Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.17.20

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Read all about it: Everything you need to know about the day in Florida politics.

Despite the record-setting number of coronavirus cases in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida won’t be rolling back its reopening plan.

The Sunshine State has recorded a growing number of COVID-19 cases throughout June. But as the positivity rate of new cases rises together with daily testing, the Governor is pointing toward migrant farmers and inmates — both groups living in close quarters — as the driving sources of new cases.

Florida will not be rolling back any of its reopening plans, says Ron DeSantis.

That means no mask requirements and no rollbacks, which DeSantis said wouldn’t stop the number of cases in those isolated groups and would outweigh the benefit reopening has done for Floridians.

“We’re not shutting down. We’re going to go forward,” he said.

In Tuesday’s daily coronavirus report, state health officials reported a record 2,783 newly confirmed cases of the virus, and total diagnoses throughout the pandemic have topped 80,000. But with testing reaching an average of 30,000 people per day, that’s triple the amount of testing conducted during the virus’ April peak, when about 1,300 tested positive.

“Back in April, I made the point that as you test more, you will see more cases because you’re identifying those subclinical cases that just would not have been tested previously,” DeSantis told reporters Tuesday in Tallahassee. “And I said you could see 2,000 cases a day in a state this big. That was something that was definitely in the offer for this, and it’s just because of how you’re doing the testing, especially if you’re expanding it as aggressively as I thought that you needed to do.”

Counties with high or an increasing number of cases are often linked to agriculture or correctional facilities, he said, where the younger demographics frequently don’t show symptoms. One watermelon farm he highlighted in Alachua County had a 90% positivity rate among 100 people tested.

With migrant farmers and incarcerated Floridians spending less time interacting with the broader public, he suggested those cases shouldn’t factor into a statewide lockdown.

“They go to work in a school bus, and they’re all just packed there like sardines, going across Palm Beach County,” DeSantis said. “Just all these opportunities to have transmission.”


Juneteenth — 2; Belmont Stakes rescheduled — 3; Father’s Day — 4; Apple to hold Developer Conference — 5; NBA training camp — 13; “The Outpost” with Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood premieres — 16; NBA teams travel to Orlando — 20; Major League Soccer will return to action — 21; Disney World Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom to reopen — 24; Disney World Epcot and Hollywood Studios to reopen — 28; Federal taxes due — 28; “Mulan” premieres — 37; TED conference rescheduled — 38; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premieres — 44; NBA season restart in Orlando — 44; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 61; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 62; NBA draft lottery — 67; Indy 500 rescheduled — 67; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 69; Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 72; “A Quiet Place Part II” premieres — 79; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 80; Rescheduled date for French Open — 97; First presidential debate in Indiana — 107; “Wonder Woman” premieres — 107; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 108; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 115; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 117; Second presidential debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 120; NBA draft — 120; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 121; NBA free agency — 123; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 129; 2020 General Election — 139; “Black Widow” premieres — 143; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 146; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 153; “No Time to Die” premieres — 160; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 167; “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres — 209; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 235; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 401; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 410; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 506; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 604; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 646; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 688; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 842.


Donald Trump signs order on police reform, doesn’t mention racism” via Jill Colvin, Lisa Mascaro and Zeke Miller of The Associated Press — Following weeks of national protests since the death of George Floyd, Trump signed an executive order that he said would encourage better police practices. But he made no mention of the roiling national debate over racism spawned by police killings of black men and women. Trump met privately with the families of several black Americans killed in interactions with police before his Rose Garden signing ceremony, and said he grieved for the lives lost and families devastated. But then he quickly shifted his tone and devoted most of his public remarks to a need to respect and support “the brave men and women in blue who police our streets and keep us safe.”

Donald Trump speaks during an event on police reform, in the Rose Garden of the White House. Image via AP.

Virginia Governor to propose Juneteenth as state holiday” via Alan Suderman and Denise Lavoie of The Associated Press — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced that he’s making Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S., an official holiday in a state that was once home to the capital of the Confederacy. Juneteenth, which is also called Emancipation Day and Freedom Day, is celebrated annually on June 19. Texas first made it a state holiday in 1980. The holiday would be a paid day off for all state employees. Northam said he thinks Virginia would be only the second state to do so.

Police keep using Twitter for misinformation and rumor-mongering about protesters” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — Two New York City police unions took to Twitter to accuse Shake Shack employees of trying to poison police officers with beverages they were served. The New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association said the officers had come “under attack.” The New York City Detectives’ Endowment Association went a step further, claiming their “fellow officers were intentionally poisoned by one or more workers.” Neither of these tweets, it turns out, were accurate. New York Police Department Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said Tuesday morning that a “thorough investigation” had revealed no criminal act.

Can’t stand athletes talking politics? They can’t stand injustice” via Hal Habib of The Palm Beach Post — Mike Gundy, you finally got your wish. The football coach, who famously demanded critics “Come after me!” in an epic rant, managed to tick off one critic to the hilt Monday. “I will not stand for this,” wrote that critic, Chuba Hubbard, who happens to be the returning leading rusher not only of Gundy’s Oklahoma State football team, but the nation. Gundy had been photographed wearing an OAN T-shirt. If you’ve never watched One America News picture Fox News sans all that liberal propaganda Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity are famous for.

Oklahoma State University football coach Mike Gundy (right) went on a fishing expedition in Texas wearing a One America News shirt, creating a stir among Black Lives Matters supporters. Image via Twitter.


What does 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 Floyd has moved state leaders across the nation to address police brutality and systematic racism. Iowa’s 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. “George Floyd is going to change the arc of the future of the United States,” Abbott said. DeSantis hasn’t acknowledged the substance of calls for change from demonstrators marching from little Navarre in the western Panhandle to Homestead at the edge of the peninsula.

What does Ron DeSantis think about racism and criminal justice in America? Who knows.

Broward deputy will be investigated over social media posts against minorities” via Angie DiMichele and Mario Ariza of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A Broward sheriff’s deputy posted online comments about “leftist thugs” and bemoaned that police couldn’t ram thieves with their cars, part of a series of comments that will lead to an internal investigation. Deputy Hector Fajardo, a deputy for 16 years, also criticized transgender people and welfare recipients. He labeled a child who does drag as “demonic.” And he proclaimed himself a racist. Fajardo is the third deputy to come under scrutiny in recent weeks for social media posts.

