Happening overnight — “Republican National Convention coming to Jacksonville” via Christopher Hong and Emily Bloch of the Florida Times-Union — The announcement confirms weeks of speculation that the RNC had chosen Jacksonville to host the full-scale celebration Donald Trump insists on having after officials in North Carolina declined to guarantee the full use of facilities in Charlotte, the original host of the convention, out of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. Charlotte will still host the convention’s business meetings, but the event will conclude in Jacksonville, the most populous city in Florida, with Trump’s acceptance of the party’s nomination. It’s unclear whether any other events will take place in the city. Despite the uncertainty of the coronavirus outbreak that appears to spread faster — Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry lobbied hard to bring parts of the convention to the city.
It’s official! pic.twitter.com/GvHYq4yH7V
— Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry (@2020_jax) June 12, 2020
Friday there can be no rainbow, as, seemingly, magically, there has been in past years, bringing smiles to throngs of hugging, crying mourners gathered outside Orlando’s shrine to love, acceptance and community strength.
Friday is the fourth anniversary of the mass murder at the Pulse nightclub. But the memorial there will be closed.
In the time of COVID-19, there can be no crowds to offer remembrance to the 49 people shot to death, as well as provide support for 53 others wounded, their families, friends, and a whole community.
Instead, onePULSE Foundation, established following the June 12, 2016, tragedy, is organizing a 7 p.m. virtual remembrance ceremony, with readings of original poems by Orlando Poet Laureate Susan Lilley, live music, invocations, and a reading of names.
Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered flags to fly half-staff Friday and issued a proclamation asking Floridians to pause in reflection at 9 a.m. At noon, downtown church bells will ring.
Pulse survivor Brandon Wolf, now a spokesman for Equality Florida, said the virtual event cannot replace the feeling of group communion found in gatherings, but he still has high expectations. “I’m still excited,” he said.
— DAYS UNTIL —
“Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre” by Max Brooks release — 4; Belmont Stakes rescheduled — 8; Father’s Day — 9; Apple to hold Developer Conference — 10; NBA training camp — 18; “The Outpost” with Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood premieres — 21; NBA teams travel to Orlando — 25; Major League Soccer will return to action — 26; Disney World Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom to reopen — 29; Disney World Epcot and Hollywood Studios to reopen — 33; Federal taxes due — 33; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premieres — 35; “Mulan” premieres — 42; TED conference rescheduled — 43; NBA season restart in Orlando — 49; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 66; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 67; NBA draft lottery — 72; Indy 500 rescheduled — 72; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 74; Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 77; “A Quiet Place Part II” premieres — 84; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 85; Rescheduled date for French Open — 102; First presidential debate in Indiana — 110; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 113; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 120; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 122; Second presidential debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 125; NBA draft — 125; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 126; NBA free agency — 128; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 134; 2020 General Election — 145; “Black Widow” premieres — 148; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 151; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 158; “No Time to Die” premieres — 165; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 172; “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres — 214; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 240; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 406; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 415; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 511; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 609; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 651; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 693; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 847.
— AMERICA SMOLDERING —
“Pentagon’s top general apologizes for appearing alongside Donald Trump in Lafayette Square” via Dan Lamothe of The Washington Post — The Pentagon’s top general apologized for appearing alongside Trump near the White House after authorities forcibly removed peaceful protesters from the area, saying that it “was a mistake that I have learned from.” Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the remarks in a prerecorded graduation speech to students at the National Defense University. He has been roundly criticized for thrusting the military into politics by walking alongside the president on June 1 as Trump traveled on foot to a nearby church.
“Trump is all about ‘winning,’ which is why he won’t remove the names of Confederate generals who lost” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — As the nation grapples with racial injustice, Trump and the White House are mounting an impassioned defense against removing Confederate generals’ names from important military bases. Their reasoning, though, leaves something to be desired. “These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom,” Trump said, adding, “Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.”
“How Americans still resist removing Confederate symbols” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — Even as Trump and the White House were begging off the idea that they would remove Confederate generals’ names from military bases, NASCAR moved to ban the Confederate flag from its events. Given the popularity of NASCAR in the South and its perceived affiliation with the symbol, it has even used the flag in a logo for a race, that’s a significant step. While the actions taken have been significant, it’s not totally clear there that has been a fundamental change in how Americans view the Confederate flag and monuments in recent years. There isn’t much recent polling on Confederate symbols, but existing polling shows the American public remains uneasy about removing these symbols.
“Historical figures under attack after George Floyd’s death” via Sarah Rankin and David Crary of The Associated Press — The rapidly unfolding movement to pull down Confederate monuments around the U.S. in the wake of Floyd’s death has extended to statues of slave traders, imperialists, conquerors and explorers around the world, including Christopher Columbus, Cecil Rhodes and Belgium’s King Leopold II. Protests and, in some cases, acts of vandalism have taken place in such cities as Boston; New York; Paris; Brussels; and Oxford, England, in an intense re-examination of racial injustices over the centuries. Scholars are divided over whether the campaign amounts to erasing history or updating it.
“On Monument Avenue, liberal illusions about race come tumbling down” via John F. Harris of POLITICO — The famed Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, will soon be bereft of monuments. The statues of Robert E. Lee and his fellow Confederate legends are coming down, and many people surely wonder: How the hell did this take so long? The statues stayed up so long because they were tolerated by people who by most definitions would qualify as progressives. This includes, in recent decades, African Americans serving in the top jobs of the city and state. They believed the racist past evoked by the statues no longer mattered much because it had been defeated by racial progress, by modernity, by the Winning Cause.
“In letter, Pentagon leaders outline military role in recent unrest” via Missy Ryan of The Washington Post — National Guard troops remained in a supporting role during recent civil unrest in Washington and steps to prepare active-duty forces to deploy into the nation’s capital proved to be a precautionary measure, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Milley said in a letter to Congress. The letter comes amid a showdown between Pentagon leadership and Democrats on the committee, who are pushing Esper and Milley to testify about the military’s role in responding to recent unrest triggered by the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody last month in Minnesota, and other instances of police brutality against African Americans. In their letter, Esper and Milley said that active-duty forces “are not currently present and were not ever in the District for purposes of civilian law enforcement.”
“Democrats are avoiding ‘Defund the Police,’ while Republicans harp on it” via Eugene Scott of The Washington Post — The House Judiciary Committee convened Wednesday, a day after the funeral of Floyd, to hear witnesses from across the political spectrum and to debate how Congress should respond to the national outcry over police brutality. It wasn’t expressly to debate the “Defund the Police” movement, but that hung over the hearing. The political implications of that movement and slogan have been a concern for Democrats, whose 2020 presumptive nominee has the support of the majority of voters.
“‘What I saw was just absolutely wrong’: National Guardsmen struggle with their role in controlling protests” via Daniel Lippman of POLITICO — Many Guardsmen said they felt uncomfortable with the way they were used to handle the unrest because demonstrators lumped them in with the police. They felt that while they swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, their presence at times intimidated Americans from expressing their opinions and even escalated the tension. While the Park Police cleared out the protesters, some Guardsmen said they felt they were there to actually prevent the police from beating up protesters, instead of the other way around. One of D.C. National Guardsmen said he was worried that a lot of the goodwill that the Guard has built up with local Washingtonians because of their coronavirus response and annual Fourth of July celebrations was in jeopardy.
“Time to pry police from their safe spaces” via Mark Gongloff of Bloomberg — It has taken too many black deaths, too many decades and thousands of marches, but white Americans may finally be waking up to the reality of the racism all around them. The question now is how to take advantage of this fleeting attention while it’s still focused. It may not feel as momentous, but it’s also kind of a big deal that broadcasters are pulling cop shows off the air. #MeToo has already upgraded Hollywood by bringing more women into the process. #BlackLivesMatter can have a similar effect. Ironically, both movements have been turbo-boosted by Trump. As Francis Wilkinson writes, it took a living, golfing embodiment of sexism and racism to wake many Americans up to these problems. Let’s not go to sleep again.
