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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.9.20

Coffee is for closers. So is Sunburn, your morning rundown of Florida politics.

First in #FlaPol — “Tom Lee reverses course, will not run for Hillsborough Clerk” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — “Last Friday, I filed paperwork which would have allowed me to qualify at noon today for the Hillsborough County Clerk of Court. While my head told me I wanted to continue representing the residents of this great county, my heart told me that this was not the best way for me to serve my community at this time,” Lee said. He tenured his resignation from the Senate at the end of May effective November 3. That resignation still stands, Lee said. “My wife, Laurel Lee, is currently serving as Secretary of State, and she and my young daughter are in Tallahassee,” Lee said. “My decision to leave the Florida Senate was born out of a desire to reunite my family.”

Sen. Tom Lee decided not to run for Hillsborough County Clerk of Court, after all. Image via News Service of Florida.

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Lee’s decision not to seek the Hillsborough County Clerk seat comes just three days after he filed to run. It means his life in politics will come to a halt later this year, at least for a time.

“My decision to leave the Florida Senate was born out of a desire to reunite my family,” Lee said. “My wife and I have since concluded that this objective would not allow me to dedicate the necessary time to honor the legacy of my friend Pat Frank and fulfill the duties of the office.”

Lee will continue serving Senate District 20 until his resignation — effective in early November.

Lee’s candidacy would have likely positioned the Clerk’s race as one of the county’s big-money races. As an incumbent Senator, Lee would have had access to a deep well of establishment donors, courted over the course of his more than two decades in Florida politics.

Significant money has already poured in with former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner raising nearly $117,000 and Hillsborough County School Board member Cindy Stuart nearly $23,000 in just four months, nearly all of which came in April when she officially announced her campaign.

Lee would have faced D.C. Goutoufas in the Republican primary and potentially Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman, who has filed for the seat but isn’t expected to stay in after qualifying.

— DAYS UNTIL —

PGA Tour resumes with Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth — 2; Last day of state candidate qualifying — 3; “Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre” by Max Brooks release — 7; Belmont Stakes rescheduled — 11; Father’s Day — 12; Apple to hold Developer Conference — 13; NBA training camp — 21; “The Outpost” with Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood premieres — 24; NBA teams traveled to Orlando — 28; Disney World Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom to reopen — 32; Disney World Epcot and Hollywood Studios to reopen — 36; Federal taxes due — 36; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premieres — 38; “Mulan” premieres — 45; TED conference rescheduled — 46; NBA season restart in Orlando — 52; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 69; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 71; NBA draft lottery — 75; Indy 500 rescheduled — 75; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 78; Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 80; “A Quiet Place Part II” premieres — 87; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 88; Rescheduled date for French Open — 105; First presidential debate in Indiana — 113; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 116; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 123; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 125; Second presidential debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 128; NBA draft — 128; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 129; NBA free agency — 131; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 136; 2020 General Election — 147; “Black Widow” premieres — 150; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 154; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 161; “No Time to Die” premieres — 168; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 175 “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres — 217; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 243; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 409; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 418; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 514; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 612; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 654; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 696; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 850.

— AMERICA SMOLDERING —

80% of voters say things are out of control in the U.S.” via Mark Murray of NBC News — Eight out of 10 voters believe that things are out of control in the United States, with majorities still concerned about the spread of the coronavirus, pessimistic about the economy’s return to normal before next year and down on Donald Trump‘s ability to unite the nation. Those are the findings of a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted May 28 to June 2, during the aftermath of George Floyd‘s death in Minneapolis, as the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 100,000 and after millions of people have lost their jobs. But the survey was before Friday’s surprising jobs report, which found the unemployment rate declining to 13.3% and the economy adding 2.5 million jobs in May.

Bashing Mitt Romney, Kayleigh McEnany reveals how worried the White House is about the protests” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — Romney has been in politics long enough to understand that his appearance at a Black Lives Matter protest in Washington served as a rebuke of Trump. Romney has mastered the art of getting under Trump’s skin by passively highlighting Trump’s weaknesses, and the protest certainly achieved that goal. “Mitt Romney can say three words outside on Pennsylvania Avenue,” McEnany replied, “but I would note this: that President Trump won 8% of the black vote. Mitt Romney won 2% of the black vote.”

Mitt Romney marches with a crowd singing ‘Little Light of Mine’ in Washington, a move that rankled the White House. Image via AP.

What would efforts to defund or disband police departments really mean?” via Dionne Searcey of The New York Times — The calls for change since demonstrations started have left people uncertain of what those changes would really mean and how cities would contend with crime. Many activists want money now spent on overtime for the police or on buying expensive equipment for police departments to be shifted to programs related to mental health, housing and education, areas that the activists say with sufficient money could bring about systemic societal change and cut down on crime and violence. Some proposals call for ending no-knock warrants and military-style raids.

Derek Chauvin’s bail set at $1.25 million as final public memorial for George Floyd is held” via The Washington Post — Former officer Derek Chauvin was formally charged with murder in the death of Floyd, appearing via videoconference during which a judge set his bail at $1.25 million without conditions or $1 million with conditions. The hearing coincided with a final public memorial in Houston for Floyd, who will be buried next to his mother in a cemetery in Pearland, Tex. On Sunday, nine members of the Minneapolis City Council announced that they were seeking to dismantle the city’s police department in the fallout of Floyd’s death.

The nexus between coronavirus and protests: The virus ‘was the kindling, and the police brutality lit the fire.’” via Marc Fisher, Peter Jamison and Ava Wallace of The Washington Post — Protests mean exposure to the virus and potentially accelerating its spread. The virus has killed more than 109,000 Americans, including a disproportionate number of blacks. Far from being separate crises, the deadly epidemic of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and the sudden explosion of street protests against police violence are intimately connected. For medical professionals, the nightly images of huge crowds walking city streets, shouting and chanting, sometimes wearing masks but with hardly any possibility of social distancing, is frightening, even if it’s also understandable.

Local crime app Citizen becomes a key tool during protests” via Sebastian Herrera of The Wall Street Journal — In the past week, about 620,000 first-time users in the U.S. downloaded Citizen on Apple Inc.’s App Store and Google Play. By Monday, the app had jumped from being the 744th most popular, in terms of daily downloads from Apple’s store, to the fourth. Citizen has drawn criticism over its content and questions of whether it does more to incite fear than help communities. A newer feature allows users to upload videos. Such features, critics say, allow users’ biases and contribute to racial profiling. People have also reported instances in which information on the app doesn’t appear to be correct. Because anyone can use Citizen, law enforcement can also potentially tune into the network.

