Episode 9 from Mojitos to Trump and more.

In this episode of High Tops and Politics, Brian Crowley and Mary Anna Mancuso chat about Donald Trump's visit to the Panhandle, Joe Biden's efforts in Florida, Brad Meltzer's new book about George Washington, South Florida Jeopardy finalists, Florida Man, a Mojito expert, Guess who is on their way to the Democratic Debates, and much more.

Enjoy Florida's best political podcast (iTunes -5 stars)....

And tell your friends.

This week co-hosts Brian Crowley and Mary Anna Mancuso chat about:

Who stole the Plastic Cow?

Florida binges.

Florida Legislature plants corn?

Charlie Crist get 15 minutes.

This week's High Tops Award, and much more. 

Thank you for joining us.


A bit of Jeopardy for Visit Florida, Joe Biden and more

In Episode 7 of High Tops and Politics Brian Crowley and Mary Anna Mancuso chat about Visit Florida, Joe Biden, Andrew Gillum, plus someone in Jeopardy, this week's High Tops Award, and much more. 

High Tops and Politics - Mister Geppetto did what?

In Florida politics you can run but you can't hide.

High Tops and Politics chases it all from Tallahassee to Mar-a-Lago as only veteran political journalist Brian Crowley and political strategist Mary Anna Mancuso can do.

Join us for our often amusing run through the Sunshine State.

Episode 6 - A problem with Starbucks and cellphone? Will Florida drones be wearing badges? Are Florida elections safe? Is the GOP undermining local government? This week's High Tops Award, and much more.


High Tops and Politics - The Mystery of the Double Knot

In Florida politics you can run but you can't hide.

High Tops and Politics chases it all from Tallahassee to Mar-a-Lago as only veteran political journalist Brian Crowley and political strategist Mary Anna Mancuso can do.

Join us for our often amusing run through the Sunshine State.

Episode 5 - Should Florida take on Alexa? Donald Trump's favorite Bush. Do Florida voters matter? Roxie gets moxie. The mystery of the Double Knot. This week's High Tops Award, and much more.


Ron DeSantis quits, Rick Scott looks shameful


By Brian E. Crowley

Florida Republican nominee for Governor, Ron DeSantis just announced that he is quitting Congress immediately so he can run full time for governor. In fact, his resignation is even more than immediate. He is time warping the effective date to Sept. 1.

As a low rung member of Congress, his impact there was minimal but that is not unusual for members in their first years on the Hill. DeSantis, with enormous help from President Trump and Fox News, easily knocked out Republican establishment favorite Adam Putnam in the GOP primary.

Now, we are in the early stages of what will be a blistering general election between arch-conservative DeSantis, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum who swings hard left. 

Meanwhile, Governor Rick Scott demonstrated what a soulless state leader is has been in a video of him talking to felons asking for a return of their voting rights.  Florida and Scott in particular were skewered Sunday night on HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

Oliver is not only funny and merciless, but as he often does, he closely examines an important issue and gives his audience something to think about. In this case, he urged viewers to vote to restore felon voting rights in November.

It is a must watch video. If nothing else, watch Scott, who wants to replace Democrat Bill Nelson in the U.S. Senate, at about the 6:45 mark. No matter how you feel about the issue, every Floridian should be embarrassed by Scott's callousness. His lack of compassion is chilling.



Miami Herald leaves earth in search of extra-terrestrials

By Brian E. Crowley

No. Someone dear God tell me this is a joke. Have we moved April Fool's Day to August? Has the Miami Herald been sold to Area 51?

Why you might ask am I ranting? Well, let's just say the Herald made a rather unusual endorsement in the Republican Primary for 27th Congressional District - Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera. Unusual because she is Hispanic? Nope? Unusual because she is a woman? Nope.

Unusual because, well judge for yourself:

We realize that Rodriguez Aguilera is an unusual candidate. Last year, she told the Miami Herald — and several Spanish-language media outlets — that she believes in extra-terrestrials. She says when she was 7, she was taken aboard a spaceship and, throughout her life, she has communicated telepathically with the beings, which remind her of the concrete Christ in Brazil. There you have it.

“This is a non-issue,” she told the Board. We agree. Her bona fides as a former elected official, and now a businesswoman who spends time in other countries training women to run for office are solid.

