First on #FlaPol — Yesterday, Danny Burgess sent in his resignation as Executive Director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Today, he officially filed for Senate District 20.
“For nearly two years I’ve had the honor to serve our state’s veterans and work on behalf of those who answered the call to serve in the United States Armed Forces,” Burgess said. “Their bravery, commitment to others, and selflessness inspires me each and every day and I will always champion their cause should I be honored to serve in the state Senate.”
“I’m excited to start communicating our results-oriented and community-centered message to every corner of Senate District 20 and I look forward to the campaign ahead.”
The cornerstone of that message: “renewing Florida’s economic promise and taking care of the most vulnerable among us.”
For a candidate that just days ago wasn’t expected to be on the ballot, it couldn’t be going better.
The Pasco native was already a formidable contender, considering his former District 38 seat in the Florida House overlaps with SD 20. Add in legislative and executive experience and
Shortly after Thonotosassa Republican Sen. Tom Lee announced he would exit the Legislature midway through his term, Burgess landed endorsements from Senate President-designate Wilton Simpson and Majority Leader Kathleen Passidomo.
His pathway was made clearer when Rep. Jamie Grant said he would defer to Burgess if he wanted the seat.
As yet, there are no other contenders for the seat — the Governor only called for a special election hours before Burgess made it official — but that could change quickly.
Others rumored to be up for the job include former Sen. Dana Young, Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore and Plant City Mayor Rick Lott.
First on #FlaPol — Gov. Ron DeSantis has extended the eviction moratorium until July 1.
That ban on evictions and foreclosures was set to expire midnight Monday. But DeSantis has granted an additional 30 days, according to spokesperson Helen Aguirre Ferré.
Last week, the Governor said he had not decided whether to extend the protections for homeowners and renters but expected to make a decision “pretty soon.”
Democrats have repeatedly asked for the extension throughout the pandemic as the economic reality of a lockdown hit Floridians. Technical problems plaguing the state’s unemployment system portal have compounded those hardships. And for those who still haven’t been fully paid what they’re owed, getting on the phone with a customer service representative has been a continuing problem.
That’s left many Floridians unable to pay the bills. But as landlords lose income, they too must figure out how to pay the bills.
Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson‘s office on Wednesday sent the Governor a letter calling for the moratorium to be extended until July 1, 30 days from the June 2 end date.
First in #FlaPol — “Charlie Crist taps former Pete Buttigieg state director as campaign manager” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — St. Petersburg Democratic Rep. Crist is hiring Sydney Throop as his 2020 campaign manager. Throop previously served as the state director for presidential candidate Mayor Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana. She also worked as the field director for a Massachusetts Secretary of State campaign and served with the Reason to Believe PAC in Iowa. Throop said she is excited to “keep the House blue” and “elect Democrats up and down the ballot.” Crist and Throop will work to maintain the Democratic stronghold of the congressional district 13 in November.
— AMERICA IN CRISIS —
“Donald Trump declares he’s President of law, order amid protests” via The Associated Press — Trump declared himself “the President of law and order” and threatened to deploy the United States military to American cities to quell a rise of violent protests. As Trump spoke, an incredible TV split-screen developed around the White House. While he addressed the nation in the Rose Garden, a series of military vehicles rolled out front on Pennsylvania Avenue and military police and law enforcement clashed with protesters at Lafayette Park. Trump said he would mobilize “thousands and thousands” of soldiers to keep the peace if Governors did not use the National Guard to shut down the protests. Loud tear gas explosions could be heard as authorities moved what appeared to be peaceful protests in the park.
“Family-commissioned autopsy says George Floyd’s death was homicide” via Axios — Preliminary results from an independent autopsy commissioned by Floyd‘s family found that his death in the custody of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was “homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain,” according to a statement from the family’s attorney. The autopsy contradicts preliminary findings from the Hennepin County medical examiner, who found “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxiation or strangulation,” according to charging documents against Chauvin. The official examination is still ongoing.
“Trump calls protesters ‘terrorists’ and urges Governors to seek ‘retribution’” via Jonathan Martin, Katie Rogers and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times — Trump lashed out at Governors for their response to the violence roiling the country, calling protesters “terrorists,” demanding “retribution” and warning the Governors they would look like “jerks” if they did not send them to “jail for long periods of time.” “You have to dominate,” Trump told the Governors. If they failed to take a strong hand, he said, the protesters were “going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks.” The tirade, delivered on a private conference call, showed the depth of Trump’s anger over protests and riots.
“Trump suggests the kind of ‘vicious’ response to protests he once hailed from China in Tiananmen Square” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — After days of no public remarks about the unrest across the country, Trump offered a glimpse of his vision for dealing with the protesters, rioters and looters: Law enforcement needs to “dominate.” Trump offered this prescription on a call with Governors that also included urging 10-year prison terms for those apprehended and seemed to suggest that he may have the military take over. It was a bold proposal from Trump. But it’s also wholly predictable that Trump would go down this road, given his past comments about such demonstrations.
“Waiting for Trump to speak, and bracing for whether his words will make matters worse” via Eugene Scott of The Washington Post — To get the best sense of what Trump is really focused on and concerned with regarding the uprisings that are occupying the nation, one should turn to his preferred, unfiltered method of communication: Twitter. The president has mostly used social media platform to attack his Democratic rivals and the media, to defend police and to promise a tough stance against those who break laws in their protests. Conservative media hosts have called on the president to deliver remarks aimed at unifying the nation.
“AG William Barr deploying federal riot teams to D.C., Miami to quell unrest, DOJ official says” via Kevin Johnson, Bart Jansen and Kristine Phillips of the USA Today — Barr has deployed federal riot teams to Washington, D.C., and Miami in an attempt to quell violent clashes between protesters and police. Riot teams are being sent from the federal Bureau of Prisons, while the FBI also has directed its elite Hostage Rescue Unit to help in D.C. A weekend of rioting in the nation’s capital left deep scars in the shadow of the White House and across the city where 88 people were arrested, while dozens of law enforcement officers, including Secret Service agents, were injured.
“Facing protests over use of force, police respond with more force” via Shaila Dewan and Mike Baker of The New York Times — Demonstrations continued across the United States on Sunday as the nation braced for another grueling night of unrest over police shootings. Videos showed police officers in recent nights using batons, tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets on protesters, bystanders and journalists, often without warning or seemingly unprovoked. Trump resisted calls to address the tensions roiling the country. Instead, he used Twitter to criticize local Democratic leaders for not doing more to control the protests. Military vehicles in recent nights have moved down city streets as phalanxes of officers in full riot gear fired clouds of noxious gas.
“White instigators to blame for mayhem in some protests, local officials say” via Isaac Stanley-Becker — “What did I tell you?” a voice cried out as the camera recording mayhem in downtown Pittsburgh settled on a white man, clad in all black, smashing the windows of a police vehicle. “It is not black people,” the onlooker called to the crowd before addressing the vandal directly: “What are you doing?” What he was doing, authorities later alleged, was inciting riots on Saturday as the city — like dozens of others across America — was swept up in sustained unrest over the death of a black man in police custody.
“Matt Gaetz seriously asks: Can we ‘hunt’ antifa ‘terrorists’ like we do ‘in the Middle East?’” via Pilar Melendez of The Daily Beast — “Now that we clearly see antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?” the Republican lawmaker said. Gaetz’s violent rhetoric comes hours after Sen. Tom Cotton urged Trump to deploy active-duty military personnel to cities in the wake of nationwide protests over the killing of Floyd. On Sunday, Trump claimed that the U.S. government will designate “antifa” as a terrorist organization after the President blamed them for riots across the country. “Anarchy, rioting, and looting needs to end tonight,” Cotton said, adding, “if local law enforcement is overwhelmed and needs backup, let’s see how tough these Antifa terrorists are when they’re facing off with the 101st Airborne Division.”
—“Twitter adds warning label to Gaetz tweet on antifa for glorifying violence” via Cristiano Lima of POLITICO
“Debbie Wasserman Schultz ridicules Trump response to George Floyd protests: ‘He tucks his tail between his legs, hides in a bunker’” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Wasserman Schultz tore into Trump for what she described as his hapless response to the protests sparked by the killing of Floyd. “Where is the president? Where is the president of the United States using the platform that he has to heal the country and bring us together?” she asked during a video news conference. Trump should have addressed the nation to “acknowledge the hurt and the hundreds of years of racial injustice and pain that exists. But instead, he tucks his tail between his legs, hides in a bunker and allows Rome to burn around him,” Wasserman Schultz said.
“National Guard troop levels reach historic high amid pandemic and protest” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Amid rising civil unrest and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, troop numbers for the National Guard are at historic highs. “As a uniformed member of America’s military, it breaks my heart to see the country I love in such pain,” said Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel. As of Monday, 66,722 soldiers and airmen of the National Guard were mobilized in 23 states and the District of Columbia in response to protests, natural disasters, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Guard Bureau said personnel assigned to deal with the unrest are trained and equipped to support law enforcement and first responders.
“‘The norms have broken down’: Shock as journalists are arrested, injured by police while trying to cover the story” via Paul Farhi and Elahe Izadi of The Washington Post — At least a dozen journalists injured in cities across America this weekend including a photographer who was blinded in one eye as police fired rubber bullets, pepper spray and tear gas to quell unrest. In several cases, reporters appear to have been swept up in indiscriminate efforts by authorities to disperse crowds. But in a number of incidents, journalists were injured, harassed or arrested even after identifying themselves as reporters.
“A wave of protests puts a spotlight on U.S. hypocrisy” via Ishaan Tharoor of The Washington Post — Trump may be uniquely bad at bringing a wounded, divided country together. Throughout six consecutive days of unrest in cities across the country, Trump pledged military retribution on protesters engaged in unlawful acts, dismissed their outrage as the work of leftist troublemakers, and said nothing of reports of heavy-handed police actions during the demonstrations. The United States has already scaled back its defense of human rights and the rule of law in other parts of the world. Now the events of the past week have unfurled like the kind of catalog of abuses you’d see documented by U.S.-based rights groups in countries elsewhere.
“Andrew Cuomo says protests should spark U.S. ban on excessive force” via Bloomberg — Protests across the U.S. over the death of Floyd should spark a national ban on excessive force by police officers, Cuomo said. The Democratic Governor said he will be talking to Mayor Bill de Blasio about a potential curfew in New York City, where there were reports of looting and some “disturbing” videos of police encounters with the crowds. Violent activity by protesters “obscures the righteousness of the message,” Cuomo said at a press briefing. “It plays into the hands of people and forces who don’t want to make changes.” de Blasio said a curfew is an option but is not planned. Over the weekend, the mayor said police who drove into a crowd of demonstrators were wrong, but that the protesters had created conditions for the incident.
