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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.11.20

Your day is better when you start it with a first read on what’s happening in Florida politics.

This could have been his moment.

With racial tension boiling over across the United States, African American voices are being heard in a way the nation hasn’t seen since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., perhaps even louder. The resonating message is resonating beyond the liberal corners it’s typically dominated and into the mainstream and even across party lines.

Never has there been a better time for African American leaders to shine.

Imagine how much Andrew Gillum would be in the spotlight right now had he not slipped into the salacious realm of drug use and South Florida partying.

Andrew Gillum: This could have been his moment.

Gillum, once the rising-est rising star in Florida politics, stayed in the spotlight even after he narrowly lost the 2018 Governor’s race to Ron DeSantis. He was all over CNN as a political commentator. He was the face of Florida Democrats’ get out the vote efforts. There was even talk of him being a VP contender in 2020.

That was all before police in Minneapolis killed George Floyd in what became a pivotal point in racial tensions nationwide. As a black Democrat in the spotlight, he would have been a beacon of hope for the black community.

As much as the 2018 Governor’s race was historic — few expected Gillum, a progressive Democrat, to topple the establishment machine behind Gwen Graham — this time of nationwide protests and boiled over anger over institutional racism could have been Gillum’s moment.

His greatest political tragedy may now no longer be his infamous night in a South Florida hotel surrounded by booze, drugs and, allegedly, a male escort. Instead, it might be that he is now sidelined because of it.

Even as one of Gillum’s fiercest political critics, there’s no denying he would have been at the front of a now-global movement.

I’m no stranger to the dark side. The skeletons in my closet are no secret and are still weaponized by those who seek to discredit me (looking at you Anthony Sabatini). But those experiences, and the rebirth that I experienced when I found love, got married and became a dad, reshaped my life and I believe I am a better man for it.

If Gillum truly deconstructs his past mistakes and excises his demons, I know from firsthand experience that there can and IS a second act waiting for him. He’s too talented … too capable … too ambitious not to find his way back.

Some will argue his moment has passed, even if he enjoys a full rehabilitation, which I hope he does.

But it’s fair to consider another thing. Gillum’s slip into oblivion, fueled by addiction, came, according to his own words, after he fell into depression following his personally heartbreaking loss in 2018.

His critics asked the question following his Miami escapade: “Can you imagine if we had Andrew Gillum in the Governor’s mansion?” The state dodged a bullet, those critics argue.

Maybe we did. Maybe we did for other reasons, too. But maybe, just maybe, Gillum’s battle with addiction might not have happened had he won. Maybe the loss was too much. Maybe it pushed him into the dark, into the grim world of drugs and decline. If that’s the case, he has a path forward.

Either way, this could have been his moment.

___

There is so much going on in the world right now. A pandemic. A national movement to improve race relations. A news cycle that changes so quick a major headline that would have once dominated the news for days is now defunct within hours.

But at our core, we are a political news organization dedicated to providing a deep look into the entire Process. With primary elections for state races just over two months away, it’s important that we continue that mission, even as we continue following the daily onslaught of headline-making news on protests and virus counts.

The work has already begun.

Take our work this week on the All Voters Vote initiative. Reporter Jason Delgado interviewed several key figures in the debate over whether to open Florida’s primaries and found something shocking — the issue united Democrats and Republicans, two groups with fundamentally different political ideologies who found common ground in opposing the measure, which will appear on this year’s ballot as Amendment 3.

Where supporters see an opportunity to involve more voters by putting all candidates on the primary ballot, rather than just those of a single party, Democratic and Republican establishment leaders see a potential erosion of party autonomy.

His table-setting piece lays out both sides of the argument and evaluates data suggesting maybe party politics are exactly why such a move is desired.

In another in-depth piece, Andrew Meacham provides a close-up look at Fiona McFarland, a Republican hoping to reclaim House District 72 for Republicans after Democrats flipped it in 2018. His narrative weaves in and out of the district’s history, McFarland’s experience in the Navy and her struggles coping with criticism against her mom and chief consultant, K.T. McFarland, who worked for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

A deep-dive into the candidacy of Fiona McFarland is the sort of thing to expect from Florida Politics. Image via Jacob Ogles

Both are examples of what Florida Politics has become known for: Going deep under the surface of day to day headlines and learning from the people who make politics, well, politics.

We’ve only just begun. As the elections draw closer, we want every legislative candidate to know these are the questions we want to ask you all. Just send me an email.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Last day of state candidate qualifying — 1; “Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre” by Max Brooks release — 5; Belmont Stakes rescheduled — 9; Father’s Day — 10; Apple to hold Developer Conference — 11; NBA training camp — 19; “The Outpost” with Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood premieres — 22; NBA teams travel to Orlando — 26; Disney World Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom to reopen — 30; Disney World Epcot and Hollywood Studios to reopen — 34; Federal taxes due — 34; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premieres — 36; “Mulan” premieres — 43; TED conference rescheduled — 44; NBA season restart in Orlando — 50; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 67; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 68; NBA draft lottery — 73; Indy 500 rescheduled — 73; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 76; Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 78; “A Quiet Place Part II” premieres — 85; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 86; Rescheduled date for French Open — 103; First presidential debate in Indiana — 111; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 114; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 121; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 123; Second presidential debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 126; NBA draft — 126; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 127; NBA free agency — 129; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 135; 2020 General Election — 146; “Black Widow” premieres — 149; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 152; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 159; “No Time to Die” premieres — 166; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 173; “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres — 215; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 241; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 407; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 416; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 512; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 610; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 652; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 694; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 848.

— AMERICA SMOLDERING —

‘Enough is enough’: George Floyd’s brother pleads with Congress to act to stem police brutality” via Paul Kane of The Washington Post — With negotiations on both ends of the Capitol heightening, Philonise Floyd put a personal face on a death that had been, in his estimation, almost desensitized by the recurring loop of his older brother’s video-recorded death on TV news. “I couldn’t take care of George that day he was killed, but maybe by speaking with you today, I can make sure that his death would not be in vain. To make sure that he is more than another face on a T-shirt. More than another name on a list that won’t stop growing,” Floyd told the House Judiciary Committee. He went on to tell the panel that he was “tired of pain, pain you feel when you watch something like that, when you watch your big brother — who you looked up to your whole life — die, die begging for his mom.”

Philonise Floyd, a brother of George Floyd, arrives to testify before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on proposed changes to police practices and accountability on Capitol Hill. Image via AP.

Floyd’s brother pleads with Congress: ‘make it stop’” via Catie Edmondson of The New York Times — Philonise Floyd, whose brother’s death in police custody has inspired two weeks of sprawling protests across the country, made an impassioned plea to Congress to enact sweeping changes to law enforcement in America to address police brutality and systemic racism. “I am asking you, is that what a black man’s life is worth? Twenty dollars?” Floyd asked. “This is 2020. Enough is enough. The people marching in the streets are telling you enough is enough.” Floyd was the first witness and marquee voice among more than a half-dozen civil rights experts and activists at a hearing called to consider the most expansive federal intervention into law enforcement that lawmakers have proposed in recent memory, which was put forth by Democrats this week.

The army was open to replacing Confederate base names. Then Donald Trump said no.” via John Ismay of The New York Times — Monuments and memorials bearing the names of men who fought to preserve slavery and uphold white supremacy are facing a reckoning, as demonstrations against police brutality have erupted across the country in response to the killing of Floyd. A Pentagon official said Monday that Secretary of Defense Mark P. Esper and Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy were “open to a bipartisan discussion on the topic” of removing Confederate names from the bases. Trump was quick to shut down any bipartisan discussions, tweeting, “my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.”

After killing of Floyd, white liberals embrace ideas that once seemed radical” via Greg Jaffe of The Washington Post — Among white liberals, the anger and unrest that followed Floyd’s death have provoked a far different reaction, leading them to embrace positions that only a few weeks ago might have seemed radical or unthinkable. The response follows a pattern that has held for much of the past decade as white liberals have moved dramatically to the left on racial issues. The change in white liberal attitudes, which one journalist described as a “Great Awokening,” has coincided with the rise of Trump’s brazenly racial politics as well as a series of police killings of black men caught on video.

Defund the police? Here’s what that really means.” via Christy E. Lopez of The Washington Post — Since Floyd’s death, a long-simmering movement for police abolition has become part of the national conversation, recast slightly as a call to “defund the police.” “Defunding the police” is not as scary as it sounds, and engaging on this topic is necessary if we are going to achieve the kind of public safety we need. Defunding the police means shrinking the scope of police responsibilities and shifting most of what the government does to keep us safe to entities that are better equipped to meet that need.

LeBron James and other stars form a voting rights group” via Jonathan Martin of The New York Times — James and a group of other prominent black athletes and entertainers are starting a new group aimed at protecting African Americans’ voting rights, seizing on the widespread fury against racial injustice that has fueled worldwide protests to amplify their voices in this fall’s presidential election. “Because of everything that’s going on, people are finally starting to listen to us — we feel like we’re finally getting a foot in the door,” James said in a phone interview on Wednesday. The organization, called More Than a Vote, will partly be aimed at inspiring African Americans to register and to cast a ballot in November.

