The West Coast glitterati might be shunning President Trump’s Hollywood star, but Pensacola’s ready to welcome the Donald’s celebrity plaque.
That’s according to Mike Hill, a former state representative running to return to the Legislature in the conservative stronghold, who took to Facebook Live this week with a giant replica of the Hollywood Walk of Fame plaque.
In the video, Hill, a black Republican, stands in front of a Confederate monument in downtown Pensacola and vows to “bring the Trump Hollywood star” to “the first settlement in America.”
Trump’s sidewalk star --- which has been destroyed twice --- probably isn’t going anywhere, but the West Hollywood City Council reportedly passed a unanimous resolution this month calling for the onetime reality-show host’s marker to be permanently removed.
The video of Hill --- who’s captured on camera directing his photog to scootch a little to the left and a little closer to frame the shot --- is a contrast to the slickly produced campaign ads bombarding Floridians in the mail, on TV and over the internet in the days leading up to Tuesday’s primary elections.
Almost as an aside, at the end of the nearly two-minute video, Hill holds up a giant sign with his own name on it and asks voters to support his bid in state House District 1. Hill’s been eclipsed in fundraising by fellow Republican Rebekah Bydlak in the race to replace term-limited Rep. Clay Ingram, R-Pensacola.
Hill’s Facebook post, which garnered nearly 5,000 views within two days, might be wacky, but it’s a tame tactic compared to what’s going on at the other end of the I-10 corridor --- and of the political spectrum --- where incumbent Congressman Al Lawson and challenger Alvin Brown are duking it out in Congressional District 5.
Lawson, who spent nearly three decades in the Florida Legislature, handily beat longtime Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown, in 2016, while she was embroiled in a criminal investigation that led to her eventual conviction on corruption charges and a five-year prison sentence.
But Lawson faces a serious challenge from Alvin Brown, who was Jacksonville’s first elected black mayor and who is not related to the former congresswoman. Brown lost his mayoral seat after one term in 2015, after winning election in a close contest four years earlier.
The two men have hammered each other over their records, with Brown slamming Lawson for supporting Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law and Lawson hitting back over Brown’s refusal as mayor to support a resolution guaranteeing anti-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community.
It’s been called the “silly season” and the “nasty season,” and it’s winding down into the “tail-end season” prior to Tuesday’s primaries. After that, the inter-partisan warfare will explode until, and probably following, the Nov. 6 general election.
As Floridians prepare to bid adieu to some of the candidates who’ve made them cheer, jeer and gnash their teeth, the ancient Roman poet Horace advised to “forget about hope” when saying farewell.
“Time goes running, even,” he wrote, “as we talk. Take the present, the future’s no one’s affair.”
COURT BACKS PUBLIC RECORDS
The courts were almost as busy as the candidates this week, with a series of rulings dealing with public records and more kerfuffle over proposed constitutional amendments on the November ballot.
The Florida Supreme Court this week declined to take up appeals filed by the Broward County School Board and prosecutors, clearing the way for the release of additional surveillance-camera footage related to the February mass shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The 4th District Court of Appeal last month sided with a coalition of news organizations and ordered the release of footage from the afternoon of Feb. 14, when 17 people were killed at the school. But the Broward County School Board and the Broward State Attorney’s Office appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court.
Justices declined to take up the cases, and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office released the videos to the public shortly after Wednesday’s twin orders, which, as is common, did not explain the Supreme Court’s reasons for declining to weigh in.
COURT BLOCKS PUBLIC RECORDS
In a separate public-records lawsuit, the National Transportation Safety Board took steps to block the disclosure of documents related to the deadly bridge collapse at Florida International University. The move came the same day state transportation officials were prepared to hand them over to the Miami Herald.
Using Florida’s public-records law, the Herald requested a wide range of documents related to the 950-ton, 174-foot span, which collapsed in March, days after being positioned across an eight-lane road in Miami, and killed six people. But state transportation officials claimed they could not comply with the newspaper’s request because of a federal law related to an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Leon County Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll on Tuesday ordered state officials to release the records to the newspaper, prompting the national board to move the case to federal court, where a judge Thursday agreed to keep the documents private, at least for now.
Asking the federal court to put a stay on Carroll’s order, Andrew Grogan, an assistant U.S. attorney, acknowledged “both the plaintiffs and the public have a legitimate interest in learning what happened in the lead-up to the bridge collapse.”
But, he added, “it is also in the public’s interest to preserve the integrity of the investigation so that NTSB can fulfill its mission of determining the probable cause of the accident and making recommendations to prevent similar accidents in the future.”
STATE WANTS CONSTITUTIONAL PROPOSALS TO STICK
In other high-profile court action this week, Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office asked the Florida Supreme Court to reject a legal challenge seeking to block six proposed constitutional amendments from going on the November ballot.
Bondi’s office is disputing arguments that the proposed amendments, placed on the ballot by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, violate First Amendment rights and improperly tie together unrelated subjects.
Plaintiffs, including former Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead, filed the case last week, arguing that combining disparate issues in single ballot proposals violates First Amendment rights of voters and is “logrolling” of issues that should be considered separately. The lawsuit raised the specter of voters having conflicting views of issues in the same ballot proposal.
STORY OF THE WEEK: Hundreds of candidates throughout Florida ramped up campaigns in last-ditch efforts to garner votes in advance of Tuesday’s primary elections.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Ultimately, defendant has chosen an easier course of treatment to maximize ‘uniformity,’ and ease ‘security concerns,’ by ignoring the substantial risk of harm to Ms. Keohane’s mental health that results from denying such ‘minor accommodations’ as panties and access to defendant’s female grooming standards. This ends now.” --- U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, ordering the state to accommodate transgender inmate Reiyn Keohane. Walker accused Department of Corrections officials of ignorance and bigotry for initially refusing to allow Keohane to resume hormone therapy or to have access to “social transitioning,” such as bras and female grooming items, despite the prisoner’s repeated suicide attempts.