Miami-Dade civilian police oversight panel clears initial County Commission vote” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — A proposal to revive a civilian oversight panel for the Miami-Dade police department passed an initial vote Tuesday, a measure that has received renewed interest on the heels of nationwide calls for law enforcement reform following the death of Floyd. The vote was one step toward reestablishing civilian oversight of the largest police force in the southeastern U.S. The proposal would create an Independent Civilian Panel where people could file complaints against Miami-Dade police officers, allow county staff to investigate claims and fund the panel’s work with at least $7.59 million. That minimum funding level is equal to 1% of the police department’s budget.

August elections — not November — may be the real prize for Miami street protesters” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Amid the street protests that broke out after Floyd’s death, Florida activists took up bullhorns and used social media to promote Zoom meetings about the “next steps” for the movement. Afterward Tuesday, Miami-Dade County commissioners took the first of two votes needed to revive an independent review panel overseeing the county’s police force. Efforts to steer street protests into local civic action may already be reaping dividends for left-leaning organizations in South Florida pushing to reduce incarceration, shift police resources to social services and end the system of cash bail, which they say discriminates against communities of color and the poor.

Fort Myers city attorney to look at legal options to remove Robert E. Lee bust as protesters rally” via Melissa Montoya of the Naples Daily News — Fort Myers City Attorney Grant Alley has been instructed to look at what the city can do to remove the Lee bust. More than a dozen people spoke during the city council meeting Monday asking the council to remove the monument of Lee, who was the commander of the Confederate States Army during the Civil War. Two people spoke in favor of keeping the bust. One man emailed from Montana and asked that the city not give in to the “left-wing” conspiracy and preserve history. Hendry Weeg said the city should remove the bust and install a freedom fountain. She also made the same case to Lee County commissioners during their meeting.

Should police be charged for not uploading bodycam video each shift? Fort Pierce commission to decide” via Keona Gardner of TC Palm — Should police here be required to upload their bodycam footage at the end of each shift? The City Commission delayed any decision until at least next month. The proposal from Commissioner Reggie Sessions could leave an officer charged with a misdemeanor for failing to upload video by end of his or her shift. “I’m not anti-police,” Sessions said. “I am anti-police brutality.” Demonstrators across the country, including on the Treasure Coast, have joined with the Black Lives Matter movement to protest police brutality against unarmed Black men.

Students at Jacksonville’s elite schools discuss racism — often anonymously” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — Over the last week, students at schools across Jacksonville — including The Bolles School, Bishop Kenny High School, Episcopal School of Jacksonville and Stanton College Preparatory School — launched new Instagram accounts to elevate Black students’ voices and document examples of systemic racism at school. The accounts all follow a similar format: They’re titled “Black At [the respective school]” and include a link to a survey where students, parents, alumni and faculty are encouraged to share their perspective anonymously. Those survey responses are then posted publicly on Instagram accounts. All four Jacksonville-based Instagram accounts share a similar mission: to bring awareness to the discrimination students say they face while trying to learn.

Duval County School Board considers renaming schools with Confederate ties” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — Ahead of the Duval County School Board’s Tuesday evening meeting, board members were greeted by a demonstration outside Duval County Public Schools headquarters. Members of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville and other activists gathered in a push for the school district to rename six public schools that are named after Confederate generals. Now, school board members are listening. In a letter addressed to the School Board, chairman Warren Jones said it was time for a change. “We have come to a place and time in the history of our city, that we must begin the process of renaming all the schools named for a Confederate soldier,” Jones wrote. “This effort can help to heal a city that is fractured.”

Lake now says Confederate statue no longer welcome” via John Cutter and Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Lake County commissioners retreated Tuesday from a pledge to bring the statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith from Washington D.C. to the historic courthouse in Tavares. The board agreed to ask the state to find a more appropriate place for the bronze likeness of the Florida-born general who lived postwar in Tennessee. It’s unclear if the apparent change-of-heart will persuade the independent Historical Society to give up on the idea of exhibiting the 4-ton statue and pedestal that has long been displayed in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall.

The Edmund Kirby statue is no longer welcome in Lake County. So what happens now?

Lake Worth to decide if it needs task force on police, other issues” via Jorge Milian of The Palm Beach Post — The Lake Worth Beach city commission normally busies itself with mundane topics that lack widespread interest. But Tuesday, it will tackle a much weightier subject: systemic racism in the city. An agenda item crafted by Commissioner Herman Robinson requests the five-member board schedule a “special meeting” to create a task force that would look at issues connected to race in the wake of national and international protests following the death of Floyd. Robinson proposes that the task force be made up of 10 to 20 people of “diverse community stakeholders” that could include the commission itself.


@marcorubio: We will have #PPP loan disclosure. No dispute over larger loan recipients being disclosed. Only issue still being discussed with administration is how to treat smaller loans to mostly microbusiness, sole proprietors & independent contractors

@FBSaunders: Governor ardently defending his decision to continue reopening despite increased case numbers. Doubles down on increased testing as a cause. Suggests heightened positivity rate is due to isolated pockets in places like ag operations. Says hospital capacity/supplies are strong.

@fineout: Legislators are hoping to patch over the budget in 2 ways — Vetoes from @GovRonDeSantis that are expected to range anywhere from $500m to $1 billion & legislative leaders are allowing the governor to spend billions of fed $ under his emergency powers (An unprecedented move)

@SteveLemongello: DeSantis said his vetoing of bills, even ones he supported, will be “the fiscal equivalent of the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones”

@JimRosicaFL: The Tallahassee lobbyist corps just collectively passed out.

Tweet, tweet:

@PatriciaMazzei: In case there was any doubt …”We’re not rolling back,” @GovRonDeSantis says in a news conference hours after Florida reported a record number of coronavirus cases.

@nikkifried: @GovRonDeSantis has lost control of Florida’s #COVID19 response. He’s recklessly reopening FL despite the data screaming for caution. If the Governor is unwilling to make the right decisions, they must be made in our cities, our states, & our homes.

@senpizzo: Our bill providing decency in the treatment of pregnant inmates, The Tammy Jackson Act, has been sent to @GovRonDeSantis for signing. I’ve got a blue @Sharpie he can borrow! @ShevrinJones @ValenciaGunder @_DignityFL

Tweet, tweet:


Florida coronavirus cases set record; positive tests also up” via Terry Spencer of The Associated Press — Florida’s confirmed coronavirus cases rose sharply again Tuesday, weeks after the state began reopening its economy, setting a daily record with almost 2,800 new cases reported as the overall count eclipsed 80,000 and the death toll neared 3,000. The state Department of Health reported 2,783 new confirmed cases Tuesday, breaking the record of 2,581 just set Friday. Both days are well above the previous high of 1,601 set in mid-May. The state has reported 2,993 deaths, a one-day jump of 55. The daily average for the past week has been about 35, down from 60 in early May.

