A top-of-Sunburn birthday shoutout to one of the absolute people in The Process, our dear friend Kathy Mears. Today Meerkat is turning the big 5-0.
The very best of wishes to Ryan Smith, director of public affairs at McNicholas & Associates. Smith, a devout movie and Star Wars fan, married Kelly Kibbey, an attorney with the Florida Senate Health Policy Committee, in a family ceremony this weekend. Another wedding celebration with friends is expected in November. Congratulations to the happy couple!
Florida’s qualifying period begins at noon Monday, kicking off the mad dash to make the ballot. Over the subsequent 96 hours, the chessboard will be set for the 2020 cycle and the match for who controls the Florida Legislature.
Qualifying week always brings some drama. From plane crashes to bounced checks, it’s the biennial proof that Murphy’s law is no theory.
FedEx planes full of candidate paperwork have nose-dived at the Tally airport, last-minute filers have appeared out of thin air, financial disclosures have expired and qualifying checks — which can’t be a day late — have been a dollar (or penny) short.
Given the surprises 2020 has already brought, anything is possible this year. Especially since Democrats are fielding candidates in all 120 House seats.
Though only a handful of districts are truly ripe for a flip, winning on a technicality is still a win.
Democrats experienced that firsthand two years ago — albeit between two members of the party — when former Rep. Barrington Russell whiffed on his paperwork, allowing now-Rep. Anika Omphroy to win election unopposed.
Whether the path is extraordinary or mundane, the matches that matter will be defined come Friday.
Republicans currently enjoy a 23-17 majority in the Senate and a 73-47 advantage in the House.
SD 39, where GOP Sen. Anitere Flores is exiting due to term limits, is the only truly competitive seat in the upper chamber, though Democrats have eyes on flipping exiting Sen. David Simmons’ SD 9 seat while Republicans have made denying SD 37 Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez a second term one of their stretch goals.
There’s also the question of SD 20, where former GOP Rep. Danny Burgess seeks to replace Sen. Tom Lee. It wasn’t seen as competitive — in fact, it wasn’t even slated for the ballot — but the lack of an incumbent is an opportunity Democrats don’t plan to waste.
— DAYS UNTIL —
PGA Tour resumes with Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth — 3; Last day of state candidate qualifying — 6; “Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre” by Max Brooks release — 8; Belmont Stakes rescheduled — 12; Father’s Day — 13; Apple to hold Developer Conference — 14; NBA training camp — 22; “The Outpost” with Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood premieres — 25; NBA teams traveled to Orlando — 29; Disney World Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom to reopen — 33; Disney World Epcot and Hollywood Studios to reopen — 37; Federal taxes due — 37; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premieres — 39; “Mulan” premieres — 46; TED conference rescheduled — 47; NBA season restart in Orlando — 53; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 70; NBA draft lottery — 76; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 77; Indy 500 rescheduled — 87; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 80; Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 81; “A Quiet Place Part II” premieres — 88; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 89; Rescheduled date for French Open — 106; First presidential debate in Indiana — 114; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 1117; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 124; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 126; Second presidential debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 129; NBA draft — 129; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 130; NBA free agency — 132; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 137; 2020 General Election — 148; “Black Widow” premieres — 150; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 155; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 162; “No Time to Die” premieres — 169; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 176 “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres — 218; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 244; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 410; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 419; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 515; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 613; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 6485; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 768; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 851.
— AMERICA SMOLDERING —
“A U-turn, an angry president and a fateful walk to a church” via Robert Burns of The Associated Press — Defense Secretary Mark Esper was three blocks from the FBI’s Washington Field Office. He had planned to confer there at a security command center, but plans changed with an unexpected call to divert immediately. Go the White House. Donald Trump wanted 10,000 federal troops immediately on the streets to control a situation some aides believed could escalate dangerously. After Trump finished his remarks in the Rose Garden he gathered aides and officials, including Esper, for a walk across Lafayette Park to St. John’s Church.
“Pentagon disarms National Guard activated in D.C., sends active-duty forces home” via Paul Sonne, Fenit Nirappil and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — The Pentagon has told National Guardsmen deployed to the nation’s capital not to use firearms or ammunition, and has issued orders to send home active-duty troops that the Trump administration amassed outside the city in recent days, a sign of de-escalation in the federal response to protests in the city. Defense Secretary Esper made the decision to disarm the guard without consulting the White House. Initially, a small group of guardsmen deployed in the city had been carrying guns. Now, all of the roughly 5,000 guardsmen deployed to Washington from the District of Columbia and 11 states have been told not to use weapons or ammunition.
“William Barr says he didn’t give tactical order to clear protesters” via Michael Balsamo of The Associated Press — Barr says law enforcement officers were already moving to push back protesters from a park in front of the White House when he arrived there, and he says he did not give a command to disperse the crowd, though he supported the decision. Barr’s comments come after the White House and others said repeatedly that the attorney general ordered officers to clear the park. Administration officials have spent much of the week trying to explain how the situation escalated and why smoke bombs, pepper balls and police on horseback were needed to clear the largely peaceful crowd.
“White House almost completely surrounded by more than a mile of fencing” via Hannah Natanson and Teddy Amenabar of The Washington Post — Protesters arriving in the nation’s capital for the ninth consecutive day of demonstrations found the White House encircled by more than a mile of tall metal fencing. The previous day, work crews had erected enough fencing, reinforced by white concrete barriers, to bar entry to Lafayette Square and to outline half the Ellipse, the sloping green lawn that abuts the executive residence. Although fortifications increased, the federal presence diminished: Compared with previous days, far fewer police or military officers strolled the streets or stood to watch inside the park. There were almost no police officers visible anywhere as of the early afternoon.
“In cities, a dramatic end to social distancing” via Maura Judkis of The Washington Post — Since March, the suspension of sports and parades and rallies and concerts had made the sight of large crowds a rarity, an anxiety trigger, even a scandal. Now, we are seeing massive crowds moving like ice floes on city streets. Protesters crowding shoulder-to-shoulder, shouting and chanting and singing at the tops of their lungs. Police moving in tight formation, manhandling people and spiriting them away to crowded cells. For Cat Brooks, co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project in Oakland, California, the sudden leap from social distancing to social in-the-midst-ancing was “terrifying and beautiful.” Terrifying, because she has asthma, if tear gas does not wreak havoc on her lungs, COVID-19 could.
“America’s broken system of training cops” via Margaret Harding McGill and Erica Pandey of Axios — The structural failings in American policing begin with officers’ training, which largely focuses more on using force than reducing the need for it. While holding officers accountable is most important in stopping them from using excessive force, training that focuses on empathy, fairness and de-escalation could lead to fewer violent conflicts between officers and the communities they serve, according to law enforcement experts. There are more than 18,000 police departments in the U.S., but there’s no federal standard on how officers should be trained. And the training that officers do receive has little to no emphasis on empathy.
“Officials urge George Floyd protesters to get coronavirus tests” via Brian Mahoney and Kimberlee Kruesi of The Associated Press — As New York City prepared to reopen after a more than two-month coronavirus shutdown, officials lifted a curfew that was put in place amid protests of police brutality and racial injustice. But they also urged that demonstrators be tested for COVID-19. “Get a test. Get a test,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged people who have been participating in rallies and marches in memory of Floyd. He said the state planned to open 15 testing sites dedicated to protesters so they can get results quickly. The U.S. leads the world with nearly 110,000 confirmed virus-related deaths, with New York state accounting for more than 30,000 since the pandemic began.
“New York City lifts curfew early following peaceful protests” via The Associated Press — New York City lifted the curfew spurred by protests against police brutality ahead of schedule Sunday after a peaceful night, free of the clashes or ransacking of stores that rocked the city days earlier. “I want to thank everybody who has expressed their views peacefully,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “I made the decision to end the curfew. And honestly, I hope it’s the last time we will ever need a curfew in New York City.” While the curfew was lifted, the mayor said a decision hadn’t been made yet on whether to lift a ban on vehicles in Manhattan south of 96th Street after 8 p.m.
“In protests against police brutality, videos capture more alleged police brutality” via Kimberly Kindy, Shayna Jacobs and David A. Fahrenthold of The Washington Post — Police in riot gear were marching across a mostly empty plaza in Buffalo when two officers shoved a lone 75-year-old man who stood in their way. He fell to the ground and hit his head on the concrete. Officers marched past him as he lay motionless and bleeding from the ear. The incident involving police responding to demonstrations in Buffalo is one of many caught on video in recent days displaying police riot tactics. In New York, officers clubbed nonviolent protesters several nights running. Even among police leaders, there is a sense that these incidents could do lasting damage to the image of American police, most of whom have never been involved in violent encounters with anyone.
“America is awash in cameras, a double-edged sword for protesters and police” via Heather Kelly and Rachel Lerman of The Associated Press — In the tense and escalating standoffs between law enforcement and protesters, photos and video footage are being collected and wielded by all sides. Law enforcement agencies have existing networks of surveillance cameras and body cameras worn by officers, as well as face- and object-recognition software. Large retail and food chains have similar security systems and traditionally will share the footage with police if it is part of an investigation. Protesters and journalists shoot their own videos, the latter often on smartphones or small cameras such as GoPros. it was also cameras that helped set off the latest round of protests over police brutality. Without them, Floyd’s death would not have been captured from multiple angles and shared so widely.
“Angry and tired, thousands of March for Justice protesters say ‘No more.’” via Eric Rogers of Florida Today — Tired. Angry. Frustrated. But mostly tired. That was how Brevard protesters described their reactions Saturday to the May 25 death of Floyd in Minneapolis. “We’re tired of seeing police brutality across the nation. We’re tired of hashtagging ‘justice for somebody,'” said Vickey Mitchner, one of the organizers of Saturday’s “March for Justice” down Fiske Boulevard between Rockledge and Cocoa. Cocoa police estimated the event drew between 2,500 and 3,000 people. “Today we just decided to take a stand and say, ‘No more,'” Mitchner said. Amid the noise, Marcus Lumpkin, a shelter coordinator for Crosswinds Youth Services in Cocoa, ambled quietly with the crowd, looking down at his feet. Rockledge and Cocoa officers blocked off traffic alongside streets to clear the march route.
“Pittsburgh paper accused of barring black reporters from covering protests, censoring stories” via Miriam Berger of The Washington Post — With the country gripped by an anti-racism uprising, what’s been unfolding inside the Pittsburgh newspaper has underscored one of the fundamental challenges American media faces with its coverage: a lack of diverse voices, including of black journalists, in newsrooms. It has also laid bare the challenges of trying to change that. The controversy publicly kicked off when Alexis Johnson, another black Pittsburgh Post-Gazette journalist, reported that the newspaper’s management had barred her from covering local protests Monday after a tweet from her went viral.
“Protesters throng D.C., vowing to be heard after Floyd’s death” via Samantha Schmidt, Jessica Contrera, Rebecca Tan, Hannah Natanson and John Woodrow Cox of The Washington Post — More than 10,000 people poured into the nation’s capital on the ninth day of protests over police brutality, but what awaited this sprawling crowd was a city that no longer felt as if it was being occupied by its own country’s military. Gone were the 10-ton, sand-colored tankers in front of Lafayette Square and the legions of officers braced behind riot shields, insisting that citizens stay away. Few of Saturday’s demonstrations were choreographed, as protesters flowed from one impromptu gathering or march to another. But the man in whose direction they shouted couldn’t hear them. Nearly 2 miles of metal fencing now surrounded the White House, as if it had been locked in a cage and inside, Trump was raging.
“‘Vicious dogs’ versus ‘a scared man’: Donald Trump’s feud with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser escalates amid police brutality protests” via David Nakamura, Josh Dawsey and Fenit Nirappil of The Washington Post — The first night of major unrest in Washington had exploded in chaos May 29, with protesters and Secret Service officers battling outside the White House. At 8:30 the next morning, Bowser and her senior aides huddled on a conference call for an update from the city’s police chief. Trump wrote in a tweet during the meeting that the Democratic mayor “who is always looking for money & help, wouldn’t let the D.C. police get involved. ‘Not their job.’ Nice!” It was a false accusation. The mayor had never said those words. On Friday, she rebuked him with a defiant display of street art.
What a view — Maxar Technologies captured this satellite image of the yellow “Black Lives Matter” lettering that D.C. Mayor Bowser had painted Friday on 16th Street NW, on blocks leading to the White House — a deliberate taunt to Trump. H/t to Mike Allen of Axios.