The Citizen app has emerged as a vital tool for protesters. Image via CNN.

Protests spread over police shootings. Police promised reforms. Every year, they still shoot and kill nearly 1,000 people.” via Mark Berman, John Sullivan, Julie Tate and Jennifer Jenkins of The Washington Post — Protesters repeatedly took to the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, where a white police officer had killed a black teenager the previous year and fueled a new national debate about the use of force and how police treat minorities. The number killed each year since then has remained steady despite fluctuating crime rates, changeovers in big-city police leadership and a nationwide push for criminal justice reform. Since 2015, 70% of the 5,400 people fatally shot by police were armed with a knife or a gun. More than 3,000 of them had guns.

ESPN has tried to focus more on sports, but that changed with Floyd” via Ben Strauss of The Washington Post — Under Jimmy Pitaro, who was appointed president in March 2018, the company has sought to project an apolitical image, saying that one of the company’s main roles is to unite sports fans of different political opinions. Last weekend, athletes such as the Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown joined protests and normally politics-averse athletes such as Tom Brady put out statements in support of Floyd, which put the network in the position of going against its policies and covering these political statements.

— FLORIDA REAX —

Police lodge encourages cops at departments accused of brutality to apply in Brevard” via Tiffini Theisen Of the Orlando Sentinel — A Brevard chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police deleted a Facebook post trying to recruit law-enforcement officers at departments accused of brutality after it drew widespread outrage, according to news reports. Screenshots, shared by countless users on social media, show that the post had read: ”Hey Buffalo 57 … and Atlanta 6 … we are hiring in Florida. Lower taxes, no spineless leadership, or dumb Mayors rambling on at news conferences … Plus … we got your back! #lawandorderFlorida.” The post, published at 1:21 a.m. Saturday and later removed was a reaction to blowback over accusations of police brutality at Floyd protests nationwide in recent days.

Police officers in Buffalo, who resigned after an officer was reprimanded for pushing a 75-year-old protester, are welcomed by Brevard County. Image via Reuters.

Miami-Dade Police Department releases letter to community amid protests” via Local10.com — As protesters continue to call for racial equality and an end to police brutality following the death of Floyd and many others, the Miami-Dade Police Department released an open letter to the community Monday to let the public know that they value their concerns. The letter includes an outline of the department’s policies regarding the use of force.

South Florida health care workers come together to pray for peace and unity” via Saira Anwer and Layron Livingston of Local10.com — In memory of Floyd and countless others, health care workers at all six Memorial Healthcare System hospitals simultaneously held a unity prayer to inspire peace and solidarity in what they call a time of social unrest. Local religious leaders joined dozens of Memorial Healthcare workers who came together and bowed their heads. “We come together seeking to summon the spirit that inspires this whole place at Memorial,” said Father Dave Collins, director of spiritual care for Memorial Regional in Hollywood. The prayer was livestreamed inside for any staff or patients who weren’t able to make it outside to join.

Orange County Sheriff’s Office updates force policy to include ‘duty to intervene’” via Grace Toohey of the Orlando Sentinel — The Orange County Sheriff’s Office last week updated its use of force policy to include, in writing, that deputies have a “duty to intervene” if they see or anticipate excessive force being used by their colleagues. Orange County Sheriff John Mina on Saturday spoke to a crowd in Orlando protesting police brutality and pervasive racism. Mina told local demonstrators he made the change after watching the video of Floyd’s killing. Now, at the top of the OCSO use of force policy there is a line that says, “Deputies have a duty to intervene if they anticipate or observe the unreasonable, unnecessary or disproportionate use of force.”

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 LaToya 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. The attorneys said that Ratlieff is primarily seeking reforms from the city and police department. Ratlieff had been trying to calm protesters down at a May 31 demonstration when police used tear gas against them. As she was choking and being led away from the scene, an officer raised a rifle-barreled launcher and shot a 2.5-inch hard foam projectile at her head from about 30 feet away.

Randolph Bracy calls for Special Session on police reform: ‘Innocent lives may be lost while we wait’” the Isaac Morgan of Florida Phoenix — Bracy has proposed calling the Florida Legislature into Special Session to consider needed reforms, including requiring officers to wear body cameras to installing vehicle dash cameras and guaranteeing public access to those recordings. Bracy presented those proposals and more during a news conference and also suggested that local police departments should no longer investigate shootings by their officers. “Police shootings should be investigated by an independent agency and not by local police. There are too many conflicts of interest when police investigate their own officers. This erodes the public trust,” Bracy said.

In Clearwater, pain after the death of Floyd is playing out differently” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — The current uprising against racism in America has so far played out drastically differently in Clearwater. Protesters have not publicly clashed with the Mayor and police as they did in Tampa and St. Petersburg. But as Clearwater residents grieve, community conversations are still percolating and city officials say they are listening. Mayor Frank Hibbard said he has begun early discussions with county officials about organizing a regional summit to discuss issues, from race relations to economic opportunities. On June 1, the Clearwater/Upper Pinellas County branch of the NAACP called for all local law enforcement entities to create citizen review boards with subpoena power to review the use of force, disciplinary records and officer conduct.

Making long-term progress on police brutality means changing incentives” via Samuel R. Staley of the Tallahassee Democrat — Tallahassee is just one of the dozens of cities across the nation racked by protests in the wake of the callous and brutal death of Floyd in Minneapolis. Many, including Tallahassee, experienced violence. The question now, however, is what practical steps states and cities can take to address the police brutality that triggered the protests. One of the most powerful reforms is proposed by sociologist Rashawn Ray. Ray, a governance fellow at the Brookings Institution, points out that civil payments are direct payments from the police department’s taxpayer-funded budget. The current approach encourages agencies to look at excessive or inappropriate force as discrete incidents rather than a systemic problem.

FSU’s black professors embrace students, promote anti-racist steps on campus” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — More than two dozen black faculty members at Florida State University have united in a show of support for black students on campus, as they deal with their personal and the nation’s outrage over social injustice, racism and growing intolerance. The professors also propose a list of suggestions they say will go toward addressing concerns they have about the culture on FSU’s campus. “We are writing to offer our public love and support for you and to let you know that we see you and feel the racial battle fatigue, grief and frustration that you are probably feeling,” said the letter, signed by FSU assistant professors Cameron Beatty, Shantel Gabrieal Buggs and James E. Wright, II.

