Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.16.20

Sunburn Orange Tally (7)
Florida politics and Sunburn — perfect together.

Business and LGBTQ leaders celebrated the landmark Supreme Court ruling that job discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity is unconstitutional.

But they also urged Florida to finally follow through and pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, both codifying the ruling and following its logic to provide greater equality. Lawmakers introduced the FCWA every Session for several years, and despite growing bipartisan support, the Act has yet to pass.

“This does not in any way reduce the need for the state legislature and the Governor to act,” said Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida.

Demonstrators in favor of LGBT rights rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court. Image via AP.

Democratic lawmakers already promised to make that a priority. Rep. Jennifer Webb, a Democrat and the first open lesbian elected to the Florida Legislature, made clear the court ruling was a rallying cry more than a final victory.

“This 6-3 Supreme Court ruling makes discrimination against LGBTQ workers illegal across the entire nation. I am grateful to those at the federal, state, and local levels who fought to make this victory possible. And, in my house we are celebrating,” Webb said.

“Yet, we know it can take a real effort in the wake of winning a SCOTUS battle to ensure that the impacted community is actually protected. So, while I am fortified by this victory, I am also redoubling my commitment to make explicit in Florida law what the Supreme Court has made clear: Discrimination against the LGBTQ community is illegal.”

Webb co-sponsored Florida’s Competitive Workforce Act this year with Republicans Jackie Toledo and Holly Raschein as well as a bevy of other bipartisan supporters.

The SCOTUS ruling wasn’t as expansive as the popular legislation that died in committee year after year.

The Competitive Workforce Act effectively applies all protections from the federal Civil Rights Act to gender and sexual minorities.

That breaks down into three major areas: One involves job discrimination, which is covered by Monday’s Supreme Court ruling. But there remain housing and business discrimination protections — issues that were not before the court.


Americans for Prosperity-Florida has released its annual report cards grading lawmakers on their votes during the Legislative Session.

The free-market advocacy group had a lot to celebrate at the end of the 2020 Legislative Session, and it’s thanking a whopping 62 of the state’s 160 lawmakers by giving them an A+.

The 2020 Legislative Scorecard examines how lawmakers voted on each of AFP-FL’s priority bills. This year, the list included more than 150 bills, covering the gamut from fireworks legalization to automated pharmacies to film production grants.

The organization awarded lawmakers a point “for each vote cast in support of an issue that removes barriers for society or against an issue that creates new barriers.” Committee votes counted, too.

“We are committed to helping Floridians see the voting record of their elected officials on the policies that impact them the most. From expanding educational freedom to increasing access to quality affordable, health care and removing economic barriers on workers, this has been another successful year for expanding freedom and opportunity for all Floridians,” said Skylar Zander, AFP-FL’s state director.

“The 62 legislators who earned an A+ demonstrated their principled approach at the state Capitol to advancing good policy. We are mobilizing our activists to make sure Floridians know where their lawmakers stood on important policy issues and to engage their legislators and talk about how we can continue to keep Florida the best place to live and work.”

The A+ lawmakers get more than a pat on the back — AFP-FL said it would share the scores with their constituents through a statewide digital ad and direct-mail campaign directing voters to the scorecard website.


Juneteenth — 3; Belmont Stakes rescheduled — 4; Father’s Day — 5; Apple to hold Developer Conference — 6; NBA training camp — 14; “The Outpost” with Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood premieres — 17; NBA teams travel to Orlando — 21; Major League Soccer will return to action — 22; Disney World Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom to reopen — 25; Disney World Epcot and Hollywood Studios to reopen — 29; Federal taxes due — 29; “Mulan” premieres — 38; TED conference rescheduled — 39; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premieres — 45; NBA season restart in Orlando — 45; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 62; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 63; NBA draft lottery — 68; Indy 500 rescheduled — 68; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 70; Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 73; “A Quiet Place Part II” premieres — 80; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 81; Rescheduled date for French Open — 98; First presidential debate in Indiana — 108; “Wonder Woman” premieres — 108; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 109; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 116; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 118; Second presidential debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 121; NBA draft — 121; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 122; NBA free agency — 124; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 130; 2020 General Election — 140; “Black Widow” premieres — 144; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 147; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 154; “No Time to Die” premieres — 161; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 168; “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres — 210; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 236; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 402; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 411; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 507; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 605; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 647; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 689; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 843.


Atlanta Mayor says demonstrations across U.S. will change policing” via Stephen Deere of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said that it has become clear in the aftermath of another African American man being shot by police that racial bias training isn’t working. Bottoms made her comments Sunday night during a CNN town hall meeting with three other nationally prominent African American mayors. Bottoms said that it may be impossible to train some officers to put aside their prejudices and that the country needs to have a much broader discussion about racism. “We are not in a post-racial society,” Bottoms said. “There are so many biases that people have that they don’t recognize.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says protests will have an effect on policing throughout the country, Image via AP.

Racial justice groups flooded with millions in donations in wake of George Floyd death” via Shane Goldmacher of The New York Times — The killing of Floyd and the ensuing nationwide wave of protests are generating a record-setting flood of donations to racial justice groups, bail funds and black-led advocacy organizations across America, remaking the financial landscape of black political activism in a matter of weeks. Money has come in so fast and so unexpectedly that some groups even began to turn away and redirect donors elsewhere. ActBlue, the leading site to process online donations for Democratic causes and campaigns, has experienced its busiest period since its founding in 2004. At the forefront of the giving wave were bail funds.

Amid massive demonstrations, vehicles striking protesters raise disturbing echoes of 2017 Charlottesville attack” via Neena Satija, Emily Davies and Dalton Bennett of The Washington Post — In at least eight events, a driver faces charges for what prosecutors described as a deliberate act, according to arrest and court filings, for driving their respective vehicles into crowds of demonstrators. The accusations echo the 2017 vehicle attack at a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville that killed Heather Heyer, a counterprotester. They occur amid a resurgence of internet memes featuring messages such as “All lives splatter” and “Run them over” and pictures of bloodied trucks.

Outrage at video showing child who was Maced by police at Seattle protest” via Hallie Golden of The Guardian — Standing among a group of peaceful anti-racism protesters in downtown Seattle on a recent Saturday afternoon, Mando Avery held his seven-year-old son’s hand as he and three generations of his African American family finished a prayer with members of their church. That was when, Avery said, out of nowhere, a police officer fired mace at the group. It hit his son square in the face. The footage captures the outrage of protesters after the boy is Maced who demand to know why police sprayed a child with the chemical irritant and made no attempt to help.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

What does it mean to ‘defund the police’?” via Jack Evans and Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times — In recent weeks, some protesters of police violence have called for defunding law enforcement agencies. Critics have seized on those calls as evidence of a radical agenda in seeking to discredit the protests. Some advocates support the total abolition of police departments. Others say they are not talking about getting rid of police altogether, but handing some of their responsibilities to professionals better equipped to respond to the root problems. Defunding the police means cutting the budgets of local law enforcement agencies and instead investing the money in community programs, accessible housing and public health, among other social needs.