“Trump-connected lobbyist ends coronavirus funding contract with D.C. due to Mayor Muriel Bowser, White House feud” via Josh Dawsey and Fenit Nirappil of The Washington Post — Brian Ballard, who was hired by the city last month by the city to secure coronavirus funding, said he was withdrawing from his contract with the D.C. government. “We can’t be effective under the current situation,” Ballard said, about an hour after Trump lambasted Bowser on Twitter as part of a dayslong feud over protests in the nation’s Capitol. Trump and Bowser have battled in recent days over military presence in the city. Bowser has called for the National Guard to leave D.C. streets and has mocked the president for being “alone/afraid” in the White House after he falsely accused her last week of keeping the D.C. police from protecting the White House during protests.
“‘It would be irresponsible for us to wait’” via Sarah Ferris, Heather Caygle and Melanie Zanona of POLITICO — The House Democratic Caucus the most diverse group of lawmakers ever assembled in Congress is in the midst of a complex and emotional debate over how to confront decades of systemic racism that led to police killings like the death of Floyd last week. Bringing any reforms to the floor will require careful maneuvering by Speaker Nancy Pelosi with both generational and ideological conflicts in play to unite 233 Democrats behind a package of contentious structural changes to law enforcement. There’s also ongoing outreach to some Republicans, a move that could bolster the chances for bipartisan legislation, but also complicate agreement on how far the House can go.
“America convulses amid a week of protests, but can it change?” via Dan Balz and Greg Miller of The Washington Post — Scenes laid bare the struggle for unity against deepening division in America 2020. By week’s end, the unfolding events crystallized around one overriding issue: What kind of country are we, and what kind of country do we want to be? Many people see the past week as the beginning of a turning point, in attitude if not necessarily in action, on the broad issue of race in America. But in a deeply divided country, where lines had formed before Trump was elected and have hardened since then, changes as profound as those being called for now come slowly, if they will at all.
“Suddenly, public health officials say social justice matters more than social distance” via Dan Diamond of POLITICO — For months, public health experts have urged Americans to take every precaution to stop the spread of COVID-19: stay at home, steer clear of friends and extended family and absolutely avoid large gatherings. Now some of those experts are broadcasting a new message: It’s time to get out of the house and join the mass protests against racism. Their claim: If we don’t address racial inequality, it’ll be that much harder to fight COVID-19. There’s also evidence that the virus doesn’t spread easily outdoors, especially if people wear masks. The experts maintain that their messages are consistent that they were always flexible on Americans going outside.
“Democrats push for new criminal justice measures in party platform” via Tarini Parti of The Wall Street Journal — The Democratic National Committee will begin crafting its platform, which communicates the party’s priorities, and naming more members to the panel responsible for the document in the coming weeks. Some members who have been appointed by DNC Chairman Tom Perez say including new restrictions on police will be a top priority that they will want the presumptive presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, and other Democratic candidates to adopt. Biden this week endorsed new measures, including outlawing chokeholds, ending the transfer of military weapons to police departments, creating a national police oversight commission and changing a legal doctrine known as qualified immunity that allows law enforcement officials to avoid lawsuits.
“Floyd protests created a surge in voter registrations, groups say” via Brian Schwartz of CNBC — Voter registrations, volunteer activity and donations for groups linked to Democratic causes are surging in the midst of protests following the death of Floyd. This surge in registrations could end up being one of the factors that helps tip the election between apparent Democratic nominee Biden and Trump. Latino voter registration groups in recent weeks have noticed an uptick in their communities mobilization to vote, particularly from younger voters. Latino voters are a key voting bloc for whom Biden and Trump are competing. Demonstrations have ignited a larger push, particularly by Democratic leaders, to persuade people to organize and vote in addition to peacefully protest.
“False claims of antifa protesters plague small U.S. cities” via Amanda Seitz of The Associated Press — In the days since Trump blamed antifa activists for an eruption of violence at protests over police killings of black people, social media has lit up with false rumors that the far-left-leaning group is transporting people to wreak havoc on small cities across America. The speculation was being raised by conservative news outlets and pro-Trump social media accounts, as well as impostor Facebook and Twitter accounts. Twitter and Facebook busted some of the instigators behind the unsubstantiated social media chatter. Police departments say people are phoning in “tips” they see on social media claiming antifa is sending buses or even planes full of antifa activists to their area.
“Americans are more troubled by police actions in killing of Floyd than by violence at protests, poll finds” via Michael C. Bender of The Wall Street Journal — Americans by a 2-to-1 margin are more troubled by the actions of police in the killing of Floyd than by violence at some protests and an overwhelming majority, 80%, feel that the country is spiraling out of control. The poll also reveals striking partisan divides in how Americans view a pair of unfolding national crises, including the unrest sparked by the killing of Floyd and the coronavirus pandemic, responsible for more than 109,000 fatalities in the U.S. Nearly three-quarters of Democrats, 74%, said it may take the next year or even longer to curb COVID-19 and return to work as normal.
—“57 Buffalo officers resign from special squad over suspension of two who shoved 75-year-old” via Meagan Flynn, Hannah Knowles and Marisa Iati of The Washington Post
—“Surfers honor Floyd in ‘paddle out’ held around world” via Brian Melley of The Associated Press
—“Man accused of pointing bow and arrow protesters charged” via Sophia Eppolito of The Associated Press
—“Armed bystanders watch Floyd protesters march in Indiana” via Aya Elamroussi of The Associated Press
“The protesters are dressed as their unique selves — and that’s part of their power” via Robin Givhan of The Washington Post — Over the past few days, countless images show protesters moving through the streets with their individuality ablaze. They are suited up for rebellion. They wear masks to protect themselves from one pandemic while rising up in the streets against another. No matter the city, the protesters look the same: eclectic, motley, fed up. They are diverse in age, gender and race. They have braids and dreadlocks. They are dressed in hijabs, muscle tanks and ripped jeans. There’s no cohesion in the look of the marching multitudes, which is part of the deep resonance in those images.
“Colin Kaepernick has more support now, still long way to go” via Rob Maaddi of The Associated Press — When Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to take a stand against police brutality and racial injustice in 2016, he was mostly alone. Politicians, team owners and fellow players criticized him, fans burned his jersey, and he was booed even at home. Four years later, his protest is widely viewed as prescient. Global opinion has shifted so much that more people are now vilifying those who attack Kaepernick or misrepresent his stance. New Orleans Saints star quarterback Drew Brees issued a public apology after he was excoriated by teammates, other athletes and fans for saying he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States.”
“It’s not just Drew Brees — fans must better understand black athletes, too” via Tim Layden of NBC Sports — As the resumption of NBA and NHL games unrolls, even without fans in attendance, and as the NFL and college football prepare to start, there is soon to be a steady chorus of assurances that sports are going to heal our wounded country. Brees’s controversial pre-apology stance was not materially changed from 2016 Kaepernick was never protesting the flag, or the national anthem; he was protesting the violence by police against young black men, which has heightened relevance today. Although Kaepernick does not have a job in football. Activism in the current societal unrest, there is a chance for white fans to better appreciate the black athletes whose work they consume.
“Disney pledges $5M for NAACP and other groups advancing social justice” via Dade Hayes of Deadline — The Walt Disney Co. has pledged $5 million in support of nonprofit organizations that advance social justice, beginning with a $2 million donation to the NAACP. The company said its goal is to “further their long-standing work promoting social justice by eliminating disparities and racial discrimination through their advocacy and education programs.” Many companies acknowledging the upheaval through statements, donations, programming initiatives and other ways. Disney-owned ABC has aired or scheduled shows examining the protests and their root causes. The company said its donation was part of an “ongoing commitment” to social justice causes.
“Michael Jordan giving $100 million for racial equality, justice” via The Associated Press — Jordan and the Jordan Brand are giving $100 million to organizations dedicated to promoting racial equality and social justice. In a joint statement on social media, Jordan and the Jordan Brand said the money will be paid over 10 years with the goal of “ensuring racial equality, social justice and greater access to education.” Jordan, the former Chicago Bulls great, is the owner of the Charlotte Hornets. The Jordan Brand is a subsidiary of Nike, the shoe giant that earlier committed $40 million over the next four years to support the black community. Jordan also released a statement last week on Floyd and the killings of black people at the hands of police.
“What made Roger Goodell say ‘Black Lives Matter’ and where it leaves the NFL” via Mark Maske and Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post — The first signs that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would speak came Friday morning. He started telling staffers that he felt he needed to say more, and he was driven by a range of factors, those familiar with the day’s events said. There was the video that superstar players made with the assistance of an NFL content producer, urging Goodell to admit past wrongs and say, “Black Lives Matter.” There were messages from league employees, including one who described a feeling of “helplessness.” Goodell acted with little input from the owners as he said the league was wrong for not listening to its players earlier.
“A black man was afraid to walk-in his gentrified community. So 75 neighbors walked with him.” via Sydney Page of The Washington Post — Shawn Dromgoole is a 29-year-old black man who has lived in the same Nashville neighborhood his entire life. His family has been in the neighborhood, known as 12 South, for 54 years. But Dromgoole said that since he was a child, he felt an unease in his hometown, acutely aware that few people looked like him. One day last week, Dromgoole notified his neighbors that he was going for a walk at 6 p.m., and anyone who wanted to join him was welcome. He found 75 people waiting for him. The group strolled for almost an hour together, with Dromgoole leading the way as his neighbors followed closely behind.
— FLORIDA REAX —
“Ron DeSantis sides with Trump in feud with Jim Mattis” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — DeSantis, a former naval officer, continued his defense of Trump, this time taking on former Defense Secretary Mattis, a man DeSantis once praised. “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try,” Mattis wrote. “DeSantis disagreed, saying Trump appropriately used force to quell protests in the wake of the death of Floyd. “Having respect for the rule of law and order in society is just a fundamental thing that has to be respected,” DeSantis said. “I think the President is right to insist on that.”
“Florida tells feds thanks, but no, we don’t need the anti-riot force. It had already arrived” via Shirsho Dasgupta of the Miami Herald — State and local officials insist they were blindsided by the arrival of a Federal Bureau of Prisons riot-control team in Miami on Monday, purportedly to assist the local police in clamping down on people protesting the killing by Minnesota police officers of Floyd. BOP anti-riot personnel would be a team presumably trained to deal with an Attica prison-style uprising. The offices of both DeSantis and Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez said they were not aware of any federal personnel being deployed in Florida. Nor had they requested them. The Miami-Dade Police Department said that the department does not require federal assistance, had not asked for it and was not in communication with the BOP team.
“Thousands march through Florida’s cities, demanding change” via Tamara Lush of The Associated Press — During a break in the rain Saturday, several hundred protesters sat in an intersection in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida and chanted against racism. It was one of dozens of mobilizations in Florida against police brutality, sparked by the death of Floyd. About 100 protesters gathered at Trump’s golf resort in Doral, Florida, just outside Miami. The protest was organized by Latinos for Black Lives Matter. In Orlando, thousands of people marched around Lake Eola. In Jacksonville, protesters began a demonstration by calling out the names of residents fatally shot by Sheriff’s Office personnel.
“Thousands protest across Broward, Palm Beach in peaceful displays; arrests near FIU” via Wayne K. Roustan, David Fleshler, Brittany Wallman and Ben Crandell of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Thousands of people gathered Saturday across South Florida to protest police brutality, on what may be the biggest national day of demonstrations since the killing that sparked more than a week of unrest. Demonstrations so far remained peaceful, in a series of events that began early in the day. The South Florida events took place on a national day of protests 12 days after Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Themes of the demonstrations have broadened from Floyd’s killing to institutional racism
“Thousands turn out Saturday for Orlando protests in support of justice for Floyd” via Cristóbal Reyes and Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel — An estimated 3,000 protesters peacefully marched through downtown Orlando on Saturday night before tornadoes were spotted in the area and most people left to seek shelter. Before the 8 p.m. curfew, police were telling protesters to leave the area because of the storms and many protesters had already left on their own. Earlier in the day before the weather turned from a steady drizzle to a storm, demonstrators noted the magnitude of the movement that has grown from outrage over the death of Floyd.
“Across Tampa Bay, protesters send a peaceful message in the rain” via Tampa Bay Times — Across the Tampa Bay region and the nation, protesters took to the streets in what may be the largest single-day of demonstrations yet calling for an end to police violence. Nationwide demonstrations started soon after the May 25 death of Floyd. Tampa Bay’s marches were peaceful and determined. The rain did not deter people from marching in the University area, in downtown Tampa and in St. Petersburg. About 60 protesters regrouped at St. Petersburg City Hall at 7 p.m. for another rainy walk through the city. Passing cars leaned on their horns to cheer on the protesters.