“Companies touting Black Lives Matter face workforce scrutiny” via Sally Ho of The Associated Press — As protests over police brutality have erupted across the country over the past two weeks, a review of the diversity reports of some of the biggest companies pledging solidarity with their black employees as well as the black community, shows that their efforts to recruit, maintain and promote minorities within their own ranks have fallen short. Microsoft has been posting powerful quotes on Twitter from black employees describing how systemic racism takes a toll on their lives. Only 4.4% of Microsoft’s global workforce across all brands, including retail and warehouse workers, identify as black, and less than 3% of its U.S. executives, directors and managers are black.
“Artists beautify boarded-up storefronts in wake of Floyd protests” via Rashaan Ayesh of Axios — Artists across the country are painting murals with messages of love and support after many businesses closed their shops following riots and protests over the police killing of Floyd. By painting murals, artists both beautify the towns while peacefully expressing their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Pastor Peter Wohler, executive director of Source MN in Minneapolis, believes the murals help “combat visual signs of violence that the charred storefronts … represent,” The Star Tribune writes. In Minneapolis, where Floyd died, 20—30 artists from an array of backgrounds received thousands of dollars in donations to support their efforts to paint murals across the city.
— FLORIDA REAX —
“Marco Rubio called them ‘extremists.’ They’re really Miami rappers. They want a retraction.” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — When cops arrested Marco Antonio Lopez on allegations that he vandalized patrol cars during a protest in downtown Miami, the arrest report noted he was part of a group known as the “Southern Slaves,” which “actively recruits people to violently protest the government.” That drew the attention of Rubio, who tweeted the arrest was evidence of “extremist groups” organizing to cause mayhem at protests. They’re a group of aspiring hip-hop musicians from Miami’s Flagami neighborhood. “We’re not terrorists. We love America. What we don’t love is the systematic oppression and police brutality,” said Alonzo Martinez, whose stage name is “Zo The Atlantean.”
“Police arrest 7 after Columbus, Ponce de León statues are vandalized in Miami” via The Associated Press — Seven people were arrested for vandalizing statues of Christopher Columbus and Juan Ponce de León in Miami, and one man was charged with smashing a patrol car with his skateboard and trying to incite a riot, the city’s police said. In Miami, demonstrators spray-painted statues of Columbus and Ponce de León, a Spanish explorer who landed in Florida, in Bayfront Park with the letters “George Floyd,” “BLM,” and a hammer and sickle, news outlets reported. Miami police said one man encouraged other protesters to attack a patrol car and he smashed the vehicle’s windshield with his skateboard, shattering glass on officers inside.
“Miami-Dade County Police Department bans use of chokeholds” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Miami-Dade County Police Department will no longer allow its officers to use chokeholds on suspects, MDPD Director Freddy Ramirez announced. The shift comes after widespread protests over Floyd‘s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police. “I’m thankful for the valuable conversations I’ve been able to have over the past weeks,” Ramirez wrote on Twitter. The Applied Carotid Triangle Restraint tactic is different and involves an officer wrapping his arm around a suspect’s neck. “I have decided to no longer authorize the utilization of the Applied Carotid Triangle Restraint (ACTR). This decision was based on a multitude of factors to include officer & public safety, feedback from policing professionals, members of our community local leaders & officials, as well as recommendations from the Police Executive Research Forum,” Ramirez said.
“Miami school board member wants anti-racism curriculum. All but one colleague agreed.” via Colleen Wright of the Miami Herald — Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall’s item up before the school board she sits on calls for a review of currently available curriculum that address racial and cultural understanding, the creation of a student-led task force that reports to the School Board to discuss institutional systemic racism in the community. It asks district staff to develop or enhance the existing curriculum to address racism and cultural understanding. Her proposal was supported and celebrated by all board members, with some offering more suggestions to broaden its scope. But there was one exception. Marta Perez, who said she would not support the item and said the board should “focus all our resources on addressing student academics.”
“‘Policing in Florida is tied to racism.’ Activists discuss Miami’s police brutality.” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — For nearly two weeks, protest organizers in Miami have argued that police departments in South Florida are part of a larger problem with racism in police forces while law enforcement leaders have countered that they are committed to rooting out small numbers of bad cops within their ranks. The two groups got a chance to address each other directly during an online forum hosted by Miami Rep. Donna Shalala that included Miami protest organizers, police chiefs, a police union representative and elected officials. The police officials on the call argued that Miami’s police departments are able to punish and fire racists and that the demographic makeup of Miami-Dade’s police departments largely mirrors the county’s demographics.
“White officer charged after using stun gun on black man” via The Associated Press — A white Florida police officer was arrested earlier this week for using a stun gun on a black man without sufficient cause, authorities said. Springfield police officer Ronnie Nelson was arrested and charged with a felony count of official misconduct and a misdemeanor count of battery. At the request of Springfield Police Chief Barry Roberts, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office handled the investigation. Springfield is located in the Florida Panhandle near Panama City. “It’s an embarrassing situation,” Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said during a news conference Tuesday. “It’s an infuriating situation from a law enforcement perspective, but we hope that it shows our accountability measures work.”
“Manatee County School Board split on opposition to injustice against ‘black Americans’” via Giuseppe Sabella of the Bradenton Herald — As it tried to finalize a statement on racial injustice and recent events, the Manatee County School Board failed to reach a consensus. Instead, board members argued about the need to highlight “black Americans” in their message, and whether a statement was enough to effect positive change. Superintendent Cynthia Saunders said she wanted to offer residents a clear stance on equality, justice and racism, and she hoped to finalize a message by the meeting’s end. Charlie Kennedy, the board’s vice chair, offered a draft statement, while the district offered two of its own, after consulting with its Diversity and Inclusion Committee. While all people were important, Kennedy said, it was important to recognize the overwhelming violence against black Americans.
“Lee County school district steps away from Oakes Farms after CEO’s social media posts” via Pamela McCabe of the Naples Daily News — The Lee County school district has “severed ties” with Oakes Farms, an announcement that was met with applause by a handful of peaceful protesters gathered Thursday at the front doors of the education center’s lobby. “This is a milestone, and we’re glad that they made this announcement,” said Lisa Shamma. She is the creator of the Peaceful Protests of Lee County Facebook page. The gathering at the school district office was planned after Alfie Oakes, the owner of Oakes Farms and Seed to Table market in Naples, wrote in social media posts that COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement are hoaxes and called Floyd a “disgraceful career criminal.”
“Leonard Fournette, Chris Conley among Jaguars players taking activist role to help bring change in Jacksonville” via John Reid of The Florida Times-Union — Last week, Jaguars wide receiver Conley spoke freely about reminders of divisive chapters of the past still prominent in Jacksonville. “A Confederate monument sits a couple of blocks from here, praising the south’s dark past. Our revisionist history would tell us that it’s there to honor men fighting for states’ rights,” Conley said. On Tuesday, less than a week later and the day Fournette was preparing to start another protest, the 62-foot Vermont granite Confederate monument that had been in Hemming Park since 1898 and survived the Great Jacksonville Fire of 1901 was gone. ″I’m happy to see blacks and whites out here together doing this, and it’s a wonderful thing,” Fournette said Tuesday.
“St. Petersburg protest starts with poetry, ends with meditation” via Lane DeGregory, Leonora LaPeter Anton and Dirk Shadd of the Tampa Bay Times — Denzel Johnson-Green read poetry to about 70 protesters sitting in the grass across from City Hall, reading from the book “BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop.” The plan was to start marching at 3 p.m. and spend an hour or so walking through neighborhoods. Fresh Kitchen donated meals and water to the protesters. But while the protests continue in the streets, behind the scenes organizers are planning and talking. The crowd swelled to about 100. A white van stood ready to trail the march, carrying water and prepared to give a lift to anyone who needs one in the heat. A man with the black megaphone stood in front of the crowd and kicked it off.