What does Gov. Ron DeSantis think about racism and criminal justice in America? It’s a puzzle. via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — The killing of George Floyd moved state leaders across the nation to address police brutality and systematic racism. Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bipartisan police reform bill. Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned chokeholds during arrests. Gov. Greg Abbott, a Texas Republican, promised Floyd’s family his state would do something when lawmakers reconvene in January. There’s been no such reckoning in Florida. In his lone public remarks on Floyd’s death, DeSantis opened by reciting the arrests law enforcement had made during protests.

Activist Nadine Smith on centering racial justice in the fight for LGBTQ equality” via Molly Sprayregen of Forbes — On May 29, over 100 LGBTQ+ organizations released a joint letter condemning racial violence. The letter, which has now been signed by almost 800 organizations, includes a promise to “make explicit commitments to embrace anti-racism and end white supremacy, not as necessary corollaries to our mission, but as integral to the objective of full equality for LGBTQ people.” Black LGBTQ+ people, and especially Black transgender people, are among the most marginalized groups in the nation. This community is at an extremely high risk of homelessness, unemployment, poverty, and persecution by police. As such, LGTBQ+ rights and racial injustice are deeply entwined issues, yet LGBTQ+ leadership has struggled to recognize this in the past.

Cops at protest likely crossed the line with aggressive tactics, experts say” via Andrew Boryga of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Fort Lauderdale police may have violated use-of-force policies and heightened tensions when they hurled tear gas and shot demonstrators with rubber bullets, say law enforcement experts who reviewed videos of the chaotic encounter. How the protest on May 31 escalated remains under investigation by police. Protesters blame officers for inciting the crowd, while police say the events were incited by officers who were attacked. Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione said he would look into any instances where too much force may have been used during the encounter, but he reiterated that the crowd attacked his officers with bottles and rocks.

After examining footage of George Floyd protests in Fort Lauderdale, experts say police may have crossed the line with too much force. Image via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Jacksonville City Council echoes cries for release of body-camera footage” via Andrew Pantazi of The Florida Times-Union — The Jacksonville City Council and the president of Jacksonville’s police union echoed activists’ demands for quicker release of body-camera footage Monday, calling on Sheriff Mike Williams and State Attorney Melissa Nelson to release the footage more quickly. Williams appeared Monday before the City Council’s Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health and Safety Committee to talk about ideas for reforming police. Most of the conversation focused around the need to release body-camera footage more quickly, something that had approval from everyone who voiced an opinion. The Sheriff’s Office has never released body-camera footage of an officer shooting, even as officers have shot 12 people, killing seven, since every patrol officer was outfitted with a body camera last December.

Florida sheriff makes ‘uncomfortable’ surprise visit to the widow of Gregory Edwards” via J.D. Gallop of The Palm Beach Post — Flanked by half a dozen deputies, a Florida sheriff paid an unannounced nighttime visit to the home of the widow of Edwards, who is demanding the release of a jail video showing a confrontation leading to her husband’s death. After deputies called Kathleen Edwards to step outside of her home in Grant-Valkaria, Florida, for a welfare check, she said Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey walked out of the dark, “grabbed” and hugged Edwards, whom he had not met until that moment. Then the sheriff invited her and one other person to see the video of the 2018 fight between corrections deputies and her husband in the jail that ended with Edwards being tased, pepper-sprayed and strapped in a restraint chair.

Over 50 march against racism in solidarity with Jupiter Farms family” via Sam Howard of The Palm Beach Post — Hearing stories of bigotry in Jupiter Farms, including behavior directed at family friends living there, 15-year-old Madison Hollingshed took action. She organized a march through the unincorporated community west of Jupiter on Monday afternoon, attracting a crowd of more than 50 people, some hoisting signs saying “Black lives matter” and “Racism is bad for all of us!” The girl’s effort was inspiring, said family friend Brandi Kennedy. Kennedy moved to Jupiter Farms from Lake Worth Beach with her husband and their children about a year ago. But she added that her family has weathered a pattern of racism, a man repeatedly walking by their house with a Confederate flag, someone shooting out their basketball hoop and people asking whether their home is some sort of halfway house.

Suspect in killing of Tallahassee activist arrested in Orange County” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — A 49-year-old man suspected in the killings of two women in Tallahassee, including 19-year-old activist Oluwatoyin Salau, was arrested Sunday in Orange County, according to records. Aaron Glee Jr. was arrested by the Orlando Police Department on warrants out of Leon County for homicide and kidnapping, according to the Orange County Jail. He was booked into the facility shortly before 5 a.m. Sunday and was still being held there without bail Monday afternoon. Glee is suspected of killing Salau and 75-year-old Victoria Sims, whose bodies were found around 9:15 p.m. Saturday off Monday Road in Tallahassee, said Tallahassee Police Department spokeswoman Rachelle Denmark.


@SCOTUSblog: #SCOTUS rules that federal employment discrimination laws protect LGBT employees

@CarlosGSmith: BIG BIG NEWS!! This is a huge WIN for LGBTQ workers who have long argued that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects them from workplace discrimination!! #EqualityForAll

@CFernandezFL: Shoutout to The Supremes. Equality 1, Bigotry 0.

@ToledoForTampa: This is great news for all Americans. Now It’s time for Florida to pass the Competitive Workforce Act @HollyRaschein @jenniferwebbfl

@BenDiamondFL: During my 1st term in the FL House, I was honored to carry the Competitive Workforce Act, which would protect LGBT Floridians from discrimination in housing, employment & public accommodations. Though it had 51 co-sponsors that year-& more in subsequent years-it’s never been heard

@DiseaseEcology: Is reinstituting lockdowns necessary to stop rapidly rising #COVID19 cases globally? Answer: No. But we’re failing at 2 other approaches, due to poor messaging, human behavior & limited public health capacity. Deaths & lockdowns are unnecessary but we’ll have both again.

@RT_Dailey: From @mattgaetz to @DWStweets, from @VernBuchanan to @CharlieCrist — looks like Rs and Ds both want both want plans for oil & gas drilling off Fla. coast to buzz off

@mkraju: Mitch McConnell not embracing Peter Navarro’s assertion that [Donald] Trump wants $2 trillion in new stimulus money. McConnell: “Well, as I’ve already said, we’ll be looking in July to make a decision about whether to go forward with another rescue package. And we’ll let you know.”

@ddale8: The FDA has revoked its emergency use authorization for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment — saying “it is no longer reasonable” to believe they may be effective for this purpose and that known and potential risks outweigh known and potential benefits.

@CHeathWFTV: Good thing Florida stocked up on those 1 million hydroxychloroquine doses

@richardcorcoran: I’m hoping for a singing part with the next book. 🙂


DeSantis defies critics as coronavirus spreads in Florida” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO  — Gov. DeSantis proudly welcomed the Republican National Convention to Jacksonville last week. On Sunday, he marked the official return of audience-attended professional sports in Florida by waving the green flag to start the NASCAR Cup Series Dixie Vodka 400 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In between, he urged schools to reopen next fall. DeSantis’ moves to return his state to normal have been as aggressive as any governor, but there’s one inconvenient fact: Florida’s coronavirus cases are rising to record levels and the percentage of positive tests has been steadily climbing ever since the state fully implemented the first phase of its reopening May 18.