“Residents march along streets in Port St. Lucie in peaceful demonstration, rally near Police Department” via Lamaur Stancil of TCPalm — More than 200 marched along city streets and gathered for a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration between City Hall and the Police Department. Many had banners and signs, including white lettering on a black background: “No Justice. No Peace,” the phrase seen throughout the nation this past week at thousands of rallies, protests and gatherings. They walked to Port St. Lucie Boulevard, holding signs high, and headed west to Bayshore Boulevard. Resident WiIliam Richardson II spoke to the crowd, not only about Floyd but of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African American woman, who was fatally shot March 13 by Louisville Metro Police Department officers.
“Jacksonville protesters demand State Attorney indict, convict ‘killer cops’” via Teresa Stepzinski of The Florida Times-Union — Chanting “No justice. No peace. No racist police!” until their voices were hoarse, at least 2,000 demonstrators protested for the eighth consecutive day downtown Saturday. They demanded the immediate prosecution of Jacksonville police who’ve killed black residents in officer-involved shootings. A steady drizzle of rain didn’t deter protesters in the first of two back-to-back demonstrations as they marched from the Duval County Courthouse to the office of State Attorney Melissa Nelson. The family of Jamee Johnson, who would have turned 23 Monday if he hadn’t been shot to death by a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office police officer Dec. 14, 2019, during a traffic stop for a seat belt violation, repeated their demands for the Sheriff’s Office and State Attorney’s Office to release the body camera footage of the killing.
“Many South Florida police agencies don’t have chokehold policies or address the forceful tactics that killed Floyd” via Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — At least seven South Florida law enforcement agencies have use-of-force policies that are silent on chokeholds, sleeper holds and other neck restraints under renewed scrutiny in the wake of Floyd’s death. Protesters chanting “I Can’t Breathe” have called for a ban on those techniques, which involve subduing a person by temporarily cutting off blood to the brain. Two agencies explicitly allow neck restraints to be used when deadly force is not warranted.
“Ft. Lauderdale police investigating cop who shot peaceful protester in the head with projectile” via Andrew Boryga of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Fort Lauderdale police want to know how a peaceful protester ended up shot in the head with a high-speed projectile. As LaToya Ratlieff walked through tear gas that dispersed a Fort Lauderdale protest on Sunday, a police officer shot her in the head, she says. “I was peaceful and I was still attacked,” Ratlieff, 34, said in a Facebook post. Police Chief Rick Maglione took to Twitter to ask for cellphone video or images of what happened to help the investigation. Ratlieff said she had been protesting in downtown Fort Lauderdale before things took a drastic turn and the crowd became rowdy.
“Woman shot with rubber bullet in Ft. Lauderdale demands reforms, considers civil rights suit” via Sarah Blaskey and Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald — Attorneys for Ratlieff, the woman whose eye socket was fractured when a Fort Lauderdale police officer shot her in the face with a foam rubber bullet, say their client is considering legal action, including filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and police. “LaToya has a broad spectrum of legal options that we are considering. Filing a federal civil rights lawsuit is certainly among those options,” her attorneys Michael Davis and Ben Kuehne said. “We have not yet made any decision as to what legal options she will pursue. Her decision will in part depend upon the City of Fort Lauderdale.”
“Union president backs cop suspended for inflaming violent protest in Ft. Lauderdale” via Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — The union representing a Fort Lauderdale police officer suspended after inflaming a Sunday protest by hitting and knocking over a seated protester, defended him late Thursday. Fraternal Order of Police President Shane Calvey, in a four-minute video posted on Facebook, did not use Officer Steven Pohorence’s name but said the officer was the victim of “a rush to judgment.” Calvey did criticize the mayor, however, saying his statement condemning the officer did “nothing but create a bigger division within our community.” The union leader also called media reports about the number of times Pohorence has used force or drawn his weapon misleading, saying the officer had never been found to have violated department policies.
“More than 100 protest for racial justice in North Naples on Saturday” via Ryan Mills of the Naples Daily News — More than 100 people gathered on a street corner in North Naples Saturday afternoon to protest for racial justice and to support the Black Lives Matter movement. The protest on the south side of Immokalee Road at the intersection with Collier Boulevard was peaceful. The protesters held signs that said things like “Color is not a Crime” and “Enough is Enough,” and chanted “no justice, no peace” and “black lives matter.” Many drivers honked in support. It was just one of several protests in Southwest Florida on Saturday. Before the protest began, dozens of Sheriff’s Office and Florida Highway Patrol cars gathered in the area.
“Fort Myers man injured by sheriff’s office vehicle during Naples protest Monday” via Jake Allen of the Naples Daily News — A Fort Myers man is recovering after he was caught between a pickup and an unmarked Collier County Sheriff’s Office vehicle during a protest in Naples. The incident occurred as about 350 people marched from the Collier County Courthouse to downtown Naples via U.S. 41. Diego Fernández was squeezed between a red pickup waiting at U.S. 41 and Airport-Pulling Road as a sheriff’s office vehicle moved through the crowd of protesters in the street. “People started banging on the window but the police vehicle kept going further into myself and the civilian vehicle and kind of grinded me into it,” Fernández said. “It lifted me up off my feet, actually.”
“Kneeling on necks, condemned by Sarasota police chief, was OK’d in man’s arrest” via Carlos R. Munoz of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — In a memo copied to Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino, a captain concluded that when an officer “placed a knee on the neck” of a suspect during an arrest a day earlier, “the application of force appears reasonable.” The conclusion by Capt. Demetri Konstantopolous came in a use of force report to Officer Matthew Hughes recounting actions by Officer Drusso Martinez as he struggled with Patrick Carroll, a black Sarasota resident, while arresting him on alleged domestic battery charges May 18. DiPino says she never received a formal complaint from Carroll or a report that anyone was injured.
“Miami man arrested for damaging police cars claims his group recruits others to incite violence at protests” via David Dwork of Local10.com — A man charged with causing damage to multiple police cars during a Floyd protest in Miami is claiming to be part of a group that purposely encourages violence at demonstrations. 21-year-old Marco Lopez was arrested by City of Miami Police after an investigation that lasted several days. Authorities say Lopez confessed to breaking the back window of a Miami police cruiser with his skateboard on the night of Saturday, May 30, during a protest. He also admitted to damaging the rear bumper of a second police vehicle and spray painting a third.
“Black Lives Matter rally draws protesters to Palm Bay City Hall” via Tyler Vazquez of Florida Today — A rally in front of Palm Bay City Hall drew about 150 people Saturday as protesters shouted “No justice, no peace.” The Palm Bay rally, like all the others so far in Brevard County, stayed peaceful as protesters and police left one another unbothered. The rally drew several speakers from the crowd and for the second time in a row, Chief Nelson Moya of Palm Bay Police Department spoke to protesters, expressing his support. Moya spoke about growing up in the Bronx and how he and his friends would do anything possible not to catch the attention of the police and how he now leads the department in the largest Brevard County city.
“Dream Defenders block traffic on Pensacola Bay Bridge, confront Mayor” via Jake Newby of the Pensacola News Journal — An emotional verbal confrontation between a small group of protesters and Pensacola’s mayor unfolded on the Pensacola Bay Bridge amid the ninth straight day of local Floyd protests. A group of 20 to 30 Black Lives Matter protesters, led by the Pensacola Dream Defenders, locked arms and blocked all lanes of traffic on the bridge, refusing to move until Mayor Grover Robinson came to address their demands. The mayor, who had earlier in the day addressed the crowd of protesters at the Graffiti Bridge, walked down 17th Avenue to meet with the breakaway group as traffic backed up in all directions, with many drivers honking their horns.
“Supporters of reassigned deputy protest outside Broward sheriff’s headquarters” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Dozens of demonstrators protested outside Broward Sheriff’s Office’s headquarters near Fort Lauderdale in support of a deputy being investigated for going on social media to criticize the agency’s record on racial diversity. Deputy Ronald Thurston is a politically active Democrat who took to Facebook to list the number of black employees in various divisions at the Sheriff’s Office and followed it with the message “Vote or die.” His supporters say Sheriff Gregory Tony put him on desk duty because Thurston does not support Tony’s election. But Tony’s campaign countered that the demonstration was orchestrated by people on the political payroll of former Sheriff Scott Israel.
“Brevard police condemn neck restraints, hope for peaceful protests” via Tyler Vazquez of Florida Today — Local police have largely condemned the type of neck restraint that was used on Floyd resulting in his death, saying that it is not something most officers in the area are trained to use. Palm Bay Police Department Chief Moya called the video of Floyd’s death “horrific” in a statement released this week. “As a police officer of 30 years, I can assure you that is not a common police practice,” he said of the neck restraint used on Floyd. Officials with Melbourne, Cocoa and Palm Bay also said they do not train officers to kneel on the necks of suspects to restrain them. Moya said one of the governing principles behind Palm Bay police is accountability.
“Police chiefs vow to ‘eradicate’ bad cops and earn public trust” via Wayne K. Roustan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — More than a dozen police chiefs from law enforcement agencies across Broward County are vowing to improve community relations and change police culture. “No one hates a bad cop more than a good cop,” said Miramar Police Chief Dexter Williams, who doubles as president of the Broward County Chiefs of Police. Williams announced a five-point plan that includes the “eradicating” bad cops; track officers’ behavior; reexamine use-of-force policies; educate officers about systemic racism, bias and cultural differences; and increase community trust through accountability and transparency.
“Schools superintendent on Floyd death: ‘I do operate in this world as a scared human being’” via Andrew Marra of The Palm Beach Post — Donald Fennoy, Palm Beach County’s first black school superintendent, delivered an emotional speech about the death of Floyd and its impact on his family. He’s also scared for himself and his elementary-aged son. “I live in constant fear of offending other people or triggering something in other people to call the police on me,” Fennoy said, speaking from his home during a virtual school board meeting. As a high-ranking, professionally accomplished black leader, Fennoy said that he typically conceals such insecurities in his efforts to “be a catalyst for change.” Fennoy said he always recognized the importance of teaching his son to be polite and friendly in public, not merely to ensure good manners, but to reduce the risk of a suspicious neighbor ever calling the police on him.
“’You will be murdered’: Hillsborough GOP chairman under fire for George Floyd protester claims” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Hillsborough County Republican Party Chair Jim Waurishuk shared an article about former President Barack Obama’s statements on the protests calling them “a real turning point” in the fight for police reform. His post was full of fiery rhetoric and claims that protesters were bent on murder. Waurishuk said the post was not aimed at all protesters, just “violent hard-core radical political left extremists.” “Every American better wake up. If we loose (sic) this country you will loose (sic) your life. If you’re a Republican, Conservative, Democrat Trump supporter, etc. — you will be murdered. You will be dragged from your burning home and be beat to death. This is a fact. This what they stand for,” Waurishuk wrote about protesters.
“Boynton Beach removes 2 officials after public art mural replaced images of black former chiefs with white faces” via Emily Sullivan of the Palm Beach Post — After a public art project based on photographs replaced the images of two black former department chiefs with white faces, City Manager Lori LaVerriere removed Matthew Petty, the city’s fire chief, and fired Debby Coles-Dobay, the city’s public arts manager. LaVerriere wrote in a statement that she “concluded a preliminary investigation regarding the inappropriate decisions made by City employees.” Coles-Dobay wrote Saturday to the Post that she “was pressured to make this artwork change by the Fire Chief and his staff, as the City well knows.”
“UCF professor’s tweets called racist; school investigating” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — UCF said it is reviewing Twitter posts by one of its psychology professors after students and alumni began calling him out for what they called racist tweets that made him unfit to teach at the public university. Charles Negy, an associate professor in the psychology department, is the author of a book titled “White Shaming” and is now the subject of a Twitter campaign, #UCFfirehim. Controversial tweets included one this week that read, “Sincere question: If Afr. Americans as a group, had the same behavioral profile as Asian Americans, would we still be proclaiming “systematic racism” exists?”
“UF probes social media posts seen as racist” via Sarah Nelson of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — University of Florida officials are looking into allegations of prospective and enrolled students posting racist messages on social media. That’s because someone dug up a social media post from almost two years ago written by Liberty Woodley, when the then 16-year-old posted a racist Instagram photo that referred to two black girls in her class. Universities across the country have announced they’ve rescinded student acceptance offers over racist social media posts, including the University of Denver and Marquette University. UF leaders wrote that the country and campus are in a defining moment, pointing to nationwide protests over Floyd’s death.
“Confederate women’s statue in Florida defaced in protests” via The Associated Press — A century-old statue commemorating women in the Confederacy was defaced in a Florida park amid ongoing racial inequality protests. The “Women of the Southland” statue in Jacksonville was splattered with red paint and tagged with the letters BLM, an abbreviation for the Black Lives Matter movement. The statue is among others in the city’s Confederate Park, a place activists have been pushing for the removal of the monuments. The park and the women’s statute have been there since 1915. It’s not clear who defaced the statue. Protesters in southern cities have targeted Confederate monuments as symbols of racial intolerance. Many Confederate monuments have been taken down. This week, the governor of Virginia said a monument in Richmond to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee would be removed.