“Louisville police chief fired in aftermath of fatal shooting” via Bruce Schreiner and Sophia Tulp of The Associated Press — Louisville’s police chief was fired after the mayor learned that officers involved in a shooting that killed the popular owner of a barbecue spot failed to activate body cameras during the chaotic scene. David McAtee, known for offering meals to police officers, died while police officers and National Guard soldiers were enforcing a curfew amid waves of protests over a previous police shooting in Kentucky’s largest city. Police said they were responding to gunfire from a crowd. The U.S. attorney said federal authorities will join state police in investigating the fatal shooting.
“Music industry calls for blackout Tuesday amid unrest” via Mesfin Fekadu of The Associated Press — Several top record labels organized Black Out Tuesday as violent protests erupted around the world sparked by Floyd’s death as well as the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Music-based companies Live Nation and TikTok, as well as the Recording Academy, posted to social media that it planned to support and stand with the black community. On Tuesday, June 2, Columbia Records will observe ‘Black Out Tuesday,’” the Sony label home to Beyoncé, Bob Dylan, Adele and John Legend said in a statement. “This is not a day off. Instead, this is a day to reflect and figure out ways to move forward in solidarity.”
“Retailers and restaurants across the U.S. close their doors amid protests” via Rachel Lerman and Todd C. Frankel of The Washington Post — Retailers and other businesses in cities across the U.S., including the Bay Area, the District of Columbia, New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Minneapolis, experienced broken windows, thefts and other violence over the weekend. The actions prompted a number of businesses to shut their doors and raised questions about how exactly the actions relate to the protesters, many of whom were peaceful. Walmart on Sunday closed several hundred stores due to potential protests. Amazon said it had adjusted routes or scaled back delivery operations in some cities, while Apple closed an unspecified number of stores on Sunday.
“Read the email Tim Cook sent to Apple employees about Floyd” via Annie Palmer of CNBC — In the memo, Cook condemned the killing and called for the creation of a “better, more just world for everyone.” “We can have no society worth celebrating unless we can guarantee freedom from fear for every person who gives this country their love, labor and life,” Cook said. Cook also acknowledged that racial injustice exists in the U.S., including in “our criminal justice system” and “in the disproportionate toll of disease on Black and Brown communities,” as well as from economic inequality and disparities in educational opportunities.
“Corporate voices get behind ‘black lives matter’ cause” via Tiffany Hsu of The New York Times — Major companies are often wary of conflict, especially in a polarized time. They tend to be afraid of offending their customers and associating their brands with sensitive subjects. After Floyd died in Minneapolis, a wide range of companies began to take much more public stances on racial injustice and police violence. Speaking out on social issues is often a calculated decision, a form of “values and identity-driven targeted marketing,” said Americus Reed, a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Some companies were more cautious in their approach.
“Record ratings and record chaos on cable news” via Ben Smith of The New York Times — The power, and the stress, are clearest at Fox News, by far the most-watched American news channel but one that has been in a rolling corporate crisis since its founder, Roger Ailes, was forced to resign amid sexual harassment allegations almost four years ago. MSNBC has been scrambling in a different way. The channel thrived from 2017 until earlier this year, lifted by its nonstop coverage of the Trump-Russia story and the story’s denouement in impeachment. CNN once positioned itself between MSNBC and Fox on the political spectrum. The network has since adopted an increasingly political focus, hosting dozens of Democratic primary town halls and debates since Trump seeks to confront the media.
“Pepper spray sales soar on Amazon” via Spencer Soper of Bloomberg — Amazon.com Inc. shoppers are buying up pepper spray as demonstrations continue around the country and self-defense becomes top-of-mind for some Americans. People are swapping recommendations for self-defense products on social media platforms like Twitter, where users are posting links to Sabre pepper spray on Amazon. Protests have rocked U.S. cities since the killing in police custody of Floyd. Amazon became a pipeline for household essentials such as toilet paper and disinfecting wipes for shoppers hunkered down at home to avoid contracting COVID-19. The spike in pepper spray sales shows how protests around the country are influencing consumer demand.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@morningmoneyben: Sometimes you think, “how could this year get any worse?” And then it always, always does. There’s just no bottom.
—@MarcoRubio: Many in the media fell for the calculated & deliberate tactics of professional agitators. They knew the street needed to be cleared before 7 p.m. curfew. But they deliberately stayed to trigger police action & get the story they wanted, that “police attacked peaceful protesters.”
—@TomCottonAR: Anarchy, rioting, and looting needs to end tonight. If local law enforcement is overwhelmed and needs backup, let’s see how tough these Antifa terrorists are when they’re facing off with the 101st Airborne Division. We need to have zero tolerance for this destruction.
—@MattGaetz: Now that we clearly see Antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?
—@ChrisLHayes: I think a lot of Americans really don’t know how much the American Revolution was precipitated by the Crown’s abuse of the policing power against the colonists. It was *central* and often led to unrest, riots, tarring and feathering and the like.
— Ben Siegel (@bensiegel) June 1, 2020
—@AndrewFeinberg: Wow. As @realDonaldTrump prepares to speak, mounted *federal* police are throwing flashbang grenades at peaceful protesters as military police (and perhaps Bill Barr) look on. Clearly timed for the President’s remarks.
—@SteveHelling: Make no mistake: when President Trump mentioned our Second Amendment rights in his speech, he was signaling that citizens can and should shoot the protesters.
—@PeterBakerNYT: Trump leaves the impression that he wanted exactly this split-screen moment where he talked tough at the very moment troops and police moved against peaceful protesters outside the executive mansion.
—@MacStipanovich: Betas who wave AR-15s. I have known very few genuinely tough men who talked about how tough they are. In fact, I cannot remember one. I have known men for years without knowing they had Silver Stars. My guess is you would wear a fire watch ribbon on your lapel.
—@AGAshleyMoody: The killing of George Floyd was criminal and I stand with the law enforcement community in condemning it. However, I am absolutely heartbroken and appalled by the riots and looting that has ravaged our state. Destroying small businesses and attacking officers isn’t the answer.
—@Andrew4Duval: You can’t be shocked that the Government you wanted to force people to stay inside for months, shut down businesses, and borrow trillions of dollars with ease is big enough to mobilize personnel and quell any violent protesting.
—@CFernandezFL: Members of my family fled an oppressive regime in Cuba because their government used military force to silence people who peacefully assembled in dissent. We just saw the exact same thing happen in the United States of America. All so the President can have a photo op.
—@NateMonroeTU: TFW you wake up and realize you’re furloughed. Great, great timing.
— Danny Aller (@DannyAller) June 1, 2020
— DAYS UNTIL —
Universal Orlando begins phased reopening — 3; PGA Tour resumes with Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth — 9; Last day of state candidate qualifying — 10; “Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre” by Max Brooks release — 14; Belmont Stakes rescheduled — 18; Father’s Day — 19; Apple to hold Developer Conference — 20; “The Outpost” with Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood premieres — 31; Disney World Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom to reopen — 39; Disney World Epcot and Hollywood Studios to reopen — 43; Federal taxes due — 43; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premieres — 45; “Mulan” premieres — 52; TED conference rescheduled — 44; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 76; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 80; Indy 500 rescheduled — 90; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 83; “A Quiet Place Part II” premieres — 94; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 95; Rescheduled date for French Open — 109; First presidential debate in Indiana — 120; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 123; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 130; Second presidential debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 135; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 136; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 143; 2020 General Election — 154; “Black Widow” premieres — 156; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 168; “No Time to Die” premieres — 175; “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres — 224; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 250; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 416; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 425; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 521; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 619; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 651; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 704; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 857.
— FLORIDA REAX —
“Ron DeSantis’ first Floyd remarks: Zero tolerance for rioting, looting” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis broke his silence on the death of Floyd. “Florida has zero-tolerance for violence, rioting and looting,” DeSantis said in a prepared statement. “George Floyd’s murder was appalling, and the Minnesota perpetrators need to be brought to justice, but this cannot be used as a pretext for violence in our Florida communities.” DeSantis remained quiet even as the sometimes violent protests roiled the country, including parts of Florida. On Sunday, the Governor’s spokesperson told Florida Politics that the Governor had activated nearly 700 members of the Florida National Guard on Saturday.
—“As violence spreads, DeSantis is silent” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida
“Nikki Fried joins calls to admonish Anthony Sabatini over controversial tweet” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Fried joined a rising chorus of Florida Democrats calling for the admonishment of Sabatini after he said he would greet rioters in his county with an AR-15. In a letter addressed to House Speaker José Oliva and Speaker-Designate Chris Sprowls, Fried described Sabatini’s tweet as reckless and a violation of House rules. “By encouraging armed violence against protesters, Rep. Sabatini’s conduct fails to meet the basic standards of integrity, honor, confidence and professionalism that the House’s rules require,” Fried wrote.
“Peaceful protests are appropriate, but ‘violent riots must stop,’ warns Senate President” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Florida Senate President Bill Galvano weighed in on the death of Minneapolis resident Floyd, killed last week by police. Streets around the country have been rocked by violence and wanton property destruction since. While he backed the peaceful protests, Galvano had a warning for rioters filling streets in Florida and presumably elsewhere. “Violent riots must stop. I support the efforts of law enforcement and National Guard troops who are working to protect the safety of people and property.”
“Florida Police Chiefs Association condemns officers for role in Floyd’s death” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The Florida Police Chiefs Association joined the calls denouncing a Minneapolis police officer’s role in the death of Floyd. Chief Kenneth Albano, president of the Florida Police Chiefs Association, said the events last week need a “clear and unified message.” “The Florida Police Chiefs Association condemns the murder of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin, and we call for the speedy and impartial trial of Officer Chauvin on this charge,” he said. He also announced the creation of a subcommittee of chiefs and community leaders to submit solutions to the Florida Legislature.
“Lenny Curry said no curfew for Monday night” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Curry announced that he and Sheriff Mike Williams have decided Jacksonville does not need to have a curfew for the second night in a row. “With the help of law-abiding citizens and the hard work of law enforcement, Sheriff Williams and I have decided to rescind the curfew tonight,” Curry said in an announcement posted on Twitter. “We have the capacity should the need arise, but we very much appreciate the cooperation of the people of our city.” Curry and Williams agreed Sunday to have an overnight curfew that started at 8 p.m. Sunday and ended at 6 a.m.