Inmate COVID-19 cases, deaths continue to increase” via the News Service of Florida — 57 new inmate cases and a fatality were logged over the weekend. Corrections officials reported Sunday that a 19th inmate had died from complications of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. Inmate fatalities have been confirmed at eight prisons: Blackwater River Correctional Facility, with seven deaths; Sumter Correctional Institution, with three deaths; and Everglades Correctional Institution, with two deaths. The number of positive tests among the inmates climbed to 1,665 on Monday, a jump from the 1,608 cases reported Friday. The vast majority of the state’s new cases came from Everglades Correctional Institution, which has 61 total inmate cases, South Florida Reception Center, which has 52 inmate cases, and Lancaster Correctional Institution, which has 19 inmate cases.

Blackwater River Correctional Facility reported more inmate deaths from COVID-19.

Reform Alliance calls for conditional arrest suspensions amid COVID-19 pandemic” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — The Reform Alliance sent a letter to Ron DeSantis on Monday urging him to adopt a revised safety plan to better protect those on parole and probation and law enforcement officers. The plan, coined SAFER Supervision Plan, calls for the state to enact several dramatic measures including suspending arrests and incarcerations for technical violations, suspending fines and fees, and releasing inmates who can eligible for supervision. Additionally, the plan suggests alternatives to in-person supervision conditions and extra precautions for both the supervisors and those being supervised. As of Monday, the Department of Corrections reported 57 new inmate cases and a death in Florida’s prison system over the weekend.

Florida nearing its goal of testing all nursing home, assisted living residents and staff for COVID-19” via Ryan Mills of Naples Daily News — More than 80% of the people who live or work in Florida’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities have now been tested for COVID-19, as the state approaches its goal of getting all of them tested. As of Thursday, the Florida Department of Health had coordinated on-site testing for 133,615 residents and staff of the state’s long-term care facilities. The department has shipped another 126,690 testing kits directly to facilities that indicated they could do the testing on their own. Combined, that means 81% of the 320,771 people who live or work in a long-term care facility have been tested. 3,300 long-term care facilities have been tested and there are about 3,800 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the state.


Florida welcoming visitors again” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The VISIT FLORIDA welcome centers on Interstate-75 coming in from Georgia and Interstate-10 coming in from Alabama were reopened, VISIT FLORIDA President Dana Young told the organization’s board of directors. The welcome-center openings come after the state on June 5 ended a motorist checkpoint on I-10 near the Alabama border that was set up in late March as part of an effort to require people traveling from Louisiana, then a COVID-19 hotspot, to self-isolate if they entered Florida. Still not open is a welcome center along Interstate 95 and a VISIT FLORIDA kiosk inside the Florida Capitol, which remains closed to walk-up visitors.

VISIT FLORIDA Welcome Centers, like this one off I-10, are beginning to welcome visitors again.

Broward’s movie theaters and bowling alleys reopen June 15” via Steve Svekis and Brooke Baitinger of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Even as the number of new coronavirus patients in Florida increases, Broward County officials are joining the rest of the state in allowing summer camps, movie theaters and bowling alleys to reopen. Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry signed an order on June 5 that allowed businesses such as movie theaters and bowling alleys to open their doors at a maximum capacity of 50% on Monday, June 15. The June 15 order also permits vacation rentals and increases the allowable occupancy of museums from 25% to 50%. The business’ operation must adhere to social-distancing, facial coverings and sanitation recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

St. Johns County’s draft back to school plan includes days in virtual classrooms” via Eliza Powell of First Coast News — This fall, students in St. Johns County are going to be spending less time in a physical classroom and more days in a virtual one than in a typical school year. First Coast News has obtained a draft chart showing how students attending schools in the St. Johns County School District could be rotated through a staggered schedule. Many parents aren’t thrilled with the idea of more virtual learning. St. Johns County School Board Chair Beverly Slough confirmed middle and high school students and teachers will be separated into two groups and alternate days they are physically in the classroom.

UNF summer graduation to be a virtual ceremony” via Clayton Freeman of The Florida Times-Union — The University of North Florida is planning a virtual ceremony for its graduates in the summer term for 2020. The graduation for these students will be held remotely on July 31, the same date originally designated for a standard ceremony, the university said in a statement. The virtual ceremony will include the launch of a website to celebrate graduates, including messages from university leaders and recognition on UNF’s social media channels. The school plans to offer summer graduates the chance to participate in an in-person ceremony at a later time. UNF said the decision was prompted by the State University System’s guidelines against large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

University of Miami bringing football players back on campus” via David Selig of — The University of Miami is allowing many of its football players to return to campus today for voluntary activities. The first phase of the athletic department’s plan begins with about 65 football players currently living in South Florida. The athletes “will be broken into small groups of eight (plus an athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach) for workouts as permitted under NCAA rules,” the school says. The next phase will include the rest of the football team, as well as soccer, volleyball, men’s basketball and women’s basketball athletes. After those teams have completed their return to campus, all remaining teams will be added.


Three South Florida counties top 40,000 coronavirus cases as state surge continues” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida reported another 1,758 coronavirus cases, continuing a statewide surge in infections. The state’s total since the beginning of the pandemic is now 77,326, the Department of Health said. Only one day in the last 13 has fallen below 1,000-plus cases, although the latest report of new cases isn’t as bad as either Saturday or Sunday when more than 2,000 cases a day were added to the state total. Of the new coronavirus cases over the previous 24 hours, 620 are in South Florida. Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties have a total number of 40,298 positive tests. Palm Beach County had reported a large share of the state’s new cases over the weekend, but it was much lower on Monday, with 182 new cases over 24 hours.

Miami, Miami Beach Mayors say no new restrictions yet, despite rising COVID-19 numbers” via Aaron Leibowitz of the Miami Herald — The Mayors of Miami and Miami Beach said Monday that they are concerned about the increasing totals and positive test rates of novel coronavirus cases in Miami-Dade County, but that they won’t yet roll back the reopening of their cities’ economies or order residents to stay at home. “There are major concerns,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said at a news conference with Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber at Miami City Hall. “Now is not the time to let your guard down.” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez held a news conference of his own and painted a different picture. He suggested the county’s increasing number of COVID-19 cases is a direct result of increased testing, and that the rate of positive tests “remains relatively stable.”

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber say there will be no new restrictions, despite a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Commissioner seeks face-covering ordinance for Hillsborough County” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough Commissioner Kimberly Overman wants the public to be able to wear facial coverings in private settings. On Wednesday, Overman will ask her fellow commissioners to direct the county attorney’s office to draft an ordinance for future consideration by the commission. “It is to adopt the previous recommendation,’’ Overman said Monday morning. “To allow our citizens the right to protect themselves without being impeded. If someone wants to wear a face-covering to protect themselves and to protect others, they should have the right to do so.’’