NASCAR bans Confederate flag at all events and properties” via Dan Mangan of CNBC — Auto racing giant NASCAR said that it is banning the display of the Confederate flag at all of its events and properties. The announcement is sure to be controversial with a number of NASCAR fans, some of whom continue to display Confederate flags and symbols at racing events even five years after the organization asked fans not to do so. Also, NASCAR removed its rule mandating that racing team members stand for the national anthem. It is not clear how NASCAR plans to enforce the ban.

NASCAR said it is banning the flying of Confederate flags at its races. Image via AP.

“‘Song of the South’ trends as critics tackle Disney film, Splash Mountain” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — The debate over Disney film “Song of the South” reemerged Wednesday as the term began trending on Google, with critics tackling both the film and its presence at the company’s theme parks in the form of its Splash Mountain attraction. The 1946 film is considered to be racist by some, a story about life on a Southern plantation, famous for its song “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah.” It featured live-action including narration from a character named Uncle Remus, but also animated characters like Br’er Rabbit and Br’er Fox. Walt Disney Co. officials did not include the film among the archival options in its rollout of the Disney+ streaming service last year, with Bob Iger saying in 2019 to not expect it either.

— FLORIDA REAX —

Calls to defund police could spark Florida’s criminal justice reform effort” via John Haughey of The Center Square — Defunding police won’t get an eye blink’s consideration in Florida, but a coalition of conservative groups has been questioning ever-increasing state and local law enforcement, courts and corrections costs for more than a half-decade. Sen. Jeff Brandes spearheaded the reform effort by sponsoring numerous bills, including proposals to give judges more discretion in sentencing for drug-related offenses, steer more felons to prison diversion programs, increase monthly gain time inmates earn and permit the early release of seriously ill and aging inmates. All were adopted in the Senate but not in the House.

Nikki Fried says both parties fall short on social justice — On Wednesday, Fried said Democrats and Republicans are both to blame for a lack of reforms in criminal and social justice, Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida reports. “I’m angry, too, and want to be part of the conversation and move the ball forward and make real change in our country,” Fried said on a call. “But it starts now, it starts here and it starts with conversations like this.” Fried, Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, and Reps. Bobby DuBose, Tracie Davis and Fentrice Driskell criticized a lack of state Clemency Board meetings and the Amendment 4 implementing bill passed the Republican Legislature.

Nikki Fried says both parties have a responsibility for the problem in social justice.

More protests planned this week in South Florida” via Austen Erblat of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — After almost two weeks of social justice demonstrations, more are planned in the coming days. Protesters are drawing attention to both institutional racism and a string of African American deaths in police custody, including Floyd. Some protests over the past few weeks have erupted in violence and arrests, both here and across the country, but most have concluded peacefully.

Shifting from weeks of racial protests to a day of Trump flag-waving birthday rallies on land and sea” via Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — South Florida Trump supporters are planning to be out in full force Sunday to celebrate the president’s 74th birthday with boat flotillas, a truck rally and a motorcycle ride. The show of support comes after days of Black Lives Matter demonstrations that have spanned from West Palm Beach to Miami. Hundreds of boats adorned with Trump flags and gear will set off Sunday from Sunrise Bay near Fort Lauderdale and head north to Lake Boca. These floating Trump rallies have been dubbed “Trumptillas.”

Here are the 11 Jacksonville Civil War monuments, markers coming down” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — When Mayor Lenny Curry announced the removal of the bronze Confederate soldier that stood atop a 62-foot pedestal in Jacksonville’s Hemming Park for 122 years, crowds cheered. Then they asked, “what else?” “The confederate monument is gone,” Curry announced on the steps of City Hall. “And the others in this city will be removed as well. We hear your voices. We have heard your voices.” One day later, Curry’s office has provided an eleven-item list of what’s coming down. It includes two additional monuments and eight historic markers. Details are sparse regarding the timeline or where items removed will go, but spokeswoman Nikki Kimbleton said removal will happen “over the next few weeks.”

Tommy Hazouri: `Era of enlightenment´ for tackling Jacksonville racial disparities” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville City Council president-elect Hazouri said the city has entered an “era of enlightenment” that can take the outcry at protest rallies about racial injustice and turn them into actual progress. Hazouri said he will form a social justice committee that will act as City Council’s clearinghouse for all legislation on that topic. The committee will start meeting next month. “We’re going to be the bold new city of enlightenment of all the cities in the South,” Hazouri said during a Zoom meeting.

NAACP holds protest to demand permanent removal of the Robert E. Lee bust in downtown Fort Myers” via Andrew West of the Naples Daily News — A small number of protesters gathered at a Lee statue in downtown Fort Myers. One protester led the group in a chant of, “no justice, no peace!” James Muwakkil, president of the Lee County branch of the NAACP, said of the statue, “It represents racism. It represents hate.” Muwakkil continued later, “what African Americans have experienced is the same as what the Confederacy represented.”

Hillsborough’s sheriff, chief prosecutor talk ‘defund the police’ with activists” via Kavitha Surana of the Tampa Bay Times — As people started the second week of marching and speaking out against police brutality in Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County’s sheriff and chief prosecutor addressed issues at the heart of the protests in a Zoom panel with activists, pastors and defense attorneys. First on the agenda: “Defund the police,” which has become a rallying cry for activists to speed reforming law enforcement agencies. Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister is not a fan. The idea isn’t to erase law enforcement agencies, it’s to rethink their budgets.

Hundreds gather in Orlando to ‘amplify’ black LGBTQ victims, as community feels left out of recent protests” via Cristobal Reyes of the Orlando Sentinel — Before Mulan Williams took the microphone to speak before a crowd gathered at Orlando City Hall on Wednesday, she said she asked herself a question: “Do I matter?” As the black transgender woman looked out at the roughly 200 people in front of her, she got her answer. The people who did arrive to stand in the sweltering heat were vocal in their support. But after people marched by the thousands in response to the Minneapolis killing of Floyd, many who attended the significantly smaller demonstration Wednesday were left wondering whether LGBTQ people are being left out of the conversation.

Spurred by Mayor’s Facebook post, 200+ protesters gather in Wellington to call for social justice” via Kristina Webb of The Palm Beach Post — More than 200 protesters gathered outside Wellington’s Village Hall on Tuesday night, spurred to action by a Facebook post from Mayor Anne Gerwig and the recent movement for social justice. Dozens of those protesters filed inside, with roughly 60 speaking during the Village Council’s public comment period. With each person allowed three minutes to speak, their comments took about three hours. Their message: Racism is in Wellington. And change needs to happen. Rumors were circulating that day that the Mall at Wellington Green could become a target of looters, prompting the mall to close early and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office to add additional patrols in the area.

Palm Beach Sheriff’s officers prepare for protesters at the Southern bridge to Palm Beach. Image via the Palm Beach Post.

Wynwood Pride hosts virtual party to highlight black performers, raise funds for BLM” via April Rubin of the Miami Herald — The first-ever LBGTQ pride was a protest, and this year’s Wynwood Pride will be no different. After founder José Atencio wrapped up the annual celebration in June 2019, he couldn’t have imagined that next time he’d be coordinating it in the midst of a pandemic and civil rights movement. But as soon as the challenges hit, he and his team adapted, knowing they had to uphold their mission statement to serve the community “in the pillars of youth, health and justice,” Atencio said. All parts of the virtual festival are free, but hosts ask participants to take action however they can, via donation, signing petitions or educating others, Atencio said, calling the event a “digital protest.”

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@OJPgov: @OJPOVC today announced it has awarded nearly $10 Million in an Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program grant to assist victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

@TocRadio: SCOOPLET: Multiple RNC officials tell me this morning that Washington Post’s story about hosting the convention in Jacksonville is “premature” — Phoenix, Dallas, Savannah, Nashville, Orlando still very much in the running

@briantylercohen: Trump’s first campaign rally, in the aftermath of positioning himself squarely against the Black Lives Matter protests, is in the city of the Tulsa race massacre that occurred 99 years ago … and takes place on Juneteenth.

@anthonypedicini: Of men who rise up against the United States in defense of a culture that promoted slavery. @GovRonDeSantis it’s time. Florida needs not celebrate men who took up arms against their country in the name of slavery. Retire the confederate statue, pls.

@BillGalvano: Thank you @GovRonDeSantis for lowering the flags to half-staff in honor of former Senate President [Gwen] Margolis. @FLSenate

@TomLeeFL: .@DannyBurgessFL has represented his community admirably in the halls of the Florida Legislature & has offered steadfast leadership for Florida’s 1.5 million veterans. I am proud to endorse him and look forward to calling him my Senator.

@ShevrinJones: Being an elected official means having obligations to represent all people, and elected officials who don’t take action on issues of racial injustice should be called out. #BlackLivesMattter

Tweet, tweet:

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Key indicators raise concerns among local officials about coronavirus resurgence” via Anastasia Dawson of the Tampa Bay Times — Local elected officials say the latest coronavirus numbers give them new cause for concern as people are venturing out again and demonstrators take to the streets. For each of the past seven days, every day but Monday, the number of new coronavirus cases reported across Florida has topped 1,000, a pattern not seen since coronavirus in Florida hit its first peak in early April. Tuesday, the state reported 1,096 new patients and 53 deaths over a 24-hour period. The total number of cases in the state hit 66,000.

