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John Sowinski: On Charlie Reed, a legacy ‘beyond measure’

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The following is an excerpt from a guest column on FloridaPolitics.com by Consensus Co-Founder John Sowinski.

Editor’s note: Former Florida State University System Chancellor Charles Reed died Tuesday at 75.

Charlie Reed was a hard charger, a master legislative strategist, a fantastically successful leader in higher education, a consummate professional, and a class act.

Reed became Chancellor of Florida’s State University System at about the same time that I became Executive Director of the Florida Student Association, the lobbying group that represents the students of Florida’s State University System.

He left his job as Governor Bob Graham’s chief of staff to become Chancellor. It was 1985, and everyone in Florida’s higher education policy realm had had a healthy dose of respect for and fear of Reed. He wanted to raise tuition 15 percent per year. Students wanted tuition increases capped at no more than 5 percent per year.

Part of my job was to testify immediately after him at every Board of Regents and Legislative Committee meeting that dealt with the tuition issue and provide the counterpoints to his points. The undergraduate tuition increase landed close to 5 percent, but no permanent cap was created.

After the Session, I was summoned to the Board of Regents office for a one-on-one meeting with Chancellor Reed. I had no idea why he wanted to meet with me, much less alone. I thought he was going to take me to the woodshed, because he was a tough guy.

In fact, during that Session, I saw him use a legislator’s aide’s phone (no cellphones back then) to dress down a high-level university administrator for not towing the State University System position on a particular bill. My interactions with Chancellor Reed during the legislative session and at Board of Regents meetings were made awkward by the fact that we were diametrically opposed on the high-stakes tuition issue, and though we had spoken many times, we had never had a “casual” conversation.

I nervously went into his office. We shook hands, and I sat down…

To read the guest column in its entirety, visit FloridaPolitics.com.

Clients News: New MiLB Team Name Revealed as Florida Fire Frogs

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Florida Fire Frogs Logo

Braves Class-A Advanced affiliate to start season April 6 at Osceola County Stadium

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (Oct. 26, 2016) – Going head-to-head with our ‘coqui’ is not for the faint of heart. That’s right. It’s official. Central Florida’s new Minor League Baseball team today announced it’s new name – the Florida Fire Frogs. The name is a result of hundreds of submissions over the summer during the team’s “Name the Team” contest.

“We’re excited to unveil the team’s new name, which we feel represents the geographic diversity of our fan base, has a hometown feel and speaks to the fun, vibrant experience our fans will enjoy at games,” said Team President Joe Harrington. “We’re working on creating a fun and entertaining promotional schedule for our inaugural season at Osceola County Stadium next year, and we continue to be overwhelmed by the positive response from the community and our fans.”

A glowing red frog, ablaze with flames, is the centerpiece of the team’s new identity, surrounded with traditional lettering to make up the team’s primary mark. The team’s colors are fire red, navel orange, and golden sun, and fans will find a variety of alternative logos on the team’s website and merchandise store, including the horned “Bull Frog,” a fun nod to the community’s rodeo heritage.

The team also announced that Karah Morrison and Steven Strickland were the winners of the team’s Name the Team contest over the summer and each won two season tickets for the 2017 season.

News of the team’s new name is just the latest in a series of announcements. Just last month, the team announced a four-year affiliation agreement with the Atlanta Braves. The Player Development Contract will remain in effect through the 2020 season. Additionally, the team released its 2017 Florida State League (FSL) schedule and announced the sale of season seat memberships. The team’s inaugural season at Osceola County Stadium will start April 6 against the Daytona Tortugas.

The schedule features 70 home games and an Independence Day fireworks spectacular on July 4. Game times for all 2017 games and promotional-themed nights will be released at a later date.

Membership packages include full season (70 games), half season (35 games), partial (15 games) and mini (7 games). Full season packages start at $350 and are available by calling 321-697-3156. The team’s offices and merchandise store are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. For more information, visit www.FloridaFireFrogs.com.