“In Surfside, anti-hate resolution devolves into ‘all lives matter’ and middle fingers” via Aaron Liebowitz of the Miami Herald — A resolution condemning discrimination against Asian and Jewish people during the COVID-19 crisis sparked a heated debate among commissioners in Surfside, culminating in an elected official giving Mayor Charles Burkett the middle finger after Burkett accused her of harboring “apparent anti-Christian zeal.” The proposal, whose original language was drafted by the Anti-Defamation League and which has passed unanimously in other South Florida cities, didn’t sit well with Burkett or Commissioner Nelly Velasquez. The resolution was withdrawn after Burkett and Velasquez asked for more “inclusive” language, with Burkett saying that naming Asians and Jews without other groups was “picking winners and losers.” An updated version has been presented.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@WhiteHouse: “We’re working to finalize an Executive Order that will encourage police departments nationwide to meet the most current professional standards for the use of force, including tactics for de-escalation.”
—@SenKamalaHarris: We just announced the first-ever comprehensive police accountability and reform bill to: Create a national standard for use of force. Expand pattern and practice investigations into police departments. Increase independent investigations into police misconduct
—@Kevinliptakcnn: If you’re looking to attend Trump’s rally in Tulsa next Friday, you must first agree not to sue him if you get coronavirus
—@GovRonDeSantis: I’m excited to announce that Florida will be hosting the 54th @TheRealAAU Junior Olympic Games in Brevard County at the end of July. This marks the 6th time Florida gets to host the games for the best youth athletes in the nation, which brings approx. $50M in economic impact.
—@lmower3: Florida’s unemployment work search requirements are being waived through July 4.
—@mjs_DC: Trump flipped the 11th Circuit last year. [Mitch] McConnell bragged about it at a Federalist Society event, to great applause. Now Ron DeSantis wants to get the full court to reverse a voting rights decision without even going to a three-judge panel first.
—@CarlosGSmith: To be fair, Florida Republicans always thwart the will of the voters on constitutional amendments, so I’m not sure how “very, very unusual” this is.
HAPPENING NOW: Less than 30 mins after Gadsden Coutny Commissioners voted to remove this confederate statue today, crews are in front of the County Courthouse to take it down. @WCTV pic.twitter.com/Oo8GjUShU1
— Brandon Spencer (@BSpencerWCTV) June 11, 2020
— Orange County FL (@OrangeCoFL) June 11, 2020
—@FLSecofState: Voter registration books close on July 20 for the August 18th Primary Election! Be sure to visit RegistertoVoteFlorida.gov before July 20 to register, check your status or update your voter registration!
Some personal news: I'm covering the RNC. My coverage will be big, bold and backlit https://t.co/ViP25i7pTd
— Claire Goforth (@clairenjax) June 12, 2020
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“State eases rules on Bright Futures program” via the News Service of Florida — Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran late Wednesday signed an emergency order that eases some eligibility requirements for awards under the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program. Many graduating high school seniors have struggled to complete volunteer service hours and improve SAT or ACT test scores after the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down schools and test sites this spring and early summer. The order said Corcoran found it “necessary” to take steps such as partly suspending rules and laws that require students to complete volunteer service hours. Also, he extended a deadline to earn qualifying standardized test scores for the different types of scholarships offered in Bright Futures.
Florida’s stockpile of hydroxychloroquine sits unused — Florida ordered 1 million doses of hydroxychloroquine after Trump touted its effectiveness in treating COVID-19, but as the drug’s benefits proved illusory Florida hospitals haven’t taken advantage of its availability. As reported by Andrew Atterbury and Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, the state still has 980,000 unused doses of the drug, which were obtained for free from Israeli drugmaker Teva Pharmaceuticals. So far, only six hospitals have requested a combined total of 16,100 doses.
“Fired scientist Rebekah Jones builds coronavirus dashboard to rival Florida’s” via Chris Persaud of The Palm Beach Post — Jones, the former Health Department geographic data scientist has created FloridaCOVIDAction.com, which asserts that the state’s widely read public-facing dashboard under reports how many people have tested positive for the pathogen. Florida also overcounts how many have been tested, Jones said, to the benefit of DeSantis’ push to reopen the state after two months of quarantine. Jones, who built the state dashboard, was fired May 18 after refusing to “manipulate” COVID-19 data to justify reopening, she has said. DeSantis said she was fired because “she didn’t listen to the people who were her superiors.”
“Voter registration in Florida plunged amid the coronavirus pandemic” via Allison Ross of the Tampa Bay Times — Slightly more than 21,000 newly registered voters were added to Florida’s rolls in April, a 60 percent decrease compared to the April before the 2016 presidential election. DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order on April 1 amid concern about how the highly contagious novel coronavirus could spread through the state. Even before then, many Floridians began avoiding public spaces, while local driver’s license locations — where a significant proportion of new voters register — and other government offices closed to the public. Now, as the state begins reopening and more Floridians are venturing out again, the number of voter registrations is likely to begin rising again.
— REOPEN FLORIDA —
“Ron DeSantis announces plan to reopen public schools at ‘full capacity’ this fall” via Eric Rogers of Florida Today — DeSantis announced the state has unveiled a plan to open public schools at “full capacity” this fall. The plan, developed by the Re-Open Florida Task Force in conjunction with the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provides a “road map” to support health and safety measures amid COVID-19 and close achievement gaps from the move to distance learning, DeSantis said. It will be supported by nearly $1 billion in emergency funding from the $2.2 trillion federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security or CARES Act.
>>>Patricia Levesque, executive director of the Foundation for Florida’s Future, responds — “Gov. DeSantis and Commissioner Corcoran have put students first with this thoughtful plan to invest federal funds where they will best support continued learning safely and wisely. By strategically supporting early learning, tackling the reading opportunity gap, investing college and career pathways, implementing innovative distance learning planning and virtual supports, and creating a safety net for private schools serving scholarship students, Florida is poised to continue a strong reopening of our schools.”
“Nikki Fried pledges safety as top priority as first FDACS office reopens” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (FDACS) Tallahassee regional licensing office will reopen June 15, the first FDACS office to do so since statewide closures on March 1. “Even during this historic pandemic, we still have a responsibility to service the people of Florida to provide the services their taxpayer dollars go toward,” Fried said. ‘That’s exactly what we’ve done at the Division of Licensing.” Once reopened, the office will be available by appointment only. Enhanced safety measures include plexiglass barriers between employees and customers as well as a new text messaging service that can help customers communicate with the office more efficiently and at a safe distance when they arrive.
Happening today — The Executive Committee of the Florida Polytechnic University Board of Trustees will hold an online conference to discuss reopening plan for the fall semester, 9 a.m. Call-in number: 1-415-655-0001. Meeting code: 1618977342.
Happening today — Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson and Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Jerry Parrish will host an online conference to discuss the second phase of DeSantis’ economic reopening plan amid the coronavirus pandemic, 1:30 p.m. Register at email@example.com.
“Mandatory masks, school supply cuts, ‘hybrid’ schedules for kids emerge” via Andrew Marra of The Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach County public schools imposed strict social-distancing rules for employees, made plans to cut back on school supplies and moved to eliminate dozens of jobs as preparations for a new school year raced forward amid continuing financial and health concerns. School district administrators said that they are weighing three plans for starting the school year Aug. 10, with some leaders leaning toward a “hybrid” model where students attend in-person classes twice a week and learn from home the rest of the week. Administrators said combining online learning and classroom lessons would allow schools to implement social-distancing measures to reduce health risks during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Palm Beach County loosens restrictions on recreational activities” via Austin Erblat of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As coronavirus cases continue to rise, Palm Beach County is lifting restrictions on recreational activities such as commercial boating and fishing, golfing, parks, natural areas, and youth summer camps and sports leagues. Golfers can now share carts if there is a physical divider between driver and passenger or if both wear masks. Clubhouses can operate at capacities similar to current restaurant rules set by the state. Social distancing is required for caddie services and lessons with more than one student. Fishermen on piers must remain 6 feet apart. Dive boats are now allowed to operate at a higher capacity. Organized youth activities and summers camps are allowed in accordance with state rules.
“South Florida beaches are open, garbage is back” via Saira Anwer of Local10.com — The beaches in Broward County have been reopened for more than two weeks and while residents are thrilled to be able to enjoy the sun and sand, they are leaving things behind. Trash is now back on the beach, too. Anja Glassner and Tom Andrews, both of Hollywood, go out at the crack of dawn to pick up trash along Hollywood Beach. The two volunteers pick up the beach trash every morning four days a week. “The first day, when the beach opened, we found dirty baby diapers, a ton of sand toys. We filled a bag and a half just with sand toys.”
