Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.26.20

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Good morning: Here's your first look at the issues behind today's Florida politics.

To begin, we wish a very happy birthday to our First Lady — Casey DeSantis.

Very happy birthday to Florida’s First Lady Casey DeSantis. Image via Colin Hackley.


Next, all of us at Florida Politics would also like to wish a top-of-Sunburn happy 40th anniversary to our dear friends, Nancy and Robert Watkins. It is difficult to imagine any couple with more of an outsized influence on Florida politics, yet they conduct themselves with old-school charm, grace and decency — proof that class acts never go out of style. Like so many, Michelle and I have been blessed to call them friends. We trust there will be many more anniversaries to come.


@ScottGottliebMD: Universal masking is the most obvious and least intrusive intervention that states with large epidemics can now reach for. But it won’t be enough at this stage. FL, TX, AZ, CA may all have to consider limiting elective surgeries to once again free up hospital capacity for COVID.

Tweet, tweet:

@nikkifried: This pandemic is threatening to spiral out of control, while leadership is rushing into further reopening. We need to take action now. That’s why I am calling on @GovRonDeSantis to issue a statewide order requiring masks to be worn in public places.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@Mdixon55: As expected, @EvanPower has filed a lawsuit challenging Leon County’s mask order Attorneys are state Rep. @AnthonySabatini and Richard Coates, who is a well-known attorney in Florida GOP circles

Tweet, tweet:

@BenDiamondFL: I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but … Wear your mask. Wear your mask. Wear your mask.

@DAnglinFox4: I’m merely a reporter covering countless COVID-19 issues … HOWEVER — if I can see your nostrils you’re defeating the purpose of wearing the mask. #LetsProtectEachOther

@BillGalvano: Florida is proof that a balanced approach to education is possible! Yesterday @GovRonDeSantis signed a historic pay raise for teachers in our neighborhood public schools. Today he signed legislation to increase access to school choice options for low and middle-income families.

@helenaguirrefer: 98% of the first graduating class of Cristo Rey Tampa Salesian High School are going to college. The class valedictorian has a full-ride scholarship to Rice University. Not bad. I guess families know what school is best for their kids which is why it is called school choice.

@Scott_Maxwell: Now do every other voucher school taxpayers fund. Every year. Just like public schools. Is there a reason you and the governor don’t want taxpayers to see what they get for their money? Accountability used to be an (allegedly) Republican value.

@JoshGerstein: Another zinger of an order from Judge Amy Berman Jackson, seeking records about Roger Stone‘s request to delay his prison report date next week. This is her third demand for follow-up info.

@OhNoSheTwint: The good news is if you die at Disney World you get to spend eternity in the Haunted Mansion.


NBA training camp — 4; MLB players report — 5; “The Outpost” with Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood premieres — 7; NBA teams travel to Orlando — 11; Major League Soccer will return to action — 12; Disney World Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom to reopen — 15; Disney World Epcot and Hollywood Studios to reopen — 19; Federal taxes due — 19; MLB 60-game season begins — 27; “Mulan” premieres — 28; TED conference rescheduled — 29; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premieres — 35; NBA season restart in Orlando — 35; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 52; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 53; NBA draft lottery — 58; Indy 500 rescheduled — 58; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 60; Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 63; U.S. Open begins — 66; “A Quiet Place Part II” premieres — 70; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 72; Rescheduled date for French Open — 94; First presidential debate in Indiana — 98; “Wonder Woman” premieres — 98; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 99; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 106; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 108; Second presidential debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 111; NBA draft — 111; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 112; NBA free agency — 114; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 120; 2020 General Election — 130; “Black Widow” premieres — 134; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 137; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 145; “No Time to Die” premieres — 152; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 159; “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres — 201; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 227; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 392; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 401; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 497; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 595; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 637; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 679; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 833.


Florida tops 5,000 new coronavirus cases; CDC warns spread is broader” via Joel Engelhardt of the Tallahassee Democrat — As more and more places in Florida require masks, the stream of new coronavirus cases continued to surge with more than 5,000 new cases recorded statewide for the second straight day. And the number of carriers of the fast-spreading respiratory disease may be much higher than testing has confirmed. The number of infected Americans is likely 10 times higher than the number of cases reported, the head of the CDC said Thursday. That means perhaps 20 million Americans have the virus, which can go undetected, but the vast majority of the population remains susceptible.

Ron DeSantis has been walking a tightrope for weeks during the coronavirus crisis, trying to protect both Floridians vulnerable to the virus and the cratering economy in a state of 21 million people. Image via AP.

FL’s dumping ground for COVID-19: Just come on down and see how many people you can infect” via Lucy Morgan of Florida Phoenix — Looks like Florida is becoming the dumping ground for the most contagious virus to hit the United States in years. Just come on down and see how many people you can infect. Especially if there’s a Republican thing going on with President Donald Trump in attendance. So Trump quickly got Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry to open the doors so they could all pour into his town in August. Surely no harm can come from a bunch of partying, drinking politicians.

Florida receives $250 million from CARES Act for affordable housing COVID-19 relief” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — DeSantis announced Florida will receive $250 million in CARES Act funding to provide rental and mortgage assistance for families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Many families across our state have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 through no fault of their own,” DeSantis said. “This initiative strives to provide financial assistance through multiple affordable housing programs to ensure these Floridians receive the support they need during this difficult time.” The funding will be divided into two funding pools for $240 million. The other $10 million will be held for operational costs.

Ousted COVID-19 dashboard manager Rebekah Jones to file whistleblower complaint” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Jones, the fired Department of Health data expert who operated its COVID-19 dashboard, says she will file a whistleblower complaint and other suits against the state. Jones says she was fired from the department by the very person she had expressed a desire to file a complaint about in mid-May but never had the opportunity. After discussing her complaint with her supervisor and her story going public, she was fired for “repeated course of insubordination.” “I’ve spoken to my lawyer and another lawyer, and in the next few weeks, we will be filing that and others,” Jones said. Her complaint, as initially planned, would have addressed the way case data was handled and removed from the department’s public records.