Feds say there is community spread of coronavirus in Florida. DeSantis disagrees.” via Samantha J. Gross, Ben Conarck and Zachary T. Sampson of the Miami Herald — Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading infectious disease expert on the federal Coronavirus Task Force, plainly stated Tuesday that Florida is one of four states with “community spread” of the disease and therefore elevated risk. “What we’re saying today is that although we keep coming in and saying appropriately that as a nation the risk is relatively low, there are parts of the country right now that are having community spread in which the risk there is clearly a bit more than that,” Fauci said. “And you know the places: Washington state, California, New York and Florida.” The governor’s spokesman contradicted Fauci, “As Gov. DeSantis stated [Monday], there is no community spread of COVID-19 in Florida at this time.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci believes community spread is already in Florida. Ron DeSantis disagrees. Image via AP.

Florida’s young test positive for coronavirus at almost twice the rate” via Jim Waymer of The Palm Beach Post — Youngest Floridians are testing positive for the new coronavirus at almost double the rate as residents overall. A new report by the Florida Department of Health shows less than 5% of the Floridians who tested positive for the novel coronavirus were under the age of 18. But that younger age group tested positive at almost twice the rate as the state as a whole, according to FDOH’s new pediatric COVID-19 case report released June 12. Statewide, 3,407 residents under age 18 have tested positive or 9.2% of the 37,211 tested.

Coronavirus pandemic halts fight over $15 minimum wage, for now” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — First, the coronavirus shut down Florida’s restaurants. Then it shut down the restaurant industry’s fight against steadily increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Save Our Jobs Inc. is a political committee set up in January to fight the amendment on the Nov. 3 ballot by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, whose board members include representatives of Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Darden Restaurants and McDonald’s. The organization raised just $2,000 in April and May. In the three months prior it raised more than $194,000, including $100,000 from the National Restaurant Association.


Questions remain about reopening state offices” via Ana Ceballos of News Service of Florida — More than a month after DeSantis began restarting Florida’s economy, his administration has not issued guidance for how state agencies should reopen offices to workers and the public. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many state workers have been working from home and have been following telework and sick leave policies issued in March by the Department of Management Services, an executive agency that oversees state personnel matters. But the department had not outlined return-to-work protocols as of Tuesday, nearly two weeks after DeSantis moved into the second phase of the state’s economic reopening plan, which includes allowing expanded operations at restaurants and reopening bars and gyms. The first phase started in early May.

The massive health effort behind getting children back to school in an era of coronavirus” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees told Florida pediatricians the new coronavirus inevitably will make its way into public schools this fall, but said he and his team are working on a plan to respond quickly when an outbreak occurs. The first look into the Florida Department of Health’s plan for safe schools reopening shows health officials has a full-scale effort underway to prepare for COVID-19 within schools by creating areas to isolate sick children, hiring contact tracers to identify homes with sick parents, and forming response teams to identify exposed students and arrange testing. While the logistics of the school year are still being worked out, health officials will push hard this summer to get school-age children vaccinated for other diseases and communicate with parents not to send children to school sick.

Scott Rivkees says coronavirus will definitely be in schools, it’s a matter of how to respond if an outbreak hits.

Kitchen table talk — Former House Speaker Dean Cannon, who serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of GrayRobinson, and Senior Government Affairs Consultant Kim McDougal, are hosting a virtual pop-up roundtable to discuss reopening Florida schools. Speakers include Hillsborough County School Superintendent Addison Davis, Florida Department of Education Chief of Staff J. Alex Kelly and Gov. DeSantis’ Director of Policy Chris Spencer. The conference begins at 10:30 a.m.; RSVP at

Broward County schools will open Aug. 19 for 2020-21 school year” via Amanda Batchelor and Hatzel Vela of — The Broward County Public School District held a news conference to announce the School Board’s decisions regarding options for the reopening of schools. The big news is that schools in Broward County will reopen August 19. In preliminary conversations, the school board is weighing several options and based on staff recommendations, the hybrid-staggered day model seems to be the most popular. District officials said the School Board received feedback from more than 80,000 parents/guardians, teachers, staff members and students, who all submitted their ideas for what the reopening of schools should look like.

University of Miami students to return in the fall to Gables campus, despite coronavirus” via Jimena Tavel of the Miami Herald — A little more than three months after the University of Miami vacated its campus to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, President Julio Frenk announced the private college will resume in-person classes come fall, according to an emailed letter he sent to students and faculty. With a revised academic calendar and new cautionary measures, UM plans to reopen its dorms, dining halls and classrooms, provided the pandemic allows for it. Life on campus will not look the way it did before the pandemic. Frenk said his administration did a “thorough redesign” of all spaces to accommodate for social distancing, and masks will be required within public areas or when 6 feet of separation cannot be guaranteed.

St. Johns County School District reviews classroom plans for return of students” via Christen Kelley of The Florida Times-Union — The St. Johns County School District has released tentative details on its plan to bring students back to campus in the fall. During a recent focus group meeting, Superintendent Tim Forson presented three different plans for students to return. Each plan differs based on the level of community spread of the virus. In the ideal scenario with little to no community spread, all students will return to a traditional brick and mortar school setting. If there is minimal or moderate community spread, there are two options that differ between elementary students and middle and high school students. If the spread continues to worsen, students at all grade levels could switch back to distance learning temporarily, or even for a quarter at a time.

Jaguars training camp opening date remains on hold until NFL finalizes all procedures, safety protocols” via John Reid of The Florida Times-Union — Jaguars coach Doug Marrone still hasn’t finalized the starting date or assigned practice times for next month’s training camp. He admitted that all of his scheduling for camp would usually be done by now, especially with the offseason program completed. But Marrone must wait until the NFL finalizes all procedures and safety protocols to avoid the spread of COVID-19 during camp. “Everyone wants to make sure we get this thing right,” Marrone said. “I’m trying to get the schedule; that’s the safest way for us when we return.” Training camps around the league are expected to open late July, but the league’s memo issued last week did not include a date when players could return.