Several local officials in Florida are seeing some key indications of a coronavirus resurgence.

Another state inmate dies of COVID-19” via the News Service of Florida — An 18th Florida inmate has died from complications of COVID-19, the state Department of Corrections reported. The inmate, whose name was not disclosed by the department, is the third prisoner to die from COVID-19 in less than a week. The Department of Health reported that the 18 inmates have died while incarcerated at Sumter Correctional Institution, Union Correctional Institution, South Florida Reception Center, Liberty Correctional Institution, Dade Correctional Institution, Everglades Correctional Institution, Blackwater River Correctional Facility and South Bay Correctional Facility.

Thousands of Floridians abruptly stopped getting $600 federal unemployment. State blames ‘technology concerns.’” via Caroline Glenn of the Orlando Sentinel — For thousands of out-of-work Floridians, the abrupt stop to their weekly $600 federal unemployment checks was a mystery. They had been approved for and been collecting Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation for weeks, on top of their state benefits, but around Memorial Day week, the checks inexplicably ceased. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity hadn’t offered an explanation until this week. Paige Landrum, press secretary for the DEO, said the department identified “technology concerns that may have prevented an individual from receiving their Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payment over the last few weeks” and said the department is correcting the issue. Affected workers should start receiving payments again in about five business days, Landrum said.

Florida seniors get leeway for Bright Futures scholarships” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — When COVID-19 closed Florida’s schools, many graduating seniors had a practical concern. They no longer had opportunities to complete the volunteer service hours, or to improve their SAT or ACT test scores, to meet the eligibility requirements for a Bright Futures scholarship. After months of receiving calls and complaints, the Florida Department of Education issued an executive order aiming to address the teens’ concerns. The order suspends the volunteer hours mandate. Instead, a student may submit a statement from a school counselor or other authorized administrator stating that the student intended to complete the service during 2019-20 but could not.

— REOPEN FLORIDA —

Assignment editors — Agriculture Commissioner Fried will hold a news conference to highlight the June 15 reopening of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (FDACS) Tallahassee regional licensing office. Joining Fried is Steve Hurm, Director of Licensing for the department, 8:30 a.m., FDACS Tallahassee Regional Licensing Office, 1925 Capital Circle NE, Tallahassee. The media should RSVP to Franco.Ripple@FDACS.gov.

Twice-a-week school among options considered for fall” via Scott Travis and Karina Elwood of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Broward School District has drafted a plan of school reopening scenarios, which the School Board plans to discuss Tuesday. Schools have been closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic and all education has been done online. Some of the changes considered by the district include continued distance learning, staggered schedules, staggered days of attendance and limited enrollment.

Downtown Miami filled with cautious optimism as recovery begins” via Gabriel Poblete of Miami Today — Downtown Miami has not been Teflon during COVID-19. Still, there is cautious optimism the urban core could be seeing a return to normal, and some economic development opportunities could emerge from the pandemic. The City of Miami has begun its reopening, and by extension, downtown Miami is starting to liven up again. Shopping hubs like Brickell City Centre and Bayside Marketplace are in full swing. The city has launched its restaurant recovery program, which will allow restaurants to open into the public sidewalks, on-street parking spaces and closed traffic lanes, which helps the smaller eateries in the area that might struggle with social distancing.

Brickell City Centre is one of the downtown Miami shopping hubs that are starting to recover.

As Miami-Dade beaches open after coronavirus closure, people hurry to hit the water” via Martin Vassolo and Aaron Leibowitz o the Miami Herald — As visitors to South Beach stepped onto the newly reopened public beach, they were asked if they had a face covering and if they wanted to rent a lounge chair. “I want to let you know some rules we have in place,” Boucher Brothers employee Haizen Forero said as part of his greeting to visitors. “I see you have your mask with you. … Are you looking to rent today?” In Miami Beach, those rules include a ban on coolers, floats and inflatable devices. Across Miami-Dade County, the new rules state that no organized sports, even between two people, may take place. Masks are not required among members of the same household, but no groups of more than 10 people are allowed to gather.

City of Naples votes to fully reopen beaches with limited parking” via Karl Schneider of the Naples Daily News — Naples City Council unanimously voted to reopen its beaches without any time restrictions during a special meeting. The Council also decided to reopen Naples City Pier and its concessions, the city dock to pedestrian traffic, as well as the concessions and volleyball courts at Lowdermilk Park. Parking restrictions will remain in place, limited to county and beach parking stickers. Mayor Teresa Heitmann and the council members briefly discussed the timeline of the city’s beach closures. Most agreed that what counties on the East Coast were doing played into how the city moved forward with its own reopening. Collier and Lee counties both reopened beaches without time restrictions as well.

UCF to say which fall classes will be in-person by July 1” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — UCF is planning to resume some activities on campus this fall, including in-person classes on a limited basis, and intends to tell students which courses will meet face-to-face by July 1. President Alexander Cartwright told students and employees during an online forum on Wednesday that reopening the campus, which has been mostly shuttered for three months because of the coronavirus pandemic, will require a number of changes, including continuing the online-only format for classes with more than 100 students. Campus life will be much quieter when the fall semester starts on Aug. 24. Most dorm rooms will have a single occupant; fraternity and sorority recruitment will be completed virtually, and social events will be restricted.

Seminole Hard Rock and other casinos reopen Friday” via David Selig of Local10.com — The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood will reopen at noon Friday along with the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek and Seminole Classic Casino in Hollywood. “Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming have made a tremendous commitment to sanitary protocols and a safety-first mentality for both guests and team members,” Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming and Chairman of Hard Rock International, said. Temperature checks for all guests and employees will be mandatory before entry. Anyone with a temperature above CDC guidelines of 100.4 degrees will not be allowed entry. All guests must wear masks or cloth face coverings that meet CDC guidelines. Masks will be provided as needed. Thousands of alternating slot machines will be turned off, to help ensure social distancing.

SeaWorld Orlando reopens Thursday, reservations and masks required” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — SeaWorld Orlando reopens to the public, and officials expect that the animals inside will be happy to have more visitors. The theme park has been shut down since mid-March in response to the coronavirus pandemic. “When you close, the attention you give to the animals has to be upped a little bit more than when you had guests here to make sure you do all the enrichment,” Jon Peterson, the park’s vice president of zoological operations, said Wednesday. A major change is that SeaWorld Orlando visitors must make date-specific reservations online before arriving at the park.

Everything you need to know about MLS, NBA plans to resume their seasons in Orlando” via Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald — Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando is about to become the epicenter of U.S. professional sports this summer, as all 26 MLS teams and 22 of the 30 NBA teams will resume their seasons there fan-free after the COVID-19 crisis forced leagues to shut down in mid-March. MLS will take approximately 1,200 people to Orlando, a traveling party of about 45 from each team, from late June to early August. Details are expected to be announced in the next few days as many teams, including Inter Miami, return to full-squad training this week.

Walt Disney World ESPN World of Sports is going to be the epicenter of professional sports, for the time being.

USF trustees approve plan to reopen campuses. Masks will be required in enclosed areas.” via Divya Kumar of the Tampa Bay Times — The University of South Florida Board of Trustees unanimously approved a four-phase plan to reopen campuses in August with protections against the spread of the coronavirus. The plan calls for testing large numbers of students, faculty and staff for the presence of the virus; increased measures to clean and disinfect public areas; and a number of steps aimed at social distancing. Many, but not all, classes would be offered virtually, and students would be required to wear masks on campus in all shared, enclosed spaces, including classrooms. The plan will be sent to the state Board of Governors this week and could be dialed back if conditions warrant.

St. Johns County updates vacation rental plan” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — Tourist-dependent St. Johns County got the green light from Florida regulators for its updated plan to reopen short-term vacation rental properties again after prohibitions instituted during the coronavirus outbreak. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation signed off on the St. Johns County plan submitted this week. The plan went into effect is in line with executive orders instituted by DeSantis and allows visitors to begin renting vacation properties such as those offered by Airbnb. Vacation rentals are popular in the county in popular tourist spots like St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra Beach. St. Augustine also has a large roster of bed-and-breakfast rentals.

— CORONA LOCAL —

South Florida restaurants now charging ‘COVID-19 fees’ to survive, but for how long?” via Phillip Valys of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — COVID-19 fees are rapidly becoming the new normal as pandemic-weary restaurants reopen to the public, with surcharges popping up, often to customers’ surprise, on dine-in food checks. After statewide lockdowns, surging food costs and months of piddling takeout sales, restaurants now face a juggling act, balancing rising expenses against turning off customers. Raising prices now risks alienating the customers helping him survive this month.

South Florida restaurants are beginning to charge a COVID-19 surcharge. How long will that last?