“Faithful SeaWorld fans line up to return to theme park. Can company rebound from pandemic?” via Gabrielle Russon and Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — The first visitors arrived two hours before the 10 a.m. opening as cars clogged the parking lanes. Once inside, the crowds were light on the wide pathways. A successful reopening is vitally important for Orlando-based SeaWorld. It has been struggling for years amid declining attendance as competitors Disney and Universal forged further ahead with billion-dollar investments and the company battled controversies, including the death of a trainer caused by one of its whales. Despite those challenges, SeaWorld’s finances steadily improved by 2019. The first two months of 2020 seemed promising until the pandemic struck, swiftly disrupting the momentum. Some analysts say smaller, regional theme parks like SeaWorld and Six Flags could recover faster from the pandemic’s economic devastation.
— CORONA LOCAL —
“Six new cases of COVID-19 reported in Miami County, including a PHS student” via Brian McCauley of The Miami County Republic — A Paola High School student is one of six new COVID-19 cases reported by the Miami County Health Department. All of the people who tested positive reside within the same household and are appropriately isolated. Three of the cases are laboratory-confirmed, while the other three are presumptive positive. “The Miami County Health Department has conducted contact tracing of the infected student and have notified any student(s) and their family(ies) that were in direct contact as a result of theater practice. Those not notified have been determined to be at no risk,” according to the school district release.
“Florida resort for critically ill children closing indefinitely due to coronavirus pandemic” via CBS Miami — A nonprofit Florida resort that fulfills the wishes of critically ill children is shutting its doors indefinitely being because of coronavirus concerns. Give Kids the World Village announced Tuesday that it was temporarily laying off most of its staff at the end of the month. “Unforeseen circumstances directly related to COVID-19 have resulted in Give Kids The World having to remain closed,” wrote CEO Pamela Landwirth. A small team of workers will remain to maintain the facilities and prepare for an eventual reopening, officials said.
“Do it yourself: Self swabbing for COVID coming to some Miami area CVS” via Michelle Solomon of Local10.com — CVS Pharmacy is opening four additional COVID-19 test sites Friday, June 12 adding to 77 locations across Florida. The new sites in Carol City, Hialeah and Miami will utilize self-swab tests. Patients drive up and stay in their cars, then are directed to the pharmacy drive-thru window or, at a few stores, a location in the parking lot. They are given a test kit and instructions. A CVS Pharmacy team member then observes the self-swab process to make sure it is done correctly. Results are available to those being tested within three days. Self-swab tests will be available to individuals meeting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, in addition to state and age guidelines.
“Miami Springs canceled its Fourth of July fireworks. But residents said not so fast” via Maya Lora of the Miami Herald — After a public outcry, the city of Miami Springs reversed course and will now host its traditional Fourth of July fireworks at the Miami Springs Golf & Country Club. On Monday, the Miami Springs City Council voted to cancel this year’s fireworks show after discussing concerns related to the possible loss of their deposit, the ability to enforce social distancing rules and the value of a virtual fireworks show. The city joined most other cities in Miami-Dade County that canceled fireworks shows due to coronavirus restrictions and concerns.
“What coronavirus/antibody test results reveal at these 55+ communities west of Boynton” via Mike Diamond of The Palm Beach Post — New test results demonstrate that residents of a number of Palm Beach County retirement communities may have avoided COVID-19 infections by staying home long before they were told to do so by county and state officials. Coral Lakes, a 55+ development west of Boynton Beach, recently had Helix Urgent Care come to the community to test its residents for COVID-19 and antibodies. Only 21 were tested for the virus because they needed to have symptoms for the virus test. All 21 tested negative. Eleven of 936 Coral Lakes’ residents tested positive (1.2%) for the antibodies. The results, according to General Manager Laurel Kadouri, show that the community’s early shutdown March 13 helped keep the virus out of the community.
“Two Keys jail deputies and one clerk of the court staffer test positive for COVID-19” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — Two Florida Keys corrections deputies tested positive Thursday for the novel coronavirus. The cases are the first for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, which managed to keep its three corrections facilities free of COVID-19 throughout the monthslong crisis. The two officers live in Miami-Dade County, which remains a COVID-19 hot spot. Inmates are tested before they enter the jail and their temperatures are taken. If any of the other deputies test positive, the sheriff’s office and Department of Health will begin testing current inmates.
— MORE LOCAL —
“Florida COVID-19 cases soar in agricultural communities” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO — The Florida Department of Health reported a record daily number of COVID-19 diagnoses, which DeSantis said was the result of outbreaks among farming communities and increased statewide testing. The state Department of Health reported that 1,677 people were diagnosed with COVID-19, the highest number of positive tests since the state reported its first case March 1. The previous record was the 1,527 cases reported on April 3. DeSantis attributed the increase to people who are returning to work as the state seeks to get its economy running again. Employers are asking workers to get tested, and that has led to more diagnoses, DeSantis said.
“In Orange and Seminole, officials warn virus is ‘coming back’” via Ryan Gillespie, Martin E. Comas and Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County reported 128 new coronavirus cases from the day before, its most ever in a single day, and 25 more than it saw on April 3, the peak of the first wave of the pandemic. Officials have warned for more than a week that the numbers were starting to trend up, but until Thursday stopped short of calling the data the beginning of a second wave. In Seminole County, Orange’s suburban neighbor to the north, the message was even grimmer. Seminole hadn’t had a day with double-digit new cases in nearly two months, before having 12 new cases on Sunday, climbing to 29 on Tuesday and 34 on Wednesday.
“When the world goes crazy, who you gonna call? A counselor like this one” via David Whitley of the Orlando Sentinel — When the coronavirus crisis arrived, the big worry was what it could do the lungs. Now we’re hearing a lot about what it can do the brain. Listen to someone who knows all too well. “Substance abuse has skyrocketed,” Dominique Barritt said. “Domestic abuse and child abuse has increased exponentially. Isolation for those who don’t have spouses or children has been overwhelming to some people. Barritt is a mental health counselor. In a world gone crazy, it’s hard to think of a more essential job. And Barritt’s been doing it free for people who really need help. It’s made for long and interesting days for the trauma network counselors. Oddly enough, business was slow when coronavirus first hit.
— CORONA NATION —
“U.S. eclipses 2 million coronavirus cases” via Kim Bellware and Jacqueline Dupree of The Washington Post — As the United States approaches five months since the first coronavirus patient was confirmed, the country surpassed the staggering milestone of 2 million cases. Although states have been able to confirm more new cases as testing capacity has increased from the early months of the outbreak, testing nationwide has remained short of goals set by health experts. The numbers where the outbreak is growing serves as a troubling reminder that the country is far from identifying new sources of infection, let alone containing it.
“U.S. consumers are less willing to buy ‘made in China’ items in wake of coronavirus pandemic” via Andria Cheng of Forbes — About half of the consumers surveyed said they agree or strongly agree that U.S. retailers should cut back on sourcing from China, more than double the 20% who disagreed. “This is a further indication that U.S. retailers should review the extent of their reliance on China as a manufacturing hub,” according to the study. Across different age groups, at least two-fifths of consumers each said they agree or strongly agree that U.S. retailers should reduce buying from China, with the percentage surging to three-fifths among consumers ages 60 or older.
“Arizona sees alarming surge of more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases daily” via the Guardian — Arizona is seeing an alarming surge in coronavirus cases, with more than 1,000 new infections per day, prompting one lawmaker to criticize the state’s governor for failing to highlight the “seriousness” of the situation. In a letter sent to the governor, Doug Ducey, the Democratic congressman Ruben Gallego asked what the governor plans to do to address the recent surge that has made Arizona a hotspot and pushed some hospitals to near capacity in their intensive care units. Ducey dismissed mounting concerns, and focused on hospitals’ capacity to care for patients rather than slowing the spread of the virus.