Hospital’s urgent care offering COVID-19 antibody testing” via Brett Shweky of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Wellington Physicians Urgent Care at Palomino Park has recently begun blood serum testing for the presence of antibodies against COVID-19. Affiliated with Wellington Regional Medical Center, the urgent care center is offering tests with capabilities of determining results in three to five days. Tests are covered by many insurance companies or can be performed for $99. Appointments are required. These blood test looks for the presence of antibodies against the COVID-19 virus and can be used as a reflection of potential immunity.

A South Florida urgent care center is beginning to offer antibody serum tests for coronavirus.

Florida finds no evidence of fraud by Miami hospital charging $150 for COVID-19 tests” via Daniel Chang of the Miami Herald — Florida’s top law enforcement officer has closed the state’s fraud investigation into Larkin Community Hospital, finding no evidence of wrongdoing by the hospital for charging $150 for COVID-19 tests that DeSantis and Trump said would be free for consumers. The office of Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody launched the probe after DeSantis called for an investigation of a South Florida hospital that was charging $150 per test. DeSantis said called the $150 charge “not acceptable here in the state of Florida. The president has made clear … the tests are free.”

Miami Beach staple Books & Books is closing for good” via Janine Stanwood of — After 30 years of selling books, hosting authors, and providing a respite for literary lovers on Lincoln Road, Books & Books on Miami Beach is closing its doors. “The COVID certainly accelerated the process,” said owner Mitchell Kaplan. The independent bookstore opened at 927 Lincoln Road in 1988. Kaplan said the pedestrian mall was still a hidden gem for locals. “To open up and be a part of its growth and development has been a very exciting ride over these 30 years,” Kaplan said. Rising rents, even before the pandemic, have been hard on mom and pop stores. “This has been something going on for at least two, three, four years. Where small independent businesses like mine are just being priced out of the road,” he said.

Ballard Partners: Helping clients in Florida’s COVID-19 hotspot” via Andrew Meacham of Florida Politics — During the pandemic, the state shut down elective surgeries for an indefinite length of time, presumably until authorities got a better handle on an emerging COVID-19 pandemic. “That doesn’t mean plastic surgery,” Ballard Partners lobbyist Amy Young said. “We’re talking about something that’s planned like knee surgery or hip surgery, things that really damage patients’ health if they don’t take care of it in a timely fashion.” The temporary ban encompassed Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties, which was being held back. After a series of meetings, DeSantis relented and allowed elective surgeries, though otherwise, the densely populated tri-county area remained in Phase 1.

Amy Young, José Felix Diaz, and Mat Forrest of Ballard Partners.

Palm Beach County looking at mandatory masks” via Wayne Washington of The Palm Beach Post — With coronavirus cases spiking in Palm Beach County, commissioners are considering making mask-wearing mandatory in public buildings. “To give up and just say we’re going to let this spread unabated is not acceptable,” Commissioner Gregg Weiss said during a commission meeting. Commissioners did not make a final decision on masks and agreed to discuss it when they meet again on June 25. Weiss raised the prospect of mandating mask-wearing after Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County, presented yet another stark set of numbers showing that virus cases are surging again.

Palm Beach County: ‘What we are doing right now is not working.’” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — After pushing to reopen businesses, South Florida leaders now find themselves fighting to contain a steep rise in coronavirus cases, and Palm Beach County for the first time may require the public to wear face masks. Public officials in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties all preached caution Tuesday in opening the economy further, though none indicated that they were ready to impose more lockdowns. Palm Beach County was the first in South Florida to end its coronavirus lockdown, despite not meeting all federal guidelines.


Lenny Curry to launch relief program for Jacksonville seniors, expresses optimism despite rising virus count” via Clayton Freeman of The Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville Mayor Curry said that starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, the city would begin launching a senior and disabled financial assistance program, consisting of a one-time $300 payment open to up to 3,300 Duval County residents who are 72 or older or are receiving Social Security disability payments. Applicants must live in Duval County and must not have received funds from the city’s small business assistance program or its mortgage, rent and utilities relief program. They must also have experienced reduced income or increased expenses as a result of COVID-19, with an adjusted 2019 gross income of no more than $30,000.

Lenny Curry is announcing a new financial assistance program for seniors and others affected by COVID-19.

Hillsborough County exceeds 4,000 cases as Pinellas sees higher mortality rate” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Coronavirus cases in the Tampa Bay continue to rise. Hillsborough County added another 189 cases Monday, according to the most recent Florida Department of Health data. That’s down from 223 new cases Sunday, but significantly up from the 22 cases reported three weeks ago. Hillsborough’s total number of cases is now more than 4,000 including 3,967 residents and 62 nonresidents. Pinellas County added 136 new cases Monday, down from 154 Sunday and 165 Saturday, but up from just seven reported three weeks ago. State officials have attributed the rise in positive cases to increased testing capacity.

Five NOAA hurricane hunter crew members test positive for coronavirus in Lakeland” via Josh Fiallo of the Tampa Bay Times — Five employees of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hurricane Hunter team tested positive for coronavirus. Jonathan Shannon, a spokesman for the reconnaissance base at Lakeland Linder International Airport, said in a media release that the five employees at the center tested positive for COVID-19 Friday. It is unclear how the temporary loss of employees will affect future hurricane missions. The Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1. Shannon said that the base had been adhering to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s coronavirus guidelines, including social distancing and working from home when possible.

Rick Kriseman teases potential new COVID-19 precautions” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — St. Petersburg may be poised to reinstate some coronavirus-related restrictions as cases locally and statewide continue to rise to pre-reopening levels. Kriseman announced Tuesday he was delaying his weekly COVID-19 update to continue conversations with county leaders about the next local steps. “It is clear the State of Florida is business as usual. I will be taking steps to protect our city. In the meantime, mask up,” Kriseman wrote Tuesday. He did not elaborate on potential plans.

WWE testing staff for coronavirus after wrestler tested positive” via Jon Alba of Bay News 9 — The WWE canceled a television taping after one of its wrestlers tested positive for coronavirus. WWE announced Monday that a developmental wrestler who attended tapings in Orlando last week tested positive for coronavirus. The company says it canceled Tuesday’s taping so it could test all personnel for coronavirus. The news sparked concern because, during a taping Monday night, several friends and family members were allowed into the facility. Several non-performers in attendance, who said they underwent temperature checks before attending the tapings, but were not tested for the virus. They also say they were not told they needed to get tested like the others in attendance.

The WWE Performance Center in Orlando is dealing with a coronavirus breakout after one of its wrestlers tested positive. Image via Bay News 9.

