A toast goodbye to Collier’s ‘Lady of the House’

Mary Ellen Hawkins is honored at a Collier County commission meeting on Nov. 18, 2014. (Carolina Hidalgo/Staff)

Mary Ellen Hawkins is honored at a Collier County commission meeting on Nov. 18, 2014. (Carolina Hidalgo/Staff)

Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, (@Jenna_Buzzacco)

The grand dame of Collier County politics sat in a rocking chair Tuesday with a Brandy snifter of iced tea at her side and listened as friends, former colleagues and local officials saluted her.

They talked of her work for women and girls, her support of the arts and her love of Naples. She sat quietly smiling as local officials’ spoke of her years of public service — that was until Myra Daniels stepped up to the microphone.

“Everyone has been talking about things you might have known, but I’m going to tell you secrets,” said Daniels.

“Wouldn’t you like to sit back down,” quipped former Rep. Mary Ellen Hawkins.

Hawkins, Collier County’s first female state representative, is moving to Tallahassee after more than 40 years in Naples. The 91-year-old Republican is moving to be closer to her daughter for health reasons.

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Rick Scott ‘failed to forward messages’ to state email account

By GARY FINEOUT
Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott exchanged emails dealing with vetoes, the state budget and his speeches from a private email account, according to records turned over to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Scott has previously said he used a Google email account to communicate with his family and not for state business. He also said that if ever he got an email dealing with state business he would forward it to his public email accounts.

John Tupps, a spokesman for Scott, however, acknowledged in a statement that “after a thorough review of this old email account, there were occasions the governor failed to forward messages.”

“This email account is closed and the personal email account the governor uses now has not been given out beyond his family,” Tupps said.

The Scott administration turned over the emails more than three months after The Associated Press first asked for them.

Most of the emails appear to be from 2011 and 2012, although there are some also from 2013. It is not a violation of law to have a private email account, but it would be a violation if someone asked for emails and the governor’s office failed to turn them over.

Scott’s Google email account has been at the center of an ongoing lawsuit filed against Scott by a Tallahassee attorney and a frequent critic of the Republican governor.

Steven Andrews is suing over records related to a dispute about land near the governor’s mansion. He has maintained that the Scott administration violated the state’s public records law. Andrews got permission from a Florida judge to ask Google about the email accounts, but Scott has hired lawyers in California to fight the request.

The lawsuits started after Andrews wanted to buy land on which his law office is located. The Scott administration wants the land as part of a plan to turn the adjacent historic home of former Gov. LeRoy Collins into a museum. Andrews contends state officials were not interested in the property until Scott found out that he was involved. Andrews won his initial lawsuit, but the case is being appealed.

Many of the emails turned over on Tuesday include exchanges between Scott and his former chief of staff Stephen MacNamara. Some are also from his press aides as well as other top officials who worked for Scott.

One set of emails concerns legislation dealing with Florida’s university system, including an unsuccessful effort by MacNamara to convince Scott to sign a bill that would have let the University of Florida and Florida State University raise tuition above caps set in state law.

MacNamara in the same email urged Scott to veto legislation that created Florida Polytechnic University.

Challenge to Florida’s ‘growler’ ban featured on ‘CBS This Morning’

Kristina Webb, (@KristinaWebb)

Popular Stuart bar The Crafted Keg’s challenge of a Florida law was featured Monday morning in a segment on “CBS This Morning.”

Crafted Keg owner Guy Piasecki is suing the state to overturn a ban on half-gallon jugs of beer known as growlers.

Piasecki tells CBS that Florida is the only state to completely ban the half-gallon growler, something that confuses tourists.

“We have to explain to them in Florida we can fill a 32-ounce or a gallon, but we can’t fill a half-gallon,” Piasecki told CBS. ” … They think you’re ripping them off. ”

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Rick Scott picks Monica Russell for Cabinet affairs post

From Scott’s office:

Governor Rick Scott today announced the appointments of Monica Russell as the Director of Cabinet Affairs; John Tupps as the Deputy Communications Director; and Jeri Bustamante as the Press Secretary. All positions are effective December 1st.

Governor Scott said, “John Tupps has been a tireless advocate for our mission to become the number one job creator in the world.  Monica and Jeri both did an excellent job on my campaign. They are all focused on our work to make Florida the best place in the world to raise a family and live the American Dream.”

Jeri Bustamante most recently served as Press Secretary for Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera during the reelection campaign where she also assisted with Hispanic media outreach. Prior to that, Bustamante was a communications specialist at the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser’s Office and an associate producer at FOX affiliate WSVN in Miami. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public administration from Florida International University.

Monica Russell most recently served as the Surrogates Director and managed operations for Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera during Governor Scott’s reelection campaign. Before that, Russell served as deputy communications director in the Governor’s Office. From 2013-2014, she served as communications director for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. Previously, Russell was a partner at North Public Relations and served as vice president of government and community affairs for the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce. Russell holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Florida.

John Tupps has served in the Executive Office of the Governor since February, 2011, where he worked in various roles, including most recently as the Governor’s Press Secretary. Originally from Knoxville, TN, Tupps previously worked as a radio producer for South Central Radio Group. He received his bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Tennessee.

Scott announces more staffing changes

From Gov. Rick Scott’s office:

Governor Rick Scott today announced the appointments of Monica Russell as the Director of Cabinet Affairs; John Tupps as the Deputy Communications Director; and Jeri Bustamante as the Press Secretary.

All positions are effective Dec. 1.

Governor Scott said, “John Tupps has been a tireless advocate for our mission to become the number one job creator in the world.  Monica and Jeri both did an excellent job on my campaign. They are all focused on our work to make Florida the best place in the world to raise a family and live the American Dream.”

Jeri Bustamante most recently served as Press Secretary for Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera during the reelection campaign where she also assisted with Hispanic media outreach. Prior to that, Bustamante was a communications specialist at the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser’s Office and an associate producer at FOX affiliate WSVN in Miami. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public administration from Florida International University.

Monica Russell most recently served as the Surrogates Director and managed operations for Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera during Governor Scott’s reelection campaign. Before that, Russell served as deputy communications director in the Governor’s Office. From 2013-2014, she served as communications director for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. Previously, Russell was a partner at North Public Relations and served as vice president of government and community affairs for the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce. Russell holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Florida.

John Tupps has served in the Executive Office of the Governor since February, 2011, where he worked in various roles, including most recently as the Governor’s Press Secretary. Originally from Knoxville, TN, Tupps previously worked as a radio producer for South Central Radio Group. He received his bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Tennessee.