About the Florida Fire Frogs

The Florida State League team, formerly the Brevard County Manatees, will move from Space Coast Stadium into its new home at Osceola County Stadium in 2017. Osceola County last had a Class-A Florida State League franchise in 2000 with the Kissimmee Cobras. The team is under the leadership of President Joe Harrington. For more information, please visit www.FloridaFireFrogs.com, and follow the team on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.

 

Client News: Six Finalists for Central Florida’s New Pro Baseball Team Name Revealed

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Central Florida residents have one more chance to play a role in naming the area’s new Minor League Baseball team. Want in? The top six finalists for the “Name the Team” contest were unveiled today, and the organization is asking fans to vote for their favorite.

The Florida State League team will have a new name as it moves into its new home at Osceola County Stadium in 2017. Osceola County last had a Class A team in 2000 with the Kissimmee Cobras of the Florida State League.

Team President Joe Harrington commented, “We are humbled by the response from the Central Florida community. We’ve heard local businesses and organizations were encouraging employees, members, friends and family to submit their thoughts on what our new name should be, and we couldn’t be more pleased. In true Minor League Baseball fashion, the top six finalists reflect not only the creativity of our fans but also the diverse community in which our team will live, work and play.”

Fans are encouraged to vote for their favorite name from the group of finalists at www.probaseballbackincentralflorida.com. Votes can be cast once per day through 11:59 p.m. EST Aug. 18, with the winning name being unveiled in late August.

In alphabetical order, the top six finalists for the “Name the Team” contest are:

  • Florida Dragonflies: Known for their resilience and fighting spirit, a name among the likes of these prehistoric Florida insects falls in line with other wacky names in Minor League Baseball.
  • Florida Fire Frogs: Going head-to-head with our “coqui” is not for the faint of heart. These fiery frogs are sure to bring the Florida heat to the opposition and will leave fans hopping for more.
  • Florida Mud Kickers: In a nod to Osceola’s strong heritage, the Florida Mud Kickers will help preserve two great American traditions – baseball and rodeo. Saddle up, and let’s play ball!
  • Florida Rodeo Clowns: The Rodeo Clowns commemorate the world famous Silver Spurs Rodeo. So grab your hat and boots and join the team for an experience more fun than a barrel of Rodeo Clowns.
  • Florida Sorcerers: The Florida Sorcerers speak to the region’s strong entertainment industry. Fans can expect an enchanted ballpark where the mystical forces of good and evil come to life.
  • Florida Toucans: The Florida Toucans celebrate the area’s tropical climate that the world “flocks” to (more than 66 million visitors a year in fact!). Imagine steel drum bands, tropical shirts, and an umbrella in your favorite ballpark drink.

“These six names are representative of community suggestions submitted earlier in July,” said Harrington. “Many factors go into the decision to select a team name, but the main considerations are local significance, trademark ability, family appeal and community input.”

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Co-Founder John Sowinski Appointed to UCF Collective Impact Strategic Planning Commission

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Consensus Communications Co-Founder John Sowinski has been appointed to the University of Central Florida Strategic Planning Commission Distinctive Impact Dimension.

The Commission is exploring UCF’s role in the community through three dimensions – Philosophy, Value and Distinctive Impact. A UCF alum and former student body president, John will join university stakeholders and community leaders on the Distinctive Impact Dimension, helping evaluate areas of excellence and impact that distinguish UCF from other institutions.

Started in the fall of 2015, the planning process involves not only internal stakeholders but also members from the community and concludes in spring 2016. Ultimately, the commission will deliver a road map that will help develop a long-term vision and a five-year action plan.

A founding partner of Consensus, John is a veteran of numerous statewide political, issue and corporate campaigns and has more than 20 years experience in public policy, media relations, message development, and paid media management.

John was recently named a top mover and shaker in Florida politics in the inaugural Influence 100 list by Peter Schorsch of SaintPetersBlog.com.

New café concept coming to Winter Park in 2016

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Ready to get your bowl on, Orlando? We’re excited to announce that our client Create Your Nature, a new quick-service café concept, is headed to Winter Park in spring 2016, offering a menu that boasts healthier menu options and centers around acai bowls and oatmeal blends as well as salads.