Black ministers call for Jacksonville reforms amid unrest” via Anna Savo-Matthews of The Florida Times-Union — Ministers representing some of Jacksonville’s largest black churches gathered Monday in front of the Duval County Courthouse to discuss recent developments in protests and to advocate for reforms in the criminal justice system. The Rev. Mark Griffin of Wayman Temple A.M.E. Church read a statement prepared by the ministers and addressed to Mayor Lenny Curry, Sheriff Mike Williams and other city and state officials. The statement called for reforms at the Sheriff’s Office, ranging from increased sensitivity training to programs to increase the number of black officers in leadership positions. They also asked that State Attorney Melissa Nelson recuse herself from any investigation where the defendant is a police officer.

Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette set to lead peaceful protest” via John Reid of The Florida Times-Union — Running back Fournette was at home in New Orleans when the Jaguars became the first professional sports franchise to hold an organized protest last week to condemn racism. Fournette, though, is returning to Jacksonville Tuesday to hold a peaceful protest walk downtown on Tuesday morning. ″Everyone in Duval County we will be meeting outside of city hall for 10 a.m. on Tuesday…… spread the word, let’s be the change love you guys,” Fournette posted on his Twitter account Saturday. He initially announced his peaceful protest plans Wednesday when he wrote that he would ‘love for everyone in Duval to come out and support.’

Mayor Grover Robinson: ‘Now is not the right time’ to remove Pensacola Confederate monument” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — After hearing calls at Saturday’s protest at Graffiti Bridge for the city’s Confederate monument to be removed, Pensacola Mayor Robinson said that he didn’t believe the time was right to remove it. “I’m not saying there may not be change at some point, but now is not the right time,” Robinson said at his weekly news conference. “There’s too much challenge and discord that we have and just moving forward with what we’ve got.” The petition was started by Catherine Deason, a 16-year-old student who attends Escambia High School.

Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson feels the time is not right to start removing Confederate monuments.

Pensacola Police Chief lays out vision for mental health program for officers” via Colin Warren-Hicks of the Pensacola News Journal — When the day comes for Pensacola Police Department Chief Tommi Lyter to retire, the 30-year veteran of law enforcement says he wants to be remembered for one accomplishment above all others, instituting mandatory mental health counseling for all of his officers. Lyter said the disgust he felt watching the video of Floyd’s death at the hands of police has reinvigorated his push to launch such a program. “There is absolutely no justification for what took place, and it’s sad,” Lyter said of the manner of Floyd’s death. “It set us back so far as a profession.”

Navarre Protest: Carter family helps ‘Florida’s Best Kept Secret’ find its voice” via Eric Wallace of the Pensacola News Journal — A group of high-profile Panhandle athletes led a march in solidarity with the national movement against police brutality as Tropical Storm Cristobal lashed rain, wind and floods on Sunday evening in Navarre Park. Few speeches captured the crowd’s attention quite like that of Tony Carter, a longtime coaching figure with the Navarre High athletics program and the father of former Navarre football stars and current or former college football players. Carter recounted how many moons prior he and two friends were pulled over while driving in South Carolina.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@marcorubio: It comes down to this, no nation can prosper & thrive if a significant percentage of her people believe their lives are valued less than the lives of everyone else.

@SenRickScott: What happened to George Floyd was a murder. The actions of those officers doesn’t reflect the pledge officers take to serve & protect. Americans are right to call for reform, but defunding or disarming the police is NOT the answer, & is a dangerous proposal by the radical Left.

@JohnMorganESQ: 1,000 good cops who stay quiet about 10 bad cops makes for 1,010 bad cops. #ForThePeople

@TroyKinsey: In his daily briefing, @NYGovCuomo again references #Florida’s rising coronavirus curve. “Look at the reopening date & look at what happened after they reopened. That is the cautionary tale, my friends.”

Tweet, tweet:

@TimAlberta: YES, police are more likely to use excessive force against African Americans: ***post-Eric Garner (2014): 33% of Americans, 26% of whites ***post-George Floyd (2020): 57% of Americans, 49% of whites. This is the ground shifting beneath us in real-time.

Tweet, tweet:

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Ron DeSantis said any student could repeat a grade next year. It’s not turning out that way.” Via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — While DeSantis expressed an intention, he didn’t memorialize it in any executive order changing the state’s laws on student progression. And when the Department of Education, run by a commissioner hand-picked by the Governor, issued guidance to districts days later, it softened the governor’s stance. Yes, parents could request retention for their children, the department stated. They have an important role in the process. But “promotion decisions should be made in consultation with parents, teachers and school leaders based on the students’ classroom performance and progress monitoring data,” it concluded.

Ron DeSantis says any Florida student can repeat a grade next year, but it is easier said than done.

Hillsborough sees highest one-day increase in coronavirus cases since pandemic began” via Anastasia Dawson of the Tampa Bay Times — The number of positive coronavirus cases continued to climb in Florida. Hillsborough County saw some of the biggest gains — including the largest one-day increase in patients since health officials began publicly tracking the virus March 1. The number of positive coronavirus patients in Hillsborough County jumped from 2,748 on Sunday to 2,861 on Monday — an increase of 113 people over 24 hours. It’s the third time over the past week that Hillsborough County has posted a record-breaking number of coronavirus patients in its daily count of positive test results.

Visitors barred from prisons through June 28” via News Service of Florida — As Florida’s prison system has recorded nearly 1,900 COVID-19 cases, the Florida Department of Corrections on Monday announced it is extending a ban on visitors through June 28. Inmates have been unable to see their loved ones and family members in person since March 11, when the department first suspended in-person visitation across the state. The ban, which was extended in April, was instituted to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a deadly respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. In a news release Monday, the department said “the decision to reinstate the normal visitation schedule will be evaluated in consultation with public health experts.”

Federal grants can be used for charter schools’ pandemic bills — The U.S. Department of Education OK’d a request by the state to allow charter schools to use federal grant money to cover the cost of improving remote learning capabilities in response to the pandemic. As reported by Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida, the Florida Department of Education’s request will allow the department to disburse federal money to Charter Schools Program campuses that have not received subgrants. The schools must meet certain criteria and be able to demonstrate need.

‘Mommy, I’m in so much pain:’ Florida prisoners write home about COVID-19 ordeals” via Shirsho Dasgupta of the Miami Herald — The rate per 10,000 of COVID-19 cases among Florida’s inmates is roughly six times that of the rate among the state’s general population. And yet it arguably could have been much worse: The rate of prison deaths attributed to COVID-19 is 34% higher than in the overall state population. Among state prison systems, Florida ranks middle of the pack in rate of infections. On May 10, Homestead Correctional Institution reported two inmates and one staff officer with positive tests. Two days later, that number had grown to 73 inmates and two staffers. On May 17, 231 inmates and 19 staffers were reported infected.