Cruise industry shutdown will put Port Canaveral $17 million in red for budget year” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — The ongoing shutdown of the cruise industry because of the coronavirus pandemic will put Port Canaveral’s operating budget more than $17 million in the red for the current fiscal year, newly released estimates show. The revised budget shows that the port will have an estimated loss of $17.44 million for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, primarily because cruise operations have been shut down since mid-March. That compares with initial projections last summer that the port would have an $8.34 million profit during the current budget year.

Utility customers: Your unpaid pandemic bills are coming due” via Malena Carollo of the Tampa Bay Times — After a monthslong pause during the pandemic, Tampa Electric Co. will resume disconnections later this summer for customers who don’t pay their bills. Florida’s major utilities began a grace period for disconnections in March for customers who were unable to pay their bills because of hardships caused by COVID-19. Tampa Electric and its sister company, TECO Peoples Gas, extended that period through the end of July, spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said. Duke Energy Florida does not have a specific end date for its grace period. Disconnections for Tampa Electric customers, Jacobs said, will resume in August. Customers who fail to pay their bill by its due date would have 12 days from their due date to pay before the utility disconnects them, Jacobs said.

Florida’s coronavirus response has MLB teams staying home for spring training 2.0” via Tom D’Angelo of the News-Press — Florida’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been so mismanaged that teams from New York, Boston and other hard-hit spots early on have determined they are safer resuming spring training in their hometowns than risk traveling to one of the country’s emerging hot spots. Who can blame them? Florida’s curve is looking like the opposite of what you see coming out Clayton Kershaw’s hand. This is when our economy should be receiving a little boost with players and officials from 13 teams setting up camp for three weeks to prepare for the shortened season. The only team that will resume workouts in Florida are the two located in the state, the Marlins and Rays. Both likely will stay in their home cities.


Drivers waited four hours for a COVID-19 test in Miami Beach. State allows more tests” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — Hundreds of people waited in line for up to four hours to be tested for COVID-19 at the only state-run testing site in Miami Beach. A half-hour before the testing center opened Thursday, a line of cars stretched for nearly a mile from the canopied testing site near the Miami Beach Convention Center in South Beach. With the numbers of positive tests reported in Florida increasing rapidly, the demand for testing at the Convention Center has trended up since the first week of June. On June 19, the city recorded its highest daily tally, 753, since the facility opened in early May.

People in Miami Beach waited as long as four hours to get COVID-19 tests. Image via Miami Herald.

Miami Beach extends COVID-19 emergency measures through July 1” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales is extending the city’s emergency measures through July 1 as the novel coronavirus continues to spread in the region. “COVID-19 is still very active in Miami-Dade County,” read a release from the city Thursday. “Businesses must adhere to the mandatory guidelines for reopening that have been promulgated by both the City of Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County.” Those restrictions include social distancing mandates including staying 6 feet away from others. Miami Beach has begun to open some businesses in recent weeks such as restaurants and retail establishments. Beaches have also opened.

Religious exemption in PBC mask order adds to virus prey” via Frank Cerabino of The Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach County’s emergency order to require masks be worn in public places has a significant flaw. The order, enacted this week to stem the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases in the community, requires that facial coverings be worn in businesses, government buildings, Palm Tran buses, and outdoor public spaces where social distancing is not possible. So far, so good. Then it lists seven areas where the mask requirement is waived. Nearly all of them make sense: Kids under 2; While you’re eating; People with medical conditions that make mask-wearing unsafe. But then there’s this exemption: “Persons with religious beliefs or practices for whom wearing a facial covering conflicts.” This does nothing but undermine the emergency order.

Palm Beach County’s mandatory mask order won’t affect students — for now” via Andrew Marra and Hannah Morse of The Palm Beach Post — With a debate raging over whether students should wear face coverings in Palm Beach County’s schools, a new question has emerged: Who will decide? It was long presumed that the county school board and leaders of the dozens of independently operated charter schools and private schools would make the call. But when the county government decreed this week to wear face coverings in “public places” and any “business or establishment,” it set off confusion about whether the order applies to schools. While the emergency order, which expires July 24, exempts children at day care centers, it makes no such waiver for students in public or private schools.


Local Republican chair makes good on mask lawsuit again Leon County” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — The morning Leon County’s mask mandate went into effect, a lawsuit promised by the chair of the local Republican Party was filed in circuit court. Power is the chair of the Leon County Republican Party and has been vocal about his opposition to the mask requirement unanimously approved Tuesday. He maintains that the ordinance is a “far-left” effort to push “mandatory mask-wearing to increase the fear that puts our small businesses and economy at risk.”

Homeless coalition reports coronavirus infections among residents, staff” via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel — The Coalition for the Homeless, the region’s largest homeless shelter, reported its first five cases of COVID-19 infection Thursday, with three residents and two staff members testing positive for the virus. All are now in quarantine for at least 14 days, a coalition spokeswoman said. So far, no one has required hospitalization. “First and foremost, our thoughts are with these individuals with wishes for quick healing,” said Allison Krall. “The health and safety of our guests and staff is always our top priority.”

Homeless shelters in Orlando are starting to report COVID-19 outbreaks. Image via the Orlando Sentinel.