“Duval protester aid fund tops $50K” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — A fundraising campaign to help people arrested during weekend protests in downtown Jacksonville had raised more than $50,000. The GoFundMe page was set up Saturday night for the Jacksonville Community Action Committee “to provide community support for those who’ve had their civil liberties deprived by local law enforcement.” The committee was involved in organizing people who gathered Saturday to protest abuse of force by members of law enforcement, including the killing of Floyd last month in Minnesota. It originally aimed to raise $40,000 in aid.
“Miami chief, Mayor deride arrested protesters as ‘outsiders.’ But 30 of 57 are from county” via Monique O. Madan, Joey Flechas and David Smiley of the Miami Herald — The morning after peaceful protests morphed into violent demonstrations in downtown Miami, local officials told the public that most of the “agitators” were “outsiders.” “Of the 57 people that were arrested, 13 of those 57 live in the City of Miami. OK? So, we have Minnesota, New York. Georgia. People from outside of the county … [who] were arrested,” said Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina. Juan Diasgranados, a spokesman for the corrections department, said only seven of the 57 people arrested are known to have addresses from out of state.
“Protesters march with police in Kissimmee, rally outside Orlando PD headquarters” via David Harris, Katie Rice, Steven Lemongello and Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel — Hundreds of people marched through downtown Kissimmee alongside local police this evening, in a show of solidarity against brutality and in support of justice for Floyd, the Minneapolis man whose death at the hands of officers has sparked nationwide unrest. The march, organized by the Kissimmee and St. Cloud police departments, began at the Kissimmee Civic Center and wove through downtown to KPD headquarters. It has been peaceful, though some area businesses braced for the worst, boarding up windows.
“Much of South Florida is under curfew for a week” via Lisa J. Huriash, Karina Elwood and Angie DiMichele of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Much of South Florida will be on lockdown at night this week to stem civil protests that have grown violent, potentially endangering the public. A seven-day curfew began Sunday in Broward County, mandating that residents stay indoors from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. and that businesses close up shop. Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry imposed the curfew in response to “growing civil unrest.” Fort Lauderdale issued a 72-hour curfew on Sunday and threatened to arrest violators. In Miami-Dade, a seven-day curfew was put into effect Saturday night, but it was extended Sunday until further notice.
“Prosecutor fired over Facebook post calling demonstrators ‘animals’” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A Broward prosecutor who likened protesters to zoo animals in a Facebook post was fired. Amy Bloom, an eight-year veteran of the Broward State Attorney’s Office, referred to protesters as “animals at the zoo” and called their acts shameful. Bloom quickly deleted the post, but not before someone captured an image of it and began sharing it with other Broward lawyers. “When will people learn that their criminal acts and obnoxious protesting actually gets you nowhere?” she wrote. “Act civilized and maybe things will change. I’ve never seen such animals except at the zoo.” She added that her criticisms apply to everyone regardless of race.
“Some county commissioners support curfew, but PBSO does not” via Hannah Morse of The Palm Beach Post — A Palm Beach County commissioner proposed a countywide curfew after reports of vandalism followed a peaceful protest that called for justice in Floyd’s death. Yet Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw won’t support a countywide curfew, said PBSO spokeswoman Teri Barbera, because he does not think it’s necessary. Instead, more law-enforcement officers will be out on patrol to dissuade potential vandals, Barbera noted.
“West Palm mayor, police chief details protest response; some fault tactics” via Olivia Hitchcock of The Palm Beach Post — Of the estimated 3,000 people who protested peacefully Sunday afternoon in West Palm Beach, fewer than 100 “agitators” were to blame for the violence that unfolded that night downtown, city police said during a news conference. Police authorities explained three incidents in which they used force in the form of pepper spray, smoke and rubber bullets on crowds they claim already had turned violent. In one case someone jumped on a car stopped in traffic, and in another, people threw rocks and bottles at officers and bystanders, they said. Authorities arrested five people, one of whom is a juvenile, on charges ranging from resisting arrest to inciting a riot and aggravated assault. All four of the adults remained jailed in lieu of more than $100,000 bail.
“Cop who shoved kneeling protester is relieved of duty and will face investigation” via Mario Ariza of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A Fort Lauderdale police officer seen on video shoving a kneeling protester during Sunday’s demonstrations against police violence has been relieved of duty pending a criminal investigation. And an administrative review will determine if he gets to keep his job. The confrontation between the kneeling demonstrator and Officer Steven Pohorence came at the tail end of what had been a peaceful protest, escalating an already tense situation. In social video, Pohorence can be seen walking into the crowd, ordering protesters to disperse. But Pohorence walks too far and becomes encircled. As he turns to walk away, a kneeling woman wearing a white T-shirt and a face covering blocks his path. Pohorence shoves her out of the way, pushing her to the ground.
“Mayor says West Palm police did not start confrontation with protesters” via Olivia Hitchcock of The Palm Beach Post — Allegations that West Palm Beach police started a violent confrontation with protesters Sunday night “are 100 percent, unequivocally false,″ Mayor Keith James said. At about 8:15 p.m. Sunday, James said, Police Chief Frank Adderley called to say officers were “under attack due to a rock-throwing crowd,” leading James to impose a 9 p.m. curfew. Adderley said protests in the city were “peaceful” from 11 a.m. until about 7:30 p.m. Sunday. The city even went as far as to block traffic to allow protests to happen.
“Tampa extends overnight curfew” via Brendan Ward of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The city of Tampa has decided to extend its curfew through Monday night, Mayor Jane Castor announced. The curfew which was initially enacted Sunday following protests Saturday that lead to businesses being looted in the University Mall area. A Champ’s Sports and the Saigon Bay restaurant were also destroyed during the protests. St. Petersburg saw two nights of protests as well, though, they stayed mostly peaceful.
“Hundreds demonstrate across Tampa Bay over Floyd killing” via Josh Fiallo, Josh Solomon and Divya Kumar of the Tampa Bay Times — They were following other protests from across the country, some of which have turned violent. But the demonstrations in Tampa Bay so far have been largely peaceful, though punctuated by tense and angry moments. In downtown Tampa, demonstrators chanted obscenities toward the police. In Temple Terrace, they shut down a major roadway and threw water bottles at a police officer’s car. Most of the protests wound down after several hours. But this evening, hundreds of people from the Temple Terrace protest were still gathered near the District 2 Tampa Police Station, close to Busch Gardens. Protesters were throwing loud fireworks at the ground and bottles of liquid at officers. Police officers holding riot shields had arrived.
“Protesters worry that Tampa looting, police clashes will overshadow message” via Jack Evans of the Tampa Bay Times — Those who had gathered in Tampa’s streets and parks Saturday and Sunday, to protest the police killings of Floyd and Breonna Taylor and others as well as the general condition of policing and race in America, were also grappling with their complicated feelings about how the weekend had gone. They’d raised voices with messages that black lives matter, that police brutality must end, that American law enforcement systems are poisoned to the bone with racism. And they had also seen explosive moments of conflict that they worried would overshadow those messages or would brutally prove their point. “They’re not about the protest,” Teddy Holloman said of the looters. “They have nothing to do with this.”
“Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson praises peaceful Floyd protests at Graffiti Bridge” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Demonstrations in Pensacola remained peaceful, drawing hundreds of people over multiple days. Robinson praised the protesters during his weekly virtual press conference, saying he was proud of community members for voicing their anger over the death of Floyd without turning to violence. Demonstrations in Pensacola were centered at the 17th Avenue railroad trestle, better known at the Graffiti Bridge, where Pensacola artist Brandon Vessels painted a portrait of Floyd that became a memorial to those who have been killed by police.
“Supporters bring water, food to Graffiti Bridge activists via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — Activists baked under the sun as they sat and stood quietly around the Graffiti Bridge, signs and fists raised in the air. Nearly every other car that drove under the bridge honked, with some drivers rolling down their windows and sticking their fists in the air in solidarity. Some drivers stopped, got out and joined the peaceful protest. Some parked and delivered coolers full of water, energy drinks, food and ice cream to the protesters. It marked the fourth straight day of peaceful protests in Pensacola in response to the death of Floyd.
“Tallahassee law enforcement leaders, protesters talk ‘concessions’ during negotiations” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — After protesters took to the streets of Tallahassee over the weekend, several organizers met with the city’s top law enforcement officials. Tesia Lisbon, a graduate student at Florida State University, demanded the public release of body camera video of the shooting of Tony McDade last week by Tallahassee Police officers. Police say McDade was armed with a gun following a fatal stabbing. Activists at the meeting also asked that Zackri Jones, the officer who shot Mychael Johnson in March, be arrested.
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“In three months of coronavirus crisis, Florida cases rise to 56,830 with 2,460 deaths” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — Florida’s Department of Health confirmed 667 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the total of known cases to 56,830 as the state enters the fourth month of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the newly confirmed cases in the latest report is in the Florida Keys, which has just reopened to tourists. There were also nine new deaths announced across the state, raising the statewide toll to 2,460.
“Florida’s antibody tests suggest little disease spread, with 4.4% testing positive” via Marc Freeman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The first statewide results of COVID-19 antibody tests were released Friday and they appear to provide hope that the disease is not more widespread in Florida than previously known. The state Health Department report showed 123,552 people have had these blood draws, also known as a serology testing, and 5,474, or 4.4%, were positive. These are not diagnostic tests or the familiar nasal swabs that show if you are currently infected. This antibody screening, which began more than a month ago, is supposed to tell whether a person has had COVID-19 or was exposed to the virus long enough to develop some measure of an immune response.
“Even as Floridians begin getting out, GPS data reveals we’re still staying close to home” via David Fleshler and Alonso Alcocer of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The virus that shut down much of the world has achieved an almost impossible task: Reducing Florida traffic. The evidence comes from GPS data that shows the total number of miles people travel. It reveals that people in South Florida are driving more than they did at the low point in early April but most are still staying close to home. After traffic hit bottom in April, it increased slightly, with a peak a few days before Memorial Day. But the slight increase suggests that even as people ventured out again after the state began reopening on May 4, they aren’t going far.
“Florida shows the right way to lock down for coronavirus — and loosen up” via Michael Hendrix of the New York Post — For a moment in April, the Internet tried to cancel Florida. The media spun scenes of ignorant spring breakers endangering themselves and others. Here was Florida’s Governor, DeSantis, joining neighboring state Georgia’s “experiment in human sacrifice,” as a writer put it, by letting locals lift restrictions on their own. Nearly a month later, Jacksonville’s Duval County reports new COVID-19 hospitalizations in the single digits. Rates of hospitalizations, cases and deaths remain steady across Florida. Florida’s approach, a decentralized health response with targeted lockdowns and quarantines reinforced by voluntary social distancing, appears to have worked.
