Winners & Losers

This week’s biggest Winners & Losers

Who’s up and who’s down in the Sunshine State?

It was a quick turnaround from last week to this week for Randy Fine, the firebrand Republican state representative from Brevard County. First, he was left off the list of finalists to become president of Florida Atlantic University in Broward County. (Of course, the names of applicants are no longer public under state law, but he was Gov. Ron DeSantis’ preferred choice.) But wait! Maybe he’s still in the running. State University System of Florida Chancellor Ray Rodrigues put the clampdown on the process after hearing about “anomalies” like asking candidates their sexual orientation and what their "preferred pronouns were." Keep hope alive!


Peter Licata -

It’s official: Dr. Peter Licata has begun his new job leading Broward County Public Schools effective immediately, after the school board approved his contract this week in a unanimous vote. “I am as excited as I've ever been,” Licata told our news partner, WLRN. “It’s just going to be phenomenal – the next three years … maybe four, maybe five.” That was after a hiccup when the school board met but didn’t have enough members attending to finalize the deal. Onward!

Ray Treadwell -

The politically-connected law firm of Lawson Huck Gonzalez, not yet a year old, made a high-profile hire with Yale Law grad Ray Treadwell, who’s been the chief deputy general counsel to Gov. Ron DeSantis. As we reported earlier this week, Treadwell was “one of the longest serving insiders of the administration,” starting when he did legal work for the governor’s 2019 transition team. The firm quickly became a go-to for outside counsel; Treadwell’s hire seals the relationship.

Raul Vargas -

The CEO of Farmers Insurance definitely just locked in value for his company’s shareholders: Getting out of 100,000 policies in the early stages of a Florida hurricane season projected to be active with 12-17 named storms. While CFO Jimmy Patronis may call them the Bud Light of insurance, they are just one company in a long line leaving the state. It’s crappy for the 100,000 more customers who likely have to get on Citizens, though.


Fabián Basabe -

This reality star-turned-politician now has another new role: defendant. Two male staffers have accused him in a lawsuit of sexual harassment based on alleged behavior that began before he even stepped foot in the Capitol for his first full legislative session. He denied the allegations and accused one of the staffers of having a history of filing frivolous lawsuits, although there’s no evidence the staffer had filed any lawsuits before. As the two men’s attorney put it, “He just walked into the Capitol building and right off the bat started sexually harassing the guys.”

Amy Lockhart, David Mealor & Art Woodruff -

Toxic, cancer-causing chemicals have been known by local utilities to be contaminating drinking water in Lake Mary, Sanford and Seminole County since 2013. While local solutions were targeted, the public was not made aware of this problem by their local government bodies, instead having it made known by an Orlando Sentinel investigation. Whether they directly had a hand in keeping it silent or not, there will be hell to pay for these elected officials – Seminole County Commission Chair Amy Lockhart, Lake Mary Mayor David Mealor and Sanford Mayor Art Woodruff – on why the public wasn’t told sooner. 

Brian Welch -

The Leon County commissioner ruffled progressive feathers in his blue county this week when he debuted new roadside signs encouraging drivers not to give to panhandlers. Our Twitter feed was still blowing up about it by the end of the week. To be sure, the initiative got him ‘attaboy’s from supporters – but even more criticisms, including one online commenter who compared the signs to “Do not feed the animals” warnings. Yipes.