“Protester carried on hood of SUV over Pensacola Bay Bridge speaks out” via Jake Newby of the Pensacola News Journal — The Black Lives Matter protester who was carried on the hood of an SUV for 3 miles across the Pensacola Bay Bridge as protesters were lining up Saturday to block traffic says he would like to see the driver of the vehicle arrested. Police said Saturday that they spoke to both parties after the driver stopped on the other side of the bridge in Gulf Breeze. As of Sunday, the driver has not been arrested. Pensacola police said the investigation is still open and the driver’s name cannot be released. Cellphone videos from drivers stopped in traffic on the bridge show Jason Uphaus, a 36-year-old white man, riding on the hood of a silver Ford Flex.
“Lawyer says ex-Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin illegally voted in Florida, asks Aramis Ayala to pursue charges” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — A man running for election supervisor in Pinellas County is asking Orange-Osceola State Attorney Ayala pursue charges against Chauvin, the Minneapolis ex-cop accused of killing Floyd, alleging he voted illegally in two Florida elections. Dan Helm, a Democrat and attorney, sent Ayala a letter notifying her of Chauvin’s voting record. “While living in Minnesota, working there, paying taxes there, Derek Chauvin cannot claim residency in Orange County. His home, residency and where he intends to live is in Minnesota, not Florida,” Helm wrote. His letter cites the Florida statute prohibiting false swearing and the submission of false voter registration information, adding that violation of the statute is a third-degree felony.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@RealDonaldTrump: I have just given an order for our National Guard to start the process of withdrawing from Washington, D.C., now that everything is under perfect control. They will be going home, but can quickly return, if needed. Far fewer protesters showed up last night than anticipated!
—@TomSugrue: As a historian of social movements in the U.S., I am hard-pressed to think of any time in the past when we have had two straight weeks of large-scale protests in hundreds of places, from suburbs to big cities. The breadth and scale of # protests is staggering.
—@DarrenSoto: When the highest law enforcement official in the land defends gassing peaceful protesters for Prez photo-op, saying “Pepper spray is not a chemical irritant. It’s not chemical” (AG [William] Barr), it’s time for change!
—@BallardFirm: Our firm was hired three weeks ago to represent the District of Columbia to assist with COVID-19 financial relief. While we were making progress, we are no longer in a position to deliver effective representation, so we have respectfully withdrawn our engagement.
—@Msantiagophotos: Just like @ I have been barred from covering any protest-related stories. @ has chosen to silence two of its most prominent Black journalist during one of the most important civil rights stories that is happening across our country!
Horrifying scenes and aftermath from selfish LOOTERS who don’t care about this city!!!!!
…. oh wait sorry. No, these are pictures from a Kenny Chesney concert tailgate. Whoops. pic.twitter.com/lKRNrBsltU
— Alexis Johnson (@alexisjreports) May 31, 2020
—@CHeathWFTV: Can we please stop using the word “massive” to describe everything larger than a Buick?
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“Spike in new coronavirus cases ‘inevitable,’ experts say. Is Florida prepared?” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — On Saturday, the day after Phase 2 of Florida’s reopening began, the number of positive tests for the novel coronavirus spiked above 1,000 for the fourth day in a row. In fact, state data show a small but steady rise since April 28, just days before DeSantis signed an executive order declaring a partial Phase 1 reopening, allowing restaurants to reopen at 25% capacity. Among other operations, now bars, bowling alleys and theaters are free to resume business in 64 of the state’s 67 counties. The big question is whether the state is prepared for what is likely to be a new surge or several localized microsurges, as Florida reopens.
“2,700 coronavirus deaths reported in Florida out of nearly 64,000 cases” via Paola Perez of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida reported 1,180 new COVID-19 infections Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 63,938, along with 12 new fatalities. The death toll stands at 2,700, which includes two new deaths reported in Central Florida. The latest update marks the fifth day in a row with over 1,000 cases reported by the state health department. Between Wednesday and Friday, daily reported cases were at or above 1,300. This week’s peak was hit on Thursday, with 1,419 cases reported. The sharp increases in cases this week come as most of Florida enters Phase 2 of reopening the economy. DeSantis’ office credits the upticks to expanded testing. Since the outbreak began, 1,217,105 tests have been administered, nearly doubled as of May 17.
“State fast-tracking pharmacy rules amid COVID-19” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — DeSantis’ administration wants to fast-track rules that expand the health care services pharmacists are authorized to provide, a move that worries some members of a board that licenses physicians. Ed Tellechea, general counsel of the Florida Board of Medicine, told members of a committee that “there is pressure” to finalize rules by Aug. 1 to carry out a new law allowing certain pharmacists to test patients for influenza and streptococcus and to treat patients with chronic illnesses. “They want to have the pharmacists available to be able to assist in dealing with the current public-health crisis, and when it flares up again in the fall,” Tellechea said.
“Counties want DeSantis to release COVID-19 aid” via News Service of Florida — Twelve Florida counties with populations greater than 500,000 — Brevard, Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Lee, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Orange and Volusia — received $2.47 billion in direct payments from the U.S. Department of the Treasury through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act, in March. But the other money — $1.275 billion — remains unspent, as counties increase pressure on the Republican Governor to distribute funds to rural areas that have suffered since DeSantis and local officials shut down most businesses in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“ACLU demands ‘transparency’ from DeSantis and head of state prisons, where inmate deaths are rising” via Laura Cassels of Florida Phoenix — With 15 inmates dead of COVID-19 in state prisons and infections spreading, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida is demanding transparency from DeSantis and Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch about what is happening behind prison walls. “It appears that the reported 12 deaths [updated Wednesday to 15] only account for those who received testing before their death and does not account for any COVID-related deaths where individuals had not yet received testing or were tested after they had died. This is particularly concerning, as less than 15% of the prison population has received testing,” wrote Micah Kubic, executive director of ACLU Florida.
“Miami judge rips ICE handling of detainees, limits transfers to curb spread of coronavirus” via David Ovalle — To help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement must give soap, cleaning supplies and masks to detainees at three South Florida detention centers, and also limit transfers to other facilities, a federal judge has ruled. U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke, in an order issued just before midnight Saturday, also allowed detainees at the centers to pursue legal claims in one class-action lawsuit, rather than piecemeal litigation. “In sum, in this moment of worldwide peril from a highly contagious pathogen, the Court is not satisfied that ICE’s commitment to detention has meaningfully shifted since the start of the pandemic,” Cooke wrote in a 40-page order.
“Health officials delete a coronavirus tweet. They now say anyone should get tested, not just first responders at protests” via Angie Dimichele the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Florida Department of Health deleted a tweet, walking back what it realized probably wasn’t the best-worded coronavirus advice. As protests in response to the killing of Floyd take place across the country, the health department took to Twitter to encourage police, paramedics and other first responders to get tested for the coronavirus if they’ve attended any such large gatherings. “Any first responder in Florida who has been to mass gatherings or protests is recommended to get tested for #COVID19,” the tweet said. But the department then deleted the tweet, determining the advice is good for everyone, not just first responders.
“One in five Florida nursing homes tell feds: We hardly have any gowns, masks” via The Miami Herald — Nearly one in five Florida nursing homes say they do not have a one-week supply of protective gowns or the N95 masks recommended for care of patients with COVID-19, according to new data released by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. A handful of nursing homes say they do not have any gowns or N95 masks at all. The data, which is current through May 31, provides a glimpse into the conditions at nursing homes, which continue to be ravaged by the novel coronavirus.
“Saint Leo University shutters half its campuses throughout U.S., including Lakeland” via Lauren Coffey of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The university confirmed 17 of the 32 satellite locations, which it calls “centers,” have closed. That includes its Lakeland location. The closures will happen over the next few months, according to Senior Vice President Melanie Storms. “After reviewing enrollment trends and operational changes made as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Saint Leo University has made the decision to discontinue on-ground operations at 17 of its education center facilities located across the nation,” a statement said. The university is the fourth-largest Catholic university in the nation, spanning seven states and employing 2,500 employees. Students at the affected campuses will have to take their courses online.
“Epidemic of wipes and masks plagues sewers, storm drains” via Claudia Lauer and John Flesher of The Associated Press — Wastewater plant operators report a surge of stopped-up pipes and damage to equipment. The problem has sharpened the long-standing clash over whether wipes are suitable for flushing. While drain clogs aren’t new, nearly 15 cities said they’ve become a more costly and time-consuming headache during the pandemic. Homebound Americans are seeking alternatives to bathroom tissue because of occasional shortages, while stepping up efforts to sanitize their dwellings and themselves.
— REOPEN FLORIDA —
“‘Are we being punished?’ Miami-Dade, Broward excluded from Florida Phase 2 reopening” via Maya Lora, Gwendolyn Filosa and David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — Bars and movie theaters will finally be allowed to welcome customers across Florida except in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, where some business owners said they’re tired of feeling excluded. DeSantis announced that bars, movie theaters and bowling alleys can open at half capacity starting Friday as most of Florida moves into the second of the state’s three-phase reopening in response to the coronavirus pandemic. DeSantis’s order states that Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties can move to Phase 2 with a written request from their county mayors or county administrators.
“Miami-Dade’s big reopening Monday: gyms, dog parks, tattoo shops, youth camps, Airbnb” via Douglas Hanks and Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — Gyms, tattoo shops, short-term rentals, youth camps and dog parks can reopen Monday as Miami-Dade Mayor Giménez ends roughly three months of emergency closures designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Gimenez’s office released a collection of amended orders that replace the closures with new rules restricting how the businesses and use of public space can operate once they’re allowed to reopen Monday. Gimenez also cleared the way for casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys and large gathering areas to reopen later. Closure orders remain for the past Monday. But with hospitalization rates still dropping, Gimenez said he’s comfortable Miami-Dade can continue unwinding the restrictions.
“‘Alone but finally free’: Citizenship ceremonies resume in Miami amid COVID-19” via Monique O. Madan of the Miami Herald — Thursday’s “phased reopening” of ceremonies marked the nation’s first after about two and a half months. During the temporary office closures, more than 100,000 people had their naturalization ceremony postponed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. What used to be a ceremony of 100 people or more has now been reduced to 10 socially distanced people to a room, all assigned to a metal chair. Each person had to wear a mask and bring their own pen. They take their oath of allegiance, sign their certificate and they are out the door. Before the health pandemic, new citizens were shown four “inspirational” welcome videos that tell the story of the nation’s immigration history as well as footage highlighting the historical songs “America the Beautiful” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The agency also plays a congratulatory message from the president.
“Miami-Dade county libraries get a reopening date. Here is how COVID-19 will change them.” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — The Miami-Dade Public Library System has been given a reopening date after being closed for nearly three months. The Miami-Dade Public Library System will reopen starting June 8 with new novel coronavirus safety measures, Miami-Dade County announced Friday. Miami-Dade libraries originally closed their physical locations in early March. Residents should check their local branch for its hours as libraries will be opening with an expanded schedule. All library locations will open with occupancy limits and guests must wear face coverings. Inside, many safety changes will be implemented.
“Broward’s movie theaters and bowling alleys can open June 15” via Steve Svekis and Brooke Baitinger of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward County officials are joining the rest of the state in allowing summer camps, movie theaters and bowling alleys to reopen. Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry signed an order Friday that allows for summer camps to open Monday. The order also allows businesses such as movie theaters and bowling alleys to open their doors at a maximum capacity of 50% on the following Monday, June 15. The business’ operation must adhere to social-distancing, facial coverings and sanitation recommendations of the CDC.
“State ends COVID-19 checkpoint at Alabama line” via the News Service of Florida — The Florida Department of Transportation announced a checkpoint east of the Florida-Alabama border is being deactivated as part of DeSantis starting the second phase of a COVID-19 economic recovery plan. A similar checkpoint on Interstate 95 north of Jacksonville remains in place. The checkpoints were set up in late March as part of an effort to get travelers from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Louisiana to self-isolate upon arriving in Florida. The state has collected nearly 28,000 traveler forms at the I-10 checkpoint, the Department of Transportation said.
“Weekend beach hour restrictions to remain in place in Naples for now” via Brittany Carloni of the Naples Daily News — Naples beaches will continue to have shortened hours on weekends, which have been in place for the last three weeks. The Naples City Council voted 5-2 at a public meeting to maintain, for now, the current hours of 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to sunset on the weekends. Beaches in the city are open sunrise to sunset Monday through Friday. In addition, the council decided to maintain current beach parking restrictions, which allow only city of Naples and Collier County beach parking permits. Chairs, umbrellas and coolers are now allowed on city beaches seven days a week, according to the city. Tents are prohibited.