WWE knocks down report fans were not allowed to wear masks at taping” via Iliana Limon Romero of the Orlando Sentinel — WWE has shut down taping at its performance center in Orange County for at least one day after an unnamed developmental wrestler tested positive for COVID-19. The company also pushed back against claims fans in attendance for a Monday taping were not allowed to wear masks and signed liability waivers stating they were aware they were at risk of contracting coronavirus. “Fans have not been in attendance at WWE events since March 13. Yesterday, a select number of friends and family were permitted to attend WWE’s TV production,” WWE said in a statement. “These individuals were required to participate in medical screenings before entering the closed set at our training facility and were kept apart from in-ring performers and production personnel.


Mike Pence tells Governors to repeat misleading claim on outbreaks” via The New York Times — Pence encouraged governors to adopt the administration’s claim that increased testing helps account for the new coronavirus outbreak reports, even though evidence has shown that the explanation is misleading. On a call with the governors, audio of which was obtained by The New York Times, Pence urged them “to continue to explain to your citizens the magnitude of the increase in testing” in addressing the new outbreaks. Seven-day averages in several states with outbreaks have increased since May 31, and in at least 14 states, the positive case rate is increasing faster than the increase in the average number of tests.

VP Mike Pence appears to have been urging Governors to report inaccurate coronavirus outbreak data.

Coronavirus recommendations ignored as case numbers rise” via Lenny Bernstein, Rachel Weiner and Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post — Coronavirus infections continued to rise in many parts of a divided nation, with public health recommendations under attack from communities tired of staying home and officials eager to restart local economies. Even as the number of infections rose and hospital beds filled in some places, voices clamored for an end to mandatory mask-wearing. And the relaxation of restrictions designed to curb the novel coronavirus continued. Two associations of local health officials released a statement warning that “public health department officials and staff have been physically threatened and politically scapegoated,” and “the vital work of public health departments is also being challenged.”

As U.S. nursing-home deaths reach 50,000, states ease lockdowns” via Jon Kamp and Anna Wilde Mathews of The Wall Street Journal — Nursing homes and other senior-care facilities have started to allow more visits after a monthslong lockdown to protect vulnerable residents from coronavirus infections, even as the pandemic’s death toll tied to such places surpasses 50,000. Deaths among senior-care center staff and residents appear to represent at least 40% of the overall count of more than 116,000 U.S. fatalities related to COVID-19 as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The pace of reopening elder-care facilities is uneven around the U.S., with a patchwork of rules that is frustrating some of their operators.

House coronavirus task force launches probe into nursing homes” via Kyle Cheney and Rachel Roubein of POLITICO — The House committee overseeing the federal response to the coronavirus crisis is launching a sweeping investigation into the country’s five largest for-profit nursing home companies, demanding details about their structure, executive compensation and preparedness for the coronavirus crisis. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, who chairs the coronavirus panel, sent letters to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as well as the five companies, seeking reams of information about whether CMS properly managed the outbreak in nursing homes, ensuring that enough testing and supplies were available. More than a quarter of the country’s 115,000 coronavirus-related deaths have been attributed to the spread in nursing homes.

Cheap, widely available steroid called dexamethasone can improve COVID-19 survival, researchers say” via Marilynn Marchione of The Associated Press — Researchers in England said they have the first evidence that a drug can improve COVID-19 survival: A cheap, widely available steroid called dexamethasone reduced deaths by up to one-third in severely ill hospitalized patients. The drug was given either orally or through an IV. After 28 days, it had reduced deaths by 35% in patients who needed treatment with breathing machines and by 20% in those needing only supplemental oxygen. It did not appear to help less ill patients. Even though the drug helps only in severe cases, “countless lives will be saved globally,” said Nick Cammack of Wellcome, a British charity that supports scientific research.

As leaders warned of U.S. meat shortages, overseas exports of pork and beef continued” via Kyle Bagenstose of the USA Today — As U.S. meat production plummeted in April following a rash of coronavirus outbreaks and closures at processing plants across the country, industry and political leaders sounded an alarm. Factory closures were “pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply,” Kenneth Sullivan, CEO of Smithfield Foods, the country’s largest pork producer, warned in a public message April 6. As closures worsened three weeks later, John Tyson, chair of Tyson Foods, put his name on a full-page ad in The Washington Post and The New York Times warning that America’s “food supply chain is breaking.”

Canada-U. S. border to remain closed until July 21” via Maura Forrest POLITICO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Tuesday that the Canada-U. S. border closure on nonessential travel will remain in place until July 21. The previous agreement was set to expire Sunday. The extension is not a surprise. Media reports last week suggested both countries were holding talks about prolonging the border restrictions, and Canadian leaders have expressed little desire to reopen the border this early in the recovery. While the border will remain closed, Trudeau earlier this month announced a loosening of the restrictions to allow family members separated by the border to reunite.

Businesses ask patrons to waive right to sue if they get ill” via The Associated Press — As businesses reopen across the U.S. after coronavirus shutdowns, many are requiring customers and workers to sign forms saying they won’t sue if they catch COVID-19. Businesses fear they could be the target of litigation even if they adhere to safety precautions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health officials. But workers’ rights groups say the forms force employees to sign away their rights should they get sick. The liability waivers would protect businesses in states that don’t have liability limits or immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits. Critics argue that liability waivers open the door for corporations to skirt protocols like erecting Plexiglas barriers, providing face masks and other protective equipment, and keeping people the proper distance apart without suffering any repercussions.

A mall in Oklahoma during the coronavirus shutdown. As businesses reopen, many fearing lawsuits are requiring customers and employees to sign agreements not to sue if they should catch COVID-19 on the job. Image via AP.


Record gain in U.S. retail sales offers hope of faster recovery” via Katia Dmitrieva and Olivia Rockeman of Bloomberg — American consumers are getting their groove back as a record surge in May retail sales offered some hope of quicker recovery from the pandemic-induced recession. The 17.7% advance from the prior month, to $485 billion in receipts, was the biggest gain in data going back to 1992, following unprecedented declines in the prior two months, according to Commerce Department data. Stocks jumped as the May advance was more than double the median projection, though optimism was tempered by tepid figures on industrial production along with fresh concern about an acceleration in COVID-19 cases.

Apple to reopen 75 more U.S. stores, including in New York” via Mark Gurman of Bloomberg — Apple Inc. said it’s reopening 75 more retail stores across the U.S. this week, including some locations in major markets such as New York, Los Angeles and Boston. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant shut all stores outside China in March to help curb the spread of COVID-19. It started reopening U.S. locations in May, and after this week’s moves, the majority of the company’s 210 domestic stores will be back up and running. Some of the stores reopening this week will have curbside service only, but most will let shoppers inside with masks and other social-distancing requirements. In New York, several locations, including the Fifth Avenue, SoHo and Grand Central Station stores, will only accept customers by appointment, Apple said.