“Three more inmates die of COVID-19” via the News Service of Florida — As of Monday, 15 state prisoners had died after contracting the virus. The Florida Department of Health earlier reported that seven inmates died at the Blackwater River Correctional Facility. Three inmates died at Sumter Correctional Institution, while one died at Dade Correctional Institution and one at Union Correctional Institution. The number of prisoners who had tested positive for COVID-19 climbed to 1,529 as of Monday morning. The inmate cases are concentrated in 11 prisons in various parts of the state, including Homestead Correctional Institution, Hamilton Correctional Institution, Liberty Correctional Institution and South Bay Correctional Facility. Everglades Correctional Institution, a Miami prison with 30 inmate cases, was the latest prison to report an outbreak.
“Rebekah Jones, former DOH data curator, resurfaces to deny allegations, detail COVID-19 data mismatches” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The woman who raised questions about Florida’s COVID-19 data after being ousted emailed reporters after a week of silence. Jones sought to flag discrepancies in the Department of Health’s (DOH) data for people tested for the novel coronavirus, but not before describing the last two weeks as “some strange sort of hell.” Gov. DeSantis‘ spokeswoman emailed reporters to say Jones was fired for a “repeated course of insubordination” and her public remarks. However, Jones claims she was wrongfully terminated for refusing to manipulate data to validate the state’s case for reopening.
“COVID-19 arrival slashes tourism numbers” via Jim Turner of News Service of Florida — Tourism in Florida fell 10.7% in the first quarter of 2020 from the same period a year earlier, and the estimate may be optimistic. The final month of the quarter, March, was impacted heavily by the COVID-19 pandemic, which essentially shut down the hospitality industry statewide. A report posted online by VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing arm, said “data previously used to estimate Florida visitation may not paint the full picture during COVID-19.” The report estimates that 31.95 million people visited the state during the first three months of the year. That compares to 35.79 million visitors during the first quarter of 2019.
— FLORIDA REOPENING —
“As Florida reopens, how are we doing? These are the numbers to watch.” via Aric Chokey of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It’s been more than three weeks since Florida began the first phase of reopening, a critical point at which experts say we should begin to see how reopening is affecting the number of new coronavirus infections and deaths. Both have been trending down statewide, but the story is different in some counties where the curves are nudging upward again. Data as of May 31 shows Florida reported 56,163 known cases of the coronavirus, which is an increase of 739 from the day before. The state reported 4 more resident deaths since the previous day, putting the known death toll at 2,534 for residents and nonresidents.
“As Florida reopens, the deaths quietly keep piling up in nursing homes” via Carol Marbin Miller and Ben Wieder of the Miami Herald — Over the most recent week, elders living in long-term care facilities accounted for seven in 10 Florida deaths resulting from the coronavirus, as the pandemic increasingly became a scourge of the old and frail. Though the cumulative overall number of deaths attributed to COVID-19, the illness caused by exposure to the coronavirus, doubled in May, coronavirus deaths at nursing homes and assisted living facilities tripled. As of Monday, 1,236 people at long-term care facilities had died from COVID-19.
“These jobs could blossom in South Florida after the coronavirus pandemic” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — There’s no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has battered some South Florida businesses to the core. But there is a reason for optimism. Some occupations could see a surge of hiring once the crisis passes, providing opportunities for the tens of thousands of people thrown out of work. White-collar professionals who can work from home will be in demand. More health care workers, particularly home health aides and telemedicine, will be needed to serve South Florida’s large elderly population. Higher demand also is likely for physician assistants, nurse practitioners and doctors. App developers and marketers, some working from home, will be in demand to develop strategies for services. Personal trainers, nail techs, hairstylists, and makeup artists might make home visits.
“Keys reopen to visitors as Miami-area beaches closed” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The Florida Keys reopened for visitors after the tourist-dependent island chain was closed for more than two months to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. As the Keys took down barriers, Miami-Dade County decided to keep its beaches closed because of protests in South Florida and across the country. Roadblocks were taken down shortly after midnight near Key Largo, the northernmost island in the chain. Yet the carefree, party atmosphere that surrounds the Keys and was popularized by singer Jimmy Buffet in songs like “Margaritaville” may not return for some time.
“The shutdown hit the Florida Keys hard. What will it take to get back to business?” via Gwen Filosa and David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — Tourism is the lifeblood of the Florida Keys. It pumps up jobs and tax dollars. Supports fishing, hotels, restaurants. With more than five million people who visit Monroe County in a normal year, the island chain typically has the lowest unemployment rate in the state. But with tourists banned from entering the Keys since late March because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Monroe County’s unemployment rate shot up to the second-highest in Florida, a whopping 17.5 percent. This time last year, the Keys’ unemployment rate was below 2 percent.
“Hotels in Miami-Dade are reopening. There are rules that come with your stay.” via Michelle Marchante and April Rubin of the Miami Herald — Monday was the first day Miami-Dade hotels and motels reopen to vacationers and staycationers. After a two-months shutdown, the Miami lodging industry has been preparing for this next stage, but with caution. The county mandates hotels to accommodate for social distancing and increased cleaning. All guests must wear a mask or facial covering over mouth and nose during their stay, except inside their hotel room. Employees are also required to wear a mask at all times. Checking in or checking out of a hotel or motel might take longer than usual. Only service animals are allowed to stay inside a hotel room, even if the hotel is pet-friendly.
“‘A lot of confusion.’ Sunbathers flock to Broward beaches on first open weekend” via Maya Lora of the Miami Herald — No chairs, no coolers, no umbrellas: That was the official mantra of lifeguards and police officers at Fort Lauderdale Beach. Although there are other rules in place for residents who wish to venture out to the beach after two months of lockdown, few, if any, seem to be getting enforced. Some of the confusion may stem from new rules. When Broward beaches originally reopened, residents were instructed to keep on the move and were not allowed to sit or sunbathe.
“County libraries reopen, but coronavirus has changed experience” via Hannah Morse of The Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach County libraries reopened, but the coronavirus pandemic will make a patron’s experience different. The hours have temporarily changed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The library system is asking cardholders to limit their visit to one hour and to practice social distancing. Wearing face coverings will be required for the library staff, but just recommended for patrons. Each library’s capacity will be reduced to 50 percent, and seating is limited. Plexiglass barriers at the librarian counters have been installed to promote social distancing. Patrons won’t be able to use computers, request study rooms, or read newspapers or magazines.
“The party has started: Tampa Bay bars are open, just not all of them” via Christopher Spata of the Tampa Bay Times — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many are not comfortable returning to bars or restaurants just yet. But some people are. Enough that, if you squinted a little bit, Tampa Bay’s night life looked almost normal in some places on Memorial Day. Regardless of safety, the party vibes create a strange juxtaposition with the more sobering signs the coronavirus is still with us. Meanwhile, the owners of bars that do not serve food are watching their competitors do business, wondering why they can’t also reopen with the same precautions and limited capacity.
“Getting back to school: Students will wear masks, but what do you do about buses?” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Facing the threat of the coronavirus, South Florida’s schools could look dramatically different when they reopen this fall, serving both mask-wearing students on campus and virtual learners in their homes. Students and staff may have their temperatures checked. Desks would be at least 6 feet apart. One option being considered is having some students come only part-time, either half a day or on alternate days, and working at home the other days. Local districts say they plan to upgrade cleaning efforts. School districts are surveying parents to see what options they are looking for in the fall.
Assignment editors — The Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram, Vice President Andrew Spar, Secretary-Treasurer Carole Gauronskas, and representative members of the Committee on Reopening Our Neighborhood Schools will release final recommendation for reopening PreK-12 public school campuses in a virtual Zoom news conference, 1 p.m. Eastern time. To register, visit floridaea.zoom.us/webinar/register.
Smart — “USF classes will return to campus in August, go back online after Thanksgiving break” via Divya Kumar and Megan Reeves of the Tampa Bay Times — The University of South Florida will start fall classes in-person, then move them online again after students and faculty travel for Thanksgiving break, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Classes will start in-person on Aug. 24 and continue through Nov. 25. Instruction will resume online for the week of Nov. 30, and final exams will be online-only Dec. 5 through Dec. 10, when the semester ends.
“7 things we’ll see at Hard Rock Hollywood casino reopening” via Ben Crandell of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Mandatory masks, full-body thermal scanners, Plexiglas barriers and unplugged slot machines will be the new reality at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood on reopening night. Guests will also see cards and chips be disinfected using a “creative” process. Restaurants in the casino will have a gradual reopening with social-distancing requirements. Hard Rock hotels will reopen at 25% capacity. The Tampa Hard Rock’s program of social distancing and sanitation guidelines is called Safe and Sound, and includes a team of more than 100 actively disinfecting surfaces, with special emphasis on high-touch areas.
“Festivals could be on chopping block as local governments deal with coronavirus effects” via Kristina Webb of The Palm Beach Post — Royal Palm Beach Village Manager Ray Liggins expects to present a budget for the coming year that does not include some of the village’s signature events, including Rocktoberfest, Winterfest and the seafood festival, he told the Village Council at its May 21 meeting. In Wellington, no event is on the chopping block, but residents would see changes if those events are held, Assistant Village Manager Jim Barnes said. “Our life is going to be different the next 12 to 18 months,” Liggins said. This year’s Fourth of July event in Royal Palm Beach is not part of the budget, he said. Wellington’s is uncertain.
“South Florida counts nearly 600 coronavirus deaths at long-term-care facilities” via Marc Freeman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The new coronavirus is linked to 569 deaths among residents of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in South Florida, according to state data as of Friday. That’s 76 more than the previous week. Statewide, there have been 1,189 residents of long-term care facilities whose deaths are counted as COVID-19 fatalities. This is an overall increase of 157 deaths in the past seven days. That means there was a 15.2% increase in deaths for the week. Data shows 257 of Florida’s long-term care facilities have reported at least one death so far; 21 more facilities have had deaths since a week ago.
“These cleaners mopped up crime scenes. Now they’re killing the coronavirus.” via Andrew Boryga of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Many things stand out about how specialists do extensive cleaning at restaurants, hotels and hospitals across South Florida. Some even resemble Ghostbusters as they lug cleaning backpacks to spray every surface. Fort Lauderdale-based Scene Kleen is one of many who have used their experience cleaning blood, mold or bathrooms to bill themselves as coronavirus fighters who can disinfect hospitals, hotels, schools and restaurants. When it comes to coronavirus disinfection, companies have largely made up their own rules for what amount of personal protective equipment to wear.