FIU researchers think of a way to speed up a vaccine for COVID-19. Now there’s a $1M grant.” via Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald — Machine-learning algorithms that work with supercomputers to analyze and understand data in quicksilver time could hold the key to finding cures for many diseases, including the novel coronavirus. That’s what Florida International University researcher Fahad Saeed and his colleagues have been developing. Their work was recognized by the National Institutes of Health with a three-year, $1 million grant to help FIU researchers design and develop machine-learning algorithms that allow biologists to make sense of proteomics, the large-scale study of proteins. According to the researchers, the study of proteins is critical for understanding and treating diseases, but there is so much data to analyze and so little time.

Palm Beach County offers rent, utilities relief up to $7,000” via Brett Shweky of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Palm Beach County Community Services Department is now offering a rental and utilities assistance program for residents who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The relief program will provide one-time rental and utility assistance to residents who have experienced a loss of income, a decrease in hours, or unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applicants can only receive assistance once but can apply for multiple relief services. Benefits up to $7,000 are available for applicants who live in apartments, houses, townhouses or mobile homes. Financial assistance will be limited to past due rents or utilities from after March 1 to before Dec. 30.

Palm Beach Council says ‘no’ to proposed rule to make masks mandatory” via Adriana Delgado of The Palm Beach Post — In a unanimous decision, the Palm Beach Town Council voted “no” on a proposed ordinance that would have made wearing facial coverings mandatory. The topic was included in the Council’s agenda after several council members received complaints from residents about some people not wearing masks and some businesses not following the CDC guidelines on wearing face coverings, Council President Maggie Zeidman said. All five council members, Police Chief Nicholas Caristo and Town Manager Kirk Blouin questioned how the town would enforce the rule. Councilmember Danielle Moore said making the wearing of masks mandatory would open up “an entire can of worms” and open the town to possible lawsuits.

Palm Beach Chamber will distribute 5,000 masks to town businesses” via Adriana Delgado of The Palm Beach Post — The Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce will distribute 5,000 face masks to affiliated businesses in town beginning June 22. Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce President Laurel Baker said local businesses can request the number of masks they need, within reason, by sending an email to the Chamber. Businesses can have the masks delivered or pick them up from the Chamber’s office at 400 Royal Palm Way. The Chamber will receive the masks from UniFirst, a Massachusetts-based textile and uniform company, that seeks to help businesses in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties get back to work.

Gardens begins next phase of economic relief for local businesses; North Palm cancels July 4 fireworks” via Jodie Wagner of The Palm Beach Post — In partnership with the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce and PGA Corridor Association, the City has announced the next phase of its Economic Recovery Act to assist local businesses impacted by closures due to COVID-19. Phase Two of the Palm Beach Gardens Economic Recovery Act aims to help restaurants, bars, and breweries through the creation of the Food Services Stabilization Fund. The City has allocated $596,000 in aid for eligible restaurants, bars, and breweries with 3-75 employees that have been in business in Palm Beach Gardens for 18 months or more. Funds received through the program will be in the form of a grant that businesses do not have to repay.

— MORE LOCAL —

Central Florida coronavirus numbers rising; officials aren’t worried — yet” via Naseem S. Miller and Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Coronavirus cases in Central Florida have been increasing since the statewide stay-at-home order was lifted in early May, but local officials say it’s too soon to press the panic button. Although hospitalizations, which are among the key indicators of COVID-19 trouble in a community, have also risen since hitting a low in mid-May, they continue to be below their peak in early April, according to local health systems. “We’re pretty reassured that this sort of bump, which we had anticipated, isn’t anything that’s going to overwhelm us,” said Dr. George Ralls, chief quality officer for Orlando Health. “The most important thing people can do is remain vigilant in the way that they’re socializing.”

Families of residents who died of COVID-19 sue Freedom Square retirement community” via Kathryn Varn and Kavitha Surana of the Tampa Bay Times — The families of two men who died in a COVID-19 outbreak at a Seminole nursing home are suing the facility, claiming their loved ones died due to mismanagement and poor communication. The facility “chose to place profits over residents and ignore deficiencies in their emergency preparedness plan and in their infection prevention and control program,” the lawsuits say. “It’s a disgrace, really, not just here but all over the whole country,” said attorney Bennie Lazzara Jr., who is representing the families. “The numbers are staggering.”

Seminole’s freedom square is facing the first of what might be several lawsuits. Image via AP.

— CORONA NATION —

Trump’s task force warns Governors of COVID spike tied to protests” via Erin Banco, Asawin Subsaeng and Sam Stein of the Daily Beast — Top officials on Trump’s coronavirus task force told Governors on Monday they were worried about a spike in infections due to the mass protests against racial injustice taking place across the country. Speaking via conference call, Deborah Birx, Trump’s coronavirus response coordinator, relayed fears that the yelling by protesters could potentially negate the health benefits of wearing a mask, and that the destruction of testing sites at those protests would set back efforts to contain the virus’ spread. Birx said 70 such sites had been destroyed, which had already resulted in an appreciable drop in testing rates there. She advised Governors to “scramble now to make sure there is testing available in urban areas.”

The White House Coronavirus Task Force is warning that protests could help spread the virus much easier.

Coronavirus hospitalizations rise sharply in several states following Memorial Day” via Samantha Pell, Candace Buckner and Jacqueline Dupree of The Washington Post — In Texas, North and South Carolina, California, Oregon, Arkansas, Mississippi, Utah and Arizona, there are an increasing number of patients under supervised care since the holiday weekend because of coronavirus infections. The spikes generally began in the past couple of weeks and in most states are trending higher. Many of these states that have experienced an increase in cases have also had an increase in hospitalizations, with a handful of states also nearing bed capacity. Hospitalizations nationwide are difficult to track, with states reporting hospitalization numbers in varying ways, or not at all.

Second U.S. virus wave emerges with Texas hitting record” via Emma Court and David R. Baker of Bloomberg — Texas reported 2,504 new coronavirus cases, the highest one-day total since the pandemic emerged. A month into its reopening, Florida this week reported 8,553 new cases, the most of any seven-day period. California’s hospitalizations are at their highest since May 13 and have risen in nine of the past 10 days. A fresh onslaught of the novel coronavirus is bringing challenges for residents and the economy in pockets across the U.S. The localized surges have raised alarms among experts even as they’re masked by the nation’s overall case count, which early this week rose just under 1%, the smallest increase since March.

White House goes quiet on coronavirus as outbreak spikes again across the U.S.” via Dan Diamond of POLITICO — The coronavirus is still killing as many as 1,000 Americans per day — but the Trump administration isn’t saying much about it. It’s been more than a month since the White House halted its daily coronavirus task force briefings. Top officials like infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci have largely disappeared from national television — with Fauci making just four cable TV appearances in May after being a near fixture on Sunday shows across March and April — and are frequently restricted from testifying before Congress. Meanwhile, Trump is preparing to resume his campaign rallies after a three-month hiatus, an attempted signal to voters that normalcy is returning ahead of November’s election, and that he’s all but put the pandemic behind him.

Senators seek investigation into Project Airbridge deliveries of protective medical gear“ via Amy Brittain and Isaac Stanley-Becker of The Washington Post — Three Democratic Senators requested an independent investigation into the arrangement forged between the federal government and six for-profit companies to rapidly transport protective medical gear from overseas to the front lines of the U.S. coronavirus pandemic. The Trump administration has said it created the initiative — called Project Airbridge — to ease crippling shortages PPE. Under the arrangement, FEMA has spent approximately $154 million to fly supplies secured by the six companies from overseas into the United States. In exchange, FEMA has required that half the Airbridge-transported supplies be sold to the companies’ customers in coronavirus hot spots. The companies have been allowed to sell the rest at their discretion.

Internal document reveals federal plan to ask nurses to reuse masks” via Emily Kopp of Roll Call — Internal FEMA data show that the government’s supply of surgical gowns has not meaningfully increased since photos first emerged in March of nurses wearing trash bags for protection. “The demand for gowns outpaces current U.S. manufacturing capabilities,” a document released Tuesday says. The document confirms the fears of nurses and other health care providers. After months of pressure on federal officials to use wartime powers to mobilize U.S. plants, the document’s slides show that domestic manufacturing of gowns and surgical masks has ticked up by a few thousand per month since the pandemic hit, falling far short of need. The United States still does not manufacture any nitrile rubber gloves.

States are wrestling on their own with how to expand testing, with little guidance from the Trump administration” via Rachel Weiner and Rosalind S. Helderman of The Washington Post — In Maryland, drive-through coronavirus testing sites are now open to all residents, whether or not they show signs of illness. In Oregon, by contrast, officials have said that generally only people with symptoms of COVID-19 should be tested — even in the case of front-line health care workers. In Rhode Island, officials have proactively tested all of the state’s 7,500 nursing home residents, including those with no symptoms, and are developing plans to test more people in high-risk workplaces, such as restaurants and grocery stores. The wide range of approaches across the country comes as the federal government has offered little guidance on the best way to test a broad swath of the population.