“Airlines resume flights as travelers gradually return to the air” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Fortified with billions in federal aid, major airlines serving South Florida’s major airports are slowly restoring flights after cutting back by up to 90%. Since the coronavirus pandemic grounded roughly half the airline industry’s fleet, airports around the nation have resembled ghost towns, with sparsely populated terminals and few planes in the air. The question now is, once more planes get airborne, will passengers concerned about the risks posed by the coronavirus buy tickets?
“FL’s top education official — Richard Corcoran — has yet to announce plans for the 2020-21 school year” via Danielle J. Brown of Florida Phoenix — With only about two months before the start of the next school year, Corcoran has yet to address the public about what to expect from the 2020-21 school year. That leaves school districts, teachers, parents, and students in the dark for what fall semester will entail at a time when the coronavirus pandemic continues. “Ultimately, the goal is to reopen our school campuses,” Cheryl Etters, director of communications at the Florida Department of Education, said in an email. The lack of state guidance from Corcoran and the DOE led to the formation of outside committees to get the conversation going.
“PBC public schools will allow some summer camps to open, reversing earlier decision” via Andrew Marra of The Palm Beach Post — With more people returning to work, Palm Beach County public schools are moving to allow some summer camps to open on their campuses this month. District officials say 14 camps operated by local nonprofit groups or city governments would be first in line to reopen, and that other district-operated and privately run camps could follow. The move comes less than a month after Schools Superintendent Donald Fennoy announced that no summer camps would operate on district campuses because of concerns about the coronavirus. Typically, dozens of camps serve thousands of families on the district’s elementary school campuses during the summer. Most are district-operated but some are privately run.
“Sarasota school district unveils potential reopening plans” via Ryan McKinnon of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — If federal health officials are still recommending social distancing in the fall, schools in Sarasota County will be dramatically different. School district leaders posted two possible paths for reopening schools on the district website, with the disclaimer that the plans are likely to change and depend heavily on federal and state health guidance. The district’s plans hinge on whether the Centers for Disease Control and state officials will be recommending that people remain six feet apart to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Universal Orlando’s official reopening draws a light crowd, with most wearing masks” via Gabrielle Russon and Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — The return of Universal Orlando’s theme parks after a nearly three-month shutdown saw light attendance Friday and no major backups as visitors mostly complied with new safety procedures, like temperature checks. The parks — Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure and the Volcano Bay water park — had been shut down since March 16 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The vast majority of guests wore their masks, perhaps the biggest change at Orlando’s theme parks.
— CORONA LOCAL —
“ACLU sues Broward sheriff to free inmates from jails amid pandemic” via Mario Ariza of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Broward Sheriff’s Office, charging that conditions inside the county’s four jails unconstitutionally put inmates at risk of infection and death from the new coronavirus. The lawsuit alleges that the jails lack basic sanitation, screening and social distancing for inmates. It wants the release of vulnerable inmates and urges the federal judiciary to require broader testing and improved sanitation and housing. In response to the lawsuit, Sgt. Donald Prichard, a spokesman for the Broward Sheriff’s Office, wrote in a statement that the law enforcement agency intends to “vigorously defend this lawsuit.”
“Jacksonville research center to conduct clinical trials for vaccine” via Beth Reese Cravey of The Florida Times-Union — The Jacksonville Center for Clinical Research is seeking healthy volunteers who have not been diagnosed with the new coronavirus to participate in trials for potential vaccines. The center may test vaccines produced by as many as 12 different companies, said Sharon Smith, vice president of recruiting. About 4,100 volunteers will be needed, with about 2,000 for one trial alone, she said. The first trials are likely to begin in Jacksonville in about six weeks. Because of the worldwide demand, the clinical research buildup for vaccines has been particularly “fast paced,” she said. Participants should be “relatively healthy” people, ages 18 to 80, she said. They will be tested for COVID-19 and, if all clear, would be injected with a vaccine then given a booster shot a month later.
“UWF officially cancels 2020 graduation ceremony; UWF president promises ‘alternative plans’” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — The University of West Florida officially canceled its commencement ceremonies this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an email sent to students and faculty, UWF President Martha Saunders said the Florida Board of Governors announced a directive to all institutions to postpone all summer commencement ceremonies, including the spring ceremonies that were rescheduled due to COVID-19. As a result, she said, the UWF ceremony previously planned for Aug. 1 for spring graduates has been canceled.
“Tampa International Airport delays $906 million in construction” via Richard Danielson of the Tampa Bay Times — With air travel down more than 95 percent, Tampa International Airport said it will delay or cancel nearly $906 million in construction projects over the next five years. The biggest project to be affected will be Airside D, a $690 million project to add 16 new gates for domestic or international flights. Construction on that new airside originally was expected to be done in late 2024. Now it will be delayed four years. In the meantime, projects already underway as part of the airport’s master-planned $2 billion expansion will continue to move forward. Along with delaying construction projects, the airport’s board voted to increase a line of credit the airport has with Truist Bank from $100 million to $200 million.
“How a St. Petersburg company with no history in medical supplies won a $10 million coronavirus contract” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Fillakit LLC popped up May 1 with few public details on who was behind it. Its website is blank. The only name on its state registration paperwork is a St. Petersburg lawyer who specializes in real estate and estate planning. Fillakit had won a $10.2 million contract from the federal government for swabs and other COVID-19 testing supplies. A watchdog organization and a national investigative news outlet have raised questions about the federal government’s vetting of this upstart, linking the company to a Pinellas County man with a history of financial troubles and a $2.7 million settlement in a federal fraud case.
“$30K to help 30 small businesses affected by COVID-19 closures” via Brett Shweky of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority will soon be offering COVID-19 relief assistance grants for small businesses within its district that have been impacted by the pandemic. Under the administration and funding of the Delray Beach DDA, the grants are intended to serve as flexible emergency funding to help small storefront, for-profit businesses including retail, gallery or independent restaurant establishments. In total, 30 small businesses will be awarded $1,000 grants. The online application for the assistance grant will go live at 8 a.m. Tuesday, June 16 and the deadline for submission ends at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, June 17.
“County makes wearing of masks recommendation, not requirement” via Timothy O’Hara of Keysnews.com — To mask or not to mask, that is the question. Monroe County Commissioners seem to be in agreement that people should wear masks while in restaurants, stores and other businesses for the time being, but a majority of the commissioners voted that the county government should only recommend people wear masks.
— CORONA NATION —
“Amid reopenings and street protests, coronavirus transmission remains high in much of the U.S.” via Joel Achenbach and Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post — The coronavirus appears to be in retreat in regions that moved decisively to contain it after being hit hard, including New York and New Jersey. But the virus is persisting in parts of the South, Midwest and West, including in states that were among the last to impose shutdowns and the first to lift them. 23 states have seen an increase in the rolling seven-day average of coronavirus cases compared with the previous week. Most have registered an increase of 10%or more. Now, public health officials across the nation are warily eyeing caseloads and hospitalizations to see if there is a spike in infections resulting from mass protests against racism and police violence.
“Could COVID-19 be prevented before it starts? Some researchers are looking for a way.” via Karen Weintraub of the USA Today — Pharmaceutical companies and doctors have been hunting for drugs to treat COVID-19 and launched a major effort to develop a vaccine against it, but they haven’t focused as much on therapies for preventing infection before or after someone is exposed to the virus that causes the disease. That’s why there was so much excitement over the drug hydroxychloroquine, which Trump said he was taking for a while, to avoid infection with the virus. A study published last week found hydroxychloroquine failed to prevent infection.
“For many protesters, the cause outweighs virus risk. Doctors are concerned.” via Megan Reeves of the Tampa Bay Times — Health experts are watching with concern as protests over police brutality continue to erupt across Tampa Bay amid the coronavirus pandemic, and as more positive cases in the area are reported each day. The gatherings often draw hundreds who march and chant in proximity despite recommendations for social distancing. Protesters say the risk of gathering is worth it. Even while some wear masks, the pandemic is far from their minds. Some said in interviews that the duty they feel to speak out against racial injustice and the death of Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police May 25 outweighs fears of contracting the virus.
“Anthony Fauci, virus task force vanish with Trump all-in on reopen” via Josh Wingrove of Bloomberg — The White House’s coronavirus task force has all but vanished from public view as Trump pushes Americans to put the outbreak behind them and resume normal social and economic life. The task force was for several weeks a staple of Trump’s response to the pandemic. The task force is now reduced to weekly closed-door meetings with Vice President Mike Pence. Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the government, hasn’t spoken publicly at the White House since April 29. While it hasn’t been formally mothballed, the task force’s move to the back burner comes as Trump publicly cheers states that are reopening their economies more quickly, and brushes aside a persistently high number of new infections and deaths every day.
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“The jobs market is recovering, but we might blow it” via Conor Sen of Bloomberg Opinion — The latest jobs report shows that the labor market is on the road to at least partial recovery. But we should learn from the policy mistakes of the Great Recession. If we’re not smart about it, we could have years of consistent monthly jobs growth and still not get back to the level of employment we had in February. Getting back to full employment as soon as possible should be the driving focus as we think about fiscal stimulus. The best way to think about this is to isolate temporary from permanent job losses in the employment data. We’ve been down this road before and know how inadequate and unsatisfying it is. The key is to create an environment with enough demand so that companies believe it makes sense to invest in future capacity for a demand that has not yet materialized.
“‘I don’t know if that counts as a job’: Fewer hours, less pay and more anxiety greet returning workers” via Tony Romm and Jacob Bogage of The Washington Post — As millions of Americans return to work amid the worst economic crisis in a generation, they’re unexpectedly discovering their old positions are far more burdensome than they used to be. Their hours have been cut, their pay has been slashed and their responsibilities are now magnitudes greater. And their job security remains anything but guaranteed. For those who did maintain their old jobs, newly unfavorable conditions have left many workers trading one set of anxieties for another, now fearful for their financial and physical safety.
“Economists predicted 20% unemployment in May. How did they get it so wrong?” via Heather Long of The Washington Post — Economists predicted the official U.S. unemployment rate would hit 20%in May. Instead, the world learned that the official rate is actually 13.3 percent, an improvement from 14.7%in April. In short, give some credit to the government relief efforts, especially the Paycheck Protection Program, for bringing back jobs. Many economists expected the PPP would be a big factor in June, but it turns out the impact was sizable in May. Over half the job gains were in restaurants. On top of that, construction homes and commercial properties was deemed essential in many states, and projects ramped up as the weather improved.
“A ‘misclassification error’ made the May unemployment rate look better than it is. Here’s what happened.” via Heather Long of The Washington Post — When the U.S. government’s official jobs report for May came out on Friday, it included a note at the bottom saying there had been a major “error” indicating that the unemployment rate likely should be higher than the widely reported 13.3%rate. The special note said that if this “misclassification error” had not occurred, the “overall unemployment rate would have been about 3 percentage points higher than reported.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics admitted that some people who should have been classified as “temporarily unemployed” during the shutdown were instead misclassified as employed but “absent” from work for “other reasons.”
“The pandemic’s toll: nearly 500,000 public education jobs disappeared across U.S. in April” via Matt Barnum of Chalkbeat — The country saw 6% of its public education jobs disappear in just a month. In March, there were just over 8 million jobs in K-12 public education. By mid-April, that figure had dropped to just over 7.5 million, a loss of nearly 500,000 jobs. The decline in public school employment is less severe than job losses in other sectors of the economy. The vast majority of teaching jobs have been spared. Lots of education-connected jobs are difficult or impossible to do remotely, and some districts have furloughed staff or eliminated positions with school buildings closed and budget cuts looming.
“Republicans face looming unemployment dilemma” via Burgess Everett of POLITICO — Forty million Americans are unemployed and extra unemployment benefits expire at the end of next month. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are grappling with deep ideological divisions over what to do with the popular program in the middle of a pandemic and an election year. Most Republicans have roundly rejected the House Democrats’ approach of extending a $600 weekly boost to unemployment checks through January 2021. Many Republicans think the extra money makes it less enticing for Americans to go back to work. Fights over unemployment benefits amid a recession have long been politically charged, pitting the need to aid a reeling population against Republicans’ decadeslong efforts to shrink government.
“More workers now losing hope of getting back jobs” via Alexandra Olson and Mae Anderson of The Associated Press — Even as the U.S. economy begins to flicker back to life, even as job cuts slow and some laid-off people are called back to work, the scope of the devastation left by the viral pandemic has grown distressingly clear to millions who’d hoped for a quick return to their jobs: They may not be going back anytime soon. With many businesses reopening, the government surprisingly announced Friday that contrary to expectations of further layoffs, the economy added 2.5 million jobs in May, and the unemployment rate fell from 14.7% to 13.3%. Despite gradual re-openings, public fear of the virus is still keeping many people away from bars, restaurants, hotels, hair salons and other retail establishments.