Central Florida home sales plunge 44% in May because of coronavirus pandemic” via Caroline Glenn of the Orlando Sentinel — The number of homes sold in Central Florida sunk dramatically in May, an indication of the anxieties swirling around Orlando’s previously booming market and the wide-reaching effects of the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus outbreak. According to a new report from the Orlando Regional Realtors Association, there were 2,127 sales across Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake counties, a 44% drop from last May when there were 3,806 sales and an 11% decline from April when there were 2,393. That marks the second straight month of declining sales in the middle of the homebuying season.

Orange County officials growing worried about rising COVID-19” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and other officials expressed alarm Monday about both the rising numbers of the county’s new COVID-19 cases and trends that suggest they are due to more than just an increase in testing. Demings pleaded with residents to go back to wearing masks and social distancing whenever possible. “We don’t want to go back to sheltering in place,” he said. Demings, Dr. Raul Pino, Orange County’s health officer with the Florida Department of Health, and other officials issued the warnings and made the appeal for more careful behavior as the county has seen record numbers of cases emerge in the past several days.

Mayor Jerry Demings is beginning to worry about the rise in COVID-19 in Orange County.

Fewer residents hit snags to apply for Orange virus relief checks” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County performed better on its third attempt to hand out $1,000 coronavirus relief checks to families on Monday morning, but the portal for people to apply for the money was still open less than an hour. The system opened at 8 a.m. and closed 53 minutes later after receiving 25,000 completed or partial applications, said Randy Singh, deputy county manager for fiscal and administration services. About 11,000 of those applicants were in the process of uploading their identification or other documents required to prove eligibility. Last week’s botched launches of the program frustrated thousands of people on June 8 and 9 when the system was overwhelmed just minutes after opening both days.

Apopka Starbucks temporarily closes after employee tests positive for COVID-19” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — A Starbucks in Apopka closed for two days after an employee tested positive for COVID-19, the company said Monday. The Bear Lake Starbucks, at 3850 E. State Road 436, was immediately shut down and did not open on Saturday and Sunday. It underwent a complete deep cleaning as part of company protocol, Starbucks said, and reopened on Monday with limited hours. Any other employees who may have come into contact with that employee also are self-isolating for 14 days, Starbucks said. The same weekend, Kiwi’s Pub & Grill in Altamonte Springs closed temporarily after six customers informed the restaurant they had tested positive for coronavirus. The owner later said an employee initially tested positive, and others had begun experiencing symptoms.


Four North Florida law enforcement agencies awarded $975,000 to address COVID-19” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Four North Florida law enforcement agencies received a grant Friday totaling $975,300 to address the numerous public safety challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, announced Lawrence Keefe, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. The awarded police agencies include the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office with $370,107, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office with $127,963, the Panama City Police Department with $73,818 and the Tallahassee Police Department with $403,412. Agencies can use the funds to hire additional personnel, pay overtime, purchase protective equipment and address the medical needs of inmates.

St. Johns County expands early voting locations and dates” via Christen Kelley of The Florida Times-Union — The St. Johns County Supervisor of Elections office plans to expand early voting options to encourage social distancing due to COVID-19. Supervisor of Elections Vicky Oakes said they are adding two early voting sites for the primary and then an additional two for the general election. Normally the county has six early voting locations, but now there will be eight in August and 10 in November. The county is also increasing the number of early voting days for each election to give people more time to cast their vote. The primary will have 10 days of early voting leading up the election Aug. 18, and the general election will have a full two weeks of early voting ahead of Nov. 3.

Mike Calta among staff with coronavirus at 102.5 The Bone” via Christopher Spata of the Tampa Bay Times — Calta and co-host Anthony “Spanish” Polichemi have tested positive for COVID-19, Calta said on his radio show. The Cox-owned station is the second to report the virus spreading among on-air talent locally. Calta noted that Polichemi was taking the day off due to a fever, along with another staffer who is Polichemi’s roommate. The show was not live on Friday, but Calta addressed the positive tests on Monday. Drew Garabo, another host at the station, said he chose to broadcast live from the Cox studios on Monday, even though he was allowed to work remotely from home, because it makes for a better quality show.

Mike Calta, host of “The Mike Calta Show,” is one of the show staff who tested positive for COVID-19.

3 Wild 94.1 radio personalities test positive for COVID-19” via Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times — Three DJs at St. Petersburg hip-hop station Wild 94.1, including program director Orlando Davis, have tested positive for COVID-19. Davis, the host of Orlando and the Freakshow, and DJs Broderick “Buckwheat” Scott and Jose “Joey Franchize” Alvarado all announced their positive tests on social media. The station, owned by Beasley Media Group, last week sent out a staff memo stating that an employee in the building had tested positive. A spokesman said the company had implemented a reopening plan that conformed to state and federal guidelines and requirements.


FDA ends emergency use of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus” via Sarah Owermohle of POLITICO — The Food and Drug Administration withdrew emergency use authorizations for two coronavirus treatments that Trump promoted despite concerns about their safety and effectiveness. The agency revoked the authorizations for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine after a request from Gary Disbrow, acting director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. After reviewing new information from large clinical trials the agency now believes that the suggested dosing regimens “are unlikely to produce an antiviral effect,” FDA chief scientist Denise Hinton said.

The FDA withdrew the emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug which Donald Trump heavily promoted. Image via AP.

Colleges are ditching required admission tests over COVID-19. Will they ever go back?” via Nick Anderson of The Washington Post — For generations of ambitious students, taking the SAT or ACT was considered essential to apply to the most selective colleges and universities. All but a few ultracompetitive schools required test scores. testing mandates are rapidly vanishing as the coronavirus crisis has obliterated exam schedules. This shift, coupled with growing skepticism of the tests that predated the pandemic, could produce lasting change in college admissions, as a gigantic test-optional experiment gets underway. It is now possible for rising high school seniors to apply without a score to more than half the Ivy League, to most top-ranked liberal arts colleges, to all public universities in California and nearly all in Virginia.

Dems ask Bureau of Prisons for coronavirus update on staffers who manned protests” via Kyle Cheney of POLITICO — House Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson is asking the Bureau of Prisons for details about whether corrections officials who helped to staff the Washington, D.C., protests have been quarantined or tested for coronavirus before returning to their day jobs. They’re asking for details by June 17 about which facilities sent officers to the protest responses in Washington and Miami, what the state of the coronavirus outbreak is in those facilities and whether those deployed are required to be tested and take a 14-day quarantine before returning to prisons. The Democrats are also asking, by July 1, for an update on the rate of coronavirus generally among the Bureau of Prisons staff.

House Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson of Mississippi is asking the federal Bureau of Prisons to test staff who helped during the Washington D.C. protests. Image via Roll Call.

The pandemic claims new victims: Prestigious medical journals” via Roni Caryn Rabin of The New York Times — One study promised that popular blood-pressure drugs were safe for people infected with the coronavirus. Another paper warned that anti-malaria drugs endorsed by Trump actually were dangerous to these patients. The studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet, were retracted shortly after publication, following an outcry from researchers who saw obvious flaws. Peer review is supposed to safeguard the quality of scientific research. When a journal receives a manuscript, the editors ask three or more experts in the field for comments. If outside scientists detected problems that weren’t identified by the peer reviewers, then the journals failed.