We need more data about how the coronavirus spreads to know what’s risky and what’s not” via Rajiv Bhatia of The Washington Post — Understanding underlying causes, like where and how an infection spreads, is a key for stopping any disease. Because the coronavirus spreads easily and through people without symptoms, we can’t completely isolate the risk of getting COVID-19 to just some places or activities. But the risks of getting and spreading the disease are not the same everywhere, at every time, for everyone. And as the epidemic evolves, we might expect increasingly localized outbreaks. The work of contact tracers provides additional clues. The tracer’s main job is to get an infected person’s contacts in quarantine. We can learn from the tracer’s work how many contacts are being reached and how quickly, giving us a sense of how many infectious people are circulating among us.

Coronavirus vaccine candidates’ pivotal U.S. testing to start this summer” via Peter Loftus of The Wall Street Journal — The federal government plans to fund and conduct the decisive studies of three experimental coronavirus vaccines starting this summer. These phase 3 trials are expected to involve tens of thousands of subjects at dozens of sites around the U.S. Meant to determine a vaccine’s safety and effectiveness, they would mark the final stage of testing. The timetable suggests researchers are making relatively rapid progress advancing their vaccines through earlier stages of testing, focused on whether they are safe and induce the desired immune response, to at least merit the planning.

The race to find a coronavirus vaccine enters a new phase this summer.

California biotech exec charged with fraud over coronavirus test plans” via Rachel Lerman of The Washington Post — The Justice Department said Tuesday that it had brought its first criminal securities fraud case related to the coronavirus pandemic against a California biotech executive in connection with an unapproved blood test that purported to detect the novel coronavirus. Mark Schena, president of Sunnyvale-based Arrayit, was charged with securities fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud in the Northern District of California. The charges stem from an existing allergy test the company said it wanted to bundle with a coronavirus test. But missing from its promotional materials was the fact that the Food and Drug Administration told the company the test did not perform well enough to get an emergency use authorization in April.

How the coronavirus compares with 100 years of deadly events” via Allison McCann, Jin Wu and Josh Katz of The New York Times — Only the worst disasters completely upend normal patterns of death, overshadowing, if only briefly, everyday causes like cancer, heart disease and car accidents. An analysis of various events in the last one hundred years compared the number of deaths of those events with the deaths resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. The analysis concludes that the coronavirus is unlikely to kill as many people as the Spanish flu did, but it will have few historic rivals.

— CORONA ECONOMICS —

Social distancing will suppress recovery despite emergency aid, CBO chief says” via Caitlin Emma of POLITICO — Congress mounted a $3 trillion response to the pandemic but any boost in economic activity will be “tempered” as long as some social distancing continues, the director of the Congressional Budget Office said. CBO Director Phillip Swagel also said in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that additional emergency aid for state and local governments would increase the federal deficit, but help reduce the size of tax hikes and budget cuts that Governors and local officials will be forced to consider. States have been pushing hard for more cash in any new emergency aid package and their request is a major sticking point, along with unemployment benefits.

Congressional Budget Office Director Phillip Swagel says social distancing is the most effective tool against the spread of COVID-19. Image via Getty.

Fed expects the U.S. economy will shrink by 6.5% this year” via Courtenay Brown of Axios — The Federal Reserve expects the economy will shrink by 6.5% this year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, before growing 5% next year, according to new projections. The central bank also predicts the unemployment rate will drop to a still-elevated rate of 9.3% this year. By 2022, it expects the unemployment rate to be 5.5%, still higher than the pre-pandemic rate of 3.5%. The Fed almost unanimously expects to maintain this low-rate environment as the economy begins to heal through 2022.

U.S. deficit racks up record deficit with four months still to go” via The Associated Press — The federal government recorded a budget deficit of $1.88 trillion for the first eight months of this budget year, larger than even any annual shortfalls in U.S. history. The sea of red ink grew as government spending shot up to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and tax revenue shrank when millions lost their jobs. The deficit for the October-May period was more than double the $738.6 billion booked for the same period last year, according to Treasury Department numbers. The Congressional Budget Office is forecasting that this year’s deficit will hit $3.7 trillion.

“‘The last thing we need right now’: States, cities hemorrhage jobs” via Megan Cassella and Eleanor Mueller of POLITICO — Governors and local officials are struggling to meet payrolls amid a pandemic that has dramatically hiked government costs and sapped tax revenues. The U.S. shed 585,000 government jobs in May almost entirely at the state and local level, even as the rest of the economy began to show signs of recovery. Now state and local governments are looking to Congress for help as lawmakers begin to consider another round of economic aid. The job losses in government could get worse without a federal backstop, state officials and some members of Congress say. “The last thing we need right now is for unemployment to go any higher,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said.

Marco Rubio went all-in on small-business program that has become the centerpiece of an economic-revival push” via Erica Werner of The Washington Post — Four years after he was on the GOP primary debate stage, seven years after a failed immigration reform push, and seven years after his long gulp of water, Sen. Rubio will cap perhaps his most consequential three months in Congress with a key oversight hearing. Rubio has called Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza to testify about the Paycheck Protection Program. Rubio played a lead role in creating the program as part of the CARES Act in March and has seen it through two chaotic months. Rubio was quick to call out the Small Business Administration when he felt it wasn’t being sufficiently transparent.

Following messy start, enormous Paycheck Protection Program shows signs of buttressing economy” via Jonathan O’Connell, Jeanne Whalen, Jeff Stein and Erica Werner of The Washington Post — Once beset by a flood of complaints, balky computer systems, changed rules and frantic calls to the Treasury Department, the federal government’s small-business Paycheck Protection Program is suddenly looking like a measured success. The U.S. economy buckled in March and April amid the coronavirus pandemic, but it appeared to regain some of its footing in May, adding 2.5 million jobs. The economy remains extremely weak, with a high unemployment rate and a surge in Americans seeking assistance. Many economists say conditions will remain shaky for at least another year.

Here’s where the Small Business Administration’s coronavirus disaster loans are going“ via Aaron Gregg and Andrew Van Dam of The Washington Post — After three chaotic months during which bureaucratic delays and a lack of communication left millions of business owners wondering when help would arrive, the federal government’s coronavirus disaster-loan program is belatedly gaining momentum. The Small Business Administration had approved just over 1.1 million coronavirus disaster loans as of Saturday, according to a recent SBA report, up from about 39,000 in late April. It has so far spent $80 billion out of about $365 billion in available loan funds. But the agency still has a long way to go toward addressing well over 5 million disaster-loan applications it received as the economic crisis set in. And questions linger about whether the loan funds are being distributed fairly and effectively.

Safety-net health providers get $25 billion to help keep their doors open” via Amy Goldstein of The Washington Post — Federal health officials announced a new round of financial help Tuesday to ease the financial strains on safety-net health care providers in the coronavirus pandemic, committing $25 billion to hospitals and other providers of care for the nation’s poorest patients. The Department of Health and Human Services plans to devote $10 billion of that amount to about 750 hospitals that treat many patients on Medicaid or who are uninsured, officials said. The other $15 billion will go to doctors, dentists, clinics and other facilities that treat low-income adults and children, if they have not received assistance through two earlier rounds of federal aid to providers coping with the pandemic’s effects.

Federal money to start to flow to counties” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — The U.S. Department of the Treasury in March dispersed $2.47 billion directly to 12 Florida counties with populations greater than 500,000 — Brevard, Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Lee, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Orange and Volusia — as part of a stimulus law known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. But the state also received $1.275 million for other local governments, and county and city officials for weeks have urged DeSantis to release the money. Under the “phased approach” announced by the Governor, the Florida Division of Emergency Management will provide “an initial disbursement” of 25% of each county’s allocation. Counties also will be responsible for steering money to cities.

The pandemic hasn’t stopped celebrations. But it has curtailed the big spending.” via Michelle Singletary of The Washington Post — The pandemic and the resulting shutdowns have helped people get creative about their celebrations. Some communities have organized parades to honor the high school and college graduates. Families have decorated their yards. Graduating students have been encouraged to wear their cap and gown or school paraphernalia and stand in their yards to greet family and friends, who will stay in their cars and drive by to wish them well. Couples who would normally rent out catering halls for their wedding receptions are opting instead for intimate ceremonies in the park, in their backyard, or in the middle of the street.

Hard-hit retailers projected to shutter as many as 25,000 stores this year, mostly in malls” via Rachel Siegel of The Washington Post — Consumers may be eager to hit their nearest reopened mall, but it could already be too late for many struggling retailers. U.S. retailers will shutter 20,000 to 25,000 stores this year, according to projections released by Coresight Research, with as much as 60% of those closures occurring in malls. That marks a sharp increase from the 15,000 forecast earlier this year. “Given that recovery to pre-crisis levels may be gradual, retailers that were struggling to stay in business precrisis are unlikely to have the wherewithal to stay the course on the road to recovery,” Coresight founder and CEO Deborah Weinswig said in the report.

Experts expect nearly 25,000 retail locations to close this year, most of them will be in malls.

Prices on the bread aisle plunge the most in 80 years” via Katie Dmitrieva of Bloomberg — Months of quarantine have turned stay-at-home Americans into home bakers and lowered demand for any clothing that isn’t casual and comfortable, leading to a drop in prices. The price of white bread dropped the most since World War II in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dress prices and car insurance fell by the most on record, as people sought out leggings over more formal wear, and left the car in the garage. Demand weakness across most categories pushed the overall consumer price index lower for a third month, spurring disinflationary concern, though analysts expect components to fluctuate in the coming months as the U.S. economy gradually reopens.