Apple intends to reopen 75 more stores in the United States, including several in New York. Image via AP.

Hilton lays off 22% of corporate workers as hotels struggle against COVID-19” via Sara DiNatale of the Tampa Bay Times — Hilton will lay off 2,100 corporate employees, adding to existing cuts the hotel chain has taken to curb the financial harm from COVID-19. The hotel chain had already reduced hours, put employees on furlough and cut executive pay. Those measures have been extended another three months, the hotelier said in a news release. Hilton has more than 50 hotels in Tampa Bay alone. “Never in Hilton’s 101-year history has our industry faced a global crisis that brings travel to a virtual standstill,” Hilton president Christopher J. Nassetta said in a written statement. “Hospitality will always be a business of people serving people, which is why I am devastated that to protect our business, we have been forced to take actions that directly impact our Team Members.”

More than 2.5 million Floridians have now filed for unemployment since the pandemic began” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — Unemployment applications amid the coronavirus pandemic broke 2.5 million this week, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity data reported Monday covering March 15-June 15. Of those claims, about 2.3 million were unique and not duplicates. The total number of claims is up about 400,000 from a week ago. Meanwhile, the number of claims processed in Florida has increased to about 2.2 million or 92.2%. The state has made payments to 1.39 million claimants in the past three months accounting for $6.28 billion in payments since the start of the pandemic.

VISIT FLORIDA applies for federal grants — The state’s tourism marketing arm, VISIT FLORIDA, has applied for $8 million in federal tourism grants. As reported by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, the grant money would be directed to local governments for tourism advertising. “The proposal will directly benefit local communities as they work to bring jobs back,” CEO Dana Young told the VISIT FLORIDA executive committee during a Monday meeting.


‘Watch it on TV’: Gov. Andrew Cuomo OKs no-fan U.S. Open tennis in NY” via Howard Fendrich of The Associated Press — New York Gov. Cuomo gave the go-ahead Tuesday for the U.S. Open tennis tournament to be held in his state starting in late August, but without spectators, as part of the reopening from shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic. “You can watch it on TV and I’ll take that,” Cuomo said at his daily briefing in Albany. Now that the U.S. Tennis Association’s proposal to hold its marquee event has been accepted, including a “bubble” setup with designated hotels, limited player entourages and a facility closed to the hundreds of thousands of people who usually attend the U.S. Open, the key question becomes: Who actually will end up competing on the blue hard courts in Flushing Meadows from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13?

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the U.S. Open will be played in Queens from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13, but without fans in attendance. Image via AP.


Spotted — Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri standing beside Trump as he signed “Safe Policing for Safer Communities,” a police reform executive order in the White House Rose Garden.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri next to Trump as he signs a police reform executive order. Image via Ryan Smith/@RyanReports/Twitter.

‘Crazy ideas’: Rick Scott continues crusade against calls to ‘defund the police’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Scott continues to make political hay out of calls to defend the police, with a Tuesday interview on Fox News providing the latest platform. The first-term Republican blasted the “idea that we’re going to get more security by getting rid of the police.” “We’ve got to fund our police. Are there bad apples that do the wrong thing? Yes, absolutely,” Scott said. “We’ve got to get rid of them.” Law enforcement, Scott added, is “disgusted by what happened” with Floyd, thus far the only single victim of murder by cop that Florida’s junior Senator has acknowledged. But they still need money, he said.

Investigation into Alcee Hastings’ employment of longtime girlfriend ends — after panel learns they got married” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — U.S. Rep. Hastings’ longtime romantic relationship with his highest-paid congressional aide led to an ethics investigation, which has now ended with investigators learning the couple got married. Patricia Williams, currently the chief of staff for Hastings’ office in his Broward-Palm Beach County district, and Hastings have been personally involved for decades. The change in society’s attitudes toward employer-employee relationships and emergence of the #MeToo movement, in which powerful men in business, politics and the media came under new scrutiny for forcing women into sex, prompted a House rule change that prohibited sexual relationships between members of Congress and their employees.

Prosecutor who withdrew from Roger Stone case to testify about DOJ” via Kyle Cheney and Leah Nylen of POLITICO — One of four prosecutors who withdrew from the case of longtime Trump ally Stone after Justice Department leaders intervened in his sentencing, Aaron Zelinsky, is prepared to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next week, Chairman Jerry Nadler revealed Tuesday. Nadler issued two subpoenas, one for Zelinsky and one for DOJ antitrust prosecutor John Elias, describing both as “whistleblowers.” They’ll appear alongside Donald Ayer, a former deputy attorney general in President George H.W. Bush‘s Justice Department, who is expected to speak broadly about the importance of an independent Justice Department.

Kionne McGhee wants congressional hearings to help to ‘protect the vote’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — House Democratic Leader McGhee wrote a letter to members of the Florida congressional delegation urging them to hold hearings to ensure the nation’s polling sites are properly staffed this November. The letter was addressed to U.S. Reps. Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Matt Gaetz and Greg Steube. McGhee also sent the letter to DeSantis. McGhee suggested a portion of the state’s National Guard be trained on how to serve as poll workers on Election Day. “They should be ready for deployment — dressed in civilian clothes and protective gear — and be on standby, particularly in the major metropolitan areas where the longest delays or unforeseen poll closings might occur,” he wrote.


Gov. DeSantis promises big cuts to state budget” via Jim Turner of News Service of Florida — DeSantis said Tuesday he will soon slash enough spending from the state’s proposed $93.2 billion budget to keep lawmakers from having to address a coronavirus-fueled loss in tax revenues before the November elections. “There’s going to be a lot more vetoes, there’ll be a lot of red,” DeSantis told reporters during a late afternoon news conference. Lawmakers passed a record spending plan in March for the fiscal year that starts July 1, but DeSantis has line-item veto power. With two weeks until the fiscal year begins, DeSantis said his office has already been targeting cuts, identifying areas in agency budgets that can be held back on a quarterly basis and allocating federal stimulus dollars to cover pandemic-related costs.

Large budget cuts are on the horizon, says Ron DeSantis.