“Palm Beach County coronavirus cases inch up with openings” via Jane Musgrave of The Palm Beach Post — Two weeks after stores, restaurants, gyms and other businesses throughout Florida were allowed to reopen with restrictions, the deadly coronavirus continues its slow and steady march. There are now 6,135 people diagnosed with the highly contagious disease in Palm Beach County, an increase of 139 since Sunday, according to a daily report from the Florida Department of Health. Statewide, there are 56,830 confirmed cases, an increase of 667 overnight. The trend is similar statewide. Over the last two weeks, an average of 749 new cases were added to the state’s tally each day. Since life-paralyzing restrictions were eased, the state was reporting an average of 679 new cases each day.
“Amid food shortages, South Florida restaurants raise prices, cut menu items” via Phillip Valys of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Hoping to rebound from a two-month lockdown, South Florida restaurants at half-capacity and barely surviving on sluggish takeout sales are now grappling with food costs creeping higher. Now restaurants are wrestling with the choice to pass these increases to patrons, stop serving certain dishes altogether, or do nothing. Experts say these price surges at restaurants should be temporary, dovetailing with recent spikes in supermarket prices. Shortages cascaded down the country’s food supply-chain to South Florida’s wholesalers and supermarkets. But some South Florida restaurants won’t gamble on losing potential revenue.
“Broward College moves toward dropping athletics amid pandemic, but coaches plan to fight” via David Wilson of the Miami Herald — Broward College is moving toward dropping athletics and a final decision could come next month. Baseball coach Gregg Bennis said he and a handful of other coaches plan to fight the college’s decision leading up to a scheduled vote by the Board of Trustees in June, but he is operating as if the program will be no more, contacting coaches at other schools to find homes for his players. The Seahawks compete in eight sports and all eight teams will cease to exist at the start of the next school year, assuming the Board of Trustees votes to approve the decision next month.
— MORE LOCAL —
“5 cops at one Florida department exposed to person with coronavirus, possibly a protester” via Tiffini Theisen of the Orlando Sentinel — Five Tampa police officers have been exposed to a person with coronavirus, possibly a protester. Demonstrations demanding justice for the death of Floyd, killed in police custody last week in Minneapolis, have been especially large and destructive in Tampa. Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said, “My concern … is that they’re in the face of our officers. It’s difficult for our officers to wear masks when they’re out there in the heat and sweating. It’s problematic. It’ll be interesting to see how many people get exposed — especially for our first responders.” The officers’ exposure happened Sunday.
“When will Pinellas reopen schools? The virus will decide.” via Megan Reeves of the Tampa Bay Times — Countless considerations come with reopening schools in a pandemic. Looking toward August, local school officials say they’re developing plans that strike the balance of offering effective in-person schooling while keeping students and staff safe from the coronavirus. An outbreak in schools would send ripples of infection through the community. As doctors walked through schools, they hit different issues. Just one example: foreign language labs where kids share headsets. If campuses reopen, the district will likely ask students to bring their own. Officials also are considering moving as many textbooks as possible online so lockers won’t be needed.
“Another corrections department worker in Tallahassee tests positive for coronavirus” via Casey Chapter of the Tallahassee Democrat — A Florida Department of Corrections employee who works in Tallahassee has tested positive for the coronavirus. The state prisons agency said it was informed of the employee’s status on May 19. This is at least the second employee to test positive who works in the department’s headquarters in downtown’s Carlton Building on South Calhoun Street. The prison’s agency informed staff members who may have had close contact with the person.
“Arrests starting to increase as Collier County reopens and tries to get back to normal” via Devan Patel of the Naples Daily News — After a massive drop in arrests during the pandemic, the number of bookings is increasing as Collier County reopens and inches toward a semblance of normalcy. The drop in bookings, at one point down by more than two-thirds, was attributable to two factors: criminals committing fewer crimes and law enforcement officers issuing more “notice to appear” citations in lieu of arrests. But since businesses began to reopen, the number of daily arrests has increased by 79% versus the average daily numbers during DeSantis‘ safer-at-home order.
“Delray Beach Fire Rescue offering at-home coronavirus testing for certain residents” via Brett Shweky of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Delray Beach Fire Rescue and the Delray Beach Medical Center recently partnered to ensure local residents that haven’t been able to reach a coronavirus testing site receive the screening they need. Homebound seniors and others who want testing but are unable to get to a testing site are eligible to receive the at-home testing from the Delray Beach firefighters and paramedics. In total, 150 test kits were purchased from the Delray Beach Medical Center with about $9,000 donated by members of the community and the Delray Beach Firefighters Benevolent Fund.
Randy Fine hosting hand sanitizer giveaway — Rep. Fine’s office will distribute 1,100 gallons of free hand and surface sanitizers in partnership with Brevard-based company Environmental Manufacturing Solutions. Rules for constituents wishing to get up to one gallon each of hand sanitizer and surface sanitizer: The product can be filled into any type of plastic container. New containers must be clean and free of debris and must contain a lid/cap. Used containers must be triple rinsed with tap water, must be clean and free of debris and must contain a lid/cap. The resident must be wearing a mask when they pull up and open their car window to hand over the container. The event begins at 10 a.m., at 2539 Palm Bay Road NE.
“Another corrections department worker in Tallahassee tests positive for coronavirus” via Casey Chapter of the Tallahassee Democrat — A Florida Department of Corrections employee who works in Tallahassee has tested positive for the coronavirus. The state prisons agency said it was informed of the employee’s status on May 19. This is at least the second employee to test positive who works in the department’s headquarters in downtown’s Carlton Building on South Calhoun Street. The prison’s agency informed staff members who may have had close contact with the person.
— CORONA NATION —
“Despite widespread economic toll, most Americans still favor controlling outbreak over restarting economy, Post-ABC poll finds” via Scott Clement and Dan Balz of The Washington Post — Despite the shared disruption of their daily lives since stay-at-home orders began, partisans differ sharply on how the country should move forward. In the starkest split, 57 percent of Americans overall and 81 percent of Democrats say trying to control the spread of the coronavirus is most important right now, even if it hurts the economy. A far smaller 27 percent of Republicans agree, while 66 percent of them say restarting the economy is more important, even if it hurts efforts to control the virus.
“Anthony Fauci on COVID-19 reopenings, vaccines, and moving at ‘warp speed’” via Helen Branswell of Stat News — Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has seen the photos of bars packed with mask-less patrons. He was not impressed. That said, these days, Fauci sees reason for cautious optimism about Moderna’s vaccine, and others. The idea of having a vaccine by the end of the year is “aspirational, but it’s certainly doable,” he told STAT in a wide-ranging interview. One of the most visible faces of the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Fauci also acknowledged the world will have limited data on the new vaccines when they are deployed and may have to balance the need to save lives with the possibility of some adverse events.
“U.S. and Chinese scientists trace evolution of coronaviruses in bats” via James Gorman of The New York Times — An international team of scientists, including a prominent researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, has analyzed all known coronaviruses in Chinese bats and used genetic analysis to trace the likely origin of the novel coronavirus to horseshoe bats. In the report, they also point to the great variety of these viruses in southern and southwestern China and urge closer monitoring of bat viruses in the area and greater efforts to change human behavior as ways of decreasing the chances of future pandemics. The genetic evidence that the virus originated in bats was already overwhelming.
“Latino homes report serious COVID-19 symptoms nearly twice as often, survey of 1.6 million shows” via Kenny Jacoby and Marco della Cava of the USA Today — Nearly two-thirds of Wake Forest’s Hispanic homes surveyed reported suffering the combination of symptoms most closely tied to the coronavirus, compared to less than 1% of everyone else. Across the nation, Hispanic households said yes to symptoms of COVID-19 nearly a third more often than others. When the list of symptoms is narrowed to what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently identified as the most serious pairs of ailments the differences were far starker: Hispanics experienced them almost twice as often.
“Gilead says drug helped moderately ill coronavirus patients” via Marilynn Marchione of The Associated Press — A California biotech company says its experimental drug remdesivir improved symptoms when given for five days to moderately ill, hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Gilead Sciences gave few details but said full results would soon be published in a medical journal. Remdesivir is the only treatment that’s been shown in a rigorous experiment to help fight the coronavirus. A large study found it could shorten average recovery time from 15 days to 11 days in hospitalized patients with severe disease. The drug is given through an IV and is designed to interfere with an enzyme the virus uses to copy its genetic material.
“Eli Lilly begins testing COVID-19 drug derived from blood of survivor” Peter Loftus of The Wall Street Journal — Eli Lilly & Co. said it began the first study of an experimental drug derived from a blood sample of an early U.S. survivor of COVID-19, a new effort to take advantage of the molecular defenses developed by recovered patients. The company said the testing aims to assess the drug’s potential to treat patients hospitalized with the coronavirus. The drugmaker also plans eventually to test whether the antibody-based drug could prevent disease in people at risk of infection, an approach that could serve as a bridge toward curbing the pandemic until a successful vaccine is developed.
“Michigan’s Governor lifts a stay-at-home order as other states take steps to reopen.” via The New York Times — Michigan’s Governor lifted a stay-at-home order for the state’s 10 million residents, as several other U.S. states announced steps to reopen businesses and public spaces. Effective immediately, the Governor said, groups of 100 people or less will be allowed to gather outdoors while social distancing. Restaurants will also be able to open starting Monday, though tables will be required to be six feet apart. As the virus persists on a stubborn but uneven path, with meaningful progress in some cities and alarming new outbreaks in others.
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“U.S. stocks are outpacing the rest of the world” via Karen Langley of The Wall Street Journal — U.S. stocks have staged a furious rebound since late March, leaving global markets behind. Optimism about state and business reopenings and the potential development of a coronavirus vaccine has lifted the S&P 500 36% from its March low, cutting its losses for the year to 5.8%. The index rallied 3% last week to cap its best two-month stretch since 2009. Investors point to a booming technology sector and an unprecedented amount of stimulus from the Federal Reserve as reasons for the outperformance. Investors this week will parse the May jobs report for further clues about the state of the labor market.