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“Stocks plunge as grim forecasts and new virus cases pierce Wall Street’s bubble.” via The New York Times — Stocks suffered their sharpest daily decline in three months, as grim economic forecasts and a worrisome uptick in new coronavirus cases rattled investors’ confidence. The S&P 500 fell nearly 6 percent, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by nearly 7 percent. Oil prices also cratered, reflecting the sudden unease that swept across financial markets. Stocks had been on an upward trajectory for weeks, a rally that stood in stark contrast to a collapse in economic activity but showed that investors had been betting on a quick recovery as businesses reopened and states lifted stay-at-home restrictions.
“1.5 million more laid-off workers seek unemployment benefits” via Christopher Rugaber of The Associated Press — About 1.5 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, evidence that many Americans are still losing their jobs even as the economy appears to be slowly recovering with more businesses partially reopening. Still, the pace of layoffs remains historically high. The total number of people who are receiving unemployment aid fell slightly, a sign that some people who were laid off when restaurants, retail chains and small businesses suddenly shut down have been recalled to work. Last week’s jobs report showed that employers added 2.5 million jobs in May, an unexpected increase that suggested that the job market has bottomed out.
“Sobering jobs outlook: ‘We’re expecting a long haul’” via Tiffany Hsu of The New York Times — Although workers have begun returning to restaurants, retailers and other businesses hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, layoffs are seeping through sections of the job market that previously escaped major damage. The Labor Department said more than 1.5 million Americans filed new state unemployment claims last week, the lowest number since the crisis began, but far above normal levels. A further 700,000 workers who were self-employed or otherwise ineligible for state jobless benefits filed new claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal aid program.
“Florida quietly reschedules unemployment payments, confusing thousands of desperate job-seekers” via Caroline Glenn and David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — With no apparent notice, the state of Florida has reverted to a system of paying benefits to the unemployed every other week, at a time when thousands of people have also seen their federal benefits come to a halt. State Sen. José Javier Rodríguez said the change from weekly payments took most people by surprise because it was not announced in advance. “It’s ridiculous,” he said. “They didn’t give us a head’s up that they were going biweekly. … People thought they were being cut off when they weren’t being cut off.”
“Enterprise Florida bumps spending amid job losses” via Jim Turner of News Service of Florida — In an online meeting, the Enterprise Florida Board of Directors voted without opposition to support a $23.1 million spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1, up from nearly $21.3 million in the current year. The increase includes carrying over unspent money from the current year. “The importance of economic development, the critical role that Enterprise Florida plays, as well as our partners like VISIT FLORIDA, are more important now than they’ve ever have been,” said board Vice-Chair Joe York. The vote came on the same day that the U.S. Department of Labor issued a report showing an estimated 110,520 first-time unemployment claims filed last week in Florida.
“Tourism businesses want taxpayers to pay people to travel” via Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel — The U.S. tourism industry wants taxpayers to pay people to go on vacation. Industry lobbyists are circulating a plan in Congress and at the White House that would dangle $4,000 tax breaks in front of Americans to get them to begin traveling and spending money at hotels, theme parks and other tourism businesses. The idea has already attracted one important booster: Trump, a hotel owner himself. The “Explore America” tax credit is one of a host of proposed subsidies that tourism industry lobbyists are pitching to policymakers as the early contours of a new economic stimulus package begin to take shape in Washington. Some say that if taxpayers are going to spend more money supporting tourism, then the aid needs to do more than preserve profit margins.
— MORE CORONA —
“Masks required and fewer parties (allegedly): What college will look like this fall” via Nick Anderson of The Washington Post — As more colleges and universities announce how and when they will resume operations most are making clear that students will share in the duty of protecting classmates, faculty and staff from a contagious disease that has killed more than 100,000 Americans. Many universities are warning students to expect a new normal. Parties will be minimal or nonexistent, if schools have their way. Seating at sports events will be limited, if spectators are allowed at all. Many lectures will be online. Foodservice will be grab-and-go. Foot traffic will be routed one way through specific exits and entrances.
“Wanted: Servers who can lift 100 pounds. Working life in the coronavirus economy is changing.” via Karla L. Miller of The Washington Post — As states reopened after coronavirus lockdowns, millions of Americans returned to work in May. Many found their hours were cut, their pay was reduced, and their job descriptions had changed, sometimes beyond all recognition. Many employees are being taken from salaried to hourly jobs. Generally, offering paid or unpaid vacation leave is up to your employer, regardless of your FLSA status. But if your employer is trying to cancel paid leave you’ve already accrued, that may not be allowed depending on what state you work in.
“These people have been sick with coronavirus for more than 60 days.” via Ariana Eunjung Cha, Lenny Bernstein of The Washington Post — It started for Melanie Montano with a tightness in her chest, almost like someone was sitting on top of her. It was March 15, and she was sweating but freezing cold. Symptoms kept coming and going in waves like a roller coaster that has kept her bed-bound for 89 days straight. Several coronavirus patients have had similar experiences. But with so little known about the virus, Doctors are unsure whether those symptoms suggest it is still alive in the body and creating continued havoc, or whether it has come and gone, leaving a lingering immune or inflammatory response that makes people continue to feel sick.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“‘He has to get back to his life’: Trump looks past crises to resume his routine” via Anita Kumar of POLITICO — Trump is planning to resume his pre-pandemic routine, arguing it will send a positive message that the country’s problems are under control. For the first time since before the coronavirus gripped the United States and protesters took to the streets, Trump is lining up in-person fundraisers, trips to his luxury resort in New Jersey and campaign rallies. But while Trump tries to signal he is resuming his version of normalcy, the country is far from achieving a semblance of normalcy. Hundreds of coronavirus deaths are still being reported in the U.S. daily. Twenty-one million Americans are out of work. And protesters continue.
“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. U.S. Sen. Scott also highlighted a similar report earlier in the week, promising Wednesday on Twitter that the U.S. government would crack down on any operatives tied to Latin American dictators who instigate conflict in Miami as part of the protests. Neither offered proof of the allegations, and the White House declined to discuss “non-open source information” that had led to their assessment.
Rubio, Scott introduce resolution recognizing anniversary of Pulse massacre — Florida’s U.S. Senators introduced a resolution recognizing the fourth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando. It passed the Senate by unanimous consent. Ahead of the resolution’s passage, Scott spoke on the Senate floor recognizing Pulse Remembrance Day. “Floridians will never forget the horrific events of June 12, 2016 — the day our state, nation, the City of Orlando, and Hispanic and gay communities were attacked in an act of terror, and 49 innocent lives were lost,” U.S. Sen. Scott said. U.S. Sen. Rubio added, “That day is one I will never forget, and while we still have a long way to go to root out evil and hate, I remember how our communities came together in the days and weeks that followed.”
To watch the video, click on the image below:
Assignment editors — Congressman Charlie Crist will visit several local businesses and the homes of several Pinellas veterans to hand out masks and hear from constituents on how they’re responding to the continuing coronavirus pandemic: 2:30 p.m., Performance AC, 6080 126th Ave. N., Largo; 3:30 p.m., St. Pete Beach HUD-VASH Housing, 340 78th Ave., St. Pete Beach.
— STATEWIDE —
“Tropical disturbance heading toward Caribbean islands will impact South Florida weather” via Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald — The National Hurricane Center is monitoring a well-defined tropical wave currently located about 275 miles east of the Windward Islands. The system is producing disorganized showers and thunderstorms over Caribbean waters. And while significant development is not anticipated, just 10% through the next five days, given unfavorable environmental conditions, the immediate effect will be periods of heavy rain and gusty winds across portions of the Caribbean’s Windward Islands through Friday as the wave moves westward at 15 to 20 mph, the hurricane center said in its 8 a.m. advisory.
“By land, sea, air, Trump supporters vow massive statewide rally Sunday” via Wendy Rhodes of the Pensacola News Journal — From Pensacola to Miami, Tampa to West Palm Beach, Trump supporters say they will celebrate the president’s birthday and Flag Day with massive rallies and voter registration effort. Frustrated by what they say is inaction by the Republican Party of Florida, so-called “Trumplicans” say they plan to celebrate Flag Day and Trump’s birthday Sunday with large rallies across the state. Organized by Trump Team 2020 Florida the events are part of a larger effort to register voters to support the president’s reelection bid this November. It is something the group said the Florida Republican Party is not doing enough of. The events, which are free and open to the public, are part of an all-out push by Trump Team 2020 Florida to register new voters, particularly veterans.