“Airlines got $25 billion in stimulus; Industry still expected to shrink” via Alison Sider of The Wall Street Journal — Federal stimulus money for airlines is keeping them afloat through the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s not proving to be enough to sustain the industry at its pre-pandemic size. Carriers say they will have to shrink, with fewer planes flying, fewer flights and fewer employees come Oct. 1, after restrictions related to their stimulus money expire. Airlines will likely need to park 20% of their planes and cut their pilot workforces in equal measure. If not for the government aid, “I’m not sure we’d be flying at all,” one airline executive said. The problem now: demand hasn’t snapped back.
“Stores are cutting prices as the economy reopens, but watch for hikes in gas and food” via David Lyons and Rebecca Schneid of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Shoppers entering the Galleria Mall in Fort Lauderdale last week were greeted with a lineup of pleasant surprises: From Macy’s on the mall’s west end to Dillard’s in the east, signs boasted breathtaking discounts of 20% to 60% on clothes, shoes, accessories and eyeglasses. As consumers emerge from their homes and try to shake off the psychological effects of the coronavirus lockdown, businesses hope customers will return to the malls, stores and restaurants, open their wallets and start buying again. Massive unemployment has blitzed the state and national workforces, making households cautious about spending and driving up savings rates.
“Higher property tax bills could bring more financial pain during coronavirus pandemic” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A bigger-than-expected tax bill couldn’t come at a worse time for people facing a cash crisis because of the new coronavirus. Property values in South Florida did well overall in 2019, which could translate to higher property tax bills. The economic fallout from the coronavirus already has resulted in historic unemployment numbers. How much it’ll hurt property values, if at all, won’t be known in the immediate future. Property appraisers say state law requires them to only judge the values from 2019, which means any fallout from the coronavirus can’t be taken into consideration.
“Brooks Bros., ‘made in America’ since 1818, may soon need a new calling card” via Vanessa Friedman and Sapna Maheshwari of The New York Times — In late March, Brooks Brothers was showered with praise after announcing it would use its three clothing factories in the United States to make personal protective equipment to help fight COVID-19. Now those factories may become casualties of the coronavirus, and the future of Brooks Brothers. The company plans to lay off nearly 700 employees this summer at the factories. The plans emerged through filings under the federal WARN Act, which requires companies to give workers at least 60 days’ notice before mass layoffs or plant closings.
“Tervis, the maker of double-walled tumblers, found that working from home works for its office staff. Now it needs new real estate.” via Ashley Gurbal Kritzer of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — “Quite honestly, it really was just because that’s the way we’ve always done it,” said Rogan Donnelly, Tervis president. “And then, of course, we had this forced experiment.” Tervis, it turns out, works quite well from home, Donnelly said — so well, in fact, that it has listed its 12.5-acre campus in Sarasota County for sale and is looking for new real estate to accommodate its new normal. Its current buildings total 119,000 square feet, 38,000 square feet of which is devoted to office space. The company is open to another combined facility or splitting up office space and a manufacturing facility, and Donnelly plans to remain in Sarasota County.
“Orange County may borrow $700 million to expand its convention center even as tax revenues collapse” via Jason Garcia and Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County may borrow as much as $700 million to expand its already Pentagon-sized convention center even as tax revenues collapse amid the coronavirus crisis and industry executives warn they will want even bigger public subsidies to prop up the convention business once the pandemic passes. Construction has not yet begun on the pricey expansion project, which would add a 200,000-square-foot exhibition hall, an 80,000-square-foot ballroom and another 60,000 square feet of meeting rooms to the sprawling campus. The expansion is a top priority of Central Florida tourism executives, who profit off the money-losing meeting facility through attendee-spending at hotels, restaurants and attractions.
“Poverty doesn’t start or end with the pandemic” via Hali Tauxe of the Tallahassee Democrat — We know there’s a killer moving among us, but to many it’s visible only in the empty spaces between things and in the spaces between people who can’t agree on whether or not to be afraid. Of the 7.37 million Americans who applied for unemployment benefits in March, only 29% received payments. In Florida, the number was less than 10%. The coronavirus is a reminder that none of us are as safe as we feel: the virus may be invisible, but the existential threat it poses is very real. We can’t forget this feeling of insecurity. For many people, it neither started nor ends with the pandemic.
“The pandemic hit and this car became home for a family of four.” via Greg Jaffe of The Washington Post — The pandemic had forced them from their home. Then they had run out of money for a motel. That left the car, which is where Sergine Lucien, Dave Marecheau and their two children were one recent night, parked in a lot that was tucked behind a row of empty storefronts. “I’m not worried,” Dave replied. Days earlier, Dave had started a $14-an-hour construction job and expected to collect his first paycheck in the morning. If all went as planned, this would be their last night sleeping in the car. The spot was 6 miles from the main gate of a shuttered Walt Disney World, the engine of Orlando’s vast tourism economy. Even when the economy was booming, Dave and Sergine had lived in a state of near homelessness.
— MORE CORONA —
“Research shows students falling months behind during virus disruptions” via Dana Goldstein of The New York Times — While a nation of burned-out, involuntary home-schoolers slogs to the finish line of a disrupted academic year, a picture is emerging of the extent of the learning loss among children in America, and the size of the gaps schools will be asked to fill when they reopen. Most students will have fallen behind where they would have been if they had stayed in classrooms, with some losing the equivalent of a full school year’s worth of academic gains. The harms to students could grow if schools continue to teach fully or partly online in the fall, or if they reopen with significant budget cuts because of the economic downturn.
“Stadium virus prevention steers spotlight toward fan privacy” via The Associated Press — Metal detectors every sports fan has become accustomed to at the gate might soon be accompanied by thermal body scanners as part of the gargantuan task of preventing the spread of the new coronavirus and other airborne diseases. And that might be just one thing the public will need to be comfortable with in order to bring games back for in-person viewing. Technology will be a vital piece of the puzzle. It will also further test a fan’s willingness to potentially sacrifice a little more privacy in exchange for the opportunity to sit courtside or behind the plate again.
“Passengers suing over virus fears would ‘open the door’ to liability, cruise line says” via Amanda Bronstad of Law.com — Allowing cruise ship passengers to sue over emotional distress because they could have been exposed to the COVID-19 pandemic would “open the door to open-ended liability,” according to Princess Cruise Line Ltd. in a court filing this week. The motion to dismiss, filed Tuesday in 13 cases brought on behalf of more than 40 passengers, is the first substantive response that Princess Cruises has filed in court since the coronavirus prompted the filing of dozens of lawsuits. The motion comes as businesses across the country, reopening after months of closures imposed by state and local officials to curb the spread of COVID-19, have lobbied for protections from liability.
“Las Vegas casinos welcoming guests after long shutdown” via the Las Vegas Review-Journal — Many casinos require temperature checks to enter facilities. Most people are showing a normal temperature. Guests who get 100.4 degrees or above won’t be allowed in casinos if they test above the temperature after a 15-minute cool-down period. Many locals are excited about the reopening of casinos and plan to spend time gambling. Some casinos have sanitation stations, some with hand-washing sinks and others with disinfecting wipes at various places across their facilities. However, it appears that few people are using them. Some guests who wore face coverings wore them over their mouths but not their noses. Other masks dangled around necks while people sipped from their drinks or took a drag from cigarettes.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Remittances to Cuba could be in peril after new announcement by the Trump administration” via Nora Gámez Torres of the Miami Herald — Remittances to Cuba, the second-largest source of revenue for the country and a lifeline for many families, could be in danger after the U.S. State Department included the Cuban company Fincimex on its list of restricted entities on Wednesday. Fincimex, a subsidiary of Cimex, which is part of GAESA, a larger conglomerate of companies controlled by the Cuban military, processes remittances to Cuba and is the exclusive representative of Western Union on the island. Western Union offers a popular service through which thousands of Cubans in South Florida send money to their relatives. In October last year, the Trump administration limited remittances to Cuba to $ 1,000 per quarter.
Assignment editors — U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, joined by local health experts, will hold a news conference call to address the lack of contact tracing as Florida moves to Phase Two of reopening, 1:30 p.m., location and RSVP with firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Corrine Brown’s ex-aide leaves halfway house” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — Brown’s ex-chief of staff has been released from a halfway house where he was serving time for a federal conspiracy conviction involving a bogus children’s charity. Elias “Ronnie” Simmons, completed about 60% of a four-year prison sentence he received in December 2017. He pleaded guilty to two of 19 charges he faced in a 2016 indictment that said the charity, One Door for Education, was used like a slush fund to cover personal expenses for him, Brown and One Door founder Carla Wiley. Simmons testified at Brown’s trial that he regularly withdrew money from a One Door bank account and deposited it into an account controlled by Brown, a Democrat from Jacksonville who encouraged her political supporters to give to One Door.
“Pensacola bids for Space Command HQ” via Jim Thompson of the NWF Daily News — The city of Pensacola is making a bid to host the headquarters of U.S. Space Command, and other Florida cities could follow as the Air Force seeks self-nominations from qualified cities. U.S. Space Command is a unified combatant command under which the Space Force, the Air Force and other branches of the military operate in space. “We do meet the minimum screening criteria,” Kaycee Lagarde, Pensacola’s public information officer, confirmed. Interested communities must be within the top 150 Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the country, be located within 25 miles of a military base and have a minimum score of 50 on the Livability Index.
— STATEWIDE —
ICYMI — “Florida’s unemployment claims jump by 206,494 despite national decline” via David Lyons of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida’s unemployment claims bucked a downward national trend with a surge in new layoffs and an unemployment agency still struggling with a backlog of people trying to file claims. Florida saw its claims jump by more than 31,000 from the previous week. But nationwide, filings again showed a slight overall decline. The state’s 206,494 jobless workers seeking benefits in the week ending May 30 was the second-highest in the country. Only California, with 230,000, was higher. The state’s unemployment benefits system is still trying to meet the overwhelming demands for service by well over 1 million idled workers. Thousands of independent contractors, made eligible for federal payments under the coronavirus relief act, were rejected and had to reapply.
“Colorado State updates 2020 hurricane forecast” via the NWF Daily News — Colorado State University boosted the number of named storms expected this hurricane season as the atmosphere organizes for a potential cyclone-inciting La Niña. The seasonal forecast update added three named storms for 19, including nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes of category 3 or higher. The increase in named storms reflects the already-formed tropical storms Arthur, Bertha and Cristobal. If predictions hold true, it will be the fifth consecutive year of above-normal activity, beating the previous 4-year streak set between 1998 and 2001.
“F1 tornado strikes neighborhoods southeast of downtown Orlando” via Lisa Maria Garza, Kevin Spear and Mark Skoneki of the Orlando Sentinel — An F1 tornado that struck Orlando on Saturday night toppled trees, smashed cars and ripped off roofs in neighborhoods southeast of downtown, authorities said Sunday. The National Weather Service determined that the twister, with winds of 100 to 105 mph, started as a waterspout on Lake Conway at 7:20 p.m. and lifted back to the sky at 7:32 p.m. near Lake Lawsona. There were no reports of injuries. The majority of the damage was caused by trees that fell onto homes, according to a tweet from meteorologist Scott Spratt in the Melbourne office. The Lake Margaret Village apartment complex took the brunt of the tornado, with several buildings damaged.
“Tropical Storm Cristobal makes landfall in Louisiana; here’s what to expect in Pensacola” via the Pensacola News Journal staff reports — Squalls with tropical-storm-force winds will impact the coastal areas of the western Panhandle tonight as Tropical Storm Cristobal through the northern Gulf Coast. The center of Cristobal made landfall just east of Grand Island, Louisiana, at 5 p.m. and hazardous weather conditions are expected to spread inland across the northern Gulf Coast through tonight. A tropical storm warning is in effect for coastal parts of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. Those in the warning area should be prepared for the possibility of damaging winds, minor coastal flooding, strong rip currents, periods of heavy rainfall and a few tornadoes, according to an update from the National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama.
“Florida Chamber maps reveal childhood poverty rates across the state” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Prosperity Initiative has published a set of maps that outline childhood poverty numbers across the stats. The maps dig down to the county and ZIP code levels. At the low end, about 8.5% of children in St. Johns County live in poverty. Hardee County fares worst, with a childhood poverty rate of 43.5%. The Chamber said it published the data to help business leaders, elected officials, and community leaders identify where childhood poverty is most prevalent so they could work toward solutions. “Through the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Prosperity Initiative, Florida’s businesses have the opportunity to lead in helping Florida’s children move from poverty into prosperity,” said Karen Moore, CEO of The Moore Agency and Florida Chamber Foundation Trustee.