Rodriguez Aguilera is a strong candidate in the race with plausible conservative ideas. 

You think I made that up don't you. Please read it for yourself: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/voters-guide/article216932145.html

So the Herald is trying to convince voters that this is the best the Republican Party has to offer as a candidate to go Washington.


At a time when journalism has more than its share of problems this silliness seems like more like click-bait than a thoughtful look at the candidates.

The Herald should be embarrassed. 

Are Florida Republicans leaderless?

Hatchet135 copy

It is time to stop blaming Big Sugar

It Is Time To Stop Blaming Big Sugar

By Brian E. Crowley

UPDATE:  This was first written in July 2016. Much of it remains true today. Let me add something.  One rarely hears environmentalists complaining about growth. Palm Beach County, to use but one example, has added hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses that creep into the edge of what was once part of the Everglades ecosystem.

Every mile of asphalt and concrete is less ground to absorb rain, filter it, and feed our aquifers. It is no longer as simple as blaming Big Sugar. Still, as we approach another election, with algae blooms, red tide, fish kills, and a level of toxins that threaten human health, maybe we can dream about the day both environmentalists and agriculture interests not only agree on the problem but also the solution.


SHAKING MONEY TREE   It is time to stop blaming Big Sugar.

Yes, Big Sugar is winning. It owns the governor’s office, the cabinet, and the Florida Legislature. It has power over much of Florida’s congressional delegation.

Formidable Tallahassee reporter Mary Ellen Klas did a masterful job this week with an in-depth storyin the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times about the power of Big Sugar.

Between 1994 and 2016, a review of state Division of Elections records by The Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee bureau shows, the sugar industry — led by United States Sugar and Florida Crystals — has steered a whopping $57.8 million in direct and in-kind contributions to state and local political campaigns.


The Sugar industry has been masterful. No matter what successes the environmental community has had – passage of the 1994 Everglades Forever Act, the 1996 Polluter Pays Amendment to the Florida Constitution, the 2000 Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (sign by President Bill Clinton with then Gov. Jeb Bush by his side), or the 2014 Water and Land Conservation Act – the Sugar industry has been able to either slow down implementation or thwart the intent.


By owning a stable of elected officials. By hiring top teams of lobbyists. By having connections in critical government agencies.

And, nothing they do is illegal. Sugar simply plays the game of politics better than their opponents.

As Klas reported:

“I can tell you, first hand, that the industry is directly involved with every decision this Legislature makes,” said Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation which for decades has fought the sugar industry over the causes and solutions of the Everglades and was a chief of staff to former Gov. Charlie Crist. (Note: I previously was a media consultant for the Foundation.)

Eikenberg works hard to make sure the Foundation’s voice is heard in Tallahassee but it is an often frustrating experience.

Eikenberg was part of the Crist team that put together the deal to buy U.S. Sugar land. At the time, the company applauded the deal and was eager to get out of the sugar business. But when U.S. Sugar wanted out of the contract it fought hard. And they found a willing ally in the newly elected governor, Rick Scott (to whom they contributed handsomely) who said hell no about buying the land.

No matter the setback, the sugar industry always comes out ahead.

But it is time to stop blaming them. Perhaps it is time to blame the environmentalists.

No dear God – not the “good” guys!


The sugar industry is united. Its goal is simple – keep farming, no government intrusion, protect profits.

Environmentalists often are not united. While they may all talk about stopping algae blooms, saving America’s Everglades, rivers and springs, there is a tendency to go their separate regional ways. Each part of the state has its own environmental concerns. Each fights to get money from the same state pot of dough. Each jealously guards its own circle of influence.

It is the kind of division that an opponent loves.

Money from sugar goes to candidates who will support them.

While there are billionaires and millionaires in the environmental community who give generously, there is rarely an effort to identify environmentally friendly candidates and support them. Perhaps even more important, there is little effort to make a concerted effort to defeat incumbents who opposed the environmental agenda.

There is no price for most incumbents who defy the environmentalists. There is a huge price in opposing sugar. Nothing illustrates that better than passage of the Water and Land Conservation Act. Seventy-five percent of Florida voters supported the Amendment.

75 percent.

This may have annoyed the sugar industry but it is used to it. So Sugar did what it does best – it worked with the Legislature to ensure that the amendment would do them little harm.

Look there is nothing wrong with that. It is politics. And the environmental community could learn a great deal from how the sugar industry operates in Tallahassee.

Until environmentalists win legislative races with candidates who strongly support them and, put those who oppose them in fear of losing – or at the very least force costly, tough races, Sugar will continue to win. Because that’s what they do.

It is time to stop blaming Sugar.

A rare Florida Political record album

Graham Album Cover

By Brian E. Crowley

One finds the oddest things when looking through old boxes. Here a record album from 1986. The album speaks for itself. And for those of you who followed Bob Graham, let's hear you sing: "We have a friend in Bob Graham." 

Not sure if daughter Gwen has come up with a similar ditty for her campaign for governor.

And here's the flipside:


Graham Album Flipside

Jimmy Buffett seen singing with Bob Graham

Skits graham and buffett

By Brian E. Crowley

Sometime during the early 1980s. then Gov. Bob Graham, always a bit of a ham, decided he would pretend being Jimmy Buffett during the annual Tallahassee press corps skits. As Graham warbled away, the real Buffett came on stage dressed as if he was Florida's governor.

Now, Buffett is campaigning for Graham's daughter Gwen who is a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor. She is the third Graham to take a shot at the governor's mansion. Her father won two terms, plus three in the U.S. Senate. Her grandfather l0st his bid to be governor in 1944.

Whether Buffett can bring any votes to Gwen Graham is doubtful....but for his fans, it is certainly entertaining.


Will tonight's Florida Democratic Debate make any difference?

By Brian E. Crowley

Her voice on the phone sounds quite serious. She is a Democrat. She will vote in the primary for governor. She is confused, not sure for whom to vote.

One of the best things about Florida's Democratic primary is that there are five interesting candidates for governor. One of the worst things about Florida's Democratic primary is that there are five interesting candidates for governor.

Well, I say, there's Gwen Graham, Andrew Gillum, Chris King, Phil Levine and Jeff Greene. Who? she says. I go over the list again.

She ponders each of them, asking questions. I give neutral answers. She eliminates a couple of them and says she is going to do more research. The primary is August 28. She has time.

This is not an unusual moment. Many of the folks who will vote in the Democratic primary are clueless or confused or both about the candidates. Few have the fervor of a Trump Republican. These voters may loathe Trump, and they are certain to loathe Congressman Ron DeSantis (the increasingly likely GOP nominee) but they lack a deep connection to anyone in the Democratic field.

Tonight, the five Democratic candidates will participate in a statewide debate being aired from the studios of WPBF-25 in West Palm Beach. It will be broadcast by other stations around the state. Is this the moment that will make a difference? Is this the moment when Florida Democrats, after months of being indifferent, find the leader of their party? 


Many Democrats will remain indifferent. Many will not bother to vote in the primary. Many will continue to complain about Republicans in general and Trump-lovers in particular. Many will accept the eventual Democratic nominee grudgingly.

And that is the mistake Democrats have too often made during the past 20-years of GOP dominance in the state.




Palm Beach Post sold

Gatehouse Media is the new owner of The Palm Beach Post and Palm Beach Daily News. The announcement was made earlier today.

Gatehouse already owns papers on Jacksonville, Sarasota and other Florida markets. The company owns more than 140 newspapers across the country.

Read more here https://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/palm-beach-post-daily-news-sold-fast-growing-gatehouse/w3vAL3HVogbSDBY342rPoI/

Florida newspapers facing more changes


By Brian E. Crowley

During the last decade, Florida newspapers have suffered from declining revenues resulting in dramatic staff cuts, changes in ownership and uncertainty for reporters and editors doing their best to provide readers with local and state news. More changes are on the way in the coming weeks with new owners for the Palm Beach Post likely to be announced next month, and the possible sale of Tronc, owner of the Orlando Sentinel and Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel.

Ken Doctor, who has been uncannily accurate about the future of newspapers, is reporting that Gatehouse is expected to announce next month that it has purchased the Palm Beach Post and Palm Beach Daily News  from Cox Enterprises. Doctor also suggests that Tronc will be selling its remaining newspapers, most likely individually, in the coming months with Gannett once again a possible buyer.

As we enter the serious stage of the 2018 election, when Floridians will be deciding on a new governor, cabinet officers, a U.S. Senate seat, congressional races, legislative seats, constitutional amendments, and more....it is a critical time for voters to have the best information available. 

While some may relish the demise of journalism, it is a foolish notion. 

Please see Ken Doctor's well reported story  here.



Should Publix be selling these gun magazines

Publix magazines


By Brian E. Crowley

Wandering down the magazine aisle of the neighborhood Publix, I noticed that someone had placed quite a few Men's Journal magazines in rows along the display. This seemed odd. A closer look revealed that each one was hiding a magazine about guns. A sample of what someone tried to keep from view is in the photo above.

Let's just say that these gun magazines offer a very aggressive view of gun ownership. A magazine dedicated to the AR-15. Another for the AK-47. There are many other gun magazines not in the photo on display at Publix. Clearly as one customer believes, Publix should not be selling these magazines.

Some AR-15 proponents are outraged at the possibility that Publix, or other stores, might start banning these magazines. An AR-15 forum  and the 1911 forum have many folks weighing in - complete with speculation that Publix has or will ban these magazines. There is even chatter about some silly ways to get even if Publix dares to ban their magazines - like leaving full carts of frozen food in the aisle and then departing. 

Some sample comments:

My wife was looking forward to the new Publix opening in our area. I'll add Publix to the "Banned List", along with Starbucks, Wendy's, Levis, Delta, etc.

It's interesting how so many corporations are glad to sell guns and gun related products when there is no PC pressure and how quickly they turn on us when there is.

I just stopped by my local Publix. The manager didn't know anything about it. I told him that if they did this. It would effect where I bought my groceries.

The same people who erased our southern heritage, tore down statues and labeled a flag a racist banner are now still in the warpath against our gun rights. Why do you sound so surprised? 

Meanwhile, a Parkland student tweeted this:

This is the gun magazine section at our local @Publix less than a mile from my school where my classmates were murdered. Weapons of murder shouldn't be a hobby for people. This is about more than the right to bear arms; our country is obsessed with guns.

Some hours later came this tweet:

My mom went to publix today and they were gone!!! Wild!!! thank you

What should Publix, or any other business that is not selling guns, do with these magazines? Sell them? Ban them? 

Should the Florida Legislature get involved? 

UPDATE: Just returned from Publix. Store now has opaque plastic covers over gun magazine section. You can still see the magazines. This is an effort that is bound to please neither side.

Rick Scott talks guns at the White House

Florida Gov. Rick Scott spoke at the White House this morning at a gathering of governors hosted by President Trump.

Here is the White House transcript of Scott's remarks:

GOVERNOR SCOTT: Well, the first thing I want to do is I want to thank the President for making something happen. All of us, as governors, know, in any jobs we've had, you have to get something done. If you -- anybody that has gone through one of these -- and if you've gone to the funeral of a 14-year-old girl that her parents just loved her, you know that you have to make a change.

 So what we've done in the last -- I guess, it's a little less than two weeks -- we've looked at what other governors have done. We've brought people together. I'm very appreciative of what the President has done by bringing us all together to talk about this, and also what he did last week by bringing people together because it has created momentum to make sure something happens this time, that we dont go through this and nothing happen.

So, in our state, the way I've done this is I've broken it down into three things. Number one, we're going to have school safety. No parent in our state is going to say, "I'm concerned whether my child can go to school safely." If you go to school in Florida, you're going to know that your child can come home safely. If you're a teacher, if you work at one of these schools, you're going to know you're going to come home safely. That's step one.

We're going to spend $500 million. I have two weeks left in my legislative session; I'm not waiting for the federal government. We're going to invest $500 million, and we're going to have significant law enforcement presence at every public school in our state.


Continue reading "Rick Scott talks guns at the White House" »

Schools Superintendent Resigns

Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa has resigned effective June 12. In a letter to the school board, Avossa said he will become Senior Vice President and Publisher of LRP publications based in Palm Beach Gardens.

In recent years, Palm Beach County rarely keeps a superintendent for very long. If the past is any indication, the selection of Avossa successor will be difficult.

From the LRP website:

LRP Publications, founded in 1977 by Kenneth Kahn, is a broad-based media company serving business and education professionals. Specializing in the fields of education administration, education law, education technology, federal employment, human resources, workers' compensation and disability, and ergonomics, the company publishes hundreds of books, pamphlets, newsletters, videos and online resources.