comments
Carlos Gomez says he was guilty of only one thing in Sunday’s epic walkoff homer celebration

Carlos Gomez says he was guilty of only one thing in Sunday’s epic walkoff homer celebration

BALTIMORE – Carlos Gomez is perfectly willing to explain the specific elements that went into his epic celebration tour around the bases following Sunday's walkoff home run.The bat flip and raised arms were his initial reaction to how well he h...
Updated: 2 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 24

Tuesday’s scoreboardBaseballCalvary Chr. 8, Jesuit 1Boys TennisClass 3A, District 9-10 Regional Semifinal: Osceola 4, King 1Girls TennisClass 3A, District 9-10 Regional Semifinal: Osceola 4, Freedom 1...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Days before graduation, crash kills Lakewood High senior, injures two others

Days before graduation, crash kills Lakewood High senior, injures two others

ST. PETERSBURG — Caps and gowns were in the future for Bryson Welton-Williams and his two friends.Then came Tuesday’s horrific car crash.The three 18-year-old Lakewood High School seniors drove off from school a few minutes early, just 22 days away f...
Updated: 5 hours ago
SRO being investigated in Pasco County for arrest of student

SRO being investigated in Pasco County for arrest of student

LAND O’LAKES — A school resource officer at Sunlake High School is under investigation after he tried to take a female student into custody on Tuesday, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.School officials asked the SRO remove the student f...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Teen killed after SUV runs red light; man who fled scene captured

Teen killed after SUV runs red light; man who fled scene captured

NEW PORT RICHEY — A 17-year-old girl was killed Tuesday when her car was hit by a sport-utility vehicle that ran a red light, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.One of the occupants of the SUV who ran from the crash scene was captured hours late...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Softball: Haley Murphy, East Bay back in top form

Softball: Haley Murphy, East Bay back in top form

PLANT CITY — East Bay senior Haley Murphy had to take a few games off early this season to give the flaring tendinitis in her left knee a rest.When Murphy did come back around midseason, East Bay coach Glenn Rodriguez eased her into the fl...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Sarasota student, family apologize for racist ‘promposal’

Sarasota student, family apologize for racist ‘promposal’

The family of the 18-year-old Sarasota high school student under fire for the racist prom proposal he sent out on social media this weekend has publicly apologized for their son’s actions.They also said that as a result of his actions, he will not at...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Softball: Boca Ciega gets a shot at defending district champ

DUNEDIN — Standing in centerfield during her team's Class 6A-9 district semifinal Tuesday night, Boca Ciega's Mia Blasingane had one dominating thought: "We want Tarpon Springs real bad. I was saying that to myself. I want to see Tarpon Springs...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Softball: Alonso knocks off defending state finalist PHU in 9A-8 semifinals

PALM HARBOR — To get an idea of just how tough the competition is in Class 9A, District 8, consider that there has been a different tournament champion each of the past three seasons.All three — Newsome (2015), Alonso (2016) and Palm Harb...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays Journal: On the early rainout, pitching plans, medical matters, more

Rays Journal: On the early rainout, pitching plans, medical matters, more

BALTIMORE – If the Rays were going to get rained out Tuesday, they were happy  the Orioles made the decision at a good hour, around 5 p.m."I think they probably did the right thing in the fact that they knew there's a bunch of rain coming,...
Updated: 5 hours ago