The Mitch Perry Report

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Mitch Perry Report: A farewell to Creative Loafing

Posted By on Fri, Nov 7, 2014 at 9:39 AM

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This will be my last Mitch Perry Report. 

I’m going to continue reporting about news and politics in the Tampa Bay area and beyond — just for a different media outlet. More on that below.

It's not easy leaving this place that's been my professional home for the past five years. (And not always just professional — one summer night a few years ago, after my air conditioning broke down, I walked the short distance from my home in Ybor to the office to crash on one of our very comfortable couches.)

When I started at Creative Loafing, the paper was in serious transition. It's now in good shape, owned by Southcomm, a Nashville-based company that publishes multiple alternative newsweeklies, but when I arrived in September 2009 CL had just gone through a bankruptcy proceeding and had been purchased by a hedge fund. A month later we moved from North Howard Avenue in West Tampa to our current digs, in the Ybor Factory Building (aka Ybor Square), where we worked in temporary offices for a few months before moving across the courtyard to our current home  in early 2010. 


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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 11.6.14: How do Florida Democrats become more competitive in off-year elections?

Posted By on Thu, Nov 6, 2014 at 8:54 AM

Charlie Crist marching to the stage at the Vinoy Hotel in St. Pete to give his concession speech Tuesday night. - KIMBERLY DEFALCO
  • Kimberly DeFalco
  • Charlie Crist marching to the stage at the Vinoy Hotel in St. Pete to give his concession speech Tuesday night.

In today's Times, some of Charlie Crist's advisors are attributing their candidate's narrow loss to Rick Scott to the $12.8 million spent by the governor on negative ads in the final week of the campaign.

Perhaps. 

It has to be incredibly tough to come so close and yet come up just over 1 percent short as Crist did this week, but we all knew it was going to be like this. We just didn't know who the victor was going to be.

Crist ran a very impressive campaign, especially considering his financial disadvantage. His biggest problem was that, well, he had a ton of baggage to carry as he attempted to do something that only a handful of people have done in the history of our republic — become governor of the same state twice, once as a Republican, once as a Democrat. That's pretty damn hard.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 11.5.14: Democratic Party devastation in the Sunshine State

Posted By on Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 6:08 AM

Charlie Crist, joined by his running mate Annette Taddeo (far left) and wife Carole Rome Crist, addressed the crowd at the Vinoy last night a little after 11:30 p.m. to concede the election to Rick Scott. - KIM DEFALCO
  • Kim DeFalco
  • Charlie Crist, joined by his running mate Annette Taddeo (far left) and wife Carole Rome Crist, addressed the crowd at the Vinoy last night a little after 11:30 p.m. to concede the election to Rick Scott.


Good morning, fellow Floridians.

Ready for another four more years of Rick Scott as Governor?

Well, ready or not, it is the reality in the Sunshine State — as is the same GOP cabinet of Pam Bondi as AG, Adam Putnam as Agriculture Commissioner, and Jeff Atwater as CFO.

And for the first time since 2011-2012, there will be a GOP supermajority of Republicans in the state House of Representatives. The last time that was the case — four years ago —  the Legislature passed some of the most conservative legislation in decades.

That is the landscape in Tallahassee today. And all done without any mention of the Tea Party.


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Monday, November 3, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 11.3.14: Medical marijuana looks to be a loser on Election Night

Posted By on Mon, Nov 3, 2014 at 8:16 AM

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For supporters of getting medical marijuana legalized in Florida, the best news you heard this weekend was probably John Morgan's remarks to the Tampa Bay Times'Stephen Nohlgren on Saturday that as long as Amendment 2 is close to getting the 60 percent approval required for passage in tomorrow's election, he's prepared to fund another campaign in 2016.

That's a good thing if you want medical pot in Florida, because all signs indicate that Amendment 2 will not get the 60 percent required for passage in 2014.

Public Policy Polling released its final survey before tomorrow's election, and it shows the measure leading, 53-41 percent. You couple that with the Times's recent poll showing the measure getting just 48 percent (which seemed exceedingly low to us), and you don't have to be Nate Silver to surmise that a win for medical marijuana at this point would be a considerable upset.