Back to Phase 1: Orange, Osceola courts pull back after attorneys test positive for COVID-19” via Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel — Courts in Orange and Osceola counties will limit their operations again starting Monday after a spike in local coronavirus cases. Chief Judge Donald Myers Jr. said the decision was made Friday after data showed hospitalizations and positive cases in the Orlando area skyrocketing. “The data just does not lead us to being able to feel good about safe conditions inside the courtroom,” he said. State Attorney Aramis Ayala said Thursday two of her employees, including one attorney and one support staff, had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Pensacola area Black-owned small business grant receives 125 applications” via Madison Arnold of the Pensacola News Journal — Kenita Mitchell feared her tutoring and teaching business wouldn’t make it through the summer to the start of the school year when parents and children might need her the most. Mitchell, the owner of Harmonic Learning Education and Training, said she believed her biggest demand will be this fall because of the uncertainty of what the upcoming school year may look like amid the coronavirus pandemic. The small business … has been closed since mid-March. “My biggest demand is going to be when school starts so in order for me to fulfill that demand, I’ve got to keep my doors open,” Mitchell said. Mitchell is one of the 125 owners who applied for a Black-owned small business grant from the Spring Entrepreneurial Hub.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital bans visitors again amid uptick in COVID-19 patients” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — After easing restrictions on visitors earlier this month, Sarasota Memorial Hospital is reversing course and limiting visitation again amid an increase in COVID-19 patients. Sarasota Memorial was treating 36 COVID-19 patients on Thursday, more than triple the number of patients hospitalized with the disease at the beginning of the month. The hospital’s COVID-19 caseload peaked at 43 patients on May 10 and May 11 before dropping through the end of May. On June 1 Sarasota Memorial was down to 10 COVID-19 patients, with none in the intensive care unit.

Seminole schools work on reopening plans, including when to wear face masks” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — As it looks to reopen campuses in Aug., the county school district may require students to wear face masks on buses, in hallways and in some small-group settings — and older students might have to wear them most of the school day. Administrators likely also will move to spread out desks in classrooms, limit class changes, disinfect more frequently and revamp cafeteria procedures in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The county school board and district leaders spent more than three hours Thursday reviewing proposals for how to open campuses for the 2020-21 school year against the backdrop of rising numbers of coronavirus cases in Florida and in the county.

Disneyland’s reopening delayed, but Disney World plans still on schedule, company says” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Plans to reopen Disneyland Resort in California have been postponed, but the schedule for the phased reopening of Walt Disney World has not changed, a Disney World spokeswoman said Thursday. Disney had proposed reopening Disneyland theme park and sister attraction Disney California Adventure July 17. But Wednesday evening, the resort announced that the state of California will not release theme-park reopening guidelines until after July 4. “Given the time required for us to bring thousands of cast members back to work and restart our business, we have no choice but to delay the reopening of our theme parks and resort hotels until we receive approval from government officials,” read a statement.

Apple shuts 10% of U.S. stores again on virus with 14 in Florida” via Mark Gurman of Bloomberg — Apple Inc. is closing an additional 14 U.S. retail stores because of recent increases in COVID-19 cases, bringing the number shut after recently reopening to 32. The closings will affect stores across Florida, Apple said in a statement. The decision means that 16 of Apple’s 18 stores in the state have been closed again, with just those in Jacksonville and Sarasota still open. “Due to current COVID-19 conditions in some of the communities we serve, we are temporarily closing stores in these areas,” an Apple spokesman said. “We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible.”

Apple closing all South Florida stores again due to rising Florida coronavirus cases” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — All stand-alone Apple stores in South Florida will be temporarily shut down again due to Florida’s surging number of coronavirus cases over the past two weeks, according to reports. On Friday, Apple will re-close 14 stores in Florida, including all stores in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, the company said in a statement to CNBC. This comes after two Southwest Florida stores, in Naples and Estero, were closed again on Wednesday. “Due to current COVID-19 conditions in some of the communities we serve, we are temporarily closing stores in these areas,” Apple said in a statement. “We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation.”

Apple is closing stores. Again. Image via AP.

St. Pete Mayor, Rays aren’t ruling out fans at games” via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times — Rays officials are “actively exploring” ways to have fans attending games at Tropicana Field this season, and Mayor Rick Kriseman isn’t discounting the idea. “The Mayor is open-minded on this,” communications director Ben Kirby said via text. “He’s talked to the Rays. Everyone would like to see the trajectory of the data change. But the Mayor is receptive to learning more.” Specifically, Kirby said, “let’s hear more about how we keep everyone safe.” Rays officials confirmed they are looking for ways to host fans at the Trop, and also for Rowdies soccer games at Al Lang Stadium, while working with area authorities.

WWE star Renee Young says she tested positive for COVID-19” via Derek Wallbank of Bloomberg — The announcer Young said she has tested positive as cases in the U.S. continue to rise. The development comes as World Wrestling Entertainment, the sports entertainment company that has continued to produce pro wrestling TV shows throughout the coronavirus pandemic at a Florida location, grapples with rising positive cases both among its employees and talent, as well as in the state where it set up production. WWE said it “will continue COVID-19 testing of its talent, production crew and employees in advance of TV productions for the foreseeable future.”


If you read one thing — “How the virus won” via Derek Watkins, Josh Holder, James Glanz, Weiyi Cai, Benedict Carey and Jeremy White of The New York Times — Invisible outbreaks sprang up everywhere. The United States ignored the warning signs. We analyzed travel patterns, hidden infections and genetic data to show how the epidemic spun out of control.

America didn’t give up on COVID-19. Republicans did.” via Paul Krugman of The New York Times — Earlier this year much of America went through hell as the nation struggled to deal with COVID-19. More than 120,000 Americans have now died; more than 20 million have lost their jobs. But it’s looking as if all those sacrifices were in vain. We never really got the coronavirus under control, and now infections are surging. What went wrong? I keep seeing statements to the effect that Americans were too impatient to stay the course, too unwilling to act responsibly. But this is deeply misleading because it avoids confronting the essence of the problem. Americans didn’t fail the COVID-19 test; Republicans did. After all, the Northeast, with its largely Democratic Governors, has been appropriately cautious about reopening, and its numbers look like Europe’s.