After long legislative road, E-Verify awaits DeSantis’ signature” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Legislation increasing requirements for employers to check the immigration status for new workers has been sent to the Governor’s desk. The bill arrives with a Senate number but bears language from a companion bill passed in the House. The legislation puts requirements for private employers to confirm work eligibility for hires, but allows use of either the federal E-Verify database or the collection of I-9 forms, basically allowing a business to accept evidence from workers indicating they can legally work in the United States. In the House, Rep. Cord Byrd shepherded the proposal, marking the first time any E-Verify legislation so much as made it through a first committee.

Sunscreen ban preemption hits Governor’s desk” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis will soon cast his decision on whether to block local bans on sunscreen sales. After Key West banned the sale of certain sunblocks over fears some chemicals could degrade coral reefs, lawmakers filed legislation that would overrule that and future bans. The city had qualms with the effects of component ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate on the largest coral reef on the continent. Stuart and Miami Beach have mulled similar bans. Rep. Spencer Roach, the bill’s House sponsor, noted DeSantis’ veto on last year’s plastic straw preemption fight, with DeSantis doubting a “compelling state interest” for the straw ban. Legislation this year preempting local vacation rental regulations died after the Governor voiced his reluctance on such a law.

Nassau County’s failed extortion attempt is costing taxpayers nearly $400K & climbing” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — The Circuit Court of the 4th Judicial District weighed in on June 10 regarding the argument of who is responsible for funding and maintaining parks within the East Nassau Community Planning Area (ENCPA). Circuit Judge James H. Daniel granted partial summary judgment in favor of Raydient and the ENCPA. The complaint filed by Raydient and the depositions and testimony that followed uncovered a series of Florida’s Public Records Act and Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Law violations by some in Nassau County. While there isn’t an exact dollar figure yet, it’s clear Nassau County has spent a lot of taxpayer money essentially dragging their feet on what they should have been doing all along.

Tampa-Orlando I-4 project gets $10M in federal transportation funding” via Veronica Brezina-Smith of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Commuters traveling between Tampa and Orlando will be able to experience high-tech communication in real-time for traffic conditions along the Interstate 4 corridor after the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded millions of dollars toward a project. The project will deploy an advanced system consisting of next-generation traffic incident management and vehicle-to-infrastructure technologies. The project will allow travelers in the I-4 FRAME system to receive a variety of traffic, weather, intersection signal timing and other mobility-related messages in real-time.

— 2020 —

Trump’s 2020 polls are getting worse. Here’s proof.” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — A couple of weeks ago, a poll shook the 2020 race. It showed former Vice President Joe Biden, who had just officially secured the delegates he needs to become the Democratic nominee, leading Trump by a remarkable 12 points in all-important Michigan. A poll that was conducted in the same period as the earlier Michigan poll, but a day later by the same pollster, showing that Biden’s margin was actually 16 points. That’s within the margin of error of the other poll, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that Trump’s numbers deteriorated that week.

Donald Trump’s 2020 polls keep getting worse, particularly in places where he needs the most support. Image via Bloomberg.

Trump tries to plot a political comeback based on the economy. Joe Biden says not so fast.” via Sean Sullivan and Ashley Parker of The Washington Post — Trump’s advisers are trying to plot a political turnaround centered on his stewardship of the economy, seeking to exploit a rare issue on which voters trust him as much as Biden and vowing to usher in the “great American comeback” after the country plunged into a financial free fall on his watch. Biden, under growing pressure from Democratic allies to wage a more aggressive rebuttal, plans to sharpen his economic focus in the coming weeks with the rollout of new proposals to stimulate job creation.

Liberal groups slam Biden’s response to police protest movement, warning he risks losing support from black voters” via Annie Linskey of The Washington Post — More than 50 liberal groups signed a letter to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Biden criticizing his response to the emerging protest movement against police brutality, warning that failing to embrace a more aggressive agenda risks alienating the African American voters he needs to win the election. The letter pointed to Biden’s recent promise to add $300 million for community policing programs, a plan that activists say would undermine their efforts to push for systemic changes, such as defunding police forces. The letter, which LaTosha Brown, the head of Black Voters Matter, said was first organized by several black-led groups, warned Biden that he needs to move more forcefully to remedy what they see as the ugly legacy of policies he pushed.

Senior black elected Florida Democrat wants Joe Biden to pick African American running mate — but Florida’s Val Demings isn’t on his list” via Anthony Man of the Orlando Sentinel — U.S. Rep. Hastings said that Democratic presidential candidate Biden should pick an African American running mate. His recommendation: U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who unsuccessfully sought the presidential nomination herself. Not on his list: U.S. Rep. Demings, his colleague from Orlando. Hastings, who represents parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties, is the longest-serving member of Congress from Florida and a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Demings stresses police experience, personal history with racism as vice-presidential credentials” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — U.S. Rep. Demings made her case Tuesday why her experiences as both an African American woman and Orlando police chief could be what the Democratic presidential ticket needs this year, despite questions about police brutality during her tenure. In a conference call with Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez and state party chair Terrie Rizzo marking the five-year anniversary of Trump’s 2016 campaign, Demings said a victory for Trump in November would mean “surviving four more years of divisiveness and complete chaos.” The call came shortly after Trump announced he would sign an executive order that would create a federal database of police officers with a history of using excessive force.

Elizabeth Warren’s outreach to black voters could help VP standing” via Will Weisert of The Associated Press — Shortly before Warren joined their virtual happy hour on a recent Friday afternoon, the five African American women co-hosting the #TheSipHour mused about calling her by her first name. Such overtures could help Warren’s bid to become Biden’s running mate. The presumptive Democratic nominee is under mounting pressure to pick a black woman in the wake of recent outrage over racial injustice and police brutality. But some black leaders say Warren’s progressive politics, economic populism and specific policy proposals addressing everything from maternal mortality to the coronavirus could put her in a strong position.


Counties pull together to secure 10K hotel rooms in two days for Republican Convention” via Scott Johnson of — Thousands of hotel rooms throughout Northeast Florida needed to be secured before the Republican National Convention heads to Jacksonville for Trump’s renomination speech. Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau and St. Johns counties pulled together to get the needed 10,000 rooms in just two days. Michael Corrigan, the president of Visit Jacksonville, said his office was contacted by Curry’s office with the request. “If you had told me when the request first came in that we were going to be able to secure 10,000 hotel rooms, a written commitment for 10,000 hotel rooms in 48 hours, I would’ve said no way,” Corrigan said. “But that’s exactly what the region did.”