“Trump flotilla, ‘Trumptilla,’ to mark President’s birthday by boat” via Peter Talbot of the Tampa Bay Times — Trump flags will wave alongside the Stars and Stripes on Sunday as boaters take to Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway for a dual celebration, the president’s birthday and Flag Day. “When Trump can’t have his rallies, these people are taking to the water rallying for him,” said Sherri Gerland of Apollo Beach, who is organizing Tampa’s boat parade. Billed as “Trump Flotillas” or “Trumptillas,” the parades are a way for voters to show their support for Trump while practicing social distancing to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Parades are planned in Pensacola, Miami, Jacksonville and other cities along the Intracoastal Waterway.
“DeSantis could derail e-bike bill, or not” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis will get the final say on whether e-bikes can ride on any road, path, or sidewalk where regular bikes are allowed. The Legislature on Thursday presented DeSantis with that bill (HB 971) after shifting to a low gear to allow the Governor to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Electric bicycles, a new classification under the law, could travel up to 28 mph and the bill would eliminate the 25-inch height requirement for electric bikes to allow recumbent bikes to operate under motorized power. The bill would also retain home rule power for local governments to regulate use within their communities. The Florida League of Cities and the Florida Bicycle Association support the bill.
“Student-athlete pay, bear poaching sent to DeSantis” via News Service of Florida — A proposal intended to prod NCAA leaders to expand the opportunity for student-athletes to earn money off the field was among 22 bills sent to DeSantis, a former college baseball player. Another measure (HB 327) sent to the governor would impose stiffer fines for poaching black bears out of season to crack down on a proliferation of bears illegally being killed for their gallbladders. The athlete-compensation bill (SB 646), which would establish rights for students and schools, would allow college students to have professional representation through agents licensed by the state or attorneys in good standing with The Florida Bar. The bill would go into effect on July 1, 2021.
Ethics complaint filed against Ronald Bergeron — South Florida attorney Rick Yabor has filed an ethics complaint against DeSantis ally and South Florida Water Management District member Bergeron, Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida reports. The complaint stems from a $9 million contract between SFWMD and Bergeron’s company, Bergeron Land Development, for a reservoir in Martin County. Yabor, director of the South Florida Anti-Corruption Task Force, filed the complaint after the state ethics commission adopted an opinion allowing Bergeron to serve on the SFWMD board while avoiding conflicts of interest.
“Should victims’ rights law shield officer’s identity?” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — Keeping secret the identity of a police officer who shot a black crime suspect might seem anathema during a national time of reckoning about police brutality and racial disparity. But that’s what a Florida police union is trying to do after a Tallahassee officer killed a black transgender male who allegedly pointed a gun at him. The Florida Police Benevolent Association sued the city after Tallahassee officials decided to release the name of an officer, identified as Officer “John Doe,” to the news media. The union cited privacy protections in a 2018 Florida constitutional amendment known as “Marsy’s Law.” The PBA maintains that Doe shot Natosha “Tony” McDade in self-defense.
“Why Florida’s toxic algae crisis is worse than people realize” via Marcus Stern and Meryl Kornfield of the Tampa Bay Times — The blooms in the state’s largest freshwater lake are stimulated by phosphorus, a key ingredient in the fertilizer used on nearby ranches and farms. The state has passed laws and spent hundreds of millions of dollars on water treatment projects to reduce the phosphorus flowing into the lake. Agricultural runoff is the source of three-quarters of it. In March, the legislature tackled the algae problem again when it passed the Clean Waterways Act of 2020. But the new law, like the 2001 law, doesn’t require growers to monitor or reduce the phosphorus running off their land, even though a court-ordered regulatory system south of the lake has been a big success. Instead, the new law continues what is effectively a voluntary program.
“Accused Mar-a-Lago checkpoint crasher pleads insanity” via Terry Spencer of The Associated Press — A Connecticut opera singer accused of crashing her car through a checkpoint outside Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, drawing gunfire from law enforcement, has entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Hannah Roemhild’s attorney filed the written plea to charges of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon and fleeing and resisting an officer. Insanity defenses are both rare and rarely successful. Under Florida law, Roemhild’s attorneys will have to convince a jury she is mentally ill and that caused her to not know what she was doing or not understand it was wrong. Even if found not guilty, that would not necessarily mean she would go free as the judge could sentence her to a mental hospital for treatment.
“Florida orange harvest lower than projected” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — The Florida citrus industry’s original October projection for the orange harvest season is ending with a drop in numbers. The Florida Agricultural Statistics Service released Florida citrus production numbers and the harvest wasn’t quite as bountiful as originally expected at 67.65 million boxes this year. “In October, we projected 32 million boxes but ended up 29.65 million” for non-Valencia oranges alone,” said Bill Curtis, agricultural statistics administrator for the Florida Agricultural Statistics Service. The fall in actual numbers from the projected figures was a “slight decrease,” Curtis said.
— 2020 —
“As Trump struggles to respond to crises, internal polling instills fear in advisers” via John Santucci, Katherine Faulders and Will Steakin of ABC News — One week ago, Trump met with advisers from his 2020 reelection campaign, who greeted him with bad news. The campaign’s internal poll numbers showed the president down in swing states, and down with key demographics of voters including women and independents. While some of the president’s advisers insisted the current campaign internal poll numbers aren’t relevant in gauging Trump’s reelection chances this far from November, others among his most loyal and longest-serving advisers have developed a new posture: one of increasing alarm.
“Trump’s approval rating has dropped. How much does that matter?” via Geoffrey Skelley of FiveThirtyEight — For the last three weeks, Trump’s approval rating has steadily ticked downward. It now sits at 41.1. This is notable because it’s the lowest Trump’s approval rating has been since the House was conducting its impeachment inquiry in November 2019. It’s not exactly hard to unpack why this is happening now. Trump has gotten consistently low marks for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and many Americans also don’t approve of how he’s responded to the protests following the death of Floyd. The question is: Just how much does this latest shift in approval numbers matter? The important takeaway at this point, though, is that for all the talk of Trump being “Teflon Don,” he isn’t actually indestructible.
“Trump rally attendees cannot sue if they get COVID-19, campaign says” via The New York Times — As Trump moves to resume indoor campaign rallies, his campaign has added a twist to his optimistic push to return to life as it was before the pandemic: Attendees cannot sue the campaign or the venue if they contract the virus at the event. Of the four states the president announced this week as sites for rallies, three, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina, are seeing rising virus caseloads, while Oklahoma’s infection numbers are steady but not falling. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends that people avoid mass gatherings and stay out of crowded places.
“Kamala Harris seizes the spotlight as Joe Biden seeks a Veep — but worries linger” via Sean Sullivan of The Washington Post — While Harris is championed by Democratic officeholders and leaders, who see her as appealing to suburban and centrist voters, many of the activists who have helped energize the street protests warn that party figures are missing the mood of the moment. As a traditional politician and former prosecutor, they say, Harris would fail to capture the passions that are powering the protests, and her selection could dampen the excitement that is crucial to the Democrats in November. Within Biden’s orbit of allies and confidants, there is a sentiment that picking Harris increasingly makes sense. Harris’s prospects are not without complication. Her campaign was plagued by infighting and collapsed before a single vote was cast.
— MORE FROM THE TRAIL —
“James St. George launches first ad for CD 3 campaign” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Republican congressional candidate St. George is out with his first ad in the crowded primary race to succeed U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District. The ad, titled “Do No Harm,” plays into the physician’s health care background to tout his support for the President. “First do no harm. That’s the oath every doctor takes. Words Washington could learn from,” the ad narrator says. “Dr. St. George will fight for our conservative values and stop the [Nancy] Pelosi liberals from exploiting the coronavirus to advance socialism. Dr. St. George will stand with Trump to rebuild our economy, stop government-run health care and defend our Second Amendment.”
To watch the video, click on the image below:
“Republicans vying to run against Charlie Crist weigh in on Floyd, BLM, coronavirus” via Mitch Perry of Bay News 9 — Republicans vying for the opportunity to unseat Crist this November weighed in on hot button topics such as the death of Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement and the coronavirus pandemic during a candidate forum. Candidates Sheila Griffin, Sharon Newby, George Buck, and Amanda Makki were all asked to share their thoughts on the issues during a virtual Suncoast Tiger Bay forum. Moderator Adam C. Smith asked the candidates to share their views regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. They were united in expressing their disgust about the killing of Floyd. However, they seemed equally appalled at the reports of violence at some of the protests that have taken place across the country, though there hasn’t been much of that at all in Pinellas.
“Amanda Makki launches conservative ad on Fox News” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Makki began running ads on Fox News this week highlighting her commitment to conservative values. Makki is running in Florida’s 13th Congressional District in a crowded GOP primary in which Republicans are hoping to unseat incumbent Democrat Crist in November. Makki is the top fundraiser in the GOP field with nearly $750,000 raised as of the end of March. But she faces stiff competition from military veteran Anna Paulina Luna who seeks to claim the far-right wing of the vote and is running as a staunch Trump ally.
To view the ad, click on the image below:
“Barbara Watson enters already-crowded contest for SD 35” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Watson is now the sixth Democratic candidate competing in a crowded primary to replace Sen. Oscar Braynon II in Senate District 35. The field already includes Rep. Shevrin Jones as well as former Sen. Daphne Campbell, former firefighter Wilbur Harbin, Miami Gardens City Councilman Erhabor Ighodaro and former Rep. Cynthia Stafford. Jones has led the race in fundraising throughout the contest. He’s also netted a series of endorsements, including from Braynon himself.
“Shevrin Jones adds another $17K in May, leads SD 35 field” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Jones is once again leading in the money race after hauling in more than $17,000 in May. Rep. Watson filed for the race Wednesday, becoming the sixth Democratic candidate seeking the seat. Watson won’t have to file her first fundraising report until July. Jones was able to beat out his remaining opponents, according to the most recent reports. Jones raised just over $7,000 through his campaign. Jones’ political committee, Florida Strong Finish, collected another $10,000. Jones has now raised nearly $430,000 for his Senate bid.
“In HD 14, Angie Nixon wins the May money race versus incumbent Kim Daniels” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — In Jacksonville, conservative Democrat Daniels is putting her own money into her reelection bid. But even that wasn’t enough to overcome fundraising from her primary opponent, Nixon. In May, Daniels poured $13,000 of her own money into the effort, the vast majority of the almost $17,000 raised. She has more than $56,000 on hand. Politicians, past and present, gave. Jacksonville City Council member Ju’Coby Pittman (originally appointed by Gov. Scott) and former Council member Pat Lockett-Felder both cut checks. At least in May, prominent Republicans stayed away.
“Kaylee Tuck led fundraising in May, still trails Ned Hancock” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Tuck posted strong fundraising in May, collecting $5,923 despite the pandemic. But primary opponent Ned Hancock still boasts a nearly $100,000 cash on hand advantage in the House District 55 race. Hancock collected $4,625 in May but has pulled in roughly double Tuck’s contributions. The two Republicans have spent roughly the same amount in their campaigns for the open seat currently held by retiring Rep. Cary Pigman. Hancock was sitting on $140,207 in cash on hand heading into June. Tuck had $43,993, a total that includes a $5,000 candidate loan.
“Republican candidates hold major money advantage in effort to retake HD 72” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Fiona McFarland continues to lead the way in fundraising among House District 72 candidates. Both she and primary opponent Donna Barcomb boast more cash on hand than Democrat Drake Buckman. That said, Buckman increasingly looks likely to skate to the general election without a primary opponent and save his resources for November. While the race holds potential as one of the hottest contests in Florida, fundraising cooled in May. McFarland pulled in another $2,995, bringing total outside contributions to $197,502.
“Mike Giallombardo holds cash edge over Bryan Blackwell following May flurry in fundraising” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Giallombardo nearly pulled another five figures into his campaign coffers in May. Now he heads toward an August primary in House District 77 with a cash advantage. No candidate in the race to succeed Rep, Dane Eagle cracked six figures in donations ahead of qualification. Cape Coral Republican Bryan Blackwell raised $3,100 in May. That puts his total contributions at $72,305. That total includes $1,000 from Steven Brooks’ FSAA political committee. With campaign costs cut out, that gives Giallombardo’s the edge in resources heading into June. He had a total of $56,136 available, while Blackwell had $47,178. Both candidates qualified this week to appear on the primary ballot.
“Jenna Persons outspending the field in HD 78” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Persons spent more on her House District 78 campaign in May than her opponents collectively received. Philanthropist Roger Lolly still has more cash in the bank from a significant infusion through a candidate loan. Persons reported another $3,870 in donations in May, the bulk of that coming through a $1,000 check from consultant Derek Whitis and another from his wife Courtney, as well as $1,000 from retiree Richard Neslund. The recent donations brought Persons’ total contributions to $213,345.
“With a sizable self-loan, Michael Weinstein pours $50K into HD 81 bid” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Weinstein added more than $50,000 to his campaign account in May after announcing his bid for House District 81. The majority of that came from Weinstein’s own pockets. The candidate loaned his campaign $35,000 and raised another $15,000. Weinstein launched his bid in mid-March after Rep. Tina Polsky announced she would pursue a Senate bid. Polsky made the move just weeks before the qualifying period closed. Candidates must qualify for state legislative contests by Friday, June 12 at noon.
“Sandra Murman will challenge Pat Kemp in incumbent on incumbent battle for Hillsborough County Commission” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Murman ended speculation about her political future Thursday. The longtime commissioner filed and qualified to run in District 6. She’ll face Kemp, assuming she doesn’t have to wage a primary campaign in the race. Republican Jim Davison is filed to run, but has not yet qualified. He has until Friday at noon to do so. Kemp has already qualified for reelection. Kemp has so far raised a little over $70,000 in the race and has about $65,000 of that left on hand. The county favors Democrats over Republicans, 350,654 to 276,464, but there are another 258,688 no party or third-party affiliated voters, setting up a competitive contest.
“Joe Abruzzo announces run for Palm Beach County Clerk with long list of endorsements” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Former Sen. Abruzzo is officially entering the race to be the next Palm Beach County Clerk and Comptroller. Abruzzo floated a run earlier this month. He’ll now compete against Shannon Chessman — who works as the Clerk’s chief operating officer — as well as write-in candidate Engracia Bondonese. “Serving in the state Senate provided me the opportunity to work on the public’s behalf in finance, auditing and governmental budgeting for our state. Now I’m asking to continue this work here at home,” Abruzzo said in a Thursday statement. The ex-Senator also courted endorsements from two-dozen pols, including Sens. Lori Berman and Kevin Rader, Reps. Joe Casello, David Silvers, Emily Slosberg and Matt Willhite, and Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg.
“Broward SOE candidate Chad Klitzman hires Samantha Pollara, nabs former Hollywood Mayor endorsement” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Pollara — whose brother Ben Pollara is also a staple of the Florida political scene — previously served as the Florida Finance Director for Pete Buttigieg‘s presidential campaign. She also worked on finance for Jane Castor‘s Tampa mayoral campaign and Sean Shaw‘s 2018 Attorney General bid. Klitzman also announced former Hollywood Mayor Peter Bober is supporting his bid. Klitzman is one of six candidates who have qualified in the Broward SOE contest. “Chad Klitzman is exactly who we need to modernize our elections operation,” Bober said.
— TOP OPINION —
“We’re still honoring those who fought against the U.S.A. Why, Trump?” via Joe Davidson of The Washington Post — The nation’s rebellion against police violence and racism led to state and local actions against statues honoring Confederates, but many federal symbols honoring Civil War rebels, including Army base names, remain untouched. That’s the way it will stay if Trump has his way. Yet, the bases and Confederate statues at the Capitol are in the incongruous position of exalting people who raised arms against the United States government and who killed members of its military in defense of white supremacy and black enslavement. The Confederate soldiers and officials are traitors.