— REOPEN FLORIDA —

West Palm Beach lifts curfew, but Miami-Dade’s is still in place” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — West Palm Beach lifted its curfew that was imposed amid concerns that protests could turn violent. It was one of the last remaining South Florida cities to have a curfew as protests remained underway across the country over the death of Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Broward’s curfew was lifted last week after three days. Miami-Dade County still has its curfew in place from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., and there is no time frame to end it. The curfew in the town of Palm Beach also is still in effect.

Miami-Dade to reopen beaches no later than Wednesday” via Amanda Batchelor of Local10.com — Miami-Dade County will reopen its beaches no later than Wednesday, Mayor Carlos Giménez announced. The Mayor said there is also a good chance that he will lift the county curfew later in the day, which has been in place amid increasing protests. As more businesses reopen in the county, entertainment facilities have been directed to submit their reopening plans to county leaders for approval. This includes movie theaters, bowling alleys, auditoriums, indoor amusement facilities, casinos and other attractions. Miami-Dade County remains in Phase 1 of its reopening timeline.

Miami-Dade beaches are shooting for a Wednesday opening. Image via Getty.

Fitness centers begin reopening their doors in Miami-Dade County” via Sanela Sabovic of Local10.com — Gyms and fitness centers in Miami-Dade County finally began reopening their doors Monday and people couldn’t wait to get that first indoor workout in. Fitness centers can now operate at 75% capacity, with 10-feet social distancing between people and all equipment must be heavily sanitized. Besides the gyms, Miami-Dade County is also opening vacation rentals for groups of 10 people or fewer. Summer camps can also resume operations, but beaches will still remain closed. The beaches were supposed to open Monday, but that was postponed due to the county protest-related curfew that is still in place.

Orange County aid program will reopen Tuesday, curfews lifted” via Stephen Hudak and Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings expressed frustration Monday at the short-lived rollout of a program for people to apply for coronavirus relief funds as local officials said they continued to monitor an increase in cases of the virus. Demings and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer also announced at a Monday evening briefing an end to local curfews at 8 p.m. in a core part of downtown and 10 p.m. elsewhere after days of growing, but peaceful protests. Demings said he will reopen the application process for people in need of financial assistance after the program stopped taking applications just 10 minutes after it opened Monday morning when it reached a 2,000-person limit.

NBA restart at Disney reportedly will include daily COVID-19 testing as league continues to plot out safety protocols” via Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel — The NBA’s elaborate safety protocol for play at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando is taking shape, with players and the league reportedly negotiating more details this week. The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association agreed on the league’s proposal for 22 teams to resume play in Orlando July 31. Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic reported daily COVID-19 testing will be among the safety procedures. The testing likely will done using the mouth swab/light nasal swab method and not the full invasive nasal swab. If a player tests positive, he will be placed in a minimum seven-day quarantine. If a player or staff member tests positive, the league plans to continue playing.

Even with the green light, Florida movie theaters are unsure when they’ll reopen” via Sara DiNatale of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida movie theaters are allowed to reopen Friday, but that doesn’t mean they will. Movie houses aren’t sure when they will reopen their doors after shuttering due to the COVID-19 outbreak. DeSantis announced this week theaters could reopen if they kept capacity at 50%. “We don’t have an opening day on the calendar yet,” said Jill Witecki, Tampa Theatre’s director of marketing. The theater is still sorting out what operating safely during a pandemic will look like, from sanitization plans to seating arrangements. Movie theaters will likely install hand sanitizing stations, check employee temperatures and encourage customers to wear masks.

— CORONA LOCAL —

Florida’s metro-counties warding off COVID-19 better than most in U.S.” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — As Miami-Dade County prepares to see its 20,000th COVID-19 case in the next day or two, it and neighboring Broward and Palm Beach counties have comprised Florida’s hot spot, yet nationally none of them rank even in the nation’s 50 worst urban and suburban counties. Miami-Dade County’s rate of infections per 1,000 people is the worst among those in Florida. A review of the data finds that Miami-Dade, preparing to open its beaches, isn’t among even the worst 50 urban or suburban counties throughout America. The hardest-hit counties almost all are in northeast states, from Washington D.C. through Philadelphia, New York City and Boston, and nearly everything in between along the northern I-95 corridor.

Two Miami-Dade COVID hospitals haven’t treated a single patient. One closed this week.” via Martin Vassolo and Doug Hanks of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade’s first coronavirus field hospital, assembled in March in Tamiami Park, was dismantled this week, while the state has extended its lease on the Miami Beach Convention Center, which was retrofitted with hospital facilities for COVID-19 patients in April. Neither hospital has had a single patient. The first, a 250-bed tent facility with curtains separating cots, was constructed at the county’s Youth Fair complex in Tamiami Park on a state contract in late March, but the overflow of patients it was built to accommodate never materialized and it was taken down. The field hospital was one of many that Florida’s Division of Emergency Management stood up across the state in preparation for a potential coronavirus surge.

Officials are dismantling the temporary field hospital at Tamiami Park after not seeing a single COVID-19 patient. Image via Local10.

In the Keys, testing for tourists and differing rules for masks” via Nancy Klingener of WLRN — As the Keys ramp up its tourism economy, hotels are being encouraged to let guests know about COVID-19 tests with results in an hour at the hospital, and local governments are modifying requirements for masks and temperature checks. Bars were allowed to reopen in the Keys Friday, unlike the rest of South Florida. The county took down its checkpoint and allowed hotels to welcome back guests June 1. Overnight visitors to the Lower Keys are being asked to take a COVID-19 rapid test. People who test positive will have a second test for confirmation by the Department of Health and be directed to quarantine for two weeks.

— MORE LOCAL —

Tracking down cases reported in local correctional facilities” via Casey Chapter and C.D. Davidson-Hiers of the Tallahassee Democrat — For a second consecutive day, Leon County has no increase in confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with the number holding at 442. The total number of local cases is cumulative as of mid-March when the state health department began publishing daily COVID-19 reports. The state health department reports 5% of current local cases come from correctional facilities in the capital county. That’s 20 cases of the total 442. The local jail, known as the Leon County Detention Center, has zero cases of the virus affecting staff or inmates.