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The approximately 1,300-square-foot café will be located at 1284 N. Orange Ave. in one of Winter Park’s oldest garage buildings – State Auto Body. The building is being renovated into an innovative retail complex featuring a variety of local businesses, including a distillery, coffee house and salon.

Husband-wife team Dan and Kim Dill will own and operate the new café. Both working professionals, passionate about a healthy lifestyle and parents of two young girls, the Dills are not your typical café owners. Dan is a successful trial lawyer and owns The Dill Law Group. Kim recently left her job as an insurance defense attorney at Carman, Beauchamp, Sang & Gonzales to focus on the family’s new restaurant venture.

After falling in love with the acai bowl concept while away celebrating their anniversary, Dan and Kim quickly learned acai boasts several health benefits and began experimenting with recipes to provide both savory and sweet options for their friends and family.

As Kim puts it, “we saw the potential in Orlando to provide a quick, healthy alternative to your average breakfast or lunch spot, and as they say, the rest is history. We both live healthy lifestyles and also want to enjoy what we’re doing while serving others. It’s a natural fit for us and our family.”

The café features more than just acai bowls, with other featured items including oatmeal bowls and salads, and as the namesake implies, guests have the option to create their own of any of these offerings. Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., the quick-service café caters to everyone – business professionals on the go, busy moms, those with active lifestyles and more.

The Dills are excited to have the opportunity to provide their friends and the greater Orlando community with a product that fits their active lifestyle.

The café will also feature a natural, casual interior design with a neighborhood feel. Anna Schmidt Interior Design, a familiar name to the Central Florida area, has teamed up with the Dills to oversee the build out of the new café space, which will offer an inviting and comfortable atmosphere. Schmidt has worked with some of the most well known restaurant brands in the country as well as some local favorites, including East End Market, Cask & Larder and Cocina 214.

About Create Your Nature

Winter Park, Fla.-based Create Your Nature is the brainchild of husband-wife team Dan and Kim Dill and is Central Florida’s first acai café and oatmeal bar. Opening in spring 2016, this new café concept features fresh takes and tasty bites, such as acai bowls and oatmeal blends as signature dishes, salads, and sweet and savory indulgences. For more information, visit www.createyournature.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. #getyourbowlon

 

Christina Morton, APR, Elected to Statewide PR Board

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Consensus Communications, a Downtown Orlando-based full service public relations firm, today announced Christina Morton, APR, has been elected to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Sunshine District board. She will serve as treasurer.

The Sunshine District represents more than 1,000 public relations professionals from seven chapters throughout Florida. The district is one of 10 nationwide and provides educational resources, scholarships, and professional development opportunities for the industry’s leading professionals.

Christina has served on the local PRSA Orlando board for seven years, most recently as president. This is her first officer-level position with the district board.

An accredited and awarding-winning public relations professional, Christina’s emphasis is in media relations, social media and community relations.

Dana Loncar Named to Family Homelessness Committee

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Consensus Communications, a Downtown Orlando-based full service public relations firm, today announced long-time Principal Dana Loncar has been appointed to the Family Homelessness Committee of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness (CFCH).

Led by long-time child advocate Dick Batchelor, the committee is charged with researching family homelessness in Central Florida and identifying solutions to help homeless families. It was created in 2014 as a subcommittee of the CFCH.

Dana has more than 15 years experience in public affairs in Central Florida. Since joining Consensus a decade ago she has focused on community relations, local lobbying and campaign management for a variety of clients. Dana’s public affairs clients include leading trade associations, industry groups, public/private consortiums, and Fortune 500 companies in sectors ranging from agribusiness to tourism and retail.

For more than 10 years, Dana has been an active voice in the community on the issue of homelessness, having served on the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida’s board for many years, including as chairman in 2011. She currently serves on the communications committee for the Coalition, the board of directors for the Central Florida Partnership’s BusinessForce committee, and the board of trustees for The Christ School.

 

John Sowinski’s Press Conference on Gambling

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From time to time, we like to bring you news and views from our team on what’s happening across the state. As many of you may know, Consensus Co-Founder John Sowinski is the president and spokesperson for No Casinos. He is considered a leader on what has become, and will continue to be, a hot issue for Florida. John held a press conference Tuesday in Tallahassee to outline a plan to block the expansion of gambling in the state, and we thought you might find this of interest.

Here’s what he had to say:
“… Spectrum concluded that around 95% of the money spent at proposed destination resort casinos would come from residents, not tourists.

Gambling is not economic development, it’s an economic parasite.

Money spent in the casino is money not spent in a restaurant, a bar, a movie theater, or other form of entertainment. If 95% of the people patronizing a casino spent their money at some other business, we would be better off for it, because those forms of entertainment don’t come with the crime, addiction, and corruption, that is too often associated with the gambling industry…

… It is beyond reason that anyone would look at what is happening to the casino industry and states and communities that rely on it and conclude that Florida should have a greater stake in this industry. Why would we trade what’s working here for what has become a complete disaster in almost everywhere that it has become a major player?

That’s why today, we’re here to outline our three-pronged strategy to prevent the expansion of gambling in Florida over the next three years.”
– John Sowinski, President, No Casinos

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Articles of interest:

Palm Beach Post
No Casinos sees gambling deal that includes PBKC slots an “economic parasite” on Florida

Miami Herald
Gambling opponents bash compact and hope for court ruling to squelch all gaming expansion

SaintPetersBlog
No Casinos promises multi-front war on gambling

WCTV
Anti-gambling group in Tallahassee

Sun Sentinel
Anti-gambling group takes aim at Seminole deal

Orlando Sentinel’s Central Florida 100 Features Founder Tre’ Evers

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Consensus Founder Tre’ Evers joins a cast of the most influential people in Central Florida for a look at the region’s top stories in government, politics and culture. Each week, the opinion leaders weigh in and share insight with the Orlando Sentinel. Here’s what Tre’ had to say this week:

“BISHOP MOORE PRIDE. Last week: The Bishop Moore Hornets won the state 5A football State Championship on Friday by defeating Wakulla 37-34. Bishop Moore’s current athletic director, Mike Malatesta, was the Hornet quarterback in 1970, the only other time Bishop Moore won a football State Championship.

Last year the Hornets were defeated in semi-final play with a last second field goal. So their mantra this year was “One Moore” — one Moore play, one Moore game, etc.

Led by 5A coach of the year, Matt Hedrick, the Hornets drew first blood, but wound up down 21-17 at halftime.

Facing future University of Florida quarterback, All-American Feleipe Franks, the Hornets made half-time adjustments and shut down his passing game.

The Hornets scored the go-ahead touchdown with 70 seconds to go, and then watched as Franks’ field-goal attempt to tie the game flew wide left with time running out.”

For more from the Central Florida 100, visit the Orlando Sentinel.

Founders Tre’ Evers and John Sowinski Named Most Influential People in Florida Politics

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“For more than two decades, they’ve been at the forefront of issues that define Florida’s corporate and political landscapes.”

Consensus co-founders Tre’ Evers and John Sowinski join the ranks of the top movers and shakers in Florida politics in the inaugural Influence 100 list by Peter Schorsch of SaintPetersBlog.com.

The list features the players, thought leaders, lobbyists, media, industry leaders, legends and more from across the state who have been, and still are, key to Florida’s political landscape.

Evers and Sowinski founded Consensus Communications in 1995. For more than two decades, the firm has worked with major companies, business leaders, and leading industry groups with high-stakes needs in Florida.

A political consultant and communications specialist, Evers provides public relations advice, integrated communications counsel, messaging strategies and grassroots advocacy tactics to clients, including Fortune 500 companies, major business and trade associations, some of Florida’s most well-known elected officials and Florida’s most-storied statewide ballot initiatives.

Sowinski is a communications strategist and a veteran of numerous statewide political, issue and corporate campaigns. He has more than 20 years experience in public policy, media relations, message development, and paid media management. Sowinski is regarded as the premier expert on statewide referendum campaigns in Florida, having accomplished an unmatched record in statewide ballot initiatives.

For the full excerpt and the complete list, click here.