She survived the coronavirus. then she got a $400,000 medical bill.” via Joseph Goldstein of The New York Times — Janet Mendez started receiving bills soon after returning in April to her mother’s home from Mount Sinai Morningside hospital, where she nearly died of COVID-19. First, there was one for $31,165. The next one was impossible to ignore: an invoice for $401,885.57. Mendez is optimistic that her insurance company will cover a large part of the costs, but only after receiving a series of harassing phone calls from the hospital about payment. A spokesman for the hospital told The Times that Mendez erroneously received a bill that should have gone directly to her insurance company or the government.


Steven Mnuchin, lawmakers to negotiate business bailout disclosure” via Zachary Warmbrodt of POLITICO — Mnuchin said he is planning talks with lawmakers seeking details of $512 billion in emergency small business loans backed by the government during the pandemic, as Mnuchin faces a growing backlash for refusing to reveal the recipients of the aid. Mnuchin last week said details of individual loans issued under the Paycheck Protection Program were “proprietary” and “confidential,” an announcement that outraged members of Congress who had been demanding information on one of the most widely used programs in the COVID-19 bailout. Earlier this month, Senate Small Business Chair Marco Rubio and Sen. Ben Cardin, the committee’s top Democrat, asked the Trump administration to start publishing the names and other details of Paycheck Protection Program loan recipients.

Steven Mnuchin is refusing to disclose the recipients of more than $500 billion worth of emergency small business backed by the government.

24 Hour Fitness files for bankruptcy, closes several gyms in South Florida” via Amanda Batchelor of — National gym chain 24 Hour Fitness filed for bankruptcy and announced that it will be closing 100 gyms across the U.S., including several in South Florida. The company stated in its Chapter 11 filing that it has secured $250 million in funding to help reopen some of its clubs, although 100 gyms in 14 states would be shuttered. That leaves the company with about 300 clubs.


As maskless New Yorkers crowd outside bars, Andrew Cuomo threatens to shut the city back down” via Teo Armus of The Washington Post — At a Brooklyn beer garden, patrons squeezed together on picnic tables to sip on lagers. And in the East Village, a flock of New Yorkers spent the city’s first Friday since its reopening crowded shoulder-to-shoulder on the sidewalk. “Don’t make me come down there …” New York Gov. Cuomo wrote on Twitter Saturday, responding to a video of the maskless masses. Cuomo issued a stern message for Mayor Bill de Blasio: Cut down on the crowding, the governor told his longtime rival, or the city will have to shut down again entirely.

People drink outside a bar in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood, two days after New York City entered Phase 1 of reopening. Image via Reuters.

40,000 crew still at sea. Some call for change in cruise-Caribbean relationship” via Taylor Dolven and Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald — As more countries loosen COVID-19 travel restrictions, crew members are slowly making their way home. About 3,000 Carnival Cruise Line workers got off in Croatia earlier this month to catch rides and flights home across Europe. Smiling behind their masks, they posed for a selfie on the pier. Still, at least 42,000 workers remain trapped on cruise ships without paychecks — some still suffering from COVID-19 — three months after the industry shut down. The drawn-out crew repatriation process has underscored the complex relationship between the cruise industry and the Caribbean countries its ships most frequently visit.

Stuck at home, the world is eating less sugar” via Manisha Jha and Agnieska de Sousa of Bloomberg — For years, governments, doctors and celebrity chefs tried and failed to get the world to consume less sugar. Then the pandemic hit. The global closure of restaurants, sports arenas and cinemas means sugar demand will drop this season for the first time in four decades. The sugar industry was already under siege before the coronavirus hit. Demand growth — largely driven by developing countries — slowed in recent years as lawmakers from South Africa to Thailand taxed sugary drinks and health groups urged people to cut back on carbs amid obesity concerns. Companies responded by selling slimmed-down treats and sugar-free sodas.



Supreme Court says gay, transgender workers are protected by federal law forbidding discrimination on the basis of sex” via Robert Barnes of The Washington Post — The Supreme Court ruled that federal anti-discrimination laws protect gay and transgender employees, a major gay-rights ruling written by one of the court’s most conservative justices. Justice Neil Gorsuch and Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s liberals in the 6 to 3 ruling. They said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination “because of sex,” includes LGBTQ employees. Gorsuch and Roberts were joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Dissenters said their colleagues were amending the law, not interpreting it.

The Court ruled 6-3 saying federal law that prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sex covers gay and transgender employees. Image via Reuters.

How a segregationist paved the way for a big gay rights win in the Supreme Court” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — The Supreme Court handed down a momentous decision on gay rights, ruling that employers can’t discriminate against their employees on the basis of their sexual orientation. Those celebrating the decision can thank a segregationist. The Supreme Court decided the case on a 6-to-3 majority, with conservative Justices Roberts and Gorsuch, the latter who wrote the opinion, joining the court’s four liberal justices. What’s notable here is that the Civil Rights Act didn’t initially include the prohibition on sex discrimination. It wasn’t added to the bill until the final day of debate by a segregationist congressman, Howard Smith.

What does the Supreme Court’s ruling on LGBTQ workplace protections mean for Florida?” via Kirby Wilson and Samantha J. Gross of the Tampa Bay Times — The Supreme Court decision brought pure joy to LGBTQ Floridians, equal rights advocates and allies across the state. The ruling, that employers may not fire workers because they are gay or transgender, also raised an important question for those who’ve been fighting for years for state LGBTQ protections. Tallahassee does not have a strong track record of fighting for equal rights for LGBTQ Floridians, who comprise about four percent of the state’s population. At the start of the 2020 legislative session, four proposals drew heavy criticism from progressives, who accused GOP lawmakers of trying to pass a wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation.

Supreme Court lets stand California’s ‘sanctuary’ law on undocumented immigrants” via Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow of The Washington Post — The Supreme Court declined to take up California’s “sanctuary” law that forbids local law enforcement in most cases from cooperating with aggressive federal action to identify and deport undocumented immigrants. The court let stand the law passed after Trump took office and challenged by his administration. The most significant measure limits police from sharing information unless the immigrants have been convicted of violent or serious crimes. The law is “consistent with the long-standing principle that the Constitution allows states to decline to use their own resources to carry out federal regulatory programs,” state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in his brief to the court.

Supreme Court passes up challenges from gun groups on laws they say violate Second Amendment” via Robert Barnes of The Washington Post — The Supreme Court declined to take up new cases for next term that gun rights groups claimed denied Second Amendment rights. The court did not accept a batch of nearly a dozen cases that gun groups had hoped the court, fortified with more conservative members, might consider. Among them were cases involving restrictions in Maryland and New Jersey to permits for carrying a handgun outside the home. The court earlier this term had dismissed a challenge from New York about transporting guns, and three justices objected, with the newest, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, adding that it seemed likely lower courts have been too quick to uphold state and local gun control measures.