— MORE CORONA —

The coronavirus has gutted the price of coca. It could reshape the cocaine trade.” via Anthony Faiola and Lucien Chauvin of The Washington Post — The great coca crash of 2020, prices for the leaf in some regions of South America have fallen as much as 73%, illustrates the extent to which the pandemic is disrupting every aspect of global trade, including the traffic in illegal drugs. Lockdowns have sealed regional borders and sharply curbed domestic and international transit, challenging the ability of cartels to move the product by land, air or sea. At the same time, the cartels are dealing with global disruptions in the production and importation of precursor chemicals, such as potassium permanganate, that are used in clandestine labs to refine the recreational drug.

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Detained migrants say they were forced to clean COVID-infected ICE facility” via Jacob Soboroff and Julia Ainsley of NBC News — Asylum-seeking migrants locked up inside an Arizona Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center with one of the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases say they were forced to clean the facility and are “begging” for protection from the virus, according to a letter. The migrants appealed for help to the advocacy group from inside one of 24 “tanks,” which hold 120 men each, in the La Palma Correctional Center outside of Phoenix, which is operated for ICE by the for-profit company CoreCivic.

Julio Gonzalez said Amazon censored his coronavirus book” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Gonzalez said Amazon censored a book he wrote on response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Entitled “Coronalessons,” the Venice Republican said he devoted much of his energy in the past two months to produce a well-researched e-book. “I finished the book officially yesterday and sent it out to be published,” Gonzalez said. “But I got a message back that they were not going to publish it and that regarding the virus, everything is going to be referred to official sources.” The book didn’t focus primarily on the science of the novel coronavirus but on the policy and economic consequences of decisions made by leaders to contain the spread of the disease.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Interior to push drilling in Florida waters after November election” via Ben Lefebvre of POLITICO — The Trump administration is preparing to open the door to oil and gas drilling off Florida’s coast but will wait until after the November election to avoid blowback in a swing state whose waters both parties have long considered sacrosanct. Trump, who has set “energy dominance” as a key national goal, has eased regulations on offshore drilling put in place by the Obama administration. Interior has spent years working on a proposed drilling plan that would expand oil companies‘ access to waters around the country’s coastline, including a draft plan issued in 2018 by the Trump administration that considered opening the federal waters off both of Florida’s coasts.

Florida politicians sound off on oil drilling after report suggests new plan” via Zachary T. Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times — Top Florida officials affirmed their stance against oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico after a news report from Washington described how the Trump administration could bring the industry closer to the state. The offices of Sens. Rick Scott and Rubio, who have pushed legislation that would advance the ban another 10 years, both said they will continue to work on keeping drilling away from Florida.

Rick Scott and Marco Rubio vow to prevent oil drilling off the coast of Florida.

White House, Rick Scott claim violence at Floyd protests linked to Venezuela” via Michael Wilner, David Smiley, Alex Daugherty and Nora Gamez Torres of the Tampa Bay Times — The White House said it has information that individuals linked to Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro have incited violence at protests in the United States spurred by Floyd’s death. Scott also highlighted a similar report earlier in the week, promising Wednesday on Twitter that the U.S. government would crackdown on any operatives tied to Latin American dictators who instigate conflict in Miami as part of the protests. “We are aware of efforts by individuals linked to America’s adversaries, including the illegitimate regime of Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro, to instigate conflict, help incite violence, and divide Americans by exploiting peaceful protests,” a senior Trump administration official said.

Scott presses Zoom into reopening U.S.-based Chinese dissident’s account” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Scott continues to warn against the malign intent of the Chinese regime, which apparently extends to a communications tool in vogue during this era of social distancing. He scored a win against Zoom, chiding the company into reversing a decision to close a Chinese dissident’s account. “This is a U.S. company kowtowing to Communist China and censoring an individual that displeases the oppressive government,” Scott tweeted. Scott was responding to a report from Axios, that Zoom “closed the account of a group of prominent U.S.-based Chinese activists after they held a Zoom event commemorating the 31st anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen Square Massacre.” Zoom relented.

Rubio panel told travel industry focus is needed in next stimulus” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — If and when there is a next federal coronavirus economic stimulus package it should be targeted to help deeply-impacted businesses like travel and leisure, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin told Rubio‘s committee. “We’re going to need more money to encourage businesses to rehire people, especially in areas that have been most impacted. So whether it’s travel, leisure, restaurants, you can’t get hotel capacity back up to speed without hiring people first,” Mnuchin said. Universally, and in a bipartisan fashion, the committee members rhetorically high-fived one another and Mnuchin over the Paycheck Protection Program Rubio created.

‘Willful neglect’: Florida’s unemployment system gets hearing in Washington” via Alex Daugherty of the Tampa Bay Times — Democratic state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez told Senators that Florida’s unemployment system, which was implemented by Republican Sen. Scott when he was Governor of Florida, “suffered from willful neglect for a long time.” He said the problems were no secret, with “audit after audit,” and that DeSantis knew about the issues because one of the audits was “on the Governor’s desk” when he came into office. “We recently learned that on his way into office, the Governor was warned of the strategic threat … the [Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s system] posed to Florida,” Rodríguez told the committee in response to questions from Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden.

Assignment editors — Congressman Charlie Crist will visit businesses, the St. Pete Free Clinic and homes of several local veterans to handout masks and hear how they are responding to the coronavirus pandemic: 10 a.m., St. Pete Free Clinic, 863 3rd Ave. North, St. Petersburg; 11 a.m., Trion Technologies, 2131 Sunnydale Blvd., Clearwater.

Federal government awards $9.8 million to agencies that helped Stoneman Douglas victims” via Anthony Man and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The federal government is providing $9.8 million to agencies that helped victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre. The money comes as a grant from the Anti-terrorism and Emergency Assistance Program, said U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, a Broward-Palm Beach County Democrat whose district includes the Parkland school where the Feb. 14, 2018, massacre took place. The money, awarded through the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime, comes from fines and penalties paid by convicted federal offenders. It will go to reimburse agencies that provided services to victims in the aftermath of the shooting as well as “ongoing trauma-informed, evidence-based healing and resiliency services.”

Happening today — The U.S. Department of Agriculture will hold a video conference to release an updated forecast for the 2019-2020 citrus growing season, noon. Call-in number: 1-855-384-4184. Meeting code: 6486013.

— STATEWIDE —

Ron DeSantis signs unused prescription drug donation bill” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — DeSantis has signed legislation that would allow patients to donate unused prescription drugs to those in need. The new DOH program can accept drugs only from authorized sources, such as nursing home facilities with closed drug delivery systems, pharmacies, hospitals and others. Typically, if those facilities end up with unused prescriptions, they are destroyed. The legislation’s sponsors say the bill could save millions of dollars. The repository may only accept drugs that are in their original packaging, show no signs of tampering and have been stored at normal room temperature, among other restrictions.

State seeks to fast track voting rights appeal” via News Service of Florida — Arguing that the case is of “exceptional importance,” lawyers for DeSantis have made a rare move of asking a full appellate court to consider a challenge to a voting-rights ruling that would pave the way for hundreds of thousands of felons to cast ballots in the November elections. Appeals in federal lawsuits are almost always initially heard by three-judge panels, whose decisions can be revisited later by the full court in what are known as “en banc” hearings. But the DeSantis administration last week asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for an initial hearing by the full court, due in part to a panel decision earlier in the case and because of the far-reaching nature of the lawsuit.

‘Cold War’ worries Agriculture industry — Florida agriculture groups were happy to receive $380.7 million in USDA grant money for last month but suspect the money could have arrived sooner if DeSantis and Fried weren’t squabbling, Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida reports. With a consequential election looming, the pair have been engaged in a “cold war” for months and the recent crisis has only made it worse. “It’s unfortunate we are where we are,” said one agriculture group lobbyist. “It doesn’t help the agriculture industry when the Commissioner and the Governor just can’t be on the same page.”

Federal funds to Florida agriculture interests could have come earlier if not for the squabbling between Ron DeSantis and Nikki Fried. Image via AP.

Loss creep, litigation create ‘perfect storm’ for Florida property insurance rate hikes” via John Haughey of The Center Square — Florida homeowners face significant insurance rate hikes in 2020 as loss creep from 2017’s Hurricane Irma and 2018’s Hurricane Michael was factored into June 1 reinsurance renewals. After a decade without a landfall hurricane, “soft pricing” from the storm-free span will face hard adjustments as reinsurers demand carriers raise rates after the 2017-18 storms. Credit rating agency AM Best Co. projected average increases in reinsurance costs of 15% to 20% for Florida homeowners. That projection has proved conservative, with three insurers already receiving permission from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation to raise rates between 20% and 40%.