Coronavirus: St. Augustine Commissioners uphold decision to cancel July 4 fireworks” via Sheldon Gardner of The Florida Times-Union — St. Augustine commissioners did not change their previous decision to cancel July 4 fireworks. After hearing public comment at this morning’s meeting, no commissioner wanted to revisit the decision. “I know that this is a difficult topic for everybody because of the competing (interests),” Vice Mayor Leanna Freeman said. The show could be held in September, but that hasn’t been decided. The fireworks show near the Castillo de San Marcos has drawn tens of thousands of people to downtown St. Augustine. Commissioners had decided to cancel this year’s show, but then-City Manager John Regan decided to hold another meeting on the topic once he learned that information he provided about regional cancellations was inaccurate.

Commissioners voted to uphold the cancellation of the 2020 St. Augustine fireworks show.

— CORONA NATION —

Shutdowns prevented 60 million coronavirus infections in the U.S., study finds” via Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post — A separate study from epidemiologists at Imperial College London estimated the shutdowns saved about 3.1 million lives in 11 European countries, including 500,000 in the United Kingdom, and dropped infection rates by an average of 82%, sufficient to drive the contagion well below epidemic levels. Two reports on the effectiveness of the shutdowns come with a clear warning that the pandemic, even if in retreat in some of the places hardest hit, is far from over. The overwhelming majority of people remain susceptible to the virus. The reports suggest that the aggressive and unprecedented shutdowns, which caused massive economic disruptions and job losses, were effective at halting the exponential spread of the novel coronavirus.

Shutdowns may have prevented as many as 60 million cases of COVID-19. Image via AP.

CDC wants states to count ‘probable’ coronavirus cases and deaths, but most aren’t doing it” via Beth Reinhard, Emma Brown, Reis Thebault and Lena H. Sun of The Washington Post — Fewer than half the states are following federal recommendations to report probable novel coronavirus cases and deaths, marking what experts say is an unusual break with public health practices that leads to inconsistent data collection and undercounts of the disease’s impact. Weeks after the guidance was handed down to standardize coronavirus reporting, a review found states as of early June counting cases and deaths in all sorts of ways.

When 511 epidemiologists expect to fly, hug and do 18 other everyday activities again” via Margot Sanger-Katz, Claire Cain Miller and Quoctrung Bui of The New York Times — Unless there’s an effective vaccine or treatment first, it will be more than a year before many epidemiologists say they will be willing to go to concerts, sporting events or religious services. And some may never greet people with hugs or handshakes again. As policymakers lift restrictions and protests break out nationwide over police brutality, epidemiologists must make their own decisions about what they will do, despite the uncertainty, just like everyone else. They mostly agreed that outdoor activities and small groups were safer than being indoors or in a crowd, and that masks would be necessary for a long time.

Food banks and other key programs have received a fraction of allotted coronavirus money, angering some lawmakers” via Erica Werner of The Washington Post — More than two months after passage of the $2 trillion Cares Act, funding for some key programs to address the economic devastation from the coronavirus is moving out slowly or not at all. The Cares Act directed $850 million for food banks, but less than $300 million has been sent out so far. Democrats are not alleging deliberate foot-dragging by the Trump administration, even though a political fight has developed over how quickly to act on the next relief bill. Independent analysts say that government agencies simply may be struggling to handle enormous new demands placed on them.

— CORONA ECONOMICS —

U.S. has entered recession after record expansion, economists say” via Zachary Warmbrodt of POLITICO — The National Bureau of Economic Research made the designation official, announcing that a 128-month economic expansion — the longest on record — ended that month. The group said payroll employment based on a large survey of employers reached a “clear peak” in February. On a quarterly basis, the economy hit its peak during the last three months of last year. NBER said the usual definition of a recession involves a decline in economic activity that lasts more than a few months but that the group also weighs the depth of a contraction, its duration and whether economic activity declined broadly across the economy. In May, the U.S. unemployment rate hit 13.3%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

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 — 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. Fear still grips many still in the workforce amid the belief that they, too, could lose their jobs, particularly if a second wave of the virus strikes. Federal stimulus and aid money have helped keep many households afloat thus far. Low consumer demand forces companies to cut prices and costs by reducing jobs and wages. Food prices have begun to rise; fuel prices are bound to follow, and house prices have remained high so far.

Drivers are paying less than $1.99 at more than two-thirds of the gas stations in the country, but not for much longer. Image via AP.

Florida gas prices poised to hit $2 per gallon” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — On Monday, the average price per gallon of gas across the state was $1.90, according to Florida AAA. It’s the highest mark for the Florida average price for gas in nine weeks as prices tumbled during the coronavirus outbreak. Statewide reopening has many Floridians who lost their jobs in the throes of the pandemic starting to return to work. That, in turn, is driving up demand for gasoline. Gasoline prices increased on average by about 2 cents per gallon in the past week. “Crude oil and wholesale gasoline prices are rising in response to the positive U.S. employment numbers and OPEC’s agreement to extend crude production cuts,” said Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman.

Airbnb joins vacation-rental sites seeing surge in demand” via Olivia Carville of Bloomberg — Antsy city dwellers seeking to escape their COVID-19 refuges are road-tripping to nearby vacation rentals in surprisingly strong numbers, showing the first signs of life for an industry that essentially ground to a halt in March. Airbnb saw more nights booked for U.S. listings between May 17 and June 3 than the same period in 2019, and a similar boost in domestic travel globally. International sojourns usually planned months in advance are being replaced with impulsive road trips booked a day before and weekend getaways are turning into weekslong respites.

— MORE CORONA —

New daily cases hit a record high on Sunday, the W.H.O. says.” via The New York Times — The number of new daily cases worldwide hit a new high on Sunday, the World Health Organization reported, warning that the pandemic appeared to be worsening and urging countries that had seen an improvement to remain vigilant. “More than 100,000 cases have been reported on nine of the past 10 days,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the organization’s director-general, said at a briefing. “Yesterday, more than 136,000 cases were reported the most in a single day so far.” The pandemic has sickened more than 7,033,100 people worldwide.

Racetrack graduations avoid roadblocks, weather” via Larry Savage of the Gainesville Sun — When the COVID-19 outbreak began, thoughts of graduation for the seniors seemed like a long shot, if not impossible. But Alachua County Superintendent Karen Clarke had spoken several times about finding a way to have the Class of 2020 to have its moment. And on Monday, Newberry and Hawthorne, which had its ceremony in the afternoon, started the graduation ceremonies off for Alachua County. “The sun was shining when I woke up, so I knew it was going to be a good day,” said Clarke. “Looking at how they decorated their cars, honking their horns and revving their engines, it was something certainly out of the box for them. Definitely worth celebrating, there were a lot of smiles today.”