“Local governments push broad response to census” via Jim Thompson of the NWF Daily News — Consequences of not completing the census can be serious, affecting everything from the level of representation that communities will have in their state legislatures and in Congress as legislative district lines are redrawn to reflect population changes, and the amount of state and federal dollars that flow into counties and cities and their school systems to augment local tax revenue. Officials in Walton County are redoubling their efforts to get people to fill out the census form. Currently, just 30.3% of the forms sent to addresses across the county have been completed and sent in. The numbers are a little better in Okaloosa County, where 56.2% of forms have been sent in.
“Enterprise Florida eyes overseas trade efforts” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — As it puts together a budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, the public-private economic development agency is also making an assumption that its employees will be able to go overseas by the final three months of 2020. The “full steam” effort to encourage job growth includes a focus on reviving international trade, with the hope of sending a contingent to the Medica Trade Fair in November in Düsseldorf, Germany, if international virus-related travel restrictions are eased. “We did speak to the event organizers, who have been in touch with their government. They have not canceled or postponed that event,” Enterprise Florida Chief Operating Officer Robert Schlotman told members of the agency’s Finance & Compensation Committee.
“Arguments rejected on ‘red flag’ law” via the News Service of Florida — An appeals court rejected a challenge to a state law that allows authorities to remove guns if people are found to pose a “significant danger” to themselves or others. The so-called “red flag” law was passed after the 2018 mass shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people. It allows courts to issue what is known as “risk protection” orders that allow removal of firearms for up to a year. A panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal issued a seven-page decision in a Polk County case that challenged the constitutionality of the law.
“Florida, NRA will bypass mediation in challenge to Parkland gun law” via the News Service of Florida — The National Rifle Association and Florida officials will avoid mediation in a lawsuit challenging a 2018 state law that prevents people under age 21 from purchasing firearms, under an order issued this week by a federal judge. The age restriction was included in a law passed in response to the Feb. 14, 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Nikolas Cruz, who was 19 at the time of the shooting, is accused of killing 14 students and three faculty members with a semi-automatic weapon at his former school. The law raised the age from 18 to 21 to purchase “long guns,” such as rifles and shotguns. Federal law already banned licensed firearms dealers from selling handguns to people under 21.
“Governor’s office passes on union’s request to oust Sheriff Gregory Tony” via Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — DeSantis isn’t going to act on a deputies union’s request that he suspend Tony from his post ahead of August’s election, the governor’s spokeswoman said. The Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association asked the governor in a letter to oust Tony, citing omissions the DeSantis-appointed sheriff made on job applications and other paperwork about his past. The union is supporting Al Pollock in the Aug. 18 Democratic primary election and has been waging a public battle against Tony. “Broward Sheriff’s Office employees have lost respect for and must endure a sense of disgust when employees come to work knowing that their ‘sheriff’ has lied, cheated and obtained the position that he holds today through deception,” Jeff Bell, the union’s president, wrote.
“City Hall, Tallahassee police meet over naming officer who shot Tony McDade, walkout ensues” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — A meeting with city leaders and the Tallahassee Police Department Saturday over the planned release of the name of the officer who shot and killed a transgender black man turned tense, resulting in a mass walkout, a statewide police union leader said. The 4 p.m. meeting happened after protesters gathered in front of police headquarters, demanding answers in the May shooting of McDade and the March shooting of Mychael Johnson. At issue has been whether Marsy’s Law, a state constitutional amendment creating a crime victims’ bill of rights, applies to law enforcement in the course of their official duties. Saturday’s tension came over the decision by Goad and top city brass to soon release the name of the officer.
“Most Florida officers disciplined for excessive force kept their jobs” via Ryan Mills, Devan Patel and Melanie Payne of The Lakeland Ledger — Most Florida law enforcement and corrections officers who were disciplined for using excessive force on suspects and inmates kept their jobs, according to an analysis of the state’s law enforcement complaint data. From 1985 to mid-2018, there were 1,671 cases in Florida in which deputies, police officers and jail and prison guards were disciplined by their agencies for using excessive force. More than 70,000 people work as law enforcement or corrections officers in Florida, and the data show that only a small fraction are ever disciplined for using excessive force.
“’Such nonsense’: Blue Dog Democrats officially repudiate Kim Daniels” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — In response to a Jacksonville Democrat’s claim that she’s a Blue Dog Democrat, the actual Blue Dog Caucus reached out to say no. Daniels was rebuked over the weekend by the coalition of centrist congressional Democrats. “Kim Daniels is no blue dog. We would never endorse such nonsense. Ever,” said U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, chair of the Blue Dog PAC. The Blue Dog PAC includes Democrats in Congress, with Florida’s Stephanie Murphy and Charlie Crist among them. Daniels, an evangelist who is socially conservative on abortion and prayer issues, seemed to suggest during the “When Women Pray” call that the endorsements for opponent Angie Nixon from Bob Lynch and Adam Christensen didn’t matter, as she is a “Blue Dog Democrat.”
“For Broward voters, major change with new state attorney” via Steve Bousquet of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — For the first time in an astounding 44 years, Broward will elect a new state attorney, a countywide prosecutor to replace the retiring Mike Satz, who seems as if he’s been around as long as the courthouse itself. The election comes amid resounding calls for change in a criminal justice system people nationally see as racist and unaccountable. Democratic voters must size up eight candidates. At the Broward state attorney’s office, so many societal factors converge daily: poverty, racism, mental health, substance abuse, police brutality, minimum mandatory sentences, cash bail, racial disparities in sentencing and repeated wrongful incarcerations of innocent people.
“Judge in Jeffrey Epstein grand jury case has ties to those with a stake in outcome” via Julie K. Brown of the Miami Herald — Krista Marx, the Palm Beach chief judge who also heads a panel that polices judicial conduct, has potential conflicts of interest involving three prominent players embroiled in the Epstein sex-trafficking saga: State Attorney Dave Aronberg, who has been sued to release the grand jury records; Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, whose department’s favored treatment of Epstein while he was in the Palm Beach County jail is part of an ongoing state criminal investigation; and ex-State Attorney Barry Krischer, part of the same investigation in connection with his decision not to prosecute Epstein on child-sex charges.
“Domestic violence group sues own insurers over ongoing Tiffany Carr scandal” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence now is suing two insurance companies, saying they broke a deal to defend the organization against other lawsuits filed by the state. The state sued FCADV in March over what lawmakers called excessive payments to former CEO Carr. Reports of the coalition’s spending practices prompted a Florida House investigation that found Carr had cashed in over $7 million in paid time off over a four-year period. The nonprofit, which was the state’s leading anti-domestic violence group, acted as a pass-through, administering $52 million in state and federal funds annually to 42 domestic violence shelters.
“Collier agrees to $10M purchase of 967 acres of environmentally sensitive ranch land” via Patrick Riley of the Naples Daily News — Collier County commissioners last week approved an agreement to buy more than 900 acres of environmentally sensitive ranch land in rural Collier for $10 million. Commissioners unanimously approved the purchase of a 967-acre property, known as HHH Ranch, as part of their consent agenda May 26. The land, which environmental groups say is environmentally valuable, is located east of Collier Boulevard and just north of the cross-state Alligator Alley stretch of Interstate 75. The land is owned by Dr. Francis Hussey Jr. and his wife, Mary Pat.
“Pinellas BRT funding is a road map for how the region can keep winning federal transit dollars” via Veronica Brezina-Smith of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The Tampa Bay region is known as a business-friendly, tourism destination but it has always suffered from lack of transit options largely due to lack of funding. That could be changing. For the first time ever, the federal government awarded the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority $21.8 million in federal grants in late May for construction of the region’s first Bus Rapid Transit project. Florida Department of Transportation Secretary David Gwynn said the region came together to attract the needed federal funding or half the project cost. The Central Avenue BRT is one of the top five transit priorities for the region, he said.
— 2020 —
“No ‘silver lining’: Trump faces voter backlash amid crises” via Steve Peoples and Scott Bauer of The Associated Press — At the end of one of his most turbulent weeks in office, Trump was eager to boast of a better than expected jobs report to argue the country is poised for a booming recovery. “The people living the economic reality of what’s soon to be a recession, it’s a very different set of numbers,” Benjamin Lund said, a Milwaukee Republican who recently lost his restaurant job. “It’s almost, in a sense, disrespectful to try and put a positive spin on where we are as a nation right now.” Trump has time to solidify his standing. But some Republicans, such as Lund, fear voters are simply worn out by Trump. The President has time to solidify his standing. But some Republicans fear voters are simply worn out by Trump. Just 21% of voters believe the United States is on the right track.
“Vote for Trump? These Republican leaders aren’t on the bandwagon” via Jonathan Martin of The New York Times — Growing numbers of prominent Republicans are debating how far to go in revealing that they won’t back his reelection. Former President George W. Bush won’t support the reelection of Trump, and Jeb Bush isn’t sure how he’ll vote, say people familiar with their thinking. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah won’t back Trump and is deliberating whether to again write in his wife, Ann, or cast another ballot this November. Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain, is almost certain to support Joe Biden but is unsure how public to be about it because one of her sons is eying a run for office.
“Colin Powell says he ‘cannot in any way support’ Trump; announces he will vote for Joe Biden” via FOX News — Powell became the latest member of the Republican Party’s old guard to announce that he will not be voting for Trump in November’s general election. Powell’s admission comes amid rumors and speculation that a number of establishment Republican heavyweights have sworn off voting for Trump in favor of Democratic presidential nominee and Biden. “I certainly cannot, in any way, support President Trump this year,” Powell said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We have a Constitution and we have to follow that Constitution and the president has drifted away from it.”
“Joe Biden has doubled his lead over Donald Trump in Michigan, poll says” via Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press — Biden has increased his lead over President Trump to 12 percentage points in Michigan, where voters are unhappy with Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Biden leads Republican Trump in Michigan 53-41. Biden’s lead over Trump in Michigan, seen as a key battleground state in the Nov. 3 presidential election, has doubled from six points in January when Michigan voters favored Biden over Trump 50-44. Asked about Trump’s handling of the pandemic, 58% gave him a negative rating, 41% gave him a positive rating and 1% were undecided or refused to say.
“Charlotte: We need to know whether RNC is coming or not” via Jim Morrill and Austin Weinstein of The Charlotte Observer — A day after Trump vowed to move the Republican National Convention, Charlotte’s city attorney said Wednesday the city is still moving forward as if the convention will be in Charlotte. “We do need to clarify the intentions of the RNC in terms of exactly what they plan on doing here in Charlotte,” City Attorney Patrick Baker said. Baker said he’s talking to GOP and convention officials. “We need to hear from the RNC in very plain terms what their expectations are as it relates to fulfilling their obligations under the contract,” he said. Baker’s comments came a day after Trump tweeted that because Gov. Roy Cooper can’t guarantee full attendance at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center.
“How Trump’s demands for a full house in Charlotte derailed a convention” via Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times — The buyer’s remorse about choosing Charlotte, North Carolina, to host Trump’s nominating convention had already set in January, months before the coronavirus would force both parties to rethink how to hold large-scale political events. A group of Republican fundraisers expressed concern that what could have been a high-octane celebration of Trump’s complete takeover of the Republican Party was going to fall short of expectations. Convention cities are chosen well in advance of the event. But at that point, North Carolina was looking like less of a problem electorally for Trump than Florida, the president’s new home state, and one that he is uniquely focused on winning.
“Facebook, Instagram join Twitter in removing Trump campaign videos over copyright complaints” via Cristiano Lima of POLITICO — Facebook and Instagram took down video tributes to Floyd posted by the Trump campaign over copyright complaints, following a similar decision by Twitter, broadening the latest skirmish over the policing of online messages from President Trump and his allies. Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram removed posts by official Trump campaign accounts that included videos narrated by Trump. “We received a copyright complaint from the creator under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and have removed the post,” Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said. “Organizations that use original art shared on Instagram are expected to have the right to do so.”
“Police groups break with Joe Biden” via Marc Caputo and Natasha Korecki of POLITICO — Biden has long prided himself on being a union-friendly Democrat with a good relationship with rank-and-file cops. But Biden’s call for more national policing reforms and oversight in the wake of the death of Floyd has created a fissure with law enforcement groups, leaving many who once supported him frustrated by what they regard as political posturing by their one-time ally. “Clearly, he’s made a lot of changes the way candidates do during the primary process, but he kept moving left and fell off the deep end,” said Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations. Trump has issued a full-throated call to restore “law and order.”