Personnel note: Savanna Christy appointed executive director of Keep Florida Beautiful” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Keep Florida Beautiful Board of Directors announced this week that Savanna Christy has been appointed as its new executive director. Christy joined KFB from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission in February 2019, starting as a program coordinator assisting with the daily operations for KFB, which is one of the largest volunteer-based community organizations in the Sunshine State. KFB Board Chair Elizabeth DeWitt said, “We are delighted to have Savanna lead KFB’s efforts in Florida to inspire, educate, and empower Floridians to improve and beautify their communities. A network of more than 40 Keep America Beautiful affiliates across the State work tirelessly to ensure that Florida is a beautiful place to live, work, and play.”

Happening today — The Board of Directors of Enterprise Florida will hold a video conference call to discuss next year’s budget, 9 a.m., livestreamed on The Florida Channel. Call-in number: 1-888-585-9008. Meeting code: 323514218.

Happening today — The Florida Department of Transportation hosts an online conference to discuss the multiuse corridor, part of which is a toll road, from Collier County to Polk County, 9:30 a.m. Register at attendee.gotowebinar.com/register.

Assignment editors — Florida TaxWatch will host a news conference to announce the 2020 Budget Turkey Watch Report and address the significant impact of COVID-19 on the 2020-21 budget, 11 a.m., Florida TaxWatch Headquarters, 106 North Bronough Street, Tallahassee. The event will also be streamed live on the Florida TaxWatch Facebook page at facebook.com/floridataxwatch.

Flags lowered to honor Gwen Margolis” via the News Service of Florida — DeSantis ordered that flags be lowered to half-staff to honor former Senate President Margolis, a Miami-Dade County Democrat who died this week at age 85. DeSantis directed flags to fly at half-staff until sunset Wednesday at the state Capitol, the Miami-Dade County Courthouse and Miami City Hall. Margolis was Senate president from 1990 to 1992, becoming the first woman in the country to serve as a Senate president.

Ron DeSantis ordered flags to fly half-staff to honor Gwen Margolis, the first female president of the Senate, who died this week at 85. Image via AP.

It’s 2020, and the Tampa Bay Times still has a mug shot gallery” via Jo-Ellen Schilke of Creative Loafing Tampa Bay — Mug shots are a staple of newspaper and television news websites. Multiple studies show police are more likely to pull over Black motorists and stop (and frisk) Black people, leading to more arrests. Mug shot galleries can reinforce to viewers the criminality of black people. This intersection of race, media, policing, and justice shouldn’t go unexamined. It is legal for the papers to publish these rogue galleries. But is it ethical? Starting at the most basic, the SPJ Code of Ethics has a few related principles. It is hard to justify mug shot pages within the context of an ethical media, and it seems that the media is on its way to eliminating them.

— 2020 —

Trump will return to campaign trail with rally in Tulsa” via Annie Karni of The New York Times — Trump will return to the campaign trail June 19 with a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak forced most of the country into quarantine three months ago, a campaign official said. Trump campaign officials are unlikely to put into place any social distancing measures for rally attendees, or require them to wear masks, people familiar with the decision-making process said, adding that it would be unnecessary because the state is so far along in its reopening. Trump has also made it clear he doesn’t want to speak in front of gatherings that look empty because of social distancing, or to look out on a sea of covered faces as he tries to project a positive message about the country returning to normal life and the economy roaring back

Donald Trump will resume his popular rallies in Oklahoma on June 19.

Republicans fear Trump’s weakened standing jeopardizes the party in November” via Robert Costa and Philip Rucker of The Washington Post — Trump’s incendiary responses to racial injustice protests and the coronavirus pandemic have left him politically isolated and profoundly weakened less than five months from the election, raising alarms among many Republicans about the party’s prospects in November. Perhaps emboldened by Trump’s diminished standing, not to mention their own outrage over his conduct, some Republicans have acted in outright opposition to the president. Most of the Republican officeholders standing for reelection are counting on Trump’s core supporters to turn out — and after weathering more than 3½ years of political storms, they see no advantage in breaking with the president now.

Jacksonville is front-runner in race for GOP convention” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Jacksonville has a “99%” chance of hosting the Republican National Convention’s keynote events after local and state officials made a case in behind-the-scenes negotiations that the city had enough hotel rooms to accommodate such a large event. “While no final decision has been made by the RNC we understand Jacksonville is a front-runner,” Republican Party of Florida Chair Joe Gruters, co-chair of Trump’s 2016 Florida campaign, tweeted. “This certainly has been generating a lot of attention and excitement. We continue to believe that Florida would be the best place for the convention.”

Jacksonville front-runner to host part of Republican National Convention” via Christopher Hong and Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville is in the “front-running position” among a handful of cities competing to host a portion of this year’s Republican National Convention, the convention’s chairwoman said Wednesday during a radio interview. Chair Ronna McDaniel told radio host Hugh Hewitt that media reports of the RNC tentatively selecting Jacksonville to host part of the convention were “premature” but that the city was well-positioned to be chosen. ″(T)here’s so many cities that have come forward — Nashville, Savannah, Phoenix. I don’t want to say that, yet, but Jacksonville has a lot of the things that we like and is in a very good position,” McDaniel said.

GOP expects to move its convention to Jacksonville after dispute with North Carolina over pandemic safeguards” via Annie Linskey and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — Seeking a city willing to allow a large-scale event amid the coronavirus pandemic, Republicans have tentatively settled on Jacksonville as the new destination for the premier festivities of the Republican National Convention in August, according to three Republican officials briefed on the plans. The details of the arrangement are still in flux and RNC aides are scrambling to determine whether the northern Florida city has enough hotel rooms to accommodate the quadrennial event, which typically kicks off the final stretch of the presidential campaign. Republican officials were in Jacksonville Monday looking at the city and the surrounding areas. The convention’s more routine and lower-profile meetings still would take place in Charlotte, the original host site for the convention, according to two officials.

— MORE FROM THE TRAIL —

Leo Valentín releases digital ads in CD 7 Republican primary” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Valentín is releasing a series of video digital ads on various platforms pressing the value of his experience as a doctor during a pandemic as well as his support for Trump and conservative social causes. Valentín, an Orlando radiologist, is running for a shot at Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in Florida’s 7th Congressional District covering parts of central, northern and eastern Orange County and all of Seminole County. In an August 18 primary he’s up against Longwood financier Richard Goble and Orlando businessman Yukong Zhao.

To view one of the ads, click on the image below:

Amanda Makki releases first ad in CD 13 — Republican congressional candidate Amanda Makki released her first ad for her campaign to unseat U.S. Rep. Crist in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. “Conservative Amanda Makki earned the American dream,” the ad narrator says. “Makki escaped a brutal regime that persecuted Christians, she worked her way through college and served in the Pentagon after 9/11. In Congress, Amanda Makki will stand with Trump to secure our border and protect Florida families from crushing taxes.” Makki is one of five Republicans seeking the nomination. She leads in the money race, though she faces a tough competitor in Anna Paulina Luna, who has the backing of many Trump allies.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Margaret Good hits Vern Buchanan on oil donations, misidentified Interior Secretary” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Good slammed Buchanan for taking donations from lobbyists supporting oil drilling off Florida’s coast. In addition to ignoring the Republican congressman’s longtime opposition to drilling, the Democratic challenger misidentified the current Interior Secretary. “Once again the Florida coastline is under siege while Vern Buchanan sits idly by, continuing to rake in contributions from the oil and gas industry,” Good said in a news release. Good also misidentified the name of the Interior Secretary, referring to Ryan Zinke, who resigned 18 months ago. That change in guard was apparently not noticed by Good’s camp before the news release was issued. But Buchanan’s team quickly noted the gaffe.

Democratic congressional candidate asks whether it’s ‘open season’ on Donald Trump, Bill Barr, other GOP’ers” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Democratic congressional candidate Pam Keith is asking whether it’s “open season” on political rivals she deems “bad guy(s)” in a Twitter post. Keith was questioning logic used in some conservative circles regarding the death of Floyd. Some conservative commentators have raised Floyd’s criminal past in discussing his killing at the hands of Minneapolis police, seemingly implying his criminal past justified his killing, or at least made it less appalling. Aside from Trump highlighting that post, that strain of thought has not surfaced widely among GOP politicians. Still, Keith decided to paint Republicans with a broad brush Wednesday. When asked to provide other examples of Republicans using Floyd’s past to “justify” the officer’s actions, Keith was unable to provide specific examples.

Club For Growth backs Byron Donalds in CD 19” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Club For Growth made its pick in a heated Republican primary for a Southwest Florida Congressional seat. The free-market advocacy group endorsed Naples Republican Donalds, a state lawmaker and professional financial adviser. “Byron Donalds is a constitutional conservative with invaluable experience in finance who has proved his pro-growth credentials during his time as a State Representative, and we are proud to endorse his campaign,” said Club for Growth PAC David McIntosh.

Tom Lee endorses Danny Burgess as successor in Florida Senate” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Lee is endorsing former Rep. Danny Burgess to succeed him in Senate District 20. Lee announced last month he was resigning from the seat, effective November 3. “It has been the greatest honor of my career serving as a Senator for 18 years and, most recently, representing the citizens of District 20,” Lee said. “Danny currently serves our country in the United States Army Reserve as a Captain in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He has represented his community admirably in the halls of the Florida Legislature and has offered steadfast leadership for Florida’s 1.5 million Veterans. I am proud to endorse him and look forward to calling him my Senator.” Senate President-Designate Wilton Simpson and Majority Leader Kathleen Passidomo endorsed Burgess Friday.