Supreme Court declines to weigh in on legal doctrine that shields law enforcement” via Jamie Ehrlich, Ariane de Vogue and Devan Cole of CNN Politics — The Supreme Court declined to take a closer look at a legal doctrine it created nearly 40 years ago that critics say is shielding law enforcement and government officials from accountability. In recent years, legal scholars, judges and justices on all sides of the ideological spectrum have criticized the legal doctrine known as “qualified immunity,” arguing that it is not grounded in the proper legal authorities and it too often shields officials from accountability. Under the doctrine, an officer will not be liable even if he violated the Constitution unless it was “clearly established” by prior cases that his conduct was unconstitutional.

Trump administration expected to attempt to block John Bolton’s book” via John Santucci, Katherine Faulders and Mike Levine of ABC News — Just a week before the much-awaited book by Trump’s former National Security Adviser Bolton is set to go on sale, the Trump administration is expected to file a lawsuit in federal court seeking an injunction to block the book from being released in its current form. The lawsuit is expected to be filed in the coming days and could come as soon as today, sources said, cautioning that some details are still being worked out. According to the description, posted online, Bolton details potentially impeachment-worthy “transgression” across “the full range” of Trump’s foreign policy.

The Donald Trump administration is threatening to file a lawsuit to block the release of John Bolton’s book.

Florida lawmakers question Interior on offshore drilling plans” via Ben Lefebvre of POLITICO Florida — A bipartisan group of Florida lawmakers in Congress asked Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to explain whether his department planned to release a new offshore drilling proposal and whether it would support a permanent ban on drilling in federal waters off the state’s coast. The 17 lawmakers in the letter a planned proposal after the November election that called for opening the Eastern Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas drilling. “Despite that vote and the economic and environmental damage left by the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, it appears that the Department of the Interior (DOI) is preparing to open the door to oil and gas drilling off Florida’s coasts shortly after the November 2020 election,” the letter says.

Democrats, Republicans want Interior Department to ban Florida offshore drilling” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — The majority of Florida’s House of Representatives delegation, including Trump confidante Matt Gaetz and 12 of Florida’s 13 House Democrats, are demanding additional answers from the Interior Department regarding any Trump administration plan for offshore drilling near Florida. “Despite … the economic and environmental damage left by the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, it appears that the Department of the Interior is preparing to open the door to oil and gas drilling off Florida’s coasts shortly after the November 2020 election,” the letter states. Oil drilling in the Eastern Gulf is a political nonstarter in Florida after nearly 69 percent of Florida voters in 2018 supported a state constitutional amendment to ban it. The state’s entire congressional delegation is opposed to it.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell promises to ‘never’ support offshore drilling in new ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Mucarsel-Powell is promising to “never” support offshore drilling after reports emerged the Trump administration may allow the practice off Florida’s coast following the 2020 election. Mucarsel-Powell’s promise comes in the form of a new 15-second digital ad, titled “No Offshore Drilling.” The ad is a remix of a similar spot released during her 2018 campaign for Congress and features Mucarsel-Powell scuba diving. While underwater, Mucarsel-Powell holds up a pair of signs reading, “I’m Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. I will never support offshore drilling.” Mucarsel-Powell positioned herself as an advocate on water and environmental issues during her initial 2018 run.

To watch the video, click on the image below:


Disabilities overhaul goes to Ron DeSantis” via the News Service of Florida — A measure that would overhaul a state program that helps tens of thousands of people with disabilities live in their homes or communities was sent to DeSantis. Senate President Bill Galvano made a priority during this year’s legislative session of revamping the Medicaid-funded iBudget program, which provides services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Lawmakers in March approved the bill (SB 82), which is aimed at bringing stability to the program following years of cost overruns and deficits. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Aaron Bean was one of eight measures sent to DeSantis, who has until June 30 to act on them.

Bill prohibiting landlords from denying emotional support animals heads to Governor’s desk” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — A measure that would prohibit a landlord from denying housing to a person with a disability because of their support animal arrived on DeSantis‘ desk Monday evening. The bill, SB 1084, impacts Florida’s Fair Housing Housing Act with several amendments including a prohibition of additional fees for those assisted by an emotional support animal. SB 1084 clarifies that an animal is not required to be trained to assist a person. Current law requires a “service animal,” such as a dog or miniature horse, to be trained to aid an individual with a disability to qualify. The bill stiffens penalties for a person who fabricates documentation or misrepresents the use of an emotional support animal.

Judge dismisses renewed challenge dog racing ban” via the News Service of Florida — U.S. District Judge Mark Walker issued a three-page order granting a request by Attorney General Ashley Moody to dismiss the lawsuit, filed by the industry group Support Working Animals, Inc., and individual plaintiffs. The lawsuit argued that the voter-approved ballot measure violates a series of rights under the U.S. Constitution, including equal-protection rights because horse racing will be allowed to continue at pari-mutuel facilities while dog racing will be blocked. Walker issued a 55-page ruling in April that dismissed the earlier version of the lawsuit but allowed the plaintiffs to amend and refile it. But in his ruling, Walker quickly disposed of the amended version, saying that the plaintiffs “lack standing” to sue Moody over the ban.

Judge refuses to put felons’ voting decision on hold” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle turned down a request by DeSantis’ lawyers for a stay, as they challenge his felons-voting decision at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Hinkle last month ruled against the DeSantis administration in a battle over a 2019 state law aimed at carrying out a constitutional amendment to restore the voting rights of felons “who have completed all terms of their sentences, including parole and probation.” The federal judge also decided that court costs and fees, which are used to fund government services, are “taxes,” and the requirement to pay them to vote is an unconstitutional “poll tax.” Finding that most Florida felons who’ve served their time can’t pay outstanding court debts, Hinkle laid out a process for the state to use to allow felons to register to vote.

Fraud sentencing for ex-City Council members delayed until Aug. 26 over pandemic” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — A federal judge has again delayed the fraud sentencing former Jacksonville City Council members Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown because of complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard reset the sentencing from June 30 to Aug. 26 last week, after prosecutors and defense attorneys both asked to push it back. “All parties desire an in-person sentencing hearing,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Tysen Duva wrote in a motion that noted federal courts don’t plan to hold in-person hearings until at least July because of the pandemic. Howard’s order effectively split the difference between requests from the defense, which wanted a date in September, and prosecutors who wanted sentencing in late July or early August.

The court is pushing the fraud sentencing for former Jacksonville City Council Member Katrina Brown until August due to coronavirus.

Could potential for conflicts influence review of Miami’s powerful zoning code?” via Andres Viglucci of the Miami Herald — Should three prominent Miami developers’ attorneys be permitted to participate in a new task force that’s revising the city’s much-lauded Miami 21 zoning code? That’s the question that kept the three attorneys specializing in land use from joining eight other experts at the high-profile task force’s inaugural meeting earlier this week. The city attorney’s office advised all three to abstain from participating in that afternoon’s virtual meeting. The reason, assistant city attorney Amber Ketterer told the task force, is that she’s awaiting rulings on the question from the Miami-Dade County and Florida ethics commissions.