“A new projection finds the virus costing the U.S. economy $7.9 trillion. Poor countries face a debt crisis.” via The New York Times — The Congressional Budget Office projected that the pandemic would inflict a devastating long-term blow to the United States economy, costing $7.9 trillion over the next decade, or a 3 percent loss in “real” gross domestic product. Without adjusting for inflation the pandemic would cost $16 trillion over the next 10 years. Much of the diminished output was projected to be a result of weaker inflation, as prices for energy and transportation are expected to increase more slowly than they otherwise would have as Americans pull back on travel.
“Policymakers aim to ensure underserved communities have access to PPP loans” via Amara Omeokwe of The Wall Street Journal — When the Small Business Administration released the application form for the forgivable loan program, there was no instruction for lenders to collect optional demographic information. The agency’s inspector general in a recent report noted that omission and said “it is unlikely that SBA will be able to determine the loan volume” to borrowers in underserved and rural markets. There are some signs the $670 billion program is flowing to firms with fewer employees. The program’s average loan size has dropped from $206,000 in mid-April to roughly $115,000 in late May.
“Why politics keeps tanking a bailout idea that works” via Michael Grunwald of POLITICO — When President Barack Obama took office during the throes of the Great Recession, tax revenues were collapsing and state budgets were hemorrhaging. So, the President proposed an unprecedented $200 billion in direct aid to states. Ultimately, the Democratic Congress approved $140 billion in state aid — only two-thirds of Obama’s original ask. And it worked. Now that Congress is once again debating stimulus for a crushed economy a partisan war is breaking out over state aid. Governors of both parties are now pivoting to austerity, which means more public employees applying for unemployment benefits, fewer state and local services in a time of need, and fewer dollars circulating in the economy.
“Fed should resist market pressure to do more” via Mohamed A. El-Erain of Bloomberg — After notable disruptions, U.S. financial markets are liquid and functioning well because of the Fed’s emergency policy interventions. Government interest rates have been rather rangebound in recent weeks with the 10-year yield ending May broadly unchanged from a month ago. Most companies with capital market access have had no problems issuing bonds. While the economy is challenged in multiple ways, it’s hard to argue that this is due to financial conditions that the Fed influences. The Fed could well be tempted to do more anyway on the view that it is essentially a free option.
“Confusion reigns as time runs out on Florida’s COVID-19 moratorium on evictions” via Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald — As the hours tick down on DeSantis’ statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, confusion reigns about what will happen when the ban ends as 12:01 a.m. June 2. For now, however, police in Miami-Dade and Broward won’t be forcing residents from their homes. DeSantis said he had not yet decided whether to extend the eviction moratorium. Public records show that more than 700 residential and commercial evictions have been electronically filed in Miami-Dade since March 12, when Mayor Carlos Giménez declared a countywide state of emergency due to the COVID-19 virus. Those filings are sitting inside a legal queue that will be opened when the ban ends.
“Florida’s unemployed must now wait in ‘virtual room’ before logging in, frustrating many” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Unemployed Floridians are now required to “wait in line” to use the state’s unemployment website, further aggravating people who were already fed up with the system. Rather than allowing people to automatically log in to the state site, called CONNECT, users now have to enter a virtual “waiting room” with wait times longer than an hour. Users’ progress is indicated by a stick figure walking across the screen. The new process prompted out-of-work Floridians to email reporters and take to Twitter in exasperation. CONNECT is routinely taken down on the weekends and at night, and some users said they were kicked out even after waiting more than an hour to log in.
“They made ends meet before coronavirus. Now they’re the ‘new poor.’” via Divya Kumar of the Tampa Bay Times — In Hillsborough County, a family of four needs $74,268 a year to pay for housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, a smartphone plan and taxes, according to the United Way’s ALICE report for 2020. That’s more than the $25,100 that the federal government deems as poverty level for a family of four. They make up 33 percent of Florida’s households, up from 22 percent in 2007, according to the report. The poverty rate, meanwhile, stayed around 13 percent of households in the state. Nonprofits across the Tampa Bay area are being flooded with people who have never sought help before.
— MORE CORONA —
“‘Very encouraging’: Spain reports no coronavirus deaths in 24-hour period” via The Associated Press — Spain on Monday reported no official deaths from the new coronavirus in a 24-hour period for the first time since March. The development is “very, very encouraging,” emergency health response chief Fernando Simón said. Spain recorded only 71 new COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours. Spain reported its first two deaths on March 3. Another was reported two days later. Spain’s number of infections and death jumped exponentially. On April 2, it recorded 950 deaths in 24 hours, the peak death toll. The official death toll now stands at 27,127, with 240,000 confirmed cases.
“New coronavirus losing potency, top Italian doctor says” via Reuters — The new coronavirus is losing its potency and has become much less lethal, a senior Italian doctor said. “In reality, the virus clinically no longer exists in Italy,” said Alberto Zangrillo, the head of the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan in the northern region of Lombardy, which has borne the brunt of Italy’s coronavirus contagion. “The swabs that were performed over the last 10 days showed a viral load in quantitative terms that was absolutely infinitesimal compared to the ones carried out a month or two months ago,” he said. However new infections and fatalities have fallen steadily in May and the country is unwinding some of the most rigid lockdown restrictions introduced anywhere on the continent.
“Get used to doctors on a screen, heightened focus on respiratory distress” via Wayne Washington of The Palm Beach Post — When it comes to hospitals and medical care, coronavirus-inspired changes in American life from masks to temperature checks to telemedicine are here to stay, experts say. In many instances, patients won’t even see a doctor or nurse in person. They will get medical advice and guidance on a screen in an expanding field known as telemedicine. Doctor’s offices will first want to know if the would-be patient has an infectious condition. In the future, if the patient could have something like coronavirus, the doctor’s office likely will suggest a specific time for an appointment, a time when the incoming patient can be separated from others. The doctor’s office might provide care via telephone, again to eliminate the risk of infection spread.
“The Metropolitan Opera cancels its fall season, while ‘Phantom’ plays on in South Korea.” via The New York Times — The Metropolitan Opera said that the pandemic had forced the company to cancel its fall season, thrusting the Met into one of the gravest crises in its 137-year history and leaving many of its artists, who have not been paid since March, in dire financial straits. The announcement by the Met, the largest U.S. performing arts organization, is sure to be watched closely by other presenters who are trying to gauge when it might be safe to invite audiences back. The Met now hopes to return with a gala on New Year’s Eve after its longest interruption in more than a century.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Val Demings calls for ban on ‘neck restraints’ by police after Floyd death” via Jeff Weiner of the Orlando Sentinel — “We should totally ban police neck restraints,” Demings posted on Twitter. Demings, a Democrat and former Orlando police chief, reiterated her call to ban the tactic during an appearance on MSNBC. Neck restraint typically refers to when an officer uses their arm or leg to compress the neck of a person being taken into custody, without directly pressuring the person’s airway. The tactic is considered dangerous and is banned or severely restricted by many agencies.
“Gaetz takes on Twitter, fellow Republicans in latest podcast” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The Northwest Florida Congressman aimed the majority of his volleys at Twitter, accusing the social media platform of breaking its neutrality as a protected public forum by adding fact-checks to Trump‘s tweets about mail-in ballots. Gaetz filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over that unprecedented decision by the Silicon Valley giant. “It’s about time the Federal Election Commission and the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) as well took action against these digital platforms that are trying to engage in election interference and that I think are violating existing law,” he said. “We do need to clean up the laws we have, but I’m always a fan of starting with enforcing existing law.”
“Democrats stick with tax-rise policies as they make plans for 2021 majority” via Richard Rubin of The Wall Street Journal — Democratic lawmakers and policy aides worry little that planned tax increases on corporations and high-income households would hinder the economic recovery. If anything, they argue that economic disparities evident during the pandemic make these tax increases more necessary. Joe Biden’s tax proposals are modest compared with those of his former rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination. Unlike Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, he hasn’t endorsed imposing annual wealth taxes. Republicans oppose those tax increases and will campaign against them, warning that they would slow growth and discourage investment. Biden would raise the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21% and impose additional taxes on foreign profits.
“Justice Department reversal in Michael Flynn case ‘unusual’” via Eric Tucker of The Associated Press — A federal judge defended his decision not to quickly approve the Justice Department’s request to dismiss its own criminal case against Flynn, saying that the department’s reversal was unusual and he wanted to consider the request carefully before ruling on it. The brief from U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan offers the most detailed explanation for his refusal to immediately sign off on the department’s decision to drop its case against Flynn, who pleaded guilty as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
— STATEWIDE —
Assignment editors — Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez will host a call with the Florida Complete Count Committee for an update on Census operations, 2 p.m. Call-in number— (888) 585-9008. Conference room number — 687-254-536
Happening today — The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments in four cases, which includes two that could have a considerable impact on reinstating death sentences. Attorney General Ashley Moody is seeking restoration of the death sentences of Michael James Jackson, convicted of killing two people in Duval County in 2005, and Bessman Okafor, convicted in a 2012 Orange County murder. The hearings begin at 9 a.m. over videoconference, which will be streamed on The Florida Channel or at floridasupremecourt.org/Oral-Arguments.
“On first day of hurricane season, there’s a tropical system to watch” via Robin Webb of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It’s possible that a storm could form Monday, the official start of hurricane season. Remnants of what was Tropical Storm Amanda in the Pacific traveled into the Gulf of Mexico, and it has an 80% chance of forming Monday or Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center said. It would be the third named storm of 2020 in the Atlantic, and it would be called Cristobal. As of 8 a.m. Monday, the system was located over Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula and is expected to move northwestward into the Bay of Campeche. A new tropical depression is “likely to form within the next day or so,” according to NHC.
“Florida rethinks hurricane prep in midst of coronavirus” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press — Florida’s emergency manager is expressing complete confidence that the state is prepared for a hurricane during the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, but some local directors aren’t sharing the same level of certainty. The state has massive stockpiles of personal protection equipment reserved for storms, including 10 million masks, and has new partnerships with hotels, supermarkets and other vendors that put Florida in a good place, said Jared Moskowitz, director of the Division of Emergency Management. “Clearly nobody has pandemic experience out there in hurricane season,” Moskowitz said. “Everything that we do will be affected in one way or another — big and or small — by COVID-19.”
“Florida residents more concerned for hurricane season amid pandemic” via Insurance Journal — As Florida gets ready to officially start hurricane season, a new survey shows a majority of residents are more concerned for this year’s potential storms than in previous years, given the simultaneous continuing issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the survey of 1,500 Floridians conducted by the statewide hurricane safety initiative, Get Ready, Florida!, 51% of respondents said they are more concerned about hurricane season this year than in previous years because of the pandemic situation versus 45% who said the current situation made no difference. 73% of respondents are concerned about potential hurricanes, in general, this year, with 24% of respondents indicating they are very concerned and 48% saying they are somewhat concerned.