“Val Demings’ Orlando police career could hurt — or help — her chances to become Joe Biden’s running mate” via Steven Lemongello and Jeff Weiner of the Orlando Sentinel — Demings’ meteoric rise from the Orlando Police Department to the halls of Congress and a starring role in the impeachment of Trump has reportedly landed her on the shortlist of contenders to join former Vice President Biden atop the Democratic ticket this fall. But Demings’ background as former police chief at a department that has been accused of using force excessively, including during her tenure, could prove a challenge on the national stage, particularly when people across the country are protesting in the streets against police brutality. To national Democrats, Demings is a rising star who has already once taken on Trump. In Central Florida, she’s half a political and law enforcement power couple.
Watch tonight — “’Axios on HBO’ interviews Rep. Demings” via Axios — Demings gives a surprisingly blunt answer when Alexi McCammond asks whether she’d accept an offer to be Biden’s running mate. Available 11 p.m. Eastern time on all HBO platforms.
To watch the promo, click on the image below:
“Stacey Abrams wants to be Biden’s Veep. But her new book is about bigger hopes.” via Carlos Lozada of The Washington Post — Abrams, the former Georgia state legislator who narrowly lost the 2018 governor’s race and is considered a long shot Veep contender for the 2020 Democratic ticket, writes in a new book of our time, but also of others that never stop echoing. She begins in 1968, a year when another man sought to win a presidential election by calling for law and order. She looks back on constitutional amendments ending slavery and expanding suffrage, landmark court decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education, and vital legislation such as the Voting Rights Act, but she recognizes each as a step, not an end.
“Facebook, Twitter and Google write their own rules for political ads — and what you see” via Patience Haggin and Emily Glazer of The Wall Street Journal — With virtually no federal guidelines regulating these ads, the major online platforms are drawing up their own rules for what political advertisers can and cannot do. Platforms’ decisions to moderate content have sparked widespread debate, as with Twitter Inc.’s decision in May to flag tweets posted by President Donald Trump that violated its rules and Facebook Inc.’s decision to allow similar posts to appear without moderation. Facebook, Alphabet Inc.-owned Google and Twitter updated their ad policies in 2019, setting rules for what counts as a political ad, who is allowed to buy them, and what they can say. All three platforms use a combination of automated and human review to enforce their policies.
— MORE FROM THE TRAIL —
“Despite coronavirus, some candidates able to qualify by gathering petition signatures” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — A number of candidates for local office were able to gather enough signatures to help secure a spot on the ballot, despite the obstacle of no door-to-door campaigning or large gatherings in recent months because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year, the signature-gather process “was a real challenge,” Brevard Republican Executive Committee Chair Rick Lacey said. Not only can candidates gather signatures for their qualifying petitions, but they also can make a personal connection with a voter, and perhaps also gain a campaign volunteer or help register a new voter in the household. “Nothing beats retail, door-to-door politics,” Lacey said.
“Chuck Brannan endorses Judson Sapp for CD 3” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Brannan endorsed Republican congressional candidate Sapp for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District. “Our country is in desperate need of strong leadership in Congress. Judson Sapp will stand firm to protect our conservative values and get things done for Floridians. I’m proud to endorse Judson Sapp for Congress because I know he will go to Washington to support President Trump and fight for us,” Brannan said. Sapp responded, “Chuck Brannan is a seventh-generation Floridian, rancher, and dedicated public servant. He served us in North Florida as a career law enforcement officer and now as a State Representative. I appreciate Chuck’s service to our state and his support.” Through the end of March, Sapp had about $310,000 in the bank.
“Adam Hattersley raising funds off Floyd tragedy” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — In an email to supporters, Hattersley expressed consternation over last week’s tragic killing in which Floyd was killed by a police officer restraining him with his knee placed over his neck. “This past week has been heartbreaking. It has felt like the country that I, and so many others have fought for, is reaching a breaking point, and that there is no relief from violence in sight,” Hattersley wrote. The email includes a link to contribute to his campaign. “Can we count on you to contribute a few dollars to Adam’s campaign?” the email reads above a “contribute” link. Hattersley, during a candidate debate at Tampa Tiger Bay Friday, apologized for including the contribution link and said it shouldn’t be there.
“Clay Yarborough, Joe Casello draw House challengers” via the News Service of Florida — Jacksonville Democrat Emmanuel Blimie opened a campaign account try to unseat Yarborough in Duval County’s House District 12. Democrat Spyros Chialtas also opened an account for the race last month. Meanwhile, Boynton Beach Republican Lydia Maldonado opened an account this week to challenge Casello in Palm Beach County’s House District 90, according to the Division of Elections. Libertarian Jonathan Andrew Adler also has opened an account for the race.
“Miami-Dade Mayor asks judge to dismiss lawsuit challenging his congressional quest” via the News Service of Florida — Calling the case “much-to-do about nothing,” a lawyer for Miami-Dade County Mayor Giménez is asking a circuit judge to dismiss a lawsuit that contends Gimenez should be disqualified from running for a congressional seat this year. Republican Omar Blanco and Gimenez are trying to unseat U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, in one of the most closely watched congressional races in the state. District 26 is made up of Monroe County and part of Miami-Dade County. Blanco filed the lawsuit in April in the Leon County circuit court.
“Tom Lee to run for Hillsborough Court Clerk” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Lee is running for Hillsborough County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller, according to campaign documents. Lee filed his preliminary campaign paperwork Friday afternoon at the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Office, after announcing last week that he would step down from his Senate seat in November. Republicans D.C. Goutoufas and County Commissioner Sandra Murman previously filed preliminary candidate papers. Murman, though, has not officially announced her candidacy and is expected to seek another office. On the Democratic side, former Commissioner Kevin Beckner and Hillsborough School Board member Cindy Stuart also have filed their preliminary campaign paperwork. They are seeking to replace Clerk of Court and Comptroller Pat Frank, who is retiring after 16 years in the office.
“Hillsborough Commissioner Sandy Murman gears up her campaign machinery — but for what?” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Murman has restarted her political campaign machinery — but it isn’t clear what race she’s aiming at. Indications from some political insiders suggest she may be gearing up for a challenge to countywide Commissioner Pat Kemp, with backing from the real estate development industry that opposes moves by Kemp and other commissioners for increased impact fees and limits on growth. Murman is term-limited in her seat representing commission District 1, based in Tampa and extending from northwest Hillsborough to South Shore. Winning a countywide seat would restart her term-limit clock.
“Court orders Indian River commission to backtrack on school election, set Aug. 18 vote” via Colleen Wixon of TCPalm — The County Commission overstepped its authority when it overruled the School Board on the date of an upcoming school tax vote, a judge ruled. Circuit Judge Janet Croom ordered the commission to meet today and do what the School Board had asked in the first place: put the tax issue on the Aug. 18 primary ballot. The commission had decided the Nov. 3 general election was better for the tax vote. The deadline for submitting items for the August election is Friday. The commission is to meet at 4:30 p.m. today. School district officials went to court last month after the County Commission twice denied requests to authorize the school tax vote for the August ballot. Commissioners instead said they wanted it part of the Nov. 3 general election, arguing its chances for passage were greater because more people would vote in November than in August.
— TOP OPINION —
“We must unite against racism as America faces dual pandemics” via Rep. Al Lawson for the Tallahassee Democrat — The coronavirus is still among us changing the way we live our lives and taking from us loved ones. Businesses have begun to reopen, but people are moving into those places with a sense of fear and anxiety. Yet, we wonder whether the economy is being saved at our expense. Racism has decided to avoid all the usual subtleties it normally displays. It has stepped front and center that we might once again be reminded of its manipulative strength and its disruptive power. We have witnessed the appalling deaths of so many of our people by individuals who felt they were empowered and entitled to act in the most inhumane ways.
— OPINIONS —
“From Pensacola to Navarre, protesters speak truth to power, preserve peace” via the Pensacola News Journal editorial board — In a moment of historic outcry that promises to permanently shift the scales of race and justice in America, our own local citizens have joined in the outpouring that has swept across the nation in the aftermath of the brutal police killing of Floyd in Minneapolis. For Pensacola, stories like Floyd’s hit home. It wasn’t all that long ago in 2009 when an innocent black teenager named Victor Steen was crushed under the cruiser of Pensacola Police Officer Jerald Ard after the child fell off his bicycle while being chased by the officer who claimed Steen looked suspicious. Photographers captured the heartbreaking image of Steen’s broken and lifeless leg pinned beneath the cruiser for hours as the scene was investigated.
“African Americans are exhausted from talking about racism, Floyd. It’s time to listen” via the Florida Today editorial board — African Americans are exhausted from telling the rest of America about racism. It’s time we as a nation finally listen. It was important to hear from black Brevard County residents on their experiences with racism and their reactions to the deaths of Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and others. We cannot let our black friends, neighbors, co-workers and loved ones carry the burden of changing systemic racism on their own. Staying quiet in this historic moment is a statement in itself. White Americans also must be outraged by Floyd’s death after a police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes. It is our responsibility to call out racist comments and actions when they happen outside the public view, whether it be at home, school or work.
“I’m not impressed by white people huffing about Floyd’s killing” via Janis Prince for the Tampa Bay Times — I am tired of the race problems in the United States. I am tired of getting worked up, so excuse me if all of the white people huffing and puffing about the tragedy of Floyd’s killing neither moves nor impresses me. Where were these folks who are hopping up and down now when other blacks and browns were murdered with impunity? What are they doing other than offering “words of solidarity”— when they have the power to do something? I count myself lucky that some private concerns consume and keep me selfishly focused inward. I appreciate my numbness and focus on self-preservation in the face of this killing. So leave me be.
“Miami-Dade police shouldn’t police themselves. Let citizen oversight board weigh in on bad cops” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Street demonstrators, community leaders and many residents of all hues are rightly demanding more police accountability. Miami-Dade County commissioners should step up right now to fulfill this demand: Begin the process by reinstating the civilian oversight panel to independently investigate citizens’ complaints of police misconduct. Currently, there are two efforts underway to revive an ordinance proposed by commissioners and a push to put a charter amendment, crafted by a coalition of community organizations, on the November ballot. The previous panel did little to keep bad cops off the street. It was toothless, created more to mollify aggrieved residents than make an impact.
“With no gun debate, 2022 loses some political fun” via Bill Cottrell of the Tallahassee Democrat — It’s too bad the Florida Supreme Court shot down the public petition campaign for a ban on military-style “assault weapons” last week. Not because the justices ruled, 4-1, that the amendment’s ballot summary had some deceptive wording. That sort of legal technicality is what the court is there for, a process to keep both sides from waging long and costly campaigns for a flawed amendment that doesn’t comply with public-initiative rules. What’s mildly lamentable about the high court’s ruling against the referendum is that Florida’s 2022 campaign just became a little less interesting because now we’re not going to have the gun referendum on the ballot.
— TODAY’S SUNRISE —
Florida has now experienced five consecutive days where the number of new COVID-19 cases has exceeded 1,000. DeSantis says that is because of more testing, but it could also have something to do with the reopening of Florida and all those mitigation measures that are no longer practice.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— The number of fatalities continues to rise and should soon surpass 2,800 in Florida. Nationwide, the total is more than 112,000 deaths and more than 2 million confirmed cases.
— Tropical Storm Cristobal slogs ashore in Louisiana, soaking the entire southeast, as well as most of Florida. The rain didn’t stop Black Lives Matter marches in the Sunshine State, but it did cool things down a bit. Health experts are now recommending people who take part in the protests test for coronavirus — just in case.
— The embattled Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence filed suit against two insurance companies that sold them professional liability coverage and are now refusing to pay up since the state is taking the to court coalition over excessive payments to their former director. The insurance companies say their policies don’t cover fraud.
— DeSantis provides a monologue on the state’s efforts to protect seniors from COVID-19. More than half Florida’s fatalities have been at nursing homes and adult living facilities, but the Governor says we’re a model for the rest of the nation.
— The latest on Florida Man, who didn’t know his racist remarks were being aired live on Facebook.
To listen, click on the image below:
— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —
— ALOE —
“NBA offers clarity on tiebreakers with uneven schedule” via Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press — The NBA has told teams that playoff seeding will be based on winning percentage and that any tiebreakers necessary after that will follow the usual procedures. It was an issue that needed clarity because the 22 teams that will be going to the Disney complex near Orlando, for the planned resumption of the season next month will not have played the same number of games. The NBA has not yet revealed how team schedules will be adjusted once play resumes without Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Golden State, Minnesota and New York taking part in the remainder of the 2019-20 season.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday to two very intelligent, decent men, Chris Hand (who pens the occasional op-ed for #FlaPol) and Brad Miller, the executive director of PSTA. Belated best wishes to our friend, former Rep. Jason Brodeur as well as Cameron Ulrich.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.