These Jax Beach restaurants and bars have closed due to coronavirus concerns” via Mindy Wadley of First Coast News — With several patrons and employees of Jacksonville Beaches-area bars and restaurants being diagnosed with COVID-19 in the days following the reopening of bars in Florida, several businesses are opting to close shop. Many are having their facilities deep cleaned and sanitized and requiring employees to be tested for the novel coronavirus.

Three Jacksonville Beach bars close for deep cleaning after employees tested positive for coronavirus. Image via First Coast News.

DUUUUUVAL” via Steve Schale — With the Republican National Convention headed to Jacksonville, I figured this was an opportunity to write about my favorite part of Florida. This isn’t a piece about whether it is a good idea for the convention to come to Jacksonville, rather this is a piece to provide some context and history to the political climate of the region. There is an immense amount of history here, even before Gardner Minshew arrived in 2019. Northeast Florida is Florida’s First Coast. Home to the Timucua people, Ponce De Leon landed here in 1513, somewhere near modern-day St. Augustine, and named the place “La Florida” — or as former Gov. Charlie Crist rightly calls it, the state with the prettiest name.


Stan Van Gundy weighs in for Patricia Sigman in SD 9 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Van Gundy is adding celebrity clout to the support of Democrat Sigman‘s bid for Senate District 9. Van Gundy, former coach of the Miami Heat, the Detroit Pistons and the Magic, declared his endorsement for Sigman Tuesday in a news release issued by her campaign. Van Gundy coached the Magic from 2007-2012, the team’s last heyday era, and remains popular throughout the Orlando area. He and his wife Kim Van Gundy live in Lake Mary, within SD 9, which covers Seminole County and parts of southern Volusia County. They are active in a variety of charitable organizations.

Ex-Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy is adding a little star power to the support of Democrat Patricia Sigman‘s bid for SD 9.

Was Senate Democratic leadership pushing a candidate out of SD 27 race?” Via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Is it better for Democrats to run a candidate in a red district or to have an open primary and elect the more moderate option? Rachel Brown, the Democrat running in SD 27, would not identify anybody by name, but confirmed Democratic elites in Tallahassee pressed her to sit out the race. Sources say Sen. Gary Farmer, who is expected to lead the Democratic caucus after the 2020 elections, was the one encouraging Brown to drop out. So why would the person set to become Senate President if Democrats win a majority try and essentially cede a district to the GOP? Sources confirm Farmer himself tried to lobby Brown, though she would not say who spoke to her.

Former HD 103 candidate Frank Mingo backs Tom Fabricio in 2020 contest” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Mingo is backing Fabricio as he attempts to unseat Rep. Cindy Polo. “Tom Fabricio is far and away the strongest conservative candidate in this race,” said Mingo, who also formerly served as the Miami Lakes Vice Mayor. “I have been impressed with Tom’s work ethic, his dedication to our community, and his unwavering commitment to conservative values. There’s no doubt in my mind he will be elected and will serve our district proudly.” Nelson Rodriguez, the current Miami Lakes Vice Mayor, is competing against Fabricio for the Republican nod. Mingo was the GOP nominee in 2018 and was the strongest fundraiser throughout the race. However, he came up short in the general election, losing to Polo 53%-47%.

Bonita Springs mayor says he will not run for reelection” via Thaddeus Mast of the Naples Daily News — Peter Simmons, mayor of Bonita Springs and a former city councilor, will not be running for a second term as a city leader. He wants to spend more time with his family, Simmons said in an email. “For those individuals who know me, truly know me, they understand that I look forward to not missing any future father-daughter events and (parents’ weekends) at Florida State University in Tallahassee, or any of our son’s home and road college football games starting the fall of 2021,” Simmons’ email states. Councilor Jesse Purdon, a longtime friend of Simmons’, said the mayor leaving after one term shows Simmons’ commitment to Bonita Springs.


There isn’t a coronavirus ‘second wave’” via Mike Pence for The Wall Street Journal — In recent days, the media has taken to sounding the alarm bells over a “second wave” of coronavirus infections. Such panic is overblown. Thanks to the leadership of President Trump and the courage and compassion of the American people, our public health system is far stronger than it was four months ago, and we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy. While talk of an increase in cases dominates cable news coverage, more than half of states are actually seeing cases decline or remain stable. The truth is that we’ve made great progress over the past four months, and it’s a testament to the leadership of President Trump.


Black Lives Matter. What it means. Why here. And why now.” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Long before protesters marched in Washington or Minneapolis, people were angry about a case just 40 minutes north of Disney World. You probably remember Trayvon Martin. But you may not remember why the outcry began. Not because a jury acquitted his killer but because, long before that, people wondered whether anyone cared that the 17-year-old was dead. Weeks had passed since Trayvon had been killed on a nighttime run to 7-Eleven for candy and a canned drink. He was unarmed. And authorities had charged no one with a crime and released few details. That was when, for the first time I found in a newspaper, someone uttered the phrase “black lives matter” — not as a protest chant, but rather as a desperate plea.


Members of a group called Physicians for Social Responsibility are calling on DeSantis to make face masks mandatory for people gathering in public places. Three of those doctors will explain why.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— The doctors’ call to “mask up” came as Florida shattered the one-day record in COVID-19 cases … adding 2,783 Tuesday. There have now been at least 3,085 fatalities in Florida — 55 more than the day before. Sunrise hears from both the Governor and the chair of the Florida Democratic Party

— Trump is issuing an executive order on police standards, responding to Black Lives Matter protests. Orlando-area Congresswoman Demings welcomes the idea of a national database of bad cops, but it’s not mandatory. Critics say the executive order is only window dressing for the campaign.

— The latest in Florida Man, who quit his job at Publix after being told he could not wear a protective mask with the letters BLM.

To listen, click on the image below:


— ALOE —

Miami Dolphins’ drive-in movie theater at Hard Rock Stadium to open Friday with ‘Selma,’ Super Bowl VII” via Ben Crandell of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The drive-in movie theater at Hard Rock Stadium will make its debut Friday, June 19, with the timely Juneteenth screening of Ava DuVernay’s critically lauded 2014 civil-rights drama “Selma.” The film will be shown on four large video boards inside the stadium for an audience in cars parked on the field, home to the Miami Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes, as well as on a large screen outside for fans set up on the Fountain Plaza. The film will begin at 7:15 p.m. at both venues.

Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium is becoming a drive-in movie theater.


Best wishes to Republican political consultant Brett Doster, Donna Main, the very talented Kristin PiccoloToby PhilpotSharon Smoley, the Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy for the Orlando Economic Partnership.


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


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.

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