“Duke adds to solar energy projects” via the News Service of Florida — Duke Energy Florida plans to open five solar-power plants in 2021, according to a regulatory filing at the Florida Public Service Commission, which indicated the costs of the plants will range from $98 million to $109 million, with each having a capacity of slightly less than 75 megawatts. Two projects — the Twin Rivers Solar Power Plant in Hamilton County and the Santa Fe Solar Power Plant in Columbia County, are under construction and slated to begin operating in early 2021. The other three projects, known as the Duette Solar Power Plant in Manatee County, the Charlie Creek Solar Power Plant in Hardee County and the Archer Solar Power Plant in Alachua County, are expected to begin operating in late 2021.
“Mary Mayhew seeks managed care extension but eyes future changes” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Florida health care officials formally asked the federal government to extend for two more years a “waiver” to allow the state to keep intact its Medicaid program that relies on steering patients into privately run managed-care plans. The request doesn’t contemplate making any major immediate revisions to Medicaid, the safety-net health care program for poor people that relies on a mix of state and federal dollars. But Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mayhew said she is going to propose changes to the program in the coming years. Mayhew said that while there has been an “evolution” in the Medicaid program, “there is so much work that needs to be done” to reward quality and ensure timely access to services.
“Even without parade, St. Petersburg honors Pride month” via Josh Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times — There won’t be a parade this year to commemorate Pride due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. But that didn’t keep city officials from raising the Pride Flag above City Hall. “While the parade may have been canceled, we are not canceling Pride,” Mayor Rick Kriseman said before the flag raising, flanked by City Council members, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and a Pride executive. St. Pete Pride first sought to postpone the event, usually held in June, until the fall. Last month, they decided to cancel it for this year altogether.
“‘Fear for his safety’: Florida police union seeks to shield name of officer in McDade shooting” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Florida Police Benevolent Association is seeking to block the city of Tallahassee from releasing the name of the officer who last week shot and killed a stabbing suspect, NaTosha “Tony” McDade. Stephen Webster, a Tallahassee attorney for the police union, filed a motion Monday in Leon Circuit Court seeking an injunction in the case that ignited large weekend protests in the capital city. The court documents provide new details in the shooting, from the officer’s perspective. Over recent days, McDade’s name has been invoked by local protesters and human rights groups as another example of police brutality against black people.
“GEO Group sues Netflix for trademark infringement over use of logos in ‘Messiah’ series” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The GEO Group, a Boca Raton-based operator of private prisons and detention centers, is suing Netflix over the streaming provider’s depiction of its “misappropriated trademarks and name” in its original series “Messiah.” The suit says the series “falsely accuses GEO of detaining immigrants in overcrowded overheated rooms with chain-link fences and depriving them of beds, bedding, sunshine, recreation and educational opportunities.” Scenes in the fourth episode of the series depict GEO Group’s actual logos on shirt sleeves of fictional detention center workers, on the side of cars, and on a bus.
“Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz stepping aside as CEO” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Abovitz is stepping aside as chief executive of the financially pressed technology company after the Plantation-based firm raised millions in new funding. In a message to staff dated May 28 on the company’s website, Abovitz said he will remain in his post until a successor is found. The decision came after the often-secretive company announced the layoffs of 1,000 employees, or half its payroll, but later raised new money from investors. Magic Leap notified the state of Florida in late April that it intended to permanently lay off 403 people locally on June 21.
“MIT elects its first-ever black woman student body president. She’s from Miami” via Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald — Danielle Geathers, a Miami Country Day grad, was recently named the 2020-2021 Undergraduate Association President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s student body. Geathers is the first black woman in the history of MIT to serve in that role. “I am really excited,” she told The Tech, MIT’s student newspaper. In terms of student diversity, MIT says that about 6% of its undergraduates are black and 47% percent are women. Geathers is the daughter of Marva Wiley, a Miami attorney. She will be a junior in the fall.
“Cindy Banyai wants Robert E. Lee statue taken down in Lee County” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Banyai called on Lee County leaders to take down a bust of Confederate Gen. Lee. “It is necessary to craft solutions together to ensure the safety of all members of our community,” reads a release issued by her campaign. “The first step is removing the bust of Robert E. Lee from downtown Fort Myers, as well as all other public effigies of the leader of this unsuccessful rebellion against the United States of America.” The county’s long history of honoring Lee has been controversial for more than 100 years.
First on #FlaPol — “Florida Chamber announces hires, launches training institute” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Florida Chamber of Commerce stepped up its political hiring ahead of the 2020 elections. Most notable in the hires, Nick Catroppo was named Vice President of Political Operations, a new position. Catroppo boasts campaign experience on several statewide and local contests, working in the past for Attorney General Moody, state Rep. James Buchanan and former U.S. Reps. David Jolly and Richard Nugent. The Chamber also promoted Andrew Wiggins to senior director for Political Affairs and Coalitions Advocacy. Meanwhile, the new Florida Institute for Political Leadership will begin to recruit, train and guide prospective candidates. Chamber leaders note some 4,500 offices are up for election sometime between now and the 2025 election cycle.
“Emilio González joins Mercury’s Florida team” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Mercury has brought on González as co-chairman of its Florida team, the bipartisan public strategy firm announced. González is a former Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a position he was appointed to by President George W. Bush. During his tenure, he represented the Bush administration before Congress as its senior immigration official and led an enterprise-funded agency of 17,000 employees with a $3 billion budget.
— 2020 —
“Mail-in voting is not the bugaboo Trump wants you to believe it is” via Bill Cottrell of the Tallahassee Democrat — Trump obviously thinks mailed balloting will favor Biden. He tweeted about cutting off federal recovery aid to Michigan and Nevada if they use some of their federal emergency money for postal voting. In any event, it’s not illegal, every state runs its own elections and there’s apparently no law letting Trump withhold COVID-19 recovery money from states whose election methods give him the willies. And more important, the handy bugaboo that it is, there’s no evidence that voting by mail increases fraud. Trump even created a blue-ribbon commission on “election integrity,” which met twice and gave up without finding anything worth tweeting about.
“‘Hate just hides’: Joe Biden vows to take on systematic racism” via Alexandria Jaffe, Steve Peoples and Will Weissert of The Associated Press — Biden vowed to address institutional racism in his first 100 days in office as he sought to elevate his voice in the exploding national debate over racism and police brutality. Biden offered emotional support and promised bold action during an in-person discussion with black leaders in Delaware and a subsequent virtual meeting with big-city mayors who are grappling with racial tensions and frustrated by a lack of federal support. “Hate just hides. It doesn’t go away, and when you have somebody in power who breathes oxygen into the hate under the rocks, it comes out from under the rocks,” Biden said.
“Oddsmakers say Kamala Harris, Demings now top VP sweeps” via Scott Powers of the Florida Politics — International oddsmakers who take bets on American elections are no longer listing Demings as a long shot to be picked by Biden as the Democrats’ nominee for Vice President. In the newest odds, Demings isn’t the favorite. California Sen. Harris has pretty much held that position for months and continues to be a heavy favorite among gamblers who seek out United Kingdom-based bookies to play a little action on American politics. It’s been a terrible week for Amy Klobuchar, whose prospects may have been victimized by some reports late last week that have since been refuted.
“Will Biden make a former Florida police chief his 2020 running mate?” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Demings’ rise from Orlando’s first black woman police chief to a congresswoman with a central role in Trump’s impeachment trial landed her on Biden’s vice presidential shortlist. And now, as protests over the death of Floyd grip the country, those same credentials are propelling Demings further into the national spotlight, with interviews last weekend on “Meet the Press,” frequent cable news hits and an op-ed titled “My fellow brothers and sisters in blue, what the hell are you doing?” Demings wouldn’t comment on her law enforcement record, and the Biden campaign wouldn’t discuss the vice-presidential selection process.
— MORE FROM THE TRAIL —
“Tom Lee says Senate ‘isn’t the best fit for me’” via Jim Turner of News Service of Florida — After submitting his resignation to leave the Legislature with two years remaining in his term, Sen. Lee acknowledged serving as Hillsborough County clerk of courts would be a “good fit” for him. But in a text message over the weekend, the Thonotosassa Republican said the decision to end a long legislative career, which included a stint as Senate President, has been on his mind for several years and wasn’t motivated by a run for any local office. “I learned to govern in a different era, and, for whatever reason, the legislative process has changed,” Lee said. “Simply put, the Florida Senate just isn’t the best fit for me at this time in my life.”
GOP fundraiser in Key West still on — Top Senate Republicans, undeterred by the pandemic and widespread protests, are planning to hold a fundraiser in Key West sometime in the next few days. As reported by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, Senate President-Designate Simpson, who is in charge of the GOP’s Senate campaign arm, said the cancellation was discussed “but our economy is based on tourism, and Keys has been hit unusually hard, so we thought the event was a good way to help them recover. It felt like this event is something we should still do.”
“Ileana Garcia officially files to challenge José Javier Rodríguez in SD 37” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Garcia, the Latinas For Trump founder, is officially entering the race to challenge Rodríguez. Garcia, a Republican, was selected by Senate leadership late last week to compete in the contest. “The sacrifices made by my grandparents, the work ethic instilled in me by my parents, and the opportunities I could only find in the United States are what I plan to bring to the Florida Senate. I am thankful to Senate President-Designate Simpson and Majority Leader [Kathleen] Passidomo for their support in this endeavor.” Garcia will attempt to flip the SD 37 seat for Republicans.
“Joshua Hicks touts impressive fundraising effort for long-shot House bid” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Hicks, running in House District 11, dazzled with receipts from his first few weeks as a candidate, raising almost $18,000. “I’m incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support our campaign has received in a few short weeks. We are building a strong, grassroots campaign that will have the resources needed to deliver our ‘People First’ message to voters throughout our First Coast community,” Hicks, a newcomer to the district but not to politics, said. District 11 is a historically conservative redoubt in Northeast Florida, encompassing deep-red Nassau County and traditionally Republican beach communities in Duval.
“Two Democrats focus campaigns on helping small businesses” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — As candidates struggle with how and even whether they should campaign during the coronavirus crisis, more are turning to public service than election messaging, including two Florida House Democratic candidates promoting small businesses. “As a small-business owner myself, I felt there wasn’t enough attention during this pandemic to what it is doing to small business owners, like myself. I’m only as good as the next client who walks in the door. A lot of my district is small business,” said Tracey Kagan, candidate for House District 28. Everywhere, candidates are looking for new strategies outside the usual campaign playbook. They can’t really go door-to-door. They can’t go to events. They can’t hold rallies or fundraisers. But they need be active in the community.
“Democrats want court to reconsider ballot order ruling” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — National Democratic Party organizations are asking a federal appeals court to reconsider a decision that rejected a challenge to a decades-old Florida law about how candidates are listed on election ballots. The organizations have requested that the full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals take up the case after a three-judge panel on April 29 said the Democratic plaintiffs did not have legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of the law. The law requires that candidates who are in the same party as the Governor appear first on the ballot — a requirement that Democrats say unfairly favors Republicans in the GOP-controlled state.
— TOP OPINION —
“How to make this moment the turning point for real change” via Barack Obama on Medium — As millions of people across the country take to the streets and raise their voices in response to the killing of Floyd and the ongoing problem of unequal justice, many people have reached out asking how we can sustain momentum to bring about real change. First, the waves of protests across the country represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decadeslong failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the United States. On the other hand, the small minority of folks who’ve resorted to violence in various forms are putting innocent people at risk. The more specific we can make demands for criminal justice and police reform, the harder it will be for elected officials to just offer lip service to the cause.
— OPINIONS —
“An American triumph overshadowed by American tragedy” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Astronauts returned to space on an American rocket last week, a technological triumph eclipsed by the return of a familiar American tragedy. Our nation’s cities burned again last week like they haven’t in 50 years, an upheaval sparked by the killing of an unarmed black man by a white Minneapolis police officer. The resulting mass protests, confrontations and destruction took place just as the nation, having surpassed 100,000 deaths from COVID-19, was beginning to emerge from a painful but necessary pandemic shutdown that cost millions of people their jobs. We can start to move forward by acknowledging some fundamental truths, starting with the deep sense of grievance and resentment among African Americans who can easily see themselves on the ground with a cop’s knee on their necks.
“Trump is in a free fall — for now” via Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post — The magnitude of Trump’s polling collapse is breathtaking. Polling in March showed his approval rating nudging into positive territory; the latest poll released this weekend shows him back in negative territory. His personal favorability is net -13. His rating on handling the coronavirus has gone from a net +6 to a net -7. Even more dramatically, from a statistical tie in March, former Vice President Biden’s lead has soared to a 10-point lead. Biden has an enormous approval advantage among groups critical to his victory. The poll was completed before the extent of the reaction to Floyd’s unjustified killing had played out.
“As upheaval mounts, Trump has no plan” via Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg Opinion — Trump’s weekend kicked off with what he called a news conference, although he didn’t actually take any questions. Instead, having decided that Biden’s alleged weakness on China would be a good campaign theme, Trump decided to get tough with China. By Sunday, he had moved to one of his favorite devices, the fictional tough stand. This one was a tweet about designating “ANTIFA” a terrorist organization, something the President very likely doesn’t have the power to do.
“Don’t call in the troops” via The Wall Street Journal editorial board — President Trump lectured governors on Monday that they should get tougher and “dominate” lawbreakers who are looting stores, burning buildings and assaulting police. His words were blunt and unsympathetic as usual, but he’s right that public order is first and foremost an obligation of state and local government. The governors and mayors need to protect the innocent if they don’t want the federal government to call in the military to patrol their streets instead.
“This is the consequence of Trump’s reign of rage” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — Trump said it best himself four years ago. “I bring rage out,” he said. “I always have.” Today America is burning. These are the wages of Trump’s hate-filled incumbency. He ignored an approaching pandemic, turning a crisis into a catastrophe in the United States and worsening the biggest economic collapse since the Great Depression, with more than 40 million out of work and upward of 100,000 dead. Meanwhile, his constant tearing at the fabric of civil society, his dismantling of the institutions that bind us, and his glorifying of racism and violence have ultimately set America ablaze.
“Think outside the box, Jack Dorsey” via Maureen Dowd of The New York Times — Dorsey, who has more leeway because his stock isn’t as valuable as Facebook’s, made some mild moves against the president who has been spewing lies and inciting violence on Twitter for years. “Jack is really sincerely trying to find something to make it better,” said one friend of the Twitter chief’s. “He’s like somebody trapped in a maze, going down every hallway and turning every corner.” Mark Zuckerberg, on the other hand, went on Fox to report that he was happy to continue enabling the Emperor of Chaos, noting that he did not think Facebook should be “the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online.”
“Twitter: President doesn’t know what he’s talking about — and neither do we” via Carl Hiaasen of the Miami Herald — Twitter has established a new policy of covering up untrue statements from sources on COVID-19 and other topics. Here are some suggested labels for tweets and their meanings. For example, “over-caffeinated rambling” could be placed on all post-dawn tweets in which the President needlessly repeats words or phrases, indicating an excessive intake of Coca-Cola products.
“What happened in Minneapolis should never happen again” via Gregory Tony for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — What happened in Minneapolis in the last week has shocked the nation, inspiring both mourning and rage: the brutal and unnecessary killing of an unarmed black man happening once again. These issues are personal for me. Before I had stars on my collar, growing up in a very rough, poor neighborhood of Philadelphia, I was that young black boy who had been thrown on the ground by police. Those experiences motivated me to do better for black and brown kids like myself who need protection and a helping hand, not a knee on their throat. All it takes is one incident for an entire community to lose trust and connection with those entrusted to protect them.
“For our white friends desiring to be allies” via Courtney Ariel of Sojourners — You don’t have to have something to say all of the time. You don’t have to post something on social media that points to how liberal/how aware/how cool/how good you are. For one out of every three opinions/insights shared by a person of color in your life, try to resist the need to respond with a better or different insight about something that you read or listened to as it relates to their shared opinion. Being an ally is different from simply wanting not to be racist. Some marginalized/disenfranchised folks will tell you not to ask them anything; don’t be offended by that. Colorblindness is totally impossible in a nation whose land was taken from the indigenous inhabitants through an attempt at genocide and horrific colonization.
“The Jacksonville two-step” via Nate Monroe for Medium — A 62-foot granite monument to a Jacksonville-based Confederate military company stands sentinel just feet away from City Hall — not because black residents, about 30% of the population, ever wanted it there, of course. In fact, no one in power really cares much for it anymore, but few people in power have the courage to act on their private feelings and push to remove it. Mayor Curry told me at the time: “This isn’t my game. Someone else created this situation.” He never did take a side on the issue, which is of course an indirect way of taking a side — status quo means it stays right where it is. It’s amazing how often this kind of thing happens here.
“Joe Henderson: Tampa Mayor Jane Castor showed what it means to be a leader” via Florida Politics — First, she and Police Chief Brian Dugan walked with peaceful protesters Saturday afternoon to express outrage over the murder of Floyd in Minneapolis. It’s one thing to express support with words. It’s another to show it with action. When the protest march later turned into a full-blown riot Saturday night, though, Castor struck exactly the right tone to a city looking for answers. “I saw a lot during those 31 years, but I have never seen anything like last night.” That’s saying something. The tone Castor struck was at least important as what she said. It was no-nonsense but not strident. She was compassionate but in control.
— TODAY’S SUNRISE —
Today, COVID-19 takes a back seat to protests of police violence. Sunrise hears from a Mayor, a minister and two members of Congress, but nothing from the Governor. DeSantis has said nothing in public about the protests, not even the one held outside the Governor’s mansion. However, on Monday, we finally got a tweet.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— The death toll from COVID-19 continues to rise. There have been at least 2,543 fatalities in Florida and the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus is just short of 57,000.
— Democrats on Florida’s Congressional delegation are trying to convince Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to support the latest round of COVID-19 stimulus — the HERO Act. It includes another round of $1,200 checks for individuals, as well as extending additional unemployment benefits through the end of the year.
— Florida’s budget is taking a hit because of the economic slowdown, and DeSantis plans to use his line-item veto power to reduce overall spending. That’s why Florida Developmental Disabilities Council CEO Valerie Breen is pleading with DeSantis not to wipe out the gains they made during the Legislative Session. Sunrise speaks with Breen.
— And we check in with two Florida Men, where one will make you proud.
To listen, click on the image below:
— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —
— ALOE —
“MLS players agree to salary cuts, possible tournament” via Anne M. Peterson of The Associated Press — The Major League Soccer Players Association voted to approve economic concessions for this season, including across-the-board salary cuts, while also agreeing to play in a proposed summer tournament in Orlando, Florida. The proposal will now be sent to back to the league for approval by team owners. Major League Soccer gave its teams the go-ahead Thursday to begin small voluntary group training sessions outdoors. Teams must follow a strict protocol, as well as local public health and government restrictions. Not all of the league’s teams have returned to training.
“Blue Angels ready for beach air show if COVID-19 permits, public practices up in the air” via Jake Newby of the Pensacola News Journal — Five to seven times a week, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels are speeding across the Pensacola skies, practicing their demonstration maneuvers as if a portion of the team’s 2020 schedule will be salvaged. As of now, that schedule is slated to kick off with the beloved Pensacola Beach Air Show on July 11. Both the Blues and the Santa Rosa Island Authority, which hosts the air show and has the power to nix it, say that the plan 41 days out is to still conduct the show, as well as the July 10 dress rehearsal. Both events are, of course, vulnerable to being canceled as the coronavirus pandemic looms large, but Blue Angels Executive Officer Cmdr. Todd Royles said his pilots and his team continue to prepare as if the show will go on.
“U.S. Sugar celebrates end of harvest, uses century-old steam locomotive to haul sugar cane” via Florida Politics staff reports — A century-old U.S. Sugar steam locomotive delivered the end-of-season sugar cane harvest for the first time in more than five decades thanks to a new restoration project. Locomotive No. 148 brought that harvest from the field to U.S. Sugar’s mill to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of its 1920 launch. The locomotive was built by the American Locomotive Company. The company says it will continue to operate the train going forward under the name “Sugar Express.”
“Car club revs up teen’s wish with drive-by parade” via Brett Shweky of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Make-A-Wish Southern Florida foundation refuses to let the COVID-19 pandemic get in the way of delivering special moments to children with critical illnesses. Daniel Lawson was no exception as he recently received an event he soon won’t forget. The 19-year-old who has a passion for Subaru cars was surprised May 13 with a drive-by-parade of his favorite vehicles in front of his Coconut Creek home. Lawson, who is undergoing treatment for rare blood cancer, was excited as a long line of high-end cars from the North Broward Subaru Club passed by his home.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday today to our friend Chris Ingram, as well as Jim Gill and Daniel Tilson.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.