— OPINIONS —
“A convention during an outbreak?: This calls for (cough, cough) unconventional protocols” via Frank Cerabino of The Palm Beach Post — When North Carolina balked at Trump’s demand to stage a Republican National Convention that eliminated social distancing requirements, Florida’s governor quickly volunteered our state. “Let’s be creative and figure out a way to do it,” DeSantis said. Yes, we could be just two months away from the time for Florida to take the masks off and get down, before getting horizontal. The sudden change of plans means we’re going to have to get busy. That will include lining up the hotel rooms, caterers and ventilators.
“Rick Scott showed heart after Pulse shooting. Now, four years later, LGBTQ community needs his help” via Rev. Terri Steed Pierce of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — I’ll never forget the slow trickle of news early that Sunday morning four years ago, first with notifications on my phone, then breaking news reports, and finally, the gut-punch confirmation that 49 LGBTQ people and allies had been killed on Latin Night at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. In the days that followed, I bore witness to the aftershocks of the mass shooting. Even now, LGBTQ people in Florida remain vulnerable. Most fundamentally, we lack protection from discrimination in employment, housing, health care, public spaces and more. We need comprehensive nondiscrimination legislation to make Florida a better place for all.
“Know the signs: How to tell if your grandparent has become an antifa agent” via Alexandra Petri of The Washington Post — For your birthday, she knits you an unwanted scarf. To be used as a balaclava? She belongs to a decentralized group with no leadership structure that claims to be discussing a “book,” but no one ever reads the book and all they seem to do is drink wine. Gathers with loose-knit, disorderly group of figures you have never met to play “mah-jongg,” governed by mysterious “rule cards” issued annually from a nebulous central authority. Suddenly, for no reason, will appear or pretend to be asleep.
“Why mark gay pride month? Because discrimination continues in Florida” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Most people appreciate why we take time to remember the 49 lives lost in downtown Orlando during that early morning massacre of 2016. Some people, however, seem to question the need for a monthlong celebration of diversity and call for equality. We absolutely need it. Especially in Florida. Florida was one of the last states to repeal the ban on both gay marriage and gay adoption. And to this day, lawmakers continue to defend companies’ rights to fire gay employees and taxpayer-funded schools’ right to deny education to LGBT families. But GOP leaders have steadfastly refused to alter that direction, wanting to keep that discrimination legal. That is why we still have Pride Month.
— TODAY’S SUNRISE —
Florida education officials say they have a plan for the safe reopening of public schools. Sunrise hears from both Gov.DeSantis and Education Commissioner Corcoran.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— Florida hits a record for coronavirus: 1,698 new cases reported Thursday — the biggest one-day increase since the pandemic began. There have now been more than 69,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. The Department of Health is also reporting 47 new deaths and the total number of fatalities in the Sunshine State stands at 2,938.
— Months before Thanksgiving, Florida TaxWatch found 180 turkeys in the new state budget, which they call on DeSantis veto since they got there through some sort of “hanky-panky” and not through the regular appropriations process.
— Two state lawmakers from Tampa — Sen. Janet Cruz and Rep. Dianne Hart — say they’ve begun work on three bills to respond to the death of Floyd and the demonstrations by Black Lives Matter.
— A deep dive into some of the racial inequities COVID-19 has exposed in Florida. Blacks and Latinos are paying a much higher price during the pandemic.
— And one man and two women who are doing their best to live down to the standards set by Florida Man.
To listen, click on the image below:
— LISTEN UP —
Dishonorable Mention: Rep. Chris Latvala, activist Becca Tieder, Ernest Hooper and communications expert Dr. Karla Mastracchio discuss politics and culture. The hosts discuss the lasting effect of Floyd, Black Lives Matter, and the protests that followed for police reform and systematic change. Is there hope that we are on the precipice of real change? Political anchor and reporter for WFLA Evan Donovan gives his perspective on the protests and if he believes true change is on the horizon. How concerned is Donovan that these protests will contribute to the second spike of COVID-19 cases amid a pandemic? And what has it been like to be a journalist covering a tumultuous year?
Inside Florida Politics from GateHouse Florida: Cities across Florida saw mass street demonstrations stemming from the death of Floyd as coronavirus cases spike since June’s broader reopening. Gannett journalists John Kennedy and Antonio Fins discuss this and how Republicans are looking to renominate Trump this summer in his new home state.
podcastED: Step Up For Students President Doug Tuthill talks with Julie Young, vice president of education outreach and student services at Arizona State University and managing director of Arizona State University’s Prep Academy and ASU Prep Digital. Young, who has been celebrated as an education disrupter for nearly three decades, was founding CEO and president of Florida Virtual School, the world’s first statewide virtual school and one of the nation’s largest K-12 online educator providers.
The New Abnormal from host Rick Wilson and Molly Jong-Fast: Trump sent in goons from the Bureau of Prisons, and National Guardsmen from as far away from Utah to take over her town. Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser tells Jong-Fast and Wilson what it was like to be under siege from the President of the United States — and how she tried to resist. “We have spent the last week trying to defend our borders, defend our autonomy, and make sure protesters could be in the city peacefully,” Bowser says. Bowser schools Trump, kindergarten-style; Molly talks about the GOP’s ability to “seize defeat out of the jaws of defeat”; Trump’s “just the tip” excuse; deep state ninjas; and Wilson’s secret past as a NASCAR driver.
The Yard Sign with host Jonathan Torres: Chris Chambers, Chris VerKuilen and Torres welcome special guest Todd Jennings. Topics include Trump’s walk to St. John’s Church, Trump versus military generals, a Floyd update, “defunding the police,” and the Pinellas County GOP.
— WEEKEND TV —
Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable featuring Sen. Darryl Rouson, Tampa Bay Partnership Director of Policy and Research Dave Sobush, C. Unique PR and Marketing Founder and Publisher Chaikirah Parker and Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan.
In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: Remains on hiatus due to coronavirus.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: Sen. Marco Rubio will weigh in on police reform and racial issues, and host Holly Gregory and Bay News 9 political reporter Mitch Perry will discuss local races to watch for.
The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon talks with pollster Steve Vancore and Miami Herald reporter Mary Ellen Klas.
This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Chief Deloris O’Neal, the first African American Female Chief in JSO history, on community policing and racial diversity among JSO ranks. Also, Ken Jefferson, News4JAX Crime and Safety expert on civil unrest in Jax, on the “Defund Police” movement and on the removal of Confederate monuments.
This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Guests will Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, Agriculture Commissioner Fried and Burnadette Norris-Weeks, attorney and founder of the Women of Color Empowerment Institute
— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —
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Enjoyed stopping by el Leoncito restaurant in Viera to help deliver the 100,000th meal of the “Meals of Love” initiative, a partnership between the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. This partnership has helped local restaurants remain in business while preparing meals for homebound seniors during COVID-19. Great work!
— ALOE —
“Four bags of salty weed wash up on Okaloosa Island” via the NWF Daily News — Four bags of saltwater-saturated marijuana washed ashore Monday night near Beach Access 6 on Okaloosa Island. An off-duty law enforcement officer and his family spotted the packages while they were out for a walk that evening, according to a Facebook post from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. The bundles appeared to have been in the water for quite a while, the post said.
“Orlando City to face Inter Miami in opening match; bracket set for MLS tournament” via Iliana Limon Romero of the Orlando Sentinel — Orlando City will face off with Inter Miami to kick off the “MLS is Back” Tournament on July 8 at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney World, highlighting the two home-state teams in the competition. The match is tentatively scheduled to kick off at 8 p.m., with the TV network still to be announced. It will be the first time Orlando City and expansion side Inter Miami, who already have a budding rivalry, will face off on the pitch. MLS added Inter Miami to Orlando City’s Group A pool. The rest of the 19 teams unattached to a pool were set via a draw Thursday afternoon.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday to one of our favorite people, Sally Bradshaw. Also celebrating today is former Rep. Neil Combee, Husein Cumber, Rep. Kim Daniels, Matt Lettelleir of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, Margie Menzel, Rick Minor, our dear friend, St. Petersburg City Councilwoman Darden Rice, Matt Wolking
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.