Racetrack graduations are just one of the ways high schools across the country are holding in-person graduations to add a little pomp amid the coronavirus circumstance. Image via AP.

— D.C. MATTERS —

DeSantis dismisses ‘very partisan’ Senators’ complaints about Florida unemployment system” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Republican Governor, responding to a Tampa Bay Times story denoting claims of the unemployment system’s “abject inability” from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Ron Wyden, essentially dismissed the inquiry as partisan. “Florida’s performance has proved uniquely poor in its abject inability to assist millions of Florida residents who have applied for and continue to await unemployment benefits,” they wrote U.S. Labor Department Inspector General Scott Dahl. “Are they U.S. Senators from Florida,” DeSantis asked rhetorically, laughing. “I’ve never heard of partisan politics in Washington D.C. before,” the Governor quipped. “Oh my goodness, can you imagine that?” “Look,” DeSantis added, “these guys are very partisan. That’s all they’re doing.”

Ron DeSantis blasts New York Sen. Chuck Schumer over his ‘partisan’ comments about Florida’s rising unemployment numbers.

Democrats in Congress unveil a bill to rein in bias and excessive force in policing.” via The New York Times — Democratic lawmakers in Congress introduced legislation aimed at ending excessive use of force by police officers across the country, and making it easier to identify, track and prosecute police misconduct. The bill was introduced as a direct response to the recent killings of unarmed black Americans by police officers, as protests against police violence and racial discrimination continue across the country. It is the most expansive intervention into policing that lawmakers have proposed in recent memory. Whether Democrats can seize the moment and push the changes into law remains unclear.

Vern Buchanan demands military training reforms following soldier’s death” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Buchanan demanded reform in military training procedures following the death a Bradenton soldier. Army Spc. Nicholas Panipinto died in November when an M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle he was driving rolled over during a road test. The wreck, at Cam Humphreys in South Korea, injured four others. Panipinto was 20. Buchanan said it was a tragedy that didn’t need to happen. “The heartbreaking and very preventable death of my constituent Spc. Nicholas Panipinto clearly shows that changes in training and safety procedures need to be made,” Buchanan said.

Assignment editors — Sen. José Javier Rodríguez will deliver congressional testimony on Florida’s troubled unemployment system, approx. 5 p.m., 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building, 50 Constitution Ave NE, Washington, D.C. Link to live feed here.

Happening today — Acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf will visit Port Everglades, where he will tour a U.S. Coast Guard cutter.

— STATEWIDE —

Florida Supreme Court conservatives reverse long-standing criminal protections. It’s ‘alarming,’ defense lawyers say” via Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel — The new conservative majority on the court is gutting protections for criminal defendants in quick succession, at times receding from precedent without being asked. Continuously ignoring stare decisis, the doctrine of adhering to previous rulings when making decisions on similar cases, undermines the credibility of the institution and creates chaos in the legal system. A week before, justices threw out a legal standard used for more than 100 years as a safeguard against wrongful criminal convictions based solely on circumstantial evidence.

Florida appeals court reverses $37 million verdict in ‘spice’-induced fatal wreck“ via Jeffrey Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — The maker of synthetic marijuana that goes by the street name of “spice” can’t be held liable in a fatal wreck that cost the lives of a Tallahassee woman and two children on St. Patrick’s Day seven years ago, a Florida appeals court ruled. A Leon County jury in a 2018 wrongful death suit awarded the families of the victims $37 million in damages, saying DZE Corp. was 65% responsible and Generoso was 35% responsible. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal, however, unanimously decided Christopher Generoso, the driver who was high on the DZE product, was solely to blame, not the company that manufactured the synthetic drug.

Suspension of jury trials extended amid COVID-19” via News Service of Florida — Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady issued an order extending through July 17 a suspension of criminal and civil jury trials because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Canady initially issued the suspension in March and subsequently extended it to July 2. Last week, the Supreme Court also announced a pilot program in five judicial circuits aimed at using remote technology to conduct civil jury trials. On Monday, Canady directed the circuits to report findings and recommendations of the pilot program by Oct. 2. Also on Monday, Canady extended the suspension of a statewide grand jury through July 26. That grand jury has investigated the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County.

Happening today — The Florida Public Service Commission will meet and hold a hearing to consider a proposed settlement with Tampa Electric Co., 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee. The meeting will be livestreamed on The Florida Channel or on the commission website at floridapsc.com/Conferences.

Happening today — The Florida Department of Transportation will host an online meeting to discuss the project of extending the Suncoast Parkway north from Citrus County to the Georgia border, 9:30 a.m. Registration at attendee.gotowebinar.com.

Future amount of ‘LIP’ money unclear” via News Service of Florida — One of the most important parts of a Medicaid “waiver” that Florida has received from the federal government is the authority to receive up to $1.5 billion a year in supplemental money to help care for poor, elderly and disabled people. But a top state Medicaid official said Monday she wasn’t sure how much spending authority the federal government will approve for the so-called Low-Income Pool program as part of a state request to extend the Medicaid waiver. “It is possible that it could change,” Medicaid Director Beth Kidder said during a meeting on the state’s request for a two-year extension, which was submitted last week. “But we don’t have any indication one way or the other.”

Florida Medicaid Director Beth Kidder cannot be sure whether the Low-Income Pool will continue without changes.

GOP donor Hung Mai calls for Hillsborough Republican Party chair to resign after derogatory Facebook posts” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Calls are continuing for Hillsborough County Republican Party Chair Jim Waurishuk to resign after a series of inflammatory posts against protesters. “Mr. Jim Waurishuk, Chairman of Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee (HCREC) posts are inappropriate and unacceptable as our County GOP leader. And this is not the first time,” prominent GOP donor Mai wrote in an email to party members. “Again, the recent posts demonstrated that Jim Waurishuk (has) poor judgment, racism, and incompetent leadership. With the 2020 election (in) less than 6 months, I am asking our faithful Republican, our Republican elected officials, and our Republican candidates requesting Mr. Waurishuk to apologize and resign his HCREC chairman(ship) immediately to save our local GOP and stop the embarrassment.”

High-profile GOP donors are pushing back against Hillsborough County GOP Chair Jim Waurishuk after his inflammatory posts on social media.

Jacksonville’s political establishment pours $370,000 into school sales tax campaign” via AG Gancarski of Florida politics — Together for All Our Students political committee, chaired by Eric Roberson, raised $370,000 in May, its first month established. Roberson is known to political watchers as the treasurer for numerous GOP political committees, including, but not limited to, those related to Mayor Lenny Curry and various politicians and causes in the second-term Republican’s orbit. Curry, who helped to spearhead resistance to the push in 2019 until the state Legislature approved “per-pupil sharing” of proceeds between charter schools and traditional public schools, is on board this time around as there will be a “per-pupil” cost carveout for charters. And so too are his donors.

Jacksonville City Council panel investigating JEA seeks interviews with Lenny Curry aides” via Christopher Hong of The Florida Times-Union — A Jacksonville City Council committee investigating JEA’s failed attempt last year to sell the city-owned utility and create a lucrative employee bonus plan will request interviews with members of Mayor Curry’s inner circle, as well as former JEA board members involved in the hiring of its now-fired leader Aaron Zahn. Councilwoman Randy DeFoor on Monday proposed the idea, saying the witnesses, which include current and former Curry administrators and his longtime political strategist, could reveal why Zahn was hired in 2018 as JEA’s interim CEO over Melissa Dykes, then the utility’s chief financial officer.

— 2020 —

‘Extraordinary times’ shake up Joe Biden VP search” via Natasha Korecki and Marc Caputo of POLITICO — Wide-scale protests that have exposed deep racial tensions across the nation in the last two weeks are reshaping the contours of Biden’s search for a vice-presidential pick, sharpening the focus on an African American woman as his running mate and elevating the prospects of several candidates once viewed as long shots. In the last week alone, two prospects who were initially not considered among the top tier contenders have suddenly burst into contention: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Florida Rep. Val Demings. The campaign’s view on the need for a black vice president as “an evolution” over the last two weeks.

These extraordinary times are making Joe Biden’s VP pick even more critical.

Biden walks a cautious line as he opposes defunding the police” via Jonathan Martin, Alexander Burns and Thomas Kaplan of The New York Times — Biden staked out a careful position in support of a law enforcement overhaul but not defunding police departments, rebutting a new Republican attack line as he tries to harness growing activism against systemic racism while not alienating protesters or more moderate voters. Biden’s effort to address the calls of protesters while supporting law enforcement comes after gruesome videos and energetic protests have quickly reshaped public opinion about racial discrimination, seemingly opening a substantial window for new policies that could bring far-reaching change to law-enforcement agencies long accused of racially discriminatory practices.

Biden emerges with a low-tech coronavirus strategy: Masks and distancing, but no testing” via Matt Viser of The Washington Post — Biden, who by dint of his age is among those most at risk from the coronavirus, has significantly escalated his public presence over the past week and prompted a fraught question: What is his presidential campaign doing to keep this most tactile of candidates safe from the deadly virus? Those attending Biden’s events are not being tested, and his campaign aides will not say whether they have asked the White House for a rapid-testing machine, as Trump once offered seemingly in jest. Biden’s campaign has been screening attendees, sometimes taking their temperatures, and asking everyone around him to wear masks and keep a social distance.

Democrats look to counter GOP vote-by-mail fraud claims” via Brian Slodysko and Nicholas Riccardi of The Associated Press — Fair Fight, an organization led by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, has joined forces with Priorities USA, the largest Democratic outside group, and American Bridge to form a new effort called Voter Suppression Watch. The aim is to not only counter Republicans in the courts but in public relations, too, while playing offense by providing opposition research that often forms the grist of critical news stories. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, a partisan fight over ballot access was playing out in a handful of state courts. But now that the virus has raised fears that in-person voting could be a threat, efforts to expand voting by mail have faced stiff opposition from Trump and his allies.

More voting by mail increases the rate of rejected ballots — especially from younger and minority voters” via Mitch Perry of Bay News 9 — There was a huge spike in the number of voters who cast a ballot by mail in the nine presidential primary elections that took place last week, confirming that this November’s general election will likely be the largest vote-by-mail effort in the country’s history. A study of Georgia’s 2018 election suggests that the odds are greater that people of color and younger voters are more likely to have their mail-in-ballots rejected at the ballot box than any other cohort. Enrijeta Shino, an assistant professor of political science at the University of North Florida, says that’s it’s not completely clear about why that’s the case.

— MORE FROM THE TRAIL —

Stan McClain endorses Ryan Chamberlin for CD 3” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — State Rep. McClain endorsed Chamberlin in the crowded Republican primary for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District. “Ryan Chamberlin is a principled conservative who shares my Christian values and morals,” said McClain, who holds the District 23 seat in the Florida House. “He’s also the only Marion County candidate in the District 3 Congressional Race so it’s an added bonus to support a hometown business owner with a large family and a huge heart for service.” Chamberlin, an author, speaker and consultant, is one of 10 Republicans to qualify for the August primary ballot to succeed exiting U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho in the North Central Florida district.

Scott Franklin stands with Donald Trump in new ad for CD 15” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Franklin, the former Naval aviator from Lakeland challenging scandal-ridden Congressman Ross Spano in Florida’s 15th Congressional District is out with the first two ads of the cycle. The first introduces Scott as a pilot who led combat missions across the globe and flown patrol missions under enemy fire. “I’m Scott Franklin, and I’m running for Congress for the same reason I returned to active duty after 9/11 … America is in danger,” he says. “Scott Franklin will fight radical socialists … reckless spending … and lawless liberals,” says a narrator. Franklin is quick to show his support for Trump, declaring that he will help build the wall and reopen our economy.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

 

Fiona McFarland: Naval officer hopes to launch a second career in politics” via Andrew Meacham of Florida Politics — In 2008 at Naval Base San Diego, a group of sailors waited for McFarland to deliver her first orders as a commissioned officer. Now McFarland is drawing on skills she learned in the Navy to launch a run for House District 72, which flipped Democratic in 2018 and bring it back to the Republican side. While she has not sought elected office before, McFarland is no stranger to politics. Her mother, K.T. McFarland, worked for multiple Republican administrations since the 1970s. The elder McFarland worked as a deputy to his incoming National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn.

Drew-Montez Clark enters Republican field in HD 80” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Naples chiropractor Clark jumped into the open House District 80 race. The Republican decided to file for office just a couple of weeks ago. “To be honest with you, it wasn’t on my radar,” he said. “But I basically looked around at a lot of decisions being made with COVID-19 response that didn’t take the Constitution into consideration. They were made based on fear and perceived answers. We set aside those founding documents, and I believe those exist for moments like this, and instead of leaning away we should be leaning into them.” Clark and wife Kamela moved to the Naples area in 2012 and founded a practice, Arc of Life Family Spinal Care, with two other chiropractors about six months later.

Anitere Flores backs Jim Mooney in HD 120 contest” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Flores says she is supporting Islamorada Councilperson and Mooney in the House District 120 contest. That race currently features a three-way battle on the Republican side, with Mooney competing against Rhonda Rebman Lopez and Alexandria Suarez. Flores represents Senate District 39, which overlaps with much of HD 120. The addition of Flores’ endorsement shows the current GOP guard in the region appears to favor Mooney, despite the fact Lopez has easily led the field in fundraising so far. Through April, Lopez has collected nearly $210,000 in donations and has added $35,000 in self-loans.

Sanford Mayor resigns to run for Seminole property appraiser” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Catching city officials by surprise, Jeff Triplett, who has served as Sanford’s Mayor since January 2011, resigned this morning so he can run for the county’s property appraiser’s seat. “It has been a true honor to serve the citizens of the wonderful city in this capacity,” Triplett said in a resignation letter he sent to City Clerk Tracy Houchin. “I will treasure many memories and friendships for the rest of my life.” Sanford commissioners are scheduled to discuss Triplett’s resignation at tonight’s public meeting, which will be led by Vice Mayor Art Woodruff. Commissioners will have 30 days — or until July 8 — to appoint an acting Mayor.

— TOP OPINION —

Floridians need DeSantis to address issues with transparency” via Nikki Fried for the Palm Beach Post — Floridians expect their state leaders to govern together. But we can’t do that without all the facts. Since we took office in 2019, there has been a tendency by DeSantis to leave the Cabinet — and Floridians — in the dark. And since COVID-19, that tendency has become a disturbing pattern of deception and withholding critical information. Time after time, we’ve seen the Governor’s office and his agencies refuse to answer questions or release cases, data, and other public information until forced to by the media or public pressure. Were it just one incident, it might be understandable. But it’s been one issue after another on which this governor has lacked transparency. The instances are as staggering as they are reckless.

— OPINIONS —

Tom Lee’s withdrawal from Hillsborough Clerk’s race is the right call” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — Lee’s interest in running for Clerk of the Circuit Court of Hillsborough County made a lot of sense. Withdrawing from the race, as he did Monday, made even more sense. That’s not because he couldn’t have done a good job in that position. Lee has long talked about putting his experience from 18 years as a state legislator to work in his home county. But his wife, Secretary of State Laurel Lee, lives in Tallahassee with their son, Brandon, and daughter, Faith. That was a huge red flag about this venture from the start. You can’t run one of the most important offices in Hillsborough if your heart is in Tallahassee. So, after preliminary papers on Friday to run, he decided Sunday afternoon that couldn’t happen.

Don’t bring convention to Jacksonville” via Mark Woods for The Florida Times-Union — Even in normal times, holding a national political convention involves so many challenges and risks that fewer cities than you’d expect actually ask to do it. And, as you might have noticed, these aren’t normal times. In the middle of this confluence of pandemic and social unrest, would we really invite tens of thousands of people, from all 50 states, to come to town and fill our arena? Would we choose to be the city where protesters from all over the country converge? Along with thousands of local, state and federal law enforcement officers? And a President who seems to instinctively douse flames with gasoline? Our answer should be no, no, no.

— TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Qualifying week is underway for state and local offices. One surprise on opening day was the announcement from state Sen.Lee that he won’t be running for anything and is leaving with two years left on his term. On Sunrise, he’ll tell you why.

— The Governor is dismissing calls for a federal investigation into the repeated failures of Florida’s unemployment compensation program. Gov. DeSantis has already ordered his inspector general to investigate it but says the call for a federal investigation is “partisan politics.”

— The death toll from COVID-19 continues to climb and Florida’s health department reported almost 1,000 new cases Monday … which was an improvement. It’s the first time in almost a week the daily number didn’t exceed 1,000.

— As the state reopens for business, South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is asking the Governor what happened to all that federal money to trace the contacts of COVID-19 victims.

— Protests against police violence continue in the Sunshine State, but this didn’t help. The head of the Fraternal Order of Police in Brevard County is inviting police officers involved in violent confrontations with demonstrators in New York and Georgia to work in Florida … saying “we’ve got your back.”

— Checking in with two Florida Men: One has a problem with children; the other is a problem child.

To listen, click on the image below:

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Today I joined Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Pete Gaynor and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez at the Miami-Dade Emergency Operations Center. Sheltering and evacuation protocols will look different this hurricane season due to COVID-19. The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has used guidance from the CDC, FEMA and the American Red Cross to create our own state guidance and provided that to counties. At my direction, FDEM has been working to secure adequate supplies of PPE and other critical items to prepare for hurricane season, including: ✅10 million masks for shelters ✅12 million N95 masks in deal with Honeywell ✅50 generators — the most the state has ever owned

A post shared by Governor Ron DeSantis (@flgovrondesantis) on

— ALOE —

New this week: Spike Lee flick, ‘Artemis Fowl,’ Norah Jones” via The Associated Press — “Da 5 Bloods”: It’s always the right time for a Lee joint, Netflix has his latest ready to debut Friday. “Artemis Fowl”: Originally intended for theaters, Disney+ is releasing Kenneth Branagh’s big-budget adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s “Artemis Fowl” Friday. Chloe x Halle: The sophomore album from Chloe x Halle. Jones: “Pull Me Up Off the Floor” — a new 11-track album coming out Friday. Gabrielle Union is firmly in control on “L.A.’s Finest,” the drama she produces and stars in with Jessica Alba. Medical practitioners can be heroic, as made clear in the docuseries “Lenox Hill.” If mystery is your cup of tea “Grantchester” is returning 9 p.m. EDT Sunday to PBS’ “Masterpiece.”

Spike Lee’s ‘Da 5 Bloods’ will debut Friday on Netflix.

Duke Energy pledges $1M to support racial equity organizations” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Duke Energy announced Monday it would contribute $1 million to nonprofit organizations committed to social justice and racial equity. The utility company said it’s relying on its employees to identify worthy organizations across its operating area. The commitment comes as protests against police brutality, particularly against black men, continue in cities across the country. “The heartbreaking loss of George Floyd’s life and the powerful response to it are excruciating reminders of the progress we still need to make in our communities. We must be part of systemic solutions so we emerge as a community where everyone is treated as full and equal partners in our society,” said Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

 Happy birthday to the Ambassador of Tallahassee, Jay Revell.

___

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

Written By

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

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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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