Colombian accused of swindling millions from Venezuela awaits extradition to Miami” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — A Colombian businessman wanted in Miami on charges of swindling $350 million from the Venezuelan government by paying off officials to secure building contracts for low-income housing is awaiting extradition after his arrest in Cape Verde. Alex Saab, who has a Venezuelan passport, was arrested Saturday on an Interpol red notice but must first face an extradition hearing in the tiny African nation before he can be transferred to Miami on money-laundering charges. While Saab boasts a high profile in South America, he also struck up a discreet relationship with a University of Miami professor who was implicated in an unrelated money-laundering case in South Florida.

Nassau School Board won’t ask for more taxes” via Julia Roberts of the News-Leader — The Nassau County School Board indicated during a June 4 workshop, that it will not move forward with a referendum asking property owners to pay more taxes in order to fund teacher salaries and security measures in the district’s schools. “I brought this ballot initiative to the board. I felt like it was important that we do that, but is now the time?” Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathy Burns said at the workshop. “People are unemployed. They don’t know when they are going back to work.” The Fernandina Beach and county governments were also considering referendums asking voters to approve raising taxes. The city has said it will not move forward with that initiative, and the county is reconsidering its own, according to Burns.

FSO gives parents tools to screen kids for vision problems” via Florida Politics — The Florida Society of Ophthalmology is sharing resources for parents and guardians to perform basic, at-home vision screenings for children. Using guidelines from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), FSO is encouraging parents to screen their children for vision issues that are treatable or even preventable, if caught early. Still, FSO said only about 20% of preschool-age children get vision screenings. To facilitate screenings, FSO has posted in-depth instructions and eye charts on its website. The materials may also be used to screen adults and determine whether a follow-up visit with an ophthalmologist is necessary. Resources can be found at

AshBritt launches hurricane preparedness campaign” via Florida Politics staff reports — AshBritt Environmental is partnering with public radio stations in South Florida and the Houston metro for a new hurricane preparedness campaign. The campaign is aimed at reminding the community and small businesses to prepare for the 2020 hurricane season, which officially began on June 1 and runs through Nov. 30. In South Florida, the disaster recovery and environmental services contractor is partnering with WLRN. In Texas, the company is working with Houston Public Media. AshBritt is a national turnkey rapid-response disaster recovery and environmental services contractor. It has conducted more than 330 disaster response missions and 30 special environmental projects, successfully serving more than 600 clients.

— 2020 —

Upcoming Trump rally in Tulsa raises concerns among public health experts” via Lateshia Beachum, Siobhán O’Grady, Brittany Shammas, Hamza Shaban, Katie Mettler, Steven Goff, Kareem Copeland and Meryl Kornfield of The Washington Post — Trump’s plan to hold a campaign rally in Tulsa this weekend is worrying public health experts, who warn that there is a high risk of the coronavirus spreading through the 19,000-seat Bok Center arena. More than 800,000 people have signed up for the event, which will be the first of its kind to take place since coronavirus-related stay-at-home orders were announced. Citing the recent uptick of infections in the city and across Oklahoma as a whole, Bruce Dart, the director of Tulsa’s city and county health department, told the Tulsa World this weekend that he wished the rally would be postponed to a later date.

Local officials are starting to worry about Donald Trump’s Tulsa rally this Saturday.

‘We’re thinking landslide’: Beyond D.C., GOP officials see Trump on glide path to reelection” via David Siders of POLITICO — By most conventional indicators, Trump is in danger of becoming a one-term president. State, district and county Republican Party chairs depict a version of the electoral landscape that is no worse for Trump than six months ago — and possibly even slightly better. According to this view, the coronavirus is on its way out and the economy is coming back. Polls are unreliable, Joe Biden is too frail to last, and the media still doesn’t get it. There is an overriding belief that, just as Trump defied political gravity four years ago, there’s no reason he won’t do it again.

Trump has finally lost control of his narrative. Voters are ready to see him canceled.” via Helaine Olen of The Washington Post — When it comes to both business and politics, Trump has repeatedly defied predictions of doom. Somewhere between seeming to promote bleach as a cure for the novel coronavirus and accusing elderly protester Martin Gugino of being an “Antifa provocateur” after Buffalo police shoved him violently to the ground, Trump has — finally — lost control of the narrative thread. Now the president himself is on the losing end. As it turns out, what Charles Sykes at the Bulwark calls Trump’s “almost reptilian instinct for tapping into the Zeitgeist” might well have been a combination of good economic circumstances mixed with ghastly entertainment appeal.

Barack Obama will hold first virtual fundraiser for Joe Biden” via Hans Nichols of Axios — Obama‘s participation with Biden in the live, virtual event on June 23 marks the ramping up of the former president’s engagement to try to defeat Trump. In an invitation scheduled to go to supporters, Obama is asking potential contributors to donate “any amount you can” for “the most important election of our lifetimes.” Rather than directly address the protests against racial disparities in policing and the coronavirus, Obama asks for “Americans of all backgrounds and political stripes to join together.” He tells supporters that voting for Biden is a way to rebuild the economy, expand health insurance coverage and declare that “all of us are equal and each of us should have the chance to make of our lives what we will.”

Elizabeth Warren allies send letter urging Biden to pick her as running mate” via Sean Sullivan of The Washington Post — More than 100 liberal activists, leaders and celebrities signed a letter urging Biden to select Warren as his running mate, intensifying pressure on the presumptive Democratic nominee from the left as he faces competing demands to pick a black woman. The letter portrays Warren as the best-prepared prospect to serve as president and one uniquely capable of helping Biden politically in the November election. It asserts that he is “already strong” among nonwhite voters but could use help winning over disaffected voters who backed Sen. Bernie Sanders in the primary.


Jacksonville RNC host committee invites businesses to register for shot at being vendors” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — The newly formed Jacksonville 2020 Host Committee began taking online registrations Monday from businesses interested in being vendors during the Republican National Convention in August. The host committee has not announced a fundraising goal, but Mayor Lenny Curry has said the committee will raise tens of millions of dollars for staging the convention. The Republican National Committee announced last Thursday that it would move the bulk of the convention events Aug. 24-27 to Jacksonville from Charlotte, N.C. Jax Chamber President Daniel Davis, who is a member of the host committee, has said he wants local businesses to get a share of the work that will be paid for by the host committee.


Neal Dunn endorses James St. George for CD 3 — Republican congressional candidate St. George picked up an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Dunn in his bid to succeed exiting U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District. “James St. George is a true conservative. You can count on him to support the President and defend our 2nd Amendment Rights,” Dunn said. “As a fellow physician, he understands the need to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a free-market solution. He has my full support.” St. George is one of 10 Republicans running for the North Central Florida seat.

Neal Dunn is backing Janes St. George to replace Ted Yoho.