Jim Boyd draws primary challenge as Democratic field clears” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A Senate race in the Bradenton area just saw a Democrat exit the contest and a Republican enter. But the front-runner continued to expand his financial advantage for the open seat. Boyd now faces a Republican challenger in John Manners Houman, a Thonotosassa Republican. Houman previously eyed Tampa Bay seats known by the nickname “Mr. Manners,” but plans now to move to the Bradenton area. “He’s more for big business and I’m for small business,” Houman said. Boyd dismissed that assessment.

Javier Fernández tops Ana Maria Rodriguez in May fundraising for SD 39” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Fernández is again leading Rodriguez in the monthly fundraising contest in Senate District 39 after an impressive May haul. Fernández added more than $33,000 during the month to his campaign account. Florida Future, a political committee affiliated with the Fernández campaign, collected another $70,000. The haul puts the Democrat well ahead of Rodriguez for the month. Rodriguez brought in less than $3,000 to her campaign but pulled in another $45,000 through her political committee, Ethics and Honesty in Government. The race is one of the highest-profile Senate races in the state. Democrats believe they can steal a seat from Republicans this November.

Bibiana Potestad again tops GOP rivals in HD 105 fundraising” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Potestad is once again atop the GOP field in House District 105 fundraising, adding more than $14,000 in May. The contest also features a pair of Democratic candidates in former HD 105 candidate Javier Estevez and immigration attorney Maureen Porras. Neither of those two had posted their May numbers as of this posting. With Potestad’s May haul, she has now collected nearly $150,000 in the race to replace Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez. Rodriguez is pursuing a Senate seat after just one term in the House.

Demi Busatta Cabrera maintains HD 114 fundraising lead over Jean-Pierre Bado” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Busatta Cabrera retains a fundraising lead over her Democratic rival in House District 114. Bado is the only Democratic candidate filed in the contest. Busatta Cabrera, a former legislative assistant to Sen. Anitere Flores, is the lone Republican in the race. Busatta Cabrera added just under $11,000 in May. In April, she showed $0 in contributions after she raised $1,000 in March. That was a drop from Busatta Cabrera’s prior three months in the race. She started her campaign adding nearly $57,000 in December.

Money continues to flow to Rhonda Rebman Lopez despite endorsements of her GOP rival” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Republican officials have begun to line up behind Jim Mooney in House District 120, but the money continues to head to his Republican rival, Lopez. Lopez and Mooney are battling with attorney Alexandria Suarez in a three-way contest for the GOP nomination. Outgoing HD 120 Rep. Holly Raschein endorsed Mooney as her preferred successor. Sen. Anitere Flores, whose district covers much of the same ground as HD 120, is also backing Mooney. Despite that, Lopez has now led the fundraising contest for the ninth straight month. She has topped her opponents every month since entering the contest in September.

Here comes the judge: Belvin Perry draws $123K for Orlando State Attorney bid” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Former Circuit Court Chief Judge Perry’s campaign for the opening State Attorney seat in Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit just sent the message that his opponents had dreaded for months. I’m back. Perry, who retired as JC 9 Chief Judge in 2014, had overseen a campaign that appeared financially moribund the first three months after he filed to be elected JC 9 State Attorney. And then, in May the campaign raised $123,805. He filed to run for the State Attorney’s job Feb. 6, but his campaign raised only $11,200 in February, March, and April combined, not including the $9,000 he loaned to his campaign.

Daniella Levine Cava crosses $3M raised after adding $600K in May” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Miami-Dade mayoral candidate as more than $3.1 million between her campaign and political committee, Our Democracy. Her May earnings is one of the best months for Levine Cava so far, and it comes as candidates have halted in-person fundraisers and other events due to the COVID-19 outbreak. “It’s clear that Daniella’s campaign continues to build great momentum and excitement as we pass the $3-million mark in fundraising,” said Christian Ulvert, a senior adviser to the campaign.

Porn actor running for office in Wilton Manors” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Adult film actor Juan Melecio submitted his paperwork Monday to run for a commission seat in Wilton Manors. He also goes by several other names, including Juan Davila. His stage name is Antonio Biaggi. “I’m from Puerto Rico and I’m a very passionate person,” Melecio said. “When something is right I just go for it.” Two commission seats and the mayor’s seat are up for grabs in the November election. Qualifying lasts through noon Friday. Also Monday, Scott Newton qualified to run for mayor, and Joseph Sansone qualified to run for city commissioner.

— TOP OPINION —

Kevin Cate: Lose the Florida Capitol’s Confederate monument” via Florida Politics — Removing this and every other Confederate monument in the South won’t erase the impact of generations of racist, revisionist history today, but it will de-weaponize these symbols tomorrow — for tomorrow we must continue the real “battle” — bringing hope, equal opportunity, and fairness before the law and law enforcement to all people. That’s what Confederates and their sympathizers were really fighting against in the Civil War and in 1882, 1923, 1963, and sadly, some, through action and inaction, are still fighting today. Yet another “battle” they will eventually lose. In this — and all other cases — the sooner the better.

— OPINIONS —

Micah Kubic: One great voting rights victory in a long, long battle” via Florida Politics — The war for voting rights is long and ongoing. As of May 24, we can add another victory. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled Florida’s latest attempt to block American citizens from voting — 2019’s Senate Bill 7066 — is unconstitutional. That law decreed people with past felony convictions, even if they had finished their sentences and probation, could not vote until they had paid all restitution, fines and court fees. DeSantis signed that law, despite the fact that, in November 2018, 65% of Floridians voted for Amendment 4, granting returning citizens the right to vote. Hinkle’s ruling clears the way for hundreds of thousands of Florida citizens to vote, the largest single granting of suffrage in the U.S. since 1971.

Jacksonville inches forward, then takes two steps back” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry genuinely surprised protesters when he abruptly ordered city workers on Tuesday to take down a prominent Confederate monument in downtown and further pledged to take down the remaining monuments throughout the city. It was symbolic, yes, but it represented a meaningful pivot for a Republican mayor who had previously refused to remove the monuments and is not often inclined to change his mind. If there was a way to cheapen this gesture, however, Curry sure found it. The Republican National Convention has “tentatively” settled on announcing Jacksonville as its new host city, after a public campaign by Curry and DeSantis to land the event at the last minute, according to a report in The Washington Post on Wednesday.

— TODAY’S SUNRISE —

The Florida GOP is giddy over reports that Jacksonville could host the Republican National Convention in August.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— The state Health Department says there have now been 67,391 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Florida. That an increase of almost 1,400 in one day. It’s now the eighth day in a row where the number was more than 1,000. COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,889 people in the Sunshine State.

— Next week’s meeting of the state Clemency Board has been canceled and Agriculture Commissioner Fried is once again calling out Gov. DeSantis, saying it is just one more way the state is suppressing the vote by refusing to restore the rights of people who have served their time.

— Tallahassee Attorney Ben Crump is back on the national stage, since serving as the lawyer for the family of Floyd. Crump was one of the witnesses at a congressional hearing on police practices and law enforcement accountability.

— Florida’s broken unemployment system is getting attention in Washington — as an example of how to do it wrong.

— The latest with two Florida men: One is a deputy who was suspended for inviting violent cops to work in Florida. The other is a guy who brought a rifle to a peace march.

To listen, click on the image below:

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Some good news: Cownose stingray gives birth at Florida Aquarium” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The pup, named Bimini, was born Monday at about 2 p.m. on World Oceans Day. The pup’s mom was in labor for a little over an hour. Bimini joins two other pups born in recent weeks, Kitts and Nevis, all named after the geological regions in which they are found. The Aquarium is expecting pups from four more mothers within the next months. Cownose stingrays can be pregnant from 10-12 months and typically have one to two pups at a time. The aquarium reports that Bimini is doing well and will be moved into the stingray nursery with the other two pups within the next few days.

To watch the announcement, click on the image below:

How Orlando City helped bring MLS tournament to Disney World” via Iliana Limon Romero of the Orlando Sentinel — Orlando City CEO Alex Leitão said ever since Major League Soccer shut down play March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Lions were eager to figure out ways to help bring back soccer safely. As MLS began discussing playing in regional hubs to limit travel, Leitão said he thought, “Maybe we didn’t need hubs. We have a place that can accommodate all teams. … We have hotels that could host all the teams and a facility like ESPN Wide World of Sports with the fields to not only accommodate the games, but … give opportunities to the teams to train.” He said his first call was to a club partner at Disney World and his second was to Orlando Health. He then introduced Disney and Orlando Health leaders to MLS staff.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to Mrs. Chief, Katie Patronis, as well as Traci Deen of Conservation Florida, former state Sen. Mike Fasano, Cesar Gonzalez, chief of staff for Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, and Stuart Rogel.

___

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

Written By

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

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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

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

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