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 10.31.14: USF medical center in downtown is definitely bigger than baseball

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 9:05 AM

A preliminary rendering of the proposed downtown med school building. - STATE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM OF FLORIDA
  • State University System of Florida
  • A preliminary rendering of the proposed downtown med school building.

Random thoughts on this Happy Halloween..

If it wasn't already an established fact, the fact that the trustees overseeing USF Health's medical and education programs voted unanimously to build the new USF Morsani College of Medicine in the Channelside area yesterday should confirm the fact that a park for the Tampa Bay Rays won't be built in the area. "This decision is the single most important that has occurred in the last 25 years," Mayor Bob Buckhorn told the trustees. "This is bigger than baseball."

It is, which is great for Tampa, but not so much for the Rays, who will have to look for other spots in Tampa to contemplate, when and if they ever get permission to discuss such sites in Hillsborough County. 

The conventional wisdom flowing from media voices this week is that any speculation that Stu Sternberg might move the team to Montreal is pure hokum. But how many more years of leading the league in having the worst attendance in the MLB is acceptable? Just asking, but it's not like the Rays have been putting on a bad product on the field (this year being an exception).

It appears that Joe Maddon's self-imposed unemployment is about to end. The 60-year-old Bayshore Blvd. resident apparently is going to become the next manager for the Chicago Cubs, where he'll be facing loads more media pressure than he ever felt in Tampa Bay. Many excellent managers have tried to get the Cubs to the Series over the decades, and none has been able to do so. Dusty Baker, a fine manager, ultimately was run out of town there....Lou Piniella had three straight winning seasons, then didn't survive a fourth year. Good luck, Joe. You'll need it.

An estimated 23.5 million people watched Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night, which was 10 million more people than tuned in to any of the previous six games between the Giants and the Royals. Nielsen said the peak average audience came during the last inning, when 27.8 million people saw MVP Madison Bumgarner record the final out for the Giants. Still, according to ESPN, it was a record low audience for a World Series Game 7, baseball's ultimate game. Both Game 7s during the 2000s had more than 30 million viewers. When the Minnesota Twins beat the Atlanta Braves in 1991, the audience was 50.3 million people.

Maybe baseball simply isn't that popular anymore? I don't know about that. I've been as critical as anybody of how dull the game has become in the post-steroid era, where pitching and defense mean everything. That was proven to be true in the Series. But, come on, the post-season is pretty incredible, isn't it? Especially if you've got a serious rooting interest (as I did).

In other news.. 

Giuliani Partners, the former NYC Mayor's security firm, is giving Uber a thumbs up for their extremely scrutinized background check policy.

Tampa City Councilman Mike Suarez kicked off his 2015 re-election campaign earlier this week.

Parts of downtown Tampa now have free WiFi.

And in our current issue, a last look at some of the races to watch on Election Night next Tuesday. 

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 10.30.14: Dwight Dudley rages against Bill Young

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 8:47 AM

State Rep. Dwight Dudley.
  • State Rep. Dwight Dudley.

We're entering the homestretch for next week's midterm elections, and while Clearwater Democrat Carl Zimmermann remains extremely vulnerable in his bid for re-election in his House District 65 seat against Chris Sprowls, another freshman Democrat, St. Petersburg's Dwight Dudley in House District 66, is still looking good in his bid to retain his seat against the well-funded Bill Young, son of the late legendary Pinellas Congressman.

An indication that Young probably realizes he's trailing in the race is his brazenly bogus television spot claiming that Dudley — who has talked seemingly non-stop about wanting to repeal the nuclear cost recovery fee and bring more accountability to investor-owned utilities and our Public Service Commission — somehow supports  Duke Energy. 

At the "Pitchfork Protest" in downtown St. Pete yesterday, during which protesters called on Duke Energy to start producing solar power, Dudley called the ad a "despicable, lowbrow, gutter technique, and how sad, especially through the campaign he talked about not tearing other people down — the high ethics he learned from his family — and now we see what he's really about, and even in the face of opposition and clear evidence that he's lying, he persists in promoting lies against me to tear me down. That is a sad thing."


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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 10.29.14: Will Mike Fasano's independence hurt him in 2016?

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 9:13 AM

Mike Fasano (with Janet Cruz) Friday in front of the Hillsborough County courthouse.
  • Mike Fasano (with Janet Cruz) Friday in front of the Hillsborough County courthouse.
Mike Fasano's outspoken support for his friend and political ally Charlie Crist in the gubernatorial contest is disturbing a few folks up in Pasco County. 

The longtime Republican state legislator left Tallahassee a little over a year ago. That's when he was appointed by Rick Scott to succeed the late Mike Olson as Pasco County tax collector, getting him out of the hair of Scott and other GOP leaders, who were growing perturbed at the native New Yorker''s "mavricky" ways.

In a letter to the editor of this morning's Tampa Tribune, Pasco Republican state committeeman and longtime Fasano foe Bill Bunting writes that Fasano's endorsement of Crist, as well as Democrat Amanda Murphy in his state House 36 race, is simply too much to bear. "People have been coming into the Republican office all week, and our phones are ringing off the hook with people asking how we can get Fasano out of the Republican Party."

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 10.28.14 - Campaigning in the time of Ebola

Posted By on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 9:33 AM

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Rick Scott is ordering twice daily monitoring for anyone returning from places the CDC designates as affected by Ebola. The Governor on Saturday signed an order giving the Florida Health Dept. authority to monitor individuals for 21 days. He also asked the CDC for specific information about the risk level for four people who have already returned from West Africa to the Sunshine State.

We don't know the names of those individuals at this point. Florida's policy now matches that of Illinois, New York and New Jersey.

Yesterday the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, was here in Florida once again on the campaign trail with Governor Scott, where he answered questions about his very controversial quarantine of a patient at a Newark hospital suspected of possibly having the Ebola virus. Feeling the heat from that very nurse, Christie said that the CDC - and not New Jersey — had been responsible for hospitalizing Casey Hickox and giving her the Ebola test in the first place, according to the New York Times.He also released her from that quarantine to Maine, where she lived and where state officials now will deal with her care.


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Monday, October 27, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 10.27.14: Replacing Maddon may not be the only move in Rays future

Posted By on Mon, Oct 27, 2014 at 9:12 AM

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The Tampa Bay area was shaken up on Friday with the stunning announcement that Joe Maddon was exploiting an opt-out provision in his contract to bolt the Rays and take his chances on the free market. Though Rays team president Matt Silverman emphasized that management's financial offers for a new contract were generous, it's apparent in Maddon's subsequent comments that he felt he was being low-balled, and aspires to make at least double his current $2 million salary, and probably will. 

So not only does Rays management now need to find a new skipper, but one would hope that with the 2014 official MLB season just days away from ending,  we might finally be hearing something about the Rays making a deal with the Kriseman administration to begin talks about a possible stadium in Tampa.

Unless the Rays don't really have the desire any longer to pursue such opportunities across the Howard Frankland.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 10.24.14: The Big Dog to stump for Crist in East Tampa

Posted By on Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 8:53 AM

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Bill Clinton will be in East Tampa late Sunday afternoon to promote early voting in Hillsborough County, the third and final campaign event of the day in the Sunshine State for the 42nd president of these United States.

Although the polls will be closed by the time the Clinton event ends on Sunday (it begins at 5 p.m.), the former president will be at two "souls to the polls" events earlier in the day, an important day for Democrats to bring minority voters to the the election booth. Clinton will hit attend a rally at Florida A&M University for Panhandle-area candidate Gwen Graham and a Palm Beach Gardens fundraiser for incumbent Patrick Murphy.

No doubt you'll see all sorts of local Democrats at the Tampa event, because, hey, who doesn't love Bill Clinton these days? But I wonder if you'd see so many of them around if it were Barack Obama in town.

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