Gilchrist Sheriff endorses Kat Cammack for CD 3” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Gilchrist Sheriff Robert “Bobby” Schultz has endorsed Cammack in the Republican primary to succeed Yoho in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District. “Kat Cammack is the only person running for her district’s congressional seat who actually has verified experience fighting for all the issues which are important to her district’s constituents. I know Congressman Yoho and Kat both personally and professionally. There is not a back-down bone in her body and she is cut from the same cloth he is,” said Schultz, the incoming president of the Florida Sheriff’s Association. The endorsement is the latest in a flurry from the Cammack campaign. Prior endorsements include Republican politicians ranging from the city level up to U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Top Senate Republicans endorse Marva Preston for SD 3” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Senate President-Designate Wilton Simpson and Majority Leader Kathleen Passidomo on Monday endorsed Preston’s campaign for Senate District 3. Preston, a former homicide detective and ordained minister, is one of two Republicans running for the seat currently held by term-limited Democratic Sen. Bill Montford. Preston faces Benjamin Horbowy in the Aug. 18 primary. The winner will go up against Democratic Rep. Loranne Ausley in November.

‘I fired the bad cops’: Gregory Tony focuses on excessive force in first TV ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Tony is out with his first TV ad of the 2020 election cycle, in which he attempts to tackle the ongoing issue of police brutality. That topic has been at the forefront in recent weeks following George Floyd‘s death at the hands of several Minneapolis police officers. Protests have been ongoing nationwide, including in Broward County. Tony begins the new ad by alluding to his Philadelphia upbringing. He says in the ad, “I’ve come this far, but I know we have further to go. I took on police brutality. I fired the bad cops.” Tony’s campaign is highlighting two high-profile firings since he took over the position in Jan. 2019. Tony argues those instances show his intent to be tough on deputies accused of similar infractions going forward.

To view the ad, click on the image below:


Trump must take Florida’s potential disasters much more seriously” via Joe Biden for the Miami Herald — Instead of taking steps to ensure states such as Florida have what they need, Trump is fixated on deflecting responsibility and blame for the current crisis. His COVID-19 response was too little, too late. We simply can’t afford a repeat this hurricane season. States need the resources to prepare now, starting by expanding the number of emergency shelters and ensuring every single one has plans to help families maintain social distancing. Hospitals and first responders need help to restock scarce supplies. Nursing homes need tailored evacuation plans that account for the heightened COVID-19 risk their residents face. Utility and construction repair crews and essential workers must all have the protection they need on the job.


This is the wrong time and Tulsa is the wrong place for the Trump rally” via the Tulsa World editorial board — We don’t know why Trump chose Tulsa, but we can’t see any way that his visit will be good for the city. Tulsa is still dealing with the challenges created by a pandemic. The city and state have authorized reopening, but that doesn’t make a mass indoor gathering of people pressed closely together and cheering a good idea. There is no treatment for COVID-19 and no vaccine. It will be our health care system that will have to deal with whatever effects follow. Tulsa will be largely alone in dealing with what happens at a time when the city’s budget resources have already been stretched thin from the coronavirus pandemic. There’s no reason to think a Trump appearance in Tulsa will have any effect on November’s election outcome in Tulsa or Oklahoma.

Let Broward voters create a real county Mayor, for a change” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — When people in Broward refer to “the mayor,” you know who they’re talking about: Dean Trantalis, mayor of Fort Lauderdale. As Broward inched back to life in May after a two-month lockdown, Trantalis was a visible presence, working with business leaders and clashing with the county on access to gyms and beaches. As city-county tensions flared, there was no doubt who spoke for Broward’s largest city. At the county, by contrast, it was hard to tell who was in charge. Nine county commissioners are elected by the voters, but power is in the hands of County Administrator Bertha Henry, whose authority expanded under a management plan adopted for emergencies. When Henry dawdled over a reopening plan, commissioners were powerless.


Federal courts have been making life remarkably interesting for Florida politicians.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— For starters, Monday’s decision from the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender persons in the workplace is equivalent to sex discrimination … making it illegal under federal law. State Rep. Carlos Guillermo-Smith offers his take.

— Next, a federal judge in Tallahassee who ruled against the state in a case involving the voting rights of former felons refuses DeSantis’ request to put his decision on hold while the case is being appealed in the Atlanta circuit court.

 — While we’re talking about the 11th Circuit Court, they’ve just rejected an appeal from a state lawmaker who tried to get out of a lawsuit by claiming he has both legislative and sovereign immunity. The court ruled Rep. Chuck Clements is not protected in this case, allowing the lawsuit to continue.

— The Florida Department of Health reported 1,758 new cases of COVID-19 Monday — a slight improvement compared to the Saturday and Sunday, when we added more than 2,000 new cases per day.

— Checking in with Florida Man, who went for the trifecta: public racism, public sexism and public urination.

To listen, click on the image below:


— ALOE —

First look: Universal births new Jason Bourne show” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Universal Studios is now rolling out “The Bourne Stuntacular,” a multimedia stage show, to its theme-park visitors. Although its status is “technical rehearsal,” the attraction appears to be on track to be the first major Orlando park debut in the post-coronavirus-shutdown era. What audience members will see: A gigantic screen — it’s 130 feet wide and 28 feet tall — plus a mix of real and virtual actors (masks are one clue), fistfights, bursts of flames, chase scenes, gunplay, dangling from the ceiling and more for about 20 minutes. The choreography of effects is tight, and the action appears expertly rehearsed. “Stuntacular” is, of course, modeled on the movie series revolving around spy Jason Bourne, usually played by Matt Damon.

The Bourne Stuntacular is on track to be the first major Orlando park debut in the post-coronavirus-shutdown era.

Zoo Miami announces birth of critically endangered Bactrian camel” via Amanda Batchelor of — Zoo Miami on Monday announced the recent birth of a critically endangered Bactrian camel. According to a news release from the zoo, the camel, which was born Saturday night, appears to be a girl and weighed just over 96 pounds at birth. “Bactrian camels are critically endangered in the wild where it is believed that less than a thousand remain,” the news release stated. Zoo Miami officials said that the camels’ humps are not filled with water, as many believe, but rather fat, which can help them go for long periods of time without any food. Zoo Miami officials said camels have the ability to drink up to 30 gallons of water at a time.

WNBA to play season at single site in Florida without fans” via Reuters — The Women’s National Basketball Association will begin its 2020 season in late July amid the COVID-19 outbreak with all games to be played without fans at a single site in Florida, the league said. The WNBA said in a statement the IMG Academy in Bradenton will be the home for each of the league’s 12 teams and serve as a single site for training camp, games and housing. Teams will play 22-game regular-season games instead of the originally-scheduled 36 games, followed by a traditional playoff format of single-elimination games for the first two rounds and best-of-five series for the semis and finals.

The WNBA is set to play the entire season in one location, and without fans. Image via AP.

The enormous risks and stakes driving the NBA’s safety discussions” via Zach Lowe of ESPN — Before entering the NBA’s proposed “bubble” at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, the 1,500 players, staff, and coaches will interact with almost no one else, and the league emerges three months later with 1,500 healthy people and one champion. Of course, experts caution, reality is more complex. One renowned epidemiologist chuckled at the very notion of a “bubble” approaching 2,000 people. “They are going to see things on the ground they did not expect,” said Steven Pergam, an associate professor at the University of Washington and infectious disease specialist.


Happy birthday to Omar Khan and Travis Moore. 


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

Peter Schorsch

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 Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also 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.


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, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Jesse Scheckner, Scott Powers, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn