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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 5.27.20

Florida politics and Sunburn — perfect together.

At last, a moment appears that draws from such a legacy of transcendence that America could feel united.

At least for the moment: when NASA and SpaceX blast off two astronauts from Kennedy Space Center, ending the era of Russian dominance of human space flight, and opening the new era of American enterprise carrying people into the cosmos.

Provided weather holds and no glitches emerge, astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will launch at 4:33 p.m., aboard a private rocket company’s ride, the SpaceX Falcon 9. They’ll be ending a Russian monopoly on human space flight that has existed since the last NASA space shuttle went up on July 8, 2011.

“We are once again launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil. And this is a big moment in time. It’s been nine years,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, a former Republican congressman, said Tuesday.

Former Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a long-time advocate of NASA and commercial space, called Tuesday for a united celebration of a “very happy moment.”

On Tuesday, Bridenstine and Nelson, along with former NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, took moments Tuesday to sing a few partisan praises. But when pressed, they each quickly and thoroughly shared credit across administrations and parties.

Bridenstine reminded all that many of NASA’s greatest triumphs came during torturous times, with Civil Rights struggles, the Vietnam War, and social upheaval dividing America. Today, there is bitter partisan politics and the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, though, comes the moment of transcendence, courtesy of America’s space program.

“This is a unique opportunity to bring all of America together,” Bridenstine said.

“That’s what makes NASA so great, is it’s apolitical,” Bolden said.

How SpaceX and NASA are launching astronauts into space during a pandemic” via Nicole Wetsman of The Verge — Ahead of this week’s launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, NASA is working to keep the enduring threat of COVID-19 at bay during the historic launch. To protect its astronauts, ground crew, and potential visitors, NASA has adjusted their approach to this highly anticipated event. If successful, the launch will not only break the US’s nine-year drought of crewed launches to the ISS, but it will also make history as the first time a private spacecraft has carried people into orbit. “We’re taking extra precautions,” said Steve Stich, deputy manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, during a press call this month. On the ground, the agency is introducing temperature checks and physical distancing at Mission Control.

Donald Trump to make Florida the face of America’s reopening at Cape Canaveral rocket launch” via Francesca Chambers and David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Grounded for weeks in Washington by the coronavirus pandemic, Donald Trump is returning to Florida on Wednesday for the first launch on American soil in nearly a decade of astronauts into space.Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are set to attend an anticipated 4:33 p.m. lift-off of the Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center, the same location where Americans last launched to the moon. The SpaceX rocket carrying veteran astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley is considered by the Trump administration be a test run for the kind of public-private partnerships that will reinvigorate the American economy. The launch also offers Trump a dramatic homecoming at a crucial period, with states reopening and Election Day less than six months away.

SpaceX’s astronaut launch debut won’t be the first human spaceflight from American soil since 2011” via Mike Wall of Space.com — SpaceX’s first crewed mission, which is set to launch on Wednesday, will be epic and historic. But, despite what you may have heard, it doesn’t mark the return of human spaceflight to American soil. The suborbital space tourism company Virgin Galactic notched that milestone on Dec. 13, 2018, during a rocket-powered test flight of its VSS Unity space plane. Pilots Mark Stucky and C.J. Sturckow took Unity to a maximum altitude of 51.40 miles (on that mission, which took off from and landed at Mojave Air and Space Port in the Southern California desert. And on Feb. 22, 2019, pilots Dave Mackay and Mike Masucci and Virgin Galactic’s chief astronaut instructor, Beth Moses, went 55.9 miles above Earth’s surface aboard Unity on another test flight out of Mojave.

Rep. Tina Polsky’s campaign for Senate District 29 is gaining steam.

Since launching her bid a week ago, she’s landed endorsements from exiting Sen. Kevin Rader, Sen. Janet Cruz, Rep. Michael Gottlieb and Parkland father Fred Guttenberg. U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch has even weighed in, calling the freshman Democrat a “fighter” who deserves a seat in the Senate.

Now, Ruth’s List FL has lined up behind her as well as former Rep. Kelly Skidmore, who is running to succeed Polsky in House District 81.

“Throughout their legislative careers, both Representative Polsky and former Representative Skidmore have proven to be fierce Democratic champions for the issues that matter most to Floridians. Not only do they bring to their races lengthy records of public service and strong commitments to their communities, they are also well positioned to win,” said Pamela Goodman, president and CEO of the pro-choice advocacy group.

“With Florida’s legislature still sorely lacking in female representation, it is imperative that we continue our fight to get more women elected at the legislative level. We know that Representative Polsky and Representative Skidmore will continue to be outspoken advocates for women and their communities and they have our full support behind them.”

The endorsement comes ahead of what could be a contentious primary for the safely Democratic Senate seat — just hours after Rader announced he would forego a second term, Polsky and former Rep. Irv Slosberg launched their campaigns.

— TOP STORIES —

State revenue takes hit in April” via News Service of Florida — State revenue was off $878.1 million in April from an earlier estimate as tourism and hospitality-related industries, along with car sales, were grounded by the coronavirus, according to economists. A monthly revenue report from the Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research reflects economic damage caused by the pandemic and the effects of stay-at-home orders on state tax revenues. “The presence of coronavirus in Florida presented its most serious threat to the sales tax forecast, especially to those taxes collected from tourists,” the report, released Tuesday, said. “In addition, critical supply chains were already interrupted by the impact to other countries and retail sales displaced as a result of social distancing and crowd-avoidance behaviors.”

Ron DeSantis sends Jamaican- and Cuban-American to Supreme Court” via Adriana Gomez Licon and Terry Spencer of The Associated Press — DeSantis appointed two Floridians from minority communities to the state Supreme Court. Renatha Francis, who will be the first Caribbean-American to serve on the Florida court, and John Couriel are replacing Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck. Francis and Couriel will face a retention vote on the November 2022 ballot and every six years after that. State Rep. Geraldine Thompson of central Florida criticized Francis’ possible selection, saying she lacks experience and there were more qualified black candidates who were rejected by the nominating committee.

Ron DeSantis to appeal Amendment 4 ruling that allows ex-felons to vote” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday he would appeal a federal judge’s decision to strike down a Florida law requiring felons to pay fines and fees associated with their sentences before getting back their right to vote. “It’ll go to the 11th Circuit, and we’ll see what happens there,” DeSantis told reporters in Miami, referring to the Atlanta-based appellate court. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle issued a ruling Sunday that said Florida’s law approved in 2019 to install Amendment 4 was unconstitutional because it required felons to pay restitution, fines and fees before being able to vote. Florida voters approved the amendment in 2018 with more than 64% of the vote. Hinkle called the law a “pay-to-vote system” and noted the difficulty in finding out how much a felon might owe.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@RealDonaldTrump: The opening of a Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough was not a Donald Trump original thought, this has been going on for years, long before I joined the chorus. In 2016 when Joe & his wacky future ex-wife, Mika, would endlessly interview me, I would always be thinking about whether or not Joe could have done such a horrible thing? Maybe or maybe not, but I find Joe to be a total Nut Job, and I knew him well, far better than most. So many unanswered & obvious questions, but I won’t bring them up now! Law enforcement eventually will?

@BenShapiro: It’s like an onion of moral and intellectual imbecility, with layer upon layer. You’re the president of the United States. Grow the f*** up.

@AnnaforFlorida: When did mail-in ballots become partisan? Not everything has to be partisan.

@Youyanggu: We have extended our projections to September 1, 2020. View them here: covid19-projections.com Some states like New York, New Jersey and Michigan will likely see a <5% increase in deaths from Aug to Sep, while states like California, Texas and Florida may see a 30%+ increase.

@MDixon55: A massive revenue drop was expected obviously, but the numbers are still eye-popping

@GNewburn: Gain time reform for nonviolent offenders saves $860 million all by itself. (Ask me how YOU can save hundreds of millions more AND improve public safety!)

@BuckeyeJax: Everyone dealing with the @FLDEO #FLunemployment nuclear train wreck, please send a thumbs up to Gary @fineout. He’s been live tweeting the courtroom hearings all day, which must be like watching paint dry. And he gets to go back on Thurs! Hopefully a ruling soon after.

@RobbieGaffney2: Jackson County’s Supervisor of Elections is expecting COVID-19 to deter some poll workers from coming out on election day. The elections office said it barely has enough people for August and November. This year, 10 people chose not to work due to the pandemic.

@RoseanneCash: My daughter lives in Nashville & wore her mask to buy groceries. Guy yells at her: ‘Liberal pussy!’ Back story: she nearly died of H1N1. She was in the ICU for a week, on a ventilator for 3 days. She CANNOT get covid. The ignorance & hatred is so painful. She’s trying to survive.

@SeanPittman: What we learn from that moment caught on video is scary and unfortunately not rare. (re: Amy Cooper, a white woman seen on video calling police on a black man in Central Park)

— DAYS UNTIL —

English Premier League soccer to restart — 5; Universal Orlando begins phased reopening — 9; Last day of state candidate qualifying — 12; PGA Tour resumes with Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth — 15; “Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre” by Max Brooks released — 20; Belmont Stakes rescheduled — 24; Father’s Day — 25; Apple to hold Developer Conference — 26; “The Outpost” with Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood premieres — 37; Federal taxes due — 49; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premieres — 51; “Mulan” premieres — 58; TED conference rescheduled — 60; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 82; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 86; Indy 500 rescheduled — 96; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 89; “A Quiet Place Part II” premieres — 100; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 101; Rescheduled date for French Open — 115; First presidential debate in Indiana — 126; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 129; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 136; Second presidential debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 141; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 142; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 149; 2020 General Election — 160; “Black Widow” premieres — 163; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 174; “No Time to Die” premieres — 181; “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres — 210; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 412; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 431; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 527; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 625; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 657; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 710; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 863.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Florida reports 509 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, and seven more deaths” via Zachary T. Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times — Coming out of Memorial Day weekend, Florida health officials on Tuesday reported 509 more coronavirus cases and seven additional deaths. That includes one new death in Pasco County and another in Polk. The state case total now stands at 52,255 and 2,338 deaths, according to figures from the Florida Department of Health. The numbers do not perfectly reflect the number of infections diagnosed over a 24-hour period. Sometimes the state adds cases or deaths that are several days old, and officials caution that data flow out as they come in. Throughout the pandemic, death totals announced Sundays and Mondays have lagged dramatically before rising Tuesday mornings. The general weekend pattern may have been extended with the holiday.

Child immunizations drop amid COVID-19 pandemic” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — The number of vaccinations administered to children during the COVID-19 pandemic has sharply decreased, leading to worries among pediatricians about public-health consequences if something isn’t done to reverse the trend. Florida Department of Health data show a 15% reduction in the number of vaccinations administered in March 2020 compared to March 2019 — and a whopping 40% reduction in vaccinations administered in April 2020 compared to the previous year. The drop coincided with DeSantis’ decision to issue a statewide stay-at-home order to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the cause of COVID-19. The immunization data is compiled from the Florida SHOTS system, a statewide system initially designed to help health care providers keep track of children’s immunization records.

Two-thirds of Floridians worried about COVID-19’s impact on family financial security” via Ed Dean of Florida Daily — More than two-thirds of Florida residents are worried about the coronavirus pandemic’s lasting impact on their finances. Adding to the problem, only around a quarter of Floridians say they always follow a monthly budget. Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis weighed in on those findings this week as he worked with a coalition of organizations representing financial, insurance, and consumer interests in launching “MoneyWise Florida,” a statewide financial education initiative. The comprehensive effort is meant to provide practical advice to help millions of Floridians with topics ranging from getting jobs, climbing out of debt, securing a mortgage, saving for a child’s college education, and planning for a secure retirement, among many others.

Even with DeSantis’ moratorium in place, Floridians face evictions: ‘I was a good tenant. I deserved mercy.’” via Caroline Glenn of the Orlando Sentinel — For months, many of Florida’s renters have been living on borrowed time, unable to pay their landlords and nervously awaiting evictions that could resume as soon as June 3. Since DeSantis ordered an eviction moratorium April 2, tenants who can’t afford to pay rent because of layoffs and business closures during the coronavirus pandemic have been protected, with courts unable to proceed with hearings. There is a chance DeSantis could again extend the moratorium, but there’s been no indication yet if that will happen. Even with the moratorium in place, some landlords have tried to oust tenants, with 80 eviction cases filed and pending in Orange County alone, the court clerk’s website shows. The Governor’s order only prevents evictions from being processed by the courts.

Walt Disney World and SeaWorld to present reopening plans to Orange County task force Wednesday” via Stephen Hudak and Ryan Gillespie of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Walt Disney World and SeaWorld will present reopening plans to an Orange County task force Wednesday morning, the first step before both theme park giants can welcome back tourists. Orange Mayor Jerry Demings confirmed during a Tuesday afternoon briefing that he saw a preview of plans from both companies and called the anticipated presentations “good news” after Orlando’s biggest tourist draws, led by Disney, shut themselves down 10 weeks ago to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Disney and SeaWorld were visited Tuesday by a team of officials from Orange County and the Florida Department of Health.

Sprawling Gaylord Palms to reopen June 25 after coronavirus closure” via Marco Santana of the Orlando Sentinel — One of the largest hotels in Central Florida will reopen June 25 with safety measures in place, as Orlando’s tourism industry begins to emerge from a prolonged closure because of coronavirus. Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center will space out seating at its pools, provide a self-guided scavenger hunt to encourage social distancing and sanitize its public areas frequently using what the company calls “hospital-grade disinfectants.” The hotel’s ownership group has been consulting with Vanderbilt University Medical School as it created its reopening plan. “The summer travel season is quickly approaching, and Gaylord Palms is reopening to visitors who are anxious to get out and celebrate summer,” General Manager Johann Krieger said in a news release.

Limits to re-opening of amenities at 55+ communities infuriate some” via Mike Diamond with The Palm Beach Post — Many active-adult retirement communities throughout Palm Beach County are preparing to reopen their facilities on a limited basis by Monday. The limitations, though, have infuriated some residents of these developments with high-end amenities that include luxurious pools and first-rate tennis and pickleball courts that have been shuttered for more than two months. Only singles play is allowed for tennis and pickleball and only for a few hours a day. No play is allowed on Sunday. Tennis players must bring their own balls to avoid touching their opponent’s tennis balls and any that stray onto their court; players are supposed to kick it back to the adjacent court. Non-compliance can result in eviction, fines and or loss of privileges.

Florida NRA leader questions local coronavirus stats, suggests they’re ‘deliberately deceptive’” via The Palm Beach Post staff reports — Marion Hammer, the NRA’s longtime lobbyist in Florida and a former NRA president, wrote an email to county officials. “Publishing the cumulative number without publishing the current number of active cases is deliberately deceptive,” said Hammer, also the executive director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida, in the email. Specifically, she said the number of patients currently being treated is far less than the cumulative figure over several months. Hammer’s latest message to county officials marks her second alarm involving the coronavirus. Tax Collector Doris Maloy announced plans May 13 to resume office operations next Monday, but without issuance of first-time permits for carrying concealed weapons. Hammer said it would be illegal for the state to exclude first-time permits from transactions at Maloy’s office.

— CORONA LOCAL —

South Florida reaches nearly 30,000 coronavirus cases” via Marc Freeman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel —  In South Florida, 29,396 people have tested positive with the new coronavirus since the outbreak began, state reports released Tuesday show. That’s an increase of 2,386 cases in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties during the past week. So far, at least 1,248 people have died from COVID-19-related illness in the region. Of the 104 fatalities in the three counties since last week, at least 75% have been linked to nursing homes and assisted-living facilities with elderly residents who are most vulnerable to the disease, statistics show.

Broward’s beaches and gyms reopen as officials stress prudence” via Andrew Boryga, Susannah Bryan, Rebecca Schneid and Joe Cavaretta of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The remnants of heavy rains and local officials emphasizing new restrictions and prudence didn’t exactly make for a great beach day. But with the coronavirus upheaval of lives lost, jobs lost and businesses shuttered, the day still felt like a celebration. Broward’s opening follows Palm Beach County’s reopening last week. Miami-Dade beaches are set to open on June 1. Those heading out to the beach in Broward contend with new safety restrictions that include no picnicking, sunbathing, sitting or lying on the beach. No chairs, umbrellas or coolers are allowed. Organized sports are prohibited, as are groups of more than 10 people.

On-demand housekeeping and longer elevator rides. Life at Broward hotels amid COVID-19” via Michelle Marchante and April Rubin of the Miami Herald — Hotels and motels were given the OK to reopen in Broward County on Tuesday, and yes, you can still order room service, spend a day being pampered at the spa or take a dip in the pool. But, it will look different. For starters, you will need to wear a mask. Broward County’s executive order also states that masks or facial coverings may also be required in specific areas of the hotel or motel, including restaurants and fitness centers. All employees will also be required to wear masks or facial coverings.

Hialeah ALF shuttered by state after dozens of staff, residents sickened with COVID-19” via Ben Conarck, Bianca Padro Ocasio and Aaron Liebowitz of the Miami Herald — By the time Florida health officials arrived to survey the Salmos 23 V LLC assisted living facility in Hialeah last Wednesday, 47 residents had already been hospitalized with COVID-19. When inspectors got there, they found a facility they deemed woefully unprepared to deal with the highly contagious respiratory virus. One thing inspectors observed: An employee that the facility knew tested positive for the virus was taking the temperatures of other staff. The inspectors’ initial observation was cited in an emergency order by the state suspending the facility’s license. In their survey, health officials reported that all staff members on site had been exposed to the virus and found that Salmos 23 took no action to send them home.

Economic battering forces Lake Worth Beach to seek safety net” via Jorge Milian of The Palm Beach Post — Even in the best of times, Lake Worth Beach has struggled with its finances. In 2019 — with the U.S. economy humming — the city was forced to slash payroll, staff positions and services to balance its finances. That was before the coronavirus pandemic threw city budgets into freefall. Nearly nine in 10 cities expect a budget shortage in 2020 because of the outbreak, according to a survey from the United States Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities. Bruce Miller, Lake Worth Beach’s finance director, said at a special meeting of the city commission last week that around $1.5 million of $16 million in the city’s reserve funds were lost in one month because of the revenue plunge.

Despite previous cost cutting, UM to lay off employees in June, begin furloughs soon” via Colleen Wright and Jimena Tavel of the Miami Herald — After a series of belt-tightening measures weren’t enough to flatten the curve of financial stress brought on by the coronavirus pandemic — and in anticipation of a possible second wave of infection — the University of Miami will lay off employees in June and soon begin furloughs. The news came in a letter penned by university President Julio Frenk that was posted online Friday afternoon. Since campuses officially shuttered March 12, “it has become clear that a reduction in workforce has regrettably become unavoidable,” Frenk wrote.  In a phone interview, Frenk said the university — and society at large — needs to brace for the “distinct possibility” of a second wave of the pandemic as the economy reopens.

Shevrin Jones to deliver 1K masks to frustrated South Florida airport workers” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Jones plans to help deliver 1,000 face masks to South Florida airport workers thanks to a partnership between Indelible Solutions and Mary’s Kids, Inc. Jones is highlighting the donation after Eulen America employees complained personal protective equipment has not been sufficiently available. Eulen employees have also faced layoffs in recent weeks due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Jones argued the company should work to install additional protections for those remaining on the job. The Department of Labor cited Eulen America in the past due to safety concerns. An investigation found the company did not offer sufficient water or work breaks to protect employees from exposure to the South Florida sun while on the tarmac.

1.3 million local people now ‘food insecure,’ warns Feeding Tampa Bay” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — Feeding Tampa Bay opened the new drive-through food bank — dubbed a mega-pantry — in Manatee County in response to an all-time high demand for meals and groceries from local food banks. Mega pantries already operate in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, serving an average of almost 4,000 people every week. The program will be expanded to Pasco and Polk counties in June. Even as Florida reopens, nonprofits are warning that the number of people in need because of the coronavirus pandemic is still rising. Feeding Tampa Bay estimates that the number of “food insecure” people in its 10-county region has risen from 600,000 to more than 1.3 million during the pandemic. Food insecurity is defined as lacking regular access to affordable, nutritious food.

The pandemic is taking a toll on human trafficking victims, Tampa Bay advocates say” via Divya Kumar of the Tampa Bay Times — Rahab’s Daughters, a Chicago-based nonprofit that works to rescue human trafficking victims, started a Tampa chapter in January. The group had planned to open a safe house and have operations in full-swing before next year’s Super Bowl, an event that typically causes a spike in trafficking, according to law enforcement officials and hospitality professionals. But the COVID-19 outbreak accelerated those efforts. “COVID has definitely made a huge impact on human trafficking,” director Laurie Wisotsky said. The pandemic has changed how traffickers work in ways that are raising alarms among advocates, who say they are seeing more victims requesting help. The reduced demand for prostitution has prompted some traffickers to abandon their victims, leaving them in unfamiliar locations with no means to live.

JEA board will revisit lawsuit over Plant Vogtle nuclear power contract” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — JEA Board Chairman John Baker said the utility’s newly appointed board should decide “sooner rather than later” what to do about a legal battle over a contract to purchase power for 20 years from the Plant Vogtle nuclear plant. Construction of the two new reactors at Plant Vogtle has faced soaring costs, which in turn has driven up JEA’s financial obligation in the “hell or highwater” contract that binds JEA to purchase the nuclear-fueled electricity at a steeper cost.

Pensacola Beach sees busiest Memorial Day weekend in three years” via Madison Arnold of the Pensacola News Journal — Pensacola Beach saw its busiest Memorial Day weekend in three years, according to traffic count data from the toll. The holiday this year drew 89,048 vehicles through the toll between Thursday and Monday. That’s the most vehicles over the Memorial Day holiday since 2017, which drew 89,136 vehicles during the same time frame. A few of the Pensacola Beach hotels still remain closed amid the coronavirus pandemic and are in the process of reopening.

Advocate hopes for permanent juvenile justice reform post COVID-19” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — Mary Marx is president and CEO of PACE Center for Girls Inc., a support system for at-risk girls based in Jacksonville with 21 locations in Florida. She said Sunshine State judges had already started to ease up on stiff criminal detention sentences for young nonviolent female offenders. Under then-Gov. Rick Scott, she said, Florida began to ease up on sentencing young girls to jail or prison if they were non-violent offenders. Marx said that’s now starting to happen in other states, especially under the coronavirus pandemic conditions. In recent months since the outbreak, across the country there has been a 24% decrease in incarceration rates of minors in 30 states during the coronavirus outbreak.

One death, over 100 rescues on highly attended NWF beaches over Memorial Day weekend” via Erin Franczak of the NWF Daily News — The South Walton Fire District saw about 41 rescues over Memorial Day Weekend. Destin saw no drownings, but there were 54 rescues this past weekend with around 45,000 people on the beaches between Friday and Monday. The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office received 13 calls for distressed swimmers and 11 distressed boaters along with at least eight arrests for boating under the influence. All of these areas saw large numbers of beachgoers. 

Destin-Fort Walton Beach Convention Center set to reopen, burn ban lifted” via Tony Judnich of the NWF Daily News — The Destin-Fort Walton Beach Convention Center is expected to reopen on Monday with scores of safety measures in place. The center on Okaloosa Island has been closed since March 17. Since being closed in March, the center has lost about $250,000 in bookings and other revenue. Among other measures, the employees and visitors will be required to wear protective masks, employees will use thermometers to check guests’ temperatures at the door, the number of people allowed in each room will be limited, and restroom doors will be propped open. Walton County commissioners also lifted that county’s burn ban at their latest meeting.

— CORONA NATION —

U.S. nears 100,000 pandemic deaths: Does Trump feel your pain?” via Calvin Woodward of The Associated Press — As diverse as they were in eloquence and empathy, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama each had his own way of piercing the noise of catastrophe and reaching people. At every turn, Trump has asserted the numbers would be worse without his leadership. Yet the toll keeps climbing. It is well beyond what he told people to expect even as his public-health authorities started bracing the country in early April for at least 100,000 deaths.

America’s response to coronavirus pandemic is ‘incomprehensibly incoherent,’ says historian who studied the 1918 flu” via Joe Heim of The Washington Post — We expect this pandemic to change us in ways we don’t even conceive of yet, but the first few months it was hugely disappointing to see him trivialize this outbreak. A few weeks ago he suddenly took it seriously and said we were at war. If historians are writing about the United States’ experience in the 2020 pandemic, they would be writing about the incomprehensibly incoherent response. The most important lesson from the 1918 pandemic was to tell the truth. We have apparently not learned that lesson.

We cannot keep ignoring the possibility of airborne transmission. Here’s how to address it.” via Joseph Allen of The Washington Post — Chances are you’ve heard a lot about how the coronavirus can travel through large droplets via coughing and sneezes. You’ve also probably heard about the virus being transmitted through surfaces. But you probably haven’t heard anything about airborne transmission, which many organizations have largely ignored. Airborne transmission is key to understanding why this disease spreads so rapidly in certain circumstances. Super-spreader events appear to be happening exclusively indoors, where airborne transmission is more likely.

Dangerous blood clots pose a perplexing coronavirus threat” via Lindsey Tanner of The Associated Press — Blood clots that can cause strokes, heart attacks and dangerous blockages in the legs and lungs are increasingly being found in COVID-19 patients, including some children. Even tiny clots that can damage tissue throughout the body have been seen in hospitalized patients and in autopsies. Doctors and scientists at dozens of hospitals and universities around the globe are seeking answers while trying to measure virus patients’ risks for clots and testing drugs to treat or prevent them. Some conditions that make some COVID-19 patients vulnerable to severe complications, including obesity and diabetes, can increase clot risks.

How schools will be reopening in the fall” via Tawnell D. Hobbs of The Wall Street Journal — Students wearing masks, eating lunch in classrooms and attending school in person only two days a week are among the scenarios being looked at in school districts throughout the U.S. planning to reopen in the fall. Children who are academically behind or without internet access would get preference for in-person learning under some proposals. Other plans prohibit sharing school supplies and desks closer than six feet apart, and limit parents and other visitors on campuses. Most school districts won’t decide on their plan until the summer. The pressure is on to reopen schools so parents can get back to work. Some school districts planning a mix of in-person and remote learning are working to offer full-day child care.

Back to school? 1 in 5 teachers are unlikely to return to reopened classrooms this fall, poll says” via Susan Page of USA Today — 1 in 5 teachers say they are unlikely to go back to school if their classrooms reopen in the fall, a potential massive wave of resignations. While most teachers report working more than usual, nearly two-thirds say they haven’t been able to properly do their jobs in an educational system upended by the coronavirus. A separate poll of parents with at least one child in grades K-12 finds that 6in 10 say they would be likely to pursue at-home learning options instead of sending back their children this fall. Nearly a third of parents, 30%, say they are “very likely” to do that. The surveys underscore how concerns about the coronavirus will complicate efforts to resume daily routines in American life, from work to leisure to commerce, at least until a vaccine is widely available.

New York reports lowest number of daily coronavirus deaths since March” via Marisa Fernandez of Axios — The number of daily new coronavirus cases and deaths reported in New York was the lowest since the state started its lockdown in March. 73 New Yorkers died from coronavirus in the past 24 hours, and 200 people tested positive. Hospitalizations and intubations also decreased. Wearing a mask “has to be part of literally who we are and what we do every day,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said stressing how long it took for the state to get cases under control.

A virus-hunter falls prey to a virus he underestimated” via Donald G. McNeil Jr. of The New York Times — Peter Piot, one of the giants of Ebola and AIDS research, is still battling a coronavirus infection that hit him “like a bus” in March. His expertise made him keenly alert to the danger posed by the new coronavirus. Despite all the time he has spent in mosquito-riddled climes, “I’d never been seriously ill in my life,” he said. Although he did not feel short of breath, his oxygen saturation was only 84%, dangerously low. An X-ray showed fluid in both lungs in a pattern that suggested bacterial pneumonia.

Hospital staff with COVID-19 had protective antibodies in study” via Marthe Fourcade of Bloomberg — Almost all doctors and nurses who got mild forms of COVID-19 produced antibodies that could prevent reinfection. The study of 160 volunteers shows all but one developed antibodies within 15 days after the start of infection. Almost all of the staff tested had antibodies that were capable of neutralizing the virus within 41 days of developing symptoms. The research addresses a crucial question regarding the new coronavirus: whether people who had COVID-19, and especially those who didn’t get severely ill, develop antibodies capable of protecting them against reinfection.

Scared Americans desperate to travel are buying up ‘COVID campers’” via Jeff Green of Bloomberg — For decades, sales of motor homes and travel trailers you hitch to your car were a reliable indicator of the beginning and end of a recession. Sales would dip as a downturn approached, and rise right before a recovery. But this time, it’s different: sales are rising as America enters its worst contraction since the Great Depression. While more than one in five workers has filed for unemployment, some people are shelling out upwards of $100,000 so they can hit the road while staying away from everyone else. Social distancing is apparently a lot easier when you can bring along your own kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.

— CORONA ECONOMICS —

Tax credit for keeping workers on payrolls draws bipartisan interest” via Richard Rubin of The Wall Street Journal — Lawmakers are increasingly looking to expand an existing wage subsidy to keep workers on payrolls and help businesses stay afloat. For Democrats, the subsidy offers an alternative to the payroll-tax cut President Trump is seeking. Republican supporters prefer the subsidy to spending programs favored by Democrats and see it as a way to link aid to work. The House plan would give employers enough money to cover up to 80% of their wages and benefits, up to $45,000 per worker. Smaller businesses would get the subsidy for all workers, while larger ones would get it only for furloughed workers.

PPP forgiveness has some businesses hesitant to apply or spend” via Patty Tascarella and Luke Torrance of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Though roughly $100 billion remains for Paycheck Protection Program loans, businesses aren’t rushing to apply as Congress continues to wrangle about more changes to loan forgiveness. That’s a crucial component. The money is meant for paying employees and overhead within a set period of time and adherence to the details determines whether the small business owner has the entire amount forgiven or has to repay the loan to some degree at 1% interest. While the terms are generous, for businesses slammed by the COVID-19 pandemic, free money was the draw. How to get it continues to evolve. The U.S. Small Business Administration, which manages PPP, released its application for loan forgiveness last weekend. But even bankers still have questions.

Landlords were never meant to get bailout funds. Many got it anyway.” via Will Parker and Konrad Putzier of The Wall Street Journal — Because most real-estate firms are private, tracking the number of aid recipients or the total amount of funds the industry has received is next to impossible. But attorneys and accountants are aware of at least dozens of property companies that have received in aggregate tens of millions of dollars or more because of a legal loophole that allows them to apply through related business units, such as management companies or construction companies. This means SBA funds could flow to property investors, something that was never intended.

Why the sports comeback has begun” via Ben Cohen and Louise Radnofsky of The Wall Street Journal — The glimmers of hope from sports officials are reflections of broader changes across the U.S. as states reopen, cases decline, testing increases and scientists learn more about this microscopic pathogen that turned the world upside down. American sports will be sidelined for several more weeks at the very least. And there are significant differences in each league’s protocols. The outlook for college football remains unclear because it is closely tied to bringing all students back to campus this fall. Even as sports inch toward resuming, they almost certainly won’t be played in front of fans. But the first phase in this return to sports comes with a stamp of approval from Washington, where everyone from President Trump to Anthony Fauci has voiced some level of support.

NHL announces plan to return straight into the playoffs” via David Waldstein of The New York Times — The National Hockey League became the largest North American professional sports league to announce definitive plans for a return. Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the NHL, announced that 24 teams would return, if and when medically cleared, for a unique playoff tournament in two hub cities. Official training camps would resume no earlier than July 1. The regular season was officially declared complete. Bettman said that teams would be allowed to bring back 50 employees, including players, coaches, medical staff and club officials, all of whom will be tested for the coronavirus throughout the process.

Boeing and Airbus study how coronavirus behaves during air travel” via Andrew Tangel and Alison Sider of The Wall Street Journal — Boeing and Airbus are researching the new coronavirus’ behavior inside jetliners, part of an industry push to curb risks that have brought air traffic to a near standstill. Their work will involve academics, engineers and medical experts. Boeing said it is developing computer models that simulate the cabin environment and could ultimately inform decisions by airlines, health officials and regulators on how to prevent the virus’s spread. Airbus engineers are also exploring other methods of reducing the spread of the virus including self-cleaning materials, a disinfectant that can last for five days and touchless devices in lavatories.

Retiring to a sunny foreign vacation spot was the American dream. Now the coronavirus is forcing some expats to come back.” via Sindya N. Bhanoo of The Washington Post — The coronavirus pandemic has forced many American ex-pat retirees to reevaluate their decision to live abroad, weighing their financial situations, access to health care and the prospect that cross-border movement could be limited to essential travel, cutting them off from loved ones. It is forcing some to put ex-pat life on hold or return years earlier than they had initially planned. Until the pandemic brought vacation life to a grinding halt, the number of Americans choosing to retire to other countries had been climbing over the last few years.

Jamie Dimon sees good chance for a rapid U.S. economic recovery” via Michelle F. Davis of Bloomberg — Dimon sees “pretty good odds” of a fast economic rebound starting in the third quarter thanks to the U.S. government’s stimulus programs and the strength of the consumer going into the pandemic. Dimon pointed to economists’ forecasts that show unemployment spiking to around 18% this quarter, then falling to 14% in the third quarter and declining to about 10% or 11% by the end of the year. The Federal Reserve has effectively cut interest rates to zero, pumped trillions of dollars into the economy and announced plans for nine emergency lending programs, including support for small businesses.

Hunger program’s slow start leaves millions of children waiting” via Jason DeParle of The New York Times — As child hunger soars to levels without modern precedent, an emergency program Congress created two months ago has reached only a small fraction of the 30 million children it was intended to help. The program, Pandemic-EBT, aims to compensate for the declining reach of school meals by placing their value on electronic cards that families can use in grocery stores. Congress approved the effort in mid-March as part of the Families First act, its first major coronavirus relief package. By May 15, only about 15% of eligible children had received benefits. The pace is accelerating, with millions of families expected to receive payments in the coming weeks. But 16 states still lack federal approval to begin the payments.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Trump and Mike Pence both plan to attend Wednesday’s astronaut launch from Cape Canaveral” via Orlando Sentinel staff reports — President Trump and Vice President Pence both plan to be at the Space Florida coast to watch American astronauts blast into orbit from U.S. soil for the first time since the last space shuttle flight in 2011. The SpaceX Commercial Crew flight test launch will carry NASA’s newest test pilots, Hurley and Behnken, in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The White House has portrayed the launch as an extension of Trump’s promise to reassert American dominance in space. He recently oversaw creation of the Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.

House Republicans suing Nancy Pelosi over virtual voting via Melanie Zanona, Heather Caygle and Sarah Ferris of POLITICO— Republican lawmakers plan to sue Pelosi to block a proxy voting system that would allow lawmakers to vote on legislation remotely. The lawsuit filed by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and 20 other Republican lawmakers calls the voting method unconstitutional. The lawsuit is not expected to derail the proxy voting system before it debuts on Wednesday.

Marco Rubio, now intelligence chair, warns of virus misinformation” via Mary Clare Jalonick and Lisa Mascaro of The Associated Press — Rubio, the new Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is warning that foreign actors will seek to amplify conspiracy theories about the coronavirus and find new ways to interfere in the 2020 presidential election. The Florida Republican said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday that one possibility could be an effort to convince people that a new vaccine against the virus, once created, would be more harmful than helpful. “I think the COVID-19 crisis is one in which you’ve seen efforts to promote false narratives that drive some of the friction in this country,” Rubio said.

Not backing down: Rick Scott blasts Huawei as Chinese comms front” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — A U.S. Senator from Florida dismissed protests by a Chinese telecom company that they were not simply a front for Beijing. U.S. Sen. Scott jousted with heavyweight Huawei on Twitter Tuesday. The company responded to a Scott tweet lauding the United Kingdom for shunting Huawei from its 5G development, saying “Huawei completely rejects any unfounded and inaccurate allegations. We appeal for facts, trust and collaboration. Huawei does not work with the Chinese government and never has.” Scott discounted those claims. “Huawei doesn’t work for the CCP? Interesting. Let’s take a look at the reports. Due to the espionage and national security laws in place by the Chinese government, Huawei would have no choice but to hand over data from its networks. Sound about right?”

America’s economic pain arrives on K Street” via Theodoric Meyer and Daniel Lippman of POLITICO — K Street is in cutback mode: The International Franchise Association, the U.S. Travel Association and the National Rifle Association have all laid off staffers since the pandemic hit. Several law-and-lobbying firms have cut pay across the board and at least one well-connected Washington communications firm has applied for a small business relief loan. 35% of trade groups estimated they would lose at least a quarter of their revenue because of canceled events and conferences. Even the massive U.S. Chamber of Commerce is slashing expenses. The cuts have hit trade groups even as many of their lobbyists have been busier than ever, hustling to secure a piece of the trillions of dollars in coronavirus aid for their members.

Kendrick Meek and Arshi Siddiqui wed in Washington ceremony — Former U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek and Arshi Siddiqui got married Sunday in a ceremony presided over by Talib Shareef, the imam of Washington’s Masjid Muhammad. Meek and Siddiqui met while he was a member of the House and she was a staffer for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They had originally planned their wedding for April in Marrakech, Morocco, before the pandemic forced them to cancel their plans.

Trump appointees Rudy Giuliani and Lana Marks delinquent on Palm Beach property taxes” via Wendy Rhodes of The Palm Beach Post — Giuliani, attorney and adviser to Trump, and Marks, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa, are both delinquent on Palm Beach County property taxes, records show. Former New York City Mayor Giuliani owes $7,859.17, including interest and penalties, for 2019 taxes on a Palm Beach Towers condominium located at 44 Cocoanut Row, unit 127-B in Palm Beach.  Handpicked by the President for the ambassador position, Marks and her husband are behind $12,218.61 for 2019 taxes on her primary residence — unit 305 and a cabana — at 3140 S. Ocean Boulevard in Palm Beach. The couple is also behind $13,870.98 for 2019 taxes on a two-bedroom unit in Trump Plaza of the Palm Beaches.

— STATEWIDE —

Ron DeSantis to decide if state will compensate innocent man imprisoned for 43 years” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — A relief bill that would give Clifford Williams long-deferred compensation was sent to DeSantis for his consideration. The legislation from two Jacksonville Democrats passed resoundingly in 2020, a year when there was a lot of talk and a little bit of action on criminal justice reform generally. If it becomes law, the legislation would give Williams $2.15 million. The appropriation will offer what Rep. Kim Daniels calls “a small token of compensation” for a life derailed by a quick-to-convict local justice system that was still wrestling with Jim Crow philosophies.

Unused drug recycling program awaits Ron DeSantis’ prescription” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — A bill allowing for prescription drug donations hit the Governor’s desk Tuesday after waiting more than three months for approval. The legislation (HB 177) would create the Prescription Drug Donation Repository Program within the Department of Health to try to help save millions of dollars in prescriptions that go to waste each year in Florida to instead be used by other low-income people in need. Also, uninsured Floridians who are ineligible for prescription drug coverage under any program funded in whole or in part by the federal government could receive prescriptions, as could people with prescription drug coverage who have exhausted these benefits or do not have prescription drug coverage for the drug prescribed.

Florida inmates bought MP3s. The prison system made them useless. It’s payback time” via Ben Conarck of the Miami Herald — The Florida prison system has agreed to settle a years-long legal battle stemming from its confiscation of some $11.3 million worth of digital media players and downloaded MP3s purchased by current and former inmates. The agreement came as part of a class action settlement preliminarily approved by a federal judge on Tuesday. The winnings were modest but significant for those incarcerated in the nation’s third-largest prison system: 3.9 million credits that can be used to send emails and download music and videos on the prison’s J-Pay tablet program, which replaced the old MP3 players. The Florida Department of Corrections also agreed to pay an estimated $150,000 in legal fees.

Utility sees unpaid bills, virus protection costs” via Jim Saunders of News Service of Florida —Gulf Power, the largest utility in Northwest Florida, said it received about $6 million less in customer bill payments in April than it ordinarily would have collected during the month. About $2.1 million is considered “bad debt,” up from the historical average for April of about $300,000, the company said Friday in the filing at the Florida Public Service Commission. “The company anticipates that COVID-related bad debt expense will continue to increase due to higher levels of write-offs for uncollectible accounts,” the utility said. “Gulf Power estimates that its bad debt expense attributable to COVID-19 … will continue to increase over the coming months.”

“‘Murder hornets’ aren’t attacking Florida honeybees, but state is on the lookout for them” via Austin Fuller of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A large, “murder hornet” destroying a bee colony is the stuff of nightmares for beekeeper Keith Seifert Jr. But even though the Asian giant hornet has gained national headlines with its notorious moniker and a reputation for hunting honeybees, it has not been found in Florida yet or terrorized the state’s already besieged beekeepers. Still, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is looking out for the murder hornet during inspections to help protect the vital role bees play in the economy and agriculture. The state’s bees pollinate a variety of crops, from Florida blueberries to California almonds. And, no, the bees don’t fly themselves to the West Coast. Seifert said his bees are shipped there by truck.

The only story that matters — “Florida shortens stone crab season over industry objections” via The Associated Press — Florida’s $30 million stone crab industry is snapping mad over the state’s decision to reduce by five weeks the seven-month harvest season for what is widely considered a classic but expensive delicacy in the Sunshine State. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the shortened season and other new limits are necessary to sustain Florida stone crabs, whose large, meaty claws are removed and served boiled with melted butter or mustard sauce. The agency said the shorter season was expected to reduce the amount of claws harvested each year by at least 10%. Commercial crabbers across Florida are pushing back, worried that new limits will cut their profit margins or even force them out of business.

— 2020 —

Personal ties to Joe Biden could be an advantage in running-mate race” via Tarini Parti and Ken Thomas of The Wall Street Journal — Kamala Harris and Catherine Cortez Masto are now widely seen as contenders to be the presumptive Democratic nominee’s running mate. And they share something Biden and his advisers have described as a key qualification: a personal connection with the former Vice President. The coronavirus pandemic has made it hard for the former Vice President to conduct the traditional tryouts for his old job, including campaigning at rallies alongside potential choices. Some of the candidates believed to be under consideration who don’t know Biden as well are getting help from allies who do.

Joe Biden calls Donald Trump a ‘fool’ for mocking masks during pandemic” via The Associated Press — Biden said Tuesday that wearing a mask in public to combat the spread of the coronavirus is a sign of leadership and called Trump a “fool” who was “stoking deaths” for suggesting otherwise. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s comments came a day after he wore a black face mask while making his first public appearance in more than two months. Biden has remained at his Delaware home amid a pandemic that has frozen the presidential campaign, but he marked Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a nearby veterans’ memorial with his wife, Jill. Trump later retweeted a post that appeared to make fun of a photo of Biden in his mask, though he later said he didn’t mean to be critical.

Twitter fact-checks Donald Trump’s tweets for first time” via Orian Rummler of Axios — Twitter fact-checked two of Trump’s unsubstantiated tweets that mail-in ballots in the 2020 election would be fraudulent for the first time on Tuesday, directing users to “get the facts” through news stories that cover the topic. Twitter and other social media platforms have faced criticism for not doing enough to combat misinformation, especially when its propagated by the President. Twitter’s new approach of labeling misleading tweets was detailed in a blog post about misinformation and the coronavirus earlier this month. Twitter spokesperson Lindsay McCallum said Trump’s tweets “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots.”

Donald Trump bolsters staff for election with new deputy campaign manager” via Maggie Haberman of The New York Times — President Trump’s aides are promoting one of his top political advisers to deputy campaign manager, in a move to bolster the team heading into the final five months of the re-election effort. Bill Stepien, the former White House political director who has been working as a senior political adviser to the campaign, said that the new role will let him support both Trump and the campaign manager, Brad Parscale. The campaign is also promoting Stephanie Alexander, currently the Midwest regional political director, to the campaign chief of staff. The moves come as Trump has faced political headwinds and fallen behind Joe Biden in many polls, increasing speculation that he would reshuffle his campaign.

American politics is now Democrats versus authoritarians” via Francis Wilkinson of Bloomberg Opinion — Republicans famously defied subpoenas issued by the House during its attempts to investigate discrete aspects of Trump’s sprawling criminality. One hallmark of authoritarian politics, in addition to an adversarial relationship with the truth, is ignoring the law as it applies to party interests while deploying it as a weapon against political opponents. With no counter-authoritarian playbook, Democrats will simply have to improvise. The authoritarian summer will be followed by an election shaped by pandemic, demagogy and Russian sabotage.

Florida makes a play for the Republican convention” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — President Trump’s allies in his newly adopted home state of Florida are making a play to snatch the Republican National Convention from North Carolina. Moving the presidential nominating convention to Florida was raised as a serious option to President Trump in a phone call by one of his new favorite congressmen, Rep. Michael Waltz, who represents Jacksonville and Orlando. Republicans familiar with negotiations over the convention, however, said a move from Charlotte would be difficult because contracts already are signed. And while the President’s outwardly seems bent on having as traditional a convention as possible, there’s still a chance it will be too much of a risk to have thousands of people mingling if the coronavirus outbreak doesn’t lift.

‘We want to work with you’: DeSantis offers Florida as landing spot for RNC, DNC” via WFLA 8 staff reports — DeSantis said he would be open to having the Republican National Convention or even the Democratic National Convention in Florida this year. President Trump threatened to pull the convention from the state if the Democratic Governor didn’t sign off on allowing a full-capacity gathering. DeSantis said his stance on having major events in Florida is “we should try to get it done as best we can” in accordance with safety requirements. He said hosting a national convention like the RNC or the DNC would have a huge economic impact on Florida, especially after losing out on major events like WrestleMania in Tampa.

RNC in Tampa Bay? Rick Kriseman calls it a ‘non-issue’” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Following a whirlwind of speculation about where the Republican National Convention would take place this August, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is signaling it won’t be in his city. “Putting on an event of this size and scale takes months and months of preparation so I don’t see how, realistically, that could even happen,” he said. The question was prompted after President Trump threatened to yank the RNC from Charlotte citing North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s ongoing coronavirus shutdown. Kriseman called the potential a “non-issue” in Tampa Bay, arguing it should go on as planned in Charlotte because the city has been planning “for months and months” to put on a safe convention.

North Carolina throws convention threat back at Donald Trump and GOP” via Maya King of POLITICO — President Trump threatened Monday to pull the Republican National Convention out of North Carolina if state officials don’t roll out the red carpet soon. Those officials then put the onus on national Republicans to show they can pull off a 50,000-person event safely. Republicans involved in convention planning say there remains strong interest in holding the event in North Carolina. Nothing was decided, and one senior Republican called the situation “a mess.” Fueling the GOP’s angst is a perception that North Carolina Gov. Cooper is unlikely to lift restrictions to accommodate them. 

— MORE FROM THE TRAIL —

Clay County Tax Collector backs Judson Sapp for CD 3” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Republican congressional candidate Sapp announced an endorsement Tuesday in his campaign to succeed exiting U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District. The nod comes from Sapp’s home turf via Clay County Tax Collector Jimmy Weeks. “Congress needs strong leaders like Judson Sapp. Judson is a proven businessman, dedicated family man, and solid conservative. It’s my honor to endorse Clay County’s own, Judson Sapp for Congress,” Weeks said in a news release. Weeks joins U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan and John Rutherford and several others in endorsing Sapp in what is officially Florida’s most crowded Republican congressional primary. Sapp is one of 10 Republicans to qualify for the August ballot.

Ryan Chamberlin announces veterans coalition in CD 3” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Chamberlin this week rolled out a Veterans Coalition backing his campaign for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District. The coalition features a dozen current and former service members who served in the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marines or Navy. A longtime Veterans Administration employee rounds out the list. The coalition is charged with helping the Chamberlin campaign reach out to veteran voters in the North Central Florida district. Chamberlin is one of 10 Republicans to qualify for the August primary ballot. The author, speaker and consultant is in the upper half of the contest in fundraising, pulling in just over $100,000 in his first report.

Darren Aquino wants only natural-born citizens to run for Congress” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Aquino said only natural-born citizens should be allowed to run for Congress. “As an American, I want our U.S. Congressmen to have unwavering loyalties to America,” he said in a statement. The proposal contains an attack on primary opponent Casey Askar. Aquino said he wants the same standards on candidates for President to apply to those running for the U.S. House or Senate. Aquino directs most of his hostility toward Democrats already serving in the country, including U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

Former NBA Coach Stan Van Gundy to give fundraising assist to Debbie Mucarsel-Powell” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Van Gundy will join Mucarsel-Powell for a virtual fundraiser Friday. The two are expected to talk about the COVID-19 outbreak, the NBA and the 2020 election. Those looking to watch can donate to Mucarsel-Powell’s reelection fund. Van Gundy has coached two Florida-based NBA franchises. He now works as an NBA analyst. The decision by NBA officials to suspend the season in mid-March was widely seen as a catalyst for more widespread closures due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Mucarsel-Powell has said she expects her contest to be “one of the toughest” in the House this year.

Randy Glisson withdrawing from HD 31 contest” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Glisson, one of three Republicans who has been vying for the Lake County-based Florida House District 31 seat, announced he is withdrawing his candidacy, citing the coronavirus crisis. Glisson is a Eustis chiropractor. In a Facebook post, he announced the crisis had presented him with many campaign launch problems. His departure narrows the August 18 Republican primary field to two candidates with agricultural backgrounds: Stevan Novakovic of Sorrento, and Keith Truenow of Mount Dora.

Randolph Bracy, Geraldine Thompson back Travaris McCurdy in HD 46” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Bracy and Thompson are throwing their support behind McCurdy in the Democratic contest for the seat opening in Florida House District 46 in Orlando. McCurdy announced those two endorsements for his bid to win term-limited Democratic Rep. Bruce Antone‘s seat. Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill also endorsed McCurdy. There are no Republican, third-party, or non-party candidates in the contest yet, which is to represent a district with a heavy Democratic voter base.

Collier educator Victor Dotres jumps into GOP primary for House District 80” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Dotres launched his campaign to succeed Rep. Byron Donalds for the open seat over Memorial Day Weekend. A Miami Lakes native and the son of Cuban immigrants, Dotres earned a fine arts degree from the University of Florida in 2001 before landing a job teaching in the Collier County School District. It’s probably not surprising education policy will play a big role in Dotres’ campaign. Dotres faces Realtor Lauren Melo, who filed in April, in the Republican primary in August. Democrat Laura Novosad also filed this month.

Local leaders — including Parkland parent — back Gregory Tony in Broward Sheriff’s contest” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Tony has faced a series of unfavorable headlines in recent weeks. He did, however, secure support from Broward County Mayor Dale Holness late last week. The group of local officials now endorsing Tony includes Parkland parent Lori Alhadeff. The full list of leaders backing Tony includes Tamarac Mayor Michelle Gomez, Dania Beach Mayor Lori Lewellen, North Lauderdale Mayor Ana Ziade and Pembroke Pines City Commissioner Jay Schwartz.

Audit finds 2018 election in Broward County was marred by waste, extra votes, unnecessary delays” via Anthony Man of the Orlando Sentinel — Multiple shortcomings contributed to a problem-plagued 2018 election in Broward County. A controversial audit 18 months later is now detailing even more failings. Half of Broward County’s election precincts reported more ballots cast than the number of voters. Confusing ballot design may have led thousands of voters to inadvertently skip an important contest. Money was wasted on unneeded blank ballots, which weren’t adequately tracked and were eventually destroyed. Auditors found the recount was plagued by poor planning, inadequate staffing and equipment, and poor quality control.

Christopher Richmond named executive director of Miami-Dade Democratic Party” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Miami-Dade Democratic Party selected Richmond to serve as its new executive director. Richmond is a veteran of the South Florida political scene. He’s worked as a field organizer and canvasser for multiple presidential campaigns. Richmond also has experience as the communications chair for the Miami Beach Democratic Club. In January, he joined the Miami-Dade Democratic Party as its digital and development director. Richmond oversaw new field director and field organizer hires. Richmond also navigated an effort to encourage Democrats to sign up for vote-by-mail.

— TOP OPINION —

Quit fighting, Governor. Accept courts’ wisdom and let felons vote” via the Editorial Board of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Considering that DeSantis is a Harvard-educated lawyer, it’s taking him much too long to grasp a resoundingly clear message from the courts on a key voting rights issue. A state law that requires felons to pay all costs before they can vote, without regard for their ability to pay, violates the U.S. Constitution. It’s an obvious injustice. So after yet another legal defeat, Governor, do the right thing. Let people vote and quit wasting Florida taxpayers’ money. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued the latest decision in Tallahassee Sunday. This should be a cause for celebration. Not more litigation at our expense.

— OPINIONS —

Put down Trump’s pompoms, Gov. DeSantis, and get real with Florida” via Randy Schultz for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Last week, the Sun-Sentinel published two views about how to reopen Florida’s economy. The responsible approach came from Dan Lindblade, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce. The irresponsible approach came from DeSantis. He was in Orlando with Vice President Pence as President Trump’s economic cheerleaders. DeSantis waved his own pompoms. He wants water parks in the land of Disney and Universal to open — yesterday. Public health experts, DeSantis said, “haven’t seen evidence that this virus is transmissible in things like pools and water.” Three days later, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson revealed that a cluster of new cases had resulted from a high school swim party. Hutchinson now acknowledges that Arkansas faces a second wave.

How Democrats became the party of the upper middle class” via Ramesh Ponnuru of Bloomberg Opinion — Among the provisions of the House’s Heroes act is the restoration of the full deductibility of state and local taxes, which the Republican tax legislation of 2017 had limited. Liberal think tanks have criticized the idea of raising the cap, noting that 56% of its benefits would flow to the top 1% of households, and 80% would go to the top 5%. Repealing the cap is nonetheless a party priority. Many Democratic proposals benefit upper middle class families far more than lower income families. 

With education in turmoil, it’s time for students to attend school all year long” via Ann McFeatters of the Miami Herald — When schools reopen for in-person learning, American children should go to school year-round. Like daylight savings time, the agrarian school year has passed its prime. As a percentage of the population, few children are needed to help on the farm for three months. There are fewer summer jobs for teens. Flipping hamburgers increasingly is a job adults fill. Yes, children need a good work ethic, but building businesses on child labor is not a good look for us. American children are falling behind their counterparts who go to school on Saturdays and all summer. Millions of parents would be ecstatic with year-round schools. They would no longer have to scramble during the summer to find affordable activities or daycare.

America’s unemployment system doesn’t do its job” via the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board — An effective unemployment-insurance system plays an essential role in a healthy economy. It helps people get by when they lose jobs. It’s not a handout; it’s something people should be encouraged to use as quickly as possible when trouble hits. Instead of receiving timely benefits, millions of Americans have spent weeks waiting in epic lines, battling glitchy websites and navigating bureaucracies that in some cases were designed to keep them out. Such a broken system can’t be fixed overnight.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

NBA star Andre Drummond leaves $1,000 tip at Delray Beach restaurant” via Lois K. Solomon of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It was a quiet Sunday brunch at Che Restaurant in Delray Beach until an NBA star left a present for his server: a $1,000 tip. When waitress Kassandra Diaz brought the signed check back to her station, she stared in disbelief: $1,000 was written on the tip line of the $164.25 bill. It had been signed by Drummond, a 6-foot, 11-inch center for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Diaz went back to the table to double-check that Drummond had intended the enormous gratuity. “He said, ‘Of course, no problem,’ ” according to Jose Diaz, the restaurant’s manager.

Apple may not include EarPods headphones in iPhone 12 box to boost AirPods sales” via Benjamin Mayo of 9to5Mac — Apple may not include the wired EarPods headphones in the box of the iPhone 12. This would naturally drive sales of Apple’s second-generation AirPods, as customers would no longer be getting free headphones with their new phones. Most people just use the earbuds the phone comes with. If Apple no longer offers it, that means customers needing new earbuds will be forced to buy either MFi Lightning proprietary wired headphones like EarPods, or spend more on Bluetooth wireless options such as AirPods. With second-gen AirPods being about eighteen months old by the time the iPhone 12 launches, it is possible Apple drops the price further to incentivize add-on sales.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to Stafford Jones and Christian Ziegler.

___

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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