America didn’t fail the COVID-19 test. Republicans did.

180,000 U.S. deaths of COVID-19 by October. But mask order can save 33,000” via Elinor Aspegren of USA Today — Experts have now forecast that there will be 179,106 COVID-19 deaths in the United States by Oct. 1. But a universal mask-wearing order in the U.S. could save as many as 33,000 lives. Wearing a mask “is extremely low-cost, and, for the individual, provides a one-third, as high as one-half, reduction in the risk of transmission,” he said in a news release. “But at the community level, can save an extraordinary number of lives.” The projection comes as more than 34,000 new infections were reported Wednesday by state health departments, the highest daily case count since April.

U.S. cases are probably 10 times higher than the official count, CDC says” via The New York Times — The number of Americans who have been infected with the coronavirus is most likely about 10 times higher than the 2.3 million cases that have been reported, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday. “We probably recognized about 10% of the outbreak,” Dr. Robert Redfield said on a call with reporters. He added that between 5% and 8% of Americans have been infected to date. The C.D.C. is basing those estimates on antibody test results from across the country.

Do it for your loved ones: CDC urges Americans to socially distance July 4 as cases surge” via Grace Hauck and Elizabeth Weise of USA Today — Health officials are asking Americans to socially distance this Independence Day, saying that they are “concerned” about the surge in coronavirus cases after the U.S. saw its highest daily number of new cases in months. For every confirmed case, officials are likely missing another 10 cases, said Redfield. “We have a significant increase in cases. We need to understand that. We need to interrupt that,” Redfield said. While “we’re still in the first wave,” Redfield said the pandemic today looks markedly different from the outbreak two or three months ago, when many deaths were among older people and those with underlying medical conditions. As COVID-19 has spread, the CDC is seeing a greater proportion of cases diagnosed in younger people.

Coronavirus deaths lag behind surging infections but may catch up soon” via The Washington Post — With novel coronavirus infections setting a single-day national record, health experts are taking little solace from one of the few bright spots in the current resurgence: Deaths are not rising in lockstep with caseloads. But that may be just a matter of time. “Deaths always lag considerably behind cases,” Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease specialist, told Congress at a hearing. In the weeks to come, he and others said, the death toll is likely to rise commensurately.

New research explores how conservative media misinformation may have intensified the severity of the pandemic” via Christopher Ingraham of The Washington Post — In recent weeks, three studies have focused on conservative media’s role in fostering confusion about the seriousness of the coronavirus. Taken together, they paint a picture of a media ecosystem that amplifies misinformation, entertains conspiracy theories and discourages audiences from taking concrete steps to protect themselves and others. The end result is that infection and mortality rates are higher in places where one pundit who initially downplayed the severity of the pandemic, Fox News’s Sean Hannity, reaches the largest audiences.

Companies agonize over reopening timetables as COVID-19 spreads” via Collin Eaton of The Wall Street Journal — Businesses from factories and offices to salons and bars, once hopeful about a smooth reopening this summer, are now grappling with whether to close, stay open or find some in-between as the number of cases of COVID-19 increases in dozens of states. Restaurants around the country that recently reopened have closed again for anywhere from three days of deep cleaning to two full weeks so staff could self-quarantine after outbreaks. Political leaders also signaled concerns. Some executives and front-line workers are pushing government officials to require masks.

Airbnb, Vrbo guests fighting for refunds after coronavirus cancellations” via David Oliver of the USA Today — The coronavirus pandemic has prompted many U.S. travelers to rethink their travel or cancel it entirely, leaving airlines, cruises and hotels on the hook for refunds or travel credits. Short-term rental services’ unique models, where both hosts and guests exchange money on the platform, have created a complicated refund issue. As the pandemic unfolded, companies had to make choices about how to handle refunds and whether the companies, the hosts or guests would be on the hook. For customers of short-term-rental giant Airbnb, a cash refund requires documentation explaining why guests can’t travel as a result of COVID-19, such as a link to a government site or a letter from a medical professional.


Fed limits bank payouts and suspends share buybacks as pandemic grinds on” via Jeanna Smialek of The New York Times — The Federal Reserve temporarily restricted shareholder payouts by the nation’s biggest banks, barring them from buying back their own stocks or increasing dividend payments in the third quarter as regulators try to ensure banks remain strong enough to keep lending through the pandemic-induced downturn. It’s an admission that large financial institutions, while far better off than they were in the financial crisis, remain vulnerable. With virus cases across the United States still surging and business activity subdued, it remains unclear when and how robustly the economy will recover. Some of the Fed’s own loss projections for banks suggest the eventual hit to loans in a bad scenario could be far worse than in the aftermath of 2008.

Treasury sent more than 1 million coronavirus stimulus payments to dead people, congressional watchdog finds” via Erica Werner of The Washington Post — The federal government sent coronavirus stimulus payments to almost 1.1 million dead people totaling nearly $1.4 billion. The revelation comes as Trump and some members of his administration advocate for another round of stimulus checks. The news that so much money has gone to the dead could add to reluctance from some Republicans to agree to more direct relief payments. The report said that Congress should “provide Treasury with access to the Social Security Administration’s full set of death records, and require that Treasury consistently use it, to help reduce similar types of improper payments.”

Many of the stimulus checks went to dead people. And now the feds will be sending more.

U.S. initial unemployment benefits steady at 1.5 million in June” via Sarah Cheney of The Wall Street Journal — The number of workers seeking jobless benefits has held steady at about 1.5 million each week so far in June, signaling a slow recovery for the U.S. economy as states face new infections that could impede hiring and consumer spending. Applications for unemployment benefits were slightly below 1.5 million last week, at 1.48 million. Meanwhile, the number of people receiving benefits, an indicator for overall layoffs, was 19.5 million in the week ended June 13, down slightly from previous weeks.

Florida jobless claims up slightly last week” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Florida had an estimated 93,394 claims during the week that ended June 20. That was up from 88,148 the prior week, as the second phase of DeSantis’ economic reopening effort has shown signs of slowing amid increases in coronavirus cases, local governments starting to impose mandatory face-mask requirements and some recently reopened businesses requiring renewed cleaning after employees and customers tested positive. The state Department of Economic Opportunity announced Friday that the state’s May unemployment rate was 14.5%, representing 1.412 million Floridians out of work from a labor force of nearly 9.71 million. A June rate will be announced on July 17.

Businesses are open, but more unemployed file for help in Florida after two-week drop” via Rob Wile of the Miami Herald — Initial unemployment claims in Florida climbed the past week to more than 93,000, suggesting a full economic recovery remains out of reach. The latest figure of 93,394 for the week ending June 20 from the U.S. Department of Labor is an increase of 5,246 from the prior week’s figure of 88,148. The figure had been falling for two straight weeks. In addition, Florida’s count of continuing jobless claims, or those who have remained on unemployment for at least two consecutive weeks, climbed week on week from 920,202 to 965,117. Overall, nearly 1.5 million new unemployment claims were filed in the U.S. last week.

Think that extra $600 in unemployment benefits will last until the end of July? Think again.” via Charisse Jones, Coral Murphy and Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today — Many out-of-work Americans counting on receiving an extra $600 a week through the end of July may be surprised to discover that benefit will disappear nearly a week earlier than they expected. The additional $600 in weekly jobless benefits provided by the federal government is officially set to end July 31. But states will pay it only through the week ending July 25 or July 26, a significant blow to unemployed workers counting on that money to bolster state benefits that average just $370 a week. “The $600 can be paid for weeks ending no later than the week ending before Friday, July 31, 2020,” the U.S. Department of Labor said in a statement.

Chuck E. Cheese parent files for bankruptcy, hit by pandemic” via Katherine Doherty of Bloomberg — CEC Entertainment filed for bankruptcy protection after the coronavirus pandemic shuttered its locations and kept families at home. The filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas makes CEC the latest in a string of companies upended by COVID-19. Lockdowns have drained revenue, keeping consumers at home and pushing corporations into bankruptcy. CEC, acquired by private equity firm Apollo Global Management Inc. in a 2014 leveraged buyout, has more than 600 Chuck E. Cheese outlets and over 120 Peter Piper Pizza venues.


Pandemic’s cleaner air could reshape what we know about the atmosphereCoral Davenport of The New York Times — Data, from Manhattan to Milan to Mumbai, will inform scientists’ understanding of atmospheric chemistry, air pollution and public health for decades to come, while giving policymakers information to fine-tune air quality and climate change laws and regulations in hopes of maintaining at least some of the gains seen in the global shutdown as cars return to the roads and factories reopen. Already, Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican, has assigned his top environment official to use the pollution data gathered by a University of Maryland scientist in flights over Baltimore to push new policies through the state legislature this fall, expanding telework and promoting electric vehicles. Policy experts say the new data could even bolster legal fights against the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back major air pollution regulations.

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the Earth’s atmosphere gives scientists a rare opportunity to examine human activity and its effects. Image via The New York Times.

Coronavirus surge causes NBA worries” via the News Service of Florida — A surge in the number of coronavirus cases in Florida has sparked concerns over the National Basketball Association’s plans to resume play next month at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Twenty-two teams plan to be housed at Disney resorts in Orange and Osceola counties. Orange County added 1,285 new cases over the past two days, and Osceola County saw 179 new cases, according to the Florida Department of Health. DeSantis has pushed to resume professional sports in Florida, including the NBA. But DeSantis’ administration has not spoken to the league during the past two days.


Three cops fired after racist talk of killing Black residents” via Tim Elfrink of The Washington Post — Sitting in his patrol car in Wilmington, N.C., Officer Michael “Kevin” Piner predicted Black Lives Matter protests would soon lead to civil war. “I’m ready,” Piner told another officer, adding that he planned to buy an assault rifle. “We are just going to go out and start slaughtering them f—— n——,” he said. The shocking threat came amid extended, openly racist conversations between Piner, 44, and two other police officers, 50-year-old Cpl. Jesse E. Moore II, and 48-year-old Officer James “Brian” Gilmore.

Good riddance: Three North Carolina police officers were fired after discussions about slaughtering Black people.

Florida suspect who shot Black man in the head with arrow faces hate crime charge in Okaloosa” via Tom McLaughlin of the NWF Daily News — Matthew Ross Peters had decided to kill Benny Davis when he shot him Saturday with a crossbow, and his decision was based on a racial prejudice he harbored, according to officials. Those findings, uncovered in the Fort Walton Beach Police Department’s investigation of the shooting, prompted the First Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office to bolster its charges against Peters. He now faces a charge of attempted first degree premeditated murder with a weapon, and his actions have been determined to qualify as a hate crime, according to Bill Bishop, the chief assistant state attorney for Okaloosa County.

Miami Gardens police officer arrested after video shows him with knee on woman’s neck” via David Ovalle and Haley Lerner of the Miami Herald — The arrest of Safiya Satchell might have gone down as another anonymous case — were it not for the bystander video that showed a Miami Gardens police officer reach into her SUV, drag her out, press his knee on her neck and stun her twice with a Taser. This video, as have similar clips of police brutality across the country, is jarring and on Thursday spurred state authorities to arrest now-fired Officer Jordy Yanes Martel on charges of battery. He was also charged with official misconduct for filing two reports containing false details about his interaction outside a strip club with Satchell, 33, who happened to be a few weeks pregnant and later lost the child.

Man in viral Wellington video apologizes in-person to teens, families: ‘I take total responsibility’” via Kristina Webb of The Palm Beach Post — In a step toward healing between two families, a man who was seen yelling at Breonna Nelson-Hicks and Madison Charette in a viral video apologized to them Wednesday evening. The apology and discussion came in the wake of a June 14 incident in the gated Grand Isles neighborhood off Lake Worth Road. A confrontation between Lee Jeffers and the teens was recorded by Madison, then posted to social media, where it quickly went viral. The video appeared to show Jeffers directing his comments at Breonna, who is Black. The other two girls with her are white. Breonna and Madison declined to speak during the meeting. But Jeffers and his wife let them know they will be available to listen when they are ready.

University of Cincinnati takes Marge Schott’s name off its baseball stadium” via Matt Bonesteel of The Washington Post — Schott, who was the majority owner of the Cincinnati Reds from 1984 to 1999, acknowledged using numerous racial and homophobic slurs and owning Nazi memorabilia, once saying Adolf Hitler “was good in the beginning, but he went too far.” In 1993, Major League Baseball suspended Schott for one season over her behavior. Three years later, MLB suspended her for two seasons, and she sold her interest in the Reds in 1999 for $67 million. There have been a number of calls to remove her name from the stadium over the years, with the school finally taking action in the wake of social justice protests.

NBA, NBPA say sparking social change will be goal of restart” via The Associated Press — The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association said dealing with racial matters will be a shared goal during the resumed season. The league and union announced they will “take collective action to combat systemic racism and promote social justice” when the season restarts at the Disney complex near Orlando, Florida next month. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts led a meeting to go over plans, including how best to ensure greater inclusion of Black-owned and operated businesses and forming an NBA foundation “to expand educational and economic development opportunities” in the Black community.

‘Splash Mountain’ ride at Walt Disney World, Disneyland to be re-themed” via Fox 13 — The ‘Splash Mountain’ attraction at Walt Disney World and Disneyland is being re-themed to ‘The Princess and the Frog,’ Disney announced. On Disney Parks Blog, a Disney official said that the classic attraction will be completely re-imagined and that this project has been underway since last year. The ride will reportedly be set in 1966 New Orleans and will join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure, featuring music from the film. Disney added in the blog post that “with this long-standing history of updating attractions and adding new magic, the retheming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today. The new concept is inclusive.”


What virus? It’s business as usual for much of Donald Trump’s White House.” via Nancy Cook of POLITICO — Top political officials in Florida, Arizona, Texas and numerous other states are grappling with a rapid surge in coronavirus cases, facing the threat of an out-of-control outbreak that washes over their citizens and overwhelms their health care systems. Top political officials in the White House say it’s business as usual from their perspective. President Donald Trump and his top aides sought Thursday to minimize the threat of the coronavirus to both the public’s health and the U.S. economy despite alarms blaring across two dozen states — including many overseen by Trump-friendly leaders. Aides insisted there would be no change in White House strategy to fight the pandemic, and no additional money or new resources given to states dealing with spikes in cases.

It is business as usual for Donald Trump.

Republicans push Trump administration to step it up on coronavirus” via Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine of POLITICO — As coronavirus cases spike across the country, Trump and his top officials say everything is mostly under control. But Senate Republicans are pressing them to show a little urgency. The latest outbreaks are also reshaping the GOP’s political and legislative strategy, with Republicans planning to focus more on health care in the next coronavirus relief bill. And they’re flashing rare frustration at the Trump administration for its decision to wind down federally supported testing sites. “Frankly I didn’t really understand what they were thinking. … At a time cases are spiking, we’re gonna pull back?” said Sen. John Cornyn, who wrote a letter to the administration along with Sen. Ted Cruz urging them to change course.

Supreme Court says rejected asylum-seekers have no right to object in court” via Adam Liptak of The New York Times — The Supreme Court sided with the Trump administration’s efforts to speed the deportation of asylum-seekers, ruling that a law limiting the role of federal courts in reviewing those decisions was constitutional. Last week, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers, allowing them to continue to use a program that shields them from deportation and allows them to work. The decision, which barred immigrants whose asylum claims were rejected in bare-bones proceedings from filing petitions for habeas corpus, struck a strikingly different note. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the five more conservative justices in the 7-to-2 decision, said asylum claims threatened to overwhelm the immigration system.

New York Congressman’s primary defeat could provide big opportunity for Florida’s Ted Deutch” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The likely defeat of Eliot Engel in New York’s Democratic primary presents a major opportunity and risk, for Deutch. For Deutch, deciding to make a bid for the committee chairmanship involves complicated calculus. For one thing, there are four committee members with more seniority. Deutch gets along well with Nancy Pelosi. He was her pick as chairperson of the Ethics Committee, a job he currently holds.

MSNBC expected to tap Joy Reid to anchor daily news and opinion program” via Joe Flint of The Wall Street Journal — MSNBC is expected to tap Reid to anchor a 7 p.m. daily news and opinion program, people familiar with the matter said, filling the vacancy created at the cable news channel when Chris Matthews resigned abruptly in March. Reid currently hosts a weekend morning program called “AM Joy.” In her new role, she would serve as the lead-in for MSNBC’s left-leaning prime-time lineup, which includes Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes. Talks over Reid’s appointment are still ongoing and an agreement isn’t a certainty, one person close to the situation said.


Ron DeSantis signs off on school voucher expansion” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — A popular school voucher program is set to grow dramatically this year, allowing as many as 28,000 more Florida children to use tax dollars to pay tuition at private campuses, after DeSantis signed legislation authorizing the expansion Thursday at a Tampa school. More than 46,600 students could receive vouchers through the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program this year, up from about 18,000 this year, at an additional cost of about $200 million. FES is one of five state-backed programs that pay for students to attend roughly 2,000 private schools, most of them religious, statewide.

Ron DeSantis signs off on the expansion of Florida’s school voucher program. Image via WUSF.

AppointedRahul Patel (reappointed) and Richard Cole to the University of Florida Board of Trustees.

Supreme Court backs DeSantis’ pandemic powers” via the News Service of Florida staff reports — The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday affirmed DeSantis’ power to issue executive orders to address the COVID-19 pandemic, rejecting a legal challenge filed last month. Palm Beach County resident William Abramson challenged two executive orders that DeSantis issued April 29 related to reopening the state’s economy. In part, Abramson argued that a state emergency-management law did not give DeSantis the authority to issue the orders to deal with the pandemic. “The sole purpose of this petition is to restore the rights of all Floridians to live in liberty and exercise their rights as a free people, to freely assemble, and benefit from their industry,” Abramson argued in the case filed May 5.

Court backs city in red-light camera fight” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — In the latest chapter in years of legal battling about red-light cameras, an appeals court has backed a South Florida city in a dispute about whether a red-light camera program violates state traffic laws. A panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal Wednesday overturned a Miami-Dade County judge’s ruling against the city of Aventura in a dispute that stemmed from motorist Lee Stein receiving a citation for failing to stop at a red light in 2014. The case focused on guidelines used by Aventura in deciding whether to cite motorists based on red-light camera images. Aventura and other cities have different guidelines, leading Stein to argue, in part, that Aventura violated a state requirement of uniform traffic laws.

Santa Rosa County’s half-cent sales tax renewal will be on the ballot in November” via Madison Arnold of the Pensacola News Journal — A continuation of Santa Rosa County’s half-cent local option sales tax will be on the ballot during this fall’s general election. The Board of County Commissioners Thursday voted to place the sales tax renewal, which is set to expire at the end of 2021, on the ballot in November. If passed, the tax would continue to provide funding for public safety, transportation and drainage improvements, infrastructure, recreation and natural resources for five additional years. “The local option sales tax has allowed us to do that deferred maintenance, our roads, replace equipment for the sheriff’s department that we otherwise just would not have been able to do,” said Commissioner Lane Lynchard, District 5.

Florida still deadliest state for lightning as storms roll into busiest time of year” via Joe Mario Pedersen of the Orlando Sentinel — While Florida is referred to as the Sunshine State, it could also go by the name of electric reaper given its status as the deadliest state for lightning strikes. Florida still remains the most dangerous state to be in when lightning strikes. Florida falls behind Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas as the state with the fourth-highest recorded number of lightning strikes, but it still ranks as No. 1 in lightning strike fatalities, due to its dense population, the people of which spend lots of time outside, according to the National Weather Service. So far, 2020 has recorded four lightning strike fatalities.

On top of everything else, it is the busiest time of year for lightning strikes.

A testing ground for genetically modified ‘friendly’ mosquitoes in the Florida Keys?” via Craig Pittman for the Florida Phoenix Dragonflies and insecticide exemplify the two approaches to dealing with our constant mosquito problem here in Florida. On the one hand, there’s the natural method, and on the other, the artificial one. Last month, in a historic first, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved a permit for a company called Oxitec to employ the most artificial method of all to squelch skeeters in the Florida Keys. The EPA permit allows Oxitec to release male mosquitoes that have been genetically modified to breed with wild females and produce female offspring that will die before they can bite anyone.


Brian Ballard, Bradley Burleson, Ballard Partners: MCI

Chad Hanson, Sharon McBreen, The Pew Charitable Trusts

Danny Jordan, Nicola Powell, Don Yaeger, Jeanette Yaeger, One Eighty Consulting: Ivanti

Fred Karlinsky, Timothy Stanfield, Greenberg Traurig: SuttonPark Capital, WePayMore Funding

Jenna Paladino, Paladino Public Affairs: Chapters Health Hospice

— 2020 —

A massive shift away from Trump in six key states indicates serious trouble for his reelection bid” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — There have been rumblings for weeks now that Trump’s campaign team sees his reelection chances withering. There have been reports of meetings at the White House focused on righting the ship, of shake-ups in staffing aimed at bolstering the president’s position. As that’s been happening, there’s been a steady deluge of bad news for the president, including an embarrassing primary loss in North Carolina and a humiliating failure to turn out supporters at an event in Tulsa last weekend meant to mark his splashy return to the campaign trail. Despite all of that, we’d only gotten glimpses of how bad things looked for Trump electorally.

Donald Trump is losing supporters fast in at least six key states.

Sinking in the polls, Trump tweets about lobsters” via Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg Opinion — Yesterday began with a New York Times poll that was pretty awful for Trump, and I was contemplating writing a complicated item about whether we should pay attention to such surveys at this point in the election cycle. But then the lobsters. The President announced Wednesday night some new initiatives to help the Maine lobster industry, and accompanied the plan with a false tweet claiming that “Pres. Obama destroyed the lobster and fishing industry in Maine. Now it’s back, bigger and better than anyone ever thought possible.” In fact, people who know the industry noted that it was doing just fine until Trump’s trade war.

Mike Pence to campaign in Florida” via News Service of Florida staff reports — Pence will be back in Florida to campaign next week. With Florida a crucial state in the 2020 presidential election, Pence will bring his “Faith in America” tour to an 11:30 a.m. July 2 appearance at the Sarasota Event Center. Tickets are being distributed online on a first-come, first-served basis, with a limit of two tickets per mobile number. The organization America First Policies, which supports Trump, also announced that Pence is slated to appear at 2:30 p.m. July 2 at Oakley Transport, Inc., in Lake Wales.

Joe Biden leads Trump by 6 points in Florida, even more in other key battlegrounds” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Biden has a 6-point lead over Trump in a new Florida poll released Thursday, the latest in a series of surveys that show the former vice president ahead in a state Trump won in 2016 and is vital to his for reelection. The poll shows Biden with 47% to Trump’s 41%. Still, a greater share of Floridians favor Trump’s reelection than elsewhere. Biden had larger leads over Trump in five other battleground state polls. And Biden’s lead in Florida is within the poll’s margin of error, so the contest could be much closer.

Biden leads in Florida as Trump lags among seniors” via Dana Blanton of Fox News — Voters think Biden is better suited to handle the issues of the day, expanding his lead over Trump in the battleground state of Florida. Biden tops Trump by 9 points, 49-40 percent, in a survey of Florida registered voters. That’s up from a 3-point edge in April. Among those “extremely” motivated to vote, Biden’s lead grows to 11 points. In 2016, Trump received 49% of the vote, winning the Sunshine State by one point. The former vice president owes his advantage to the backing of Hispanics, women, and Millennials born between 1981 and 1996.

New Lincoln Project ad seeks to destroy GOP control of Senate — The anti-Trump Republican group started with a mission: get a new president. With “Strong,” the Lincoln Project is expanding into Senate races, moving toward a goal of the destruction of a Senate majority that has largely given Trump his way. The group’s first anti-GOP spot mocked South Carolina Sen. Graham for his turnabout from Trump critic to ally, took a snarky tone. This spot, which will be used to support Montana Gov. Steve Bullock‘s U.S. Senate bid, looks like the sort of content Bullock himself had been running.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Memory loss? Marco Rubio questions Joe Biden’s mental state” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — On Fox News, Rubio suggested that Biden may have a defective memory. The comments cast doubt at the former Vice President’s assertions that he couldn’t remember if he had anything to do with action against former Gen. Michael Flynn. “I think ultimately, if all this proves to be true, then there’s really only two things to conclude from it. Either A, he’s suffering from severe memory loss, or B, he’s not being honest, he’s lying. So, we’ll find out soon enough when the Judiciary Committee does its investigation right in front of the American people.” “What that applies to beyond that, we’ll find out during the campaign,” the Senator added.

Dems warm to Biden’s bunker strategy” via Marc Caputo and Christopher Cadelago of POLITICO — None of Trump’s antics have managed to flush Biden far from his Delaware residence and Democrats are just fine with him being a homebody. In the three months since Biden launched his stay-at-home campaign from his cellar TV studio, his lead has grown to double-digits in national polls while Trump has pinballed from crisis to crisis. “Trump is running against Trump. And it’s smart of Biden to not get in the way of that,” Hilary Rosen, a consulting partner of top Biden adviser Anita Dunn, said in echoing the sentiment in the campaign.

Mail-in ballots thrust Postal Service into presidential race” via The Associated Press — The U.S. Postal Service’s famous motto — “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers” — is being tested like never before, by challenges that go well beyond the weather. Its finances have been devastated by the coronavirus. The Trump administration may attach big strings to federal bailouts. The agency’s responsibilities, meanwhile, are mounting. A dramatic shift in many states to voting by mail is intended to protect voters from spreading the virus at polling places. But it’s also making more work for post offices and contributing to delays in determining election winners.

Campaigning finds a new normal as door-knocking resumes” via Alexandra Jaffe of The Associated Press — The pandemic upended elections this year, forcing campaigns to shift their organizing activities almost entirely online and compelling both parties to reconfigure their conventions. Republicans and now Democrats are now getting back to the in-person door-knocking that took a pause at the start of the pandemic. The Progressive Turnout Project is launching a $52.5 million, 17-state field program this weekend with plans to hire 1,100 staffers nationwide and knock on 10 million doors by Election Day. Republicans have already been out knocking on doors since the weekend of June 12. The GOP has left safety up to its volunteers.


Trump team looks to prevent a Tulsa-style debacle in Jacksonville” via Gabby Orr of POLITICO — Republican officials and Trump’s campaign aides, some of whom have been working since last year to plan the party’s convention festivities, said the disappointing event last weekend in Oklahoma imparted a critical lesson as they look ahead to Jacksonville, where Trump will deliver his acceptance speech as the GOP’s presidential nominee in late August: Learn to manage expectations and plan for trouble. “The last thing we want to do is overpromise and underdeliver,” said an adviser to the Trump campaign. The campaign is evaluating more scenarios that could wreck existing plans and force changes over the next two months in order to avoid surprisingly low turnout or other embarrassing political fallout.

Donald Trump is definitely not wanting to see this in Jacksonville.

Nikki Fried says DeSantis prioritized Republican National Convention over safe reopening” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Fresh off calling for DeSantis to issue a mandatory mask order for the state, Fried took it a step further. In comments made to Bloomberg Radio, Fried contended the Governor is pushing ahead with his reopening plan, despite the number of cases going in the wrong direction, for reasons that have nothing to do with public health. The goal: that nothing obstructs the relocated Republican National Convention. That event, to be held in late August in Jacksonville, is expected to have a full arena with no mask requirement.

‘March on the RNC’ to hold rally during Trump’s visit to Jacksonville” via Corley Peel of News4Jax — A group called March on the RNC plans to hold a rally during the Republican National Convention, which it says will be in opposition of Trump and the convention. As the president accepts his party’s nomination to run for a second term in Jacksonville, Michael Sampson, an organizer of the group, said he’s planning for thousands of people to join the demonstration outside, where people will chant for peace, equality and an end to racism. “The goal is to have a historic turnout,” Sampson said. “I believe we’re going to have one of the biggest marches and rallies we’ve seen in Jacksonville history.” “It’s a coalition of labor organizations, peace activists from across the country who have been very active in marching on RNCs in the past,” Sampson said.

Mike Weinstein, who led effort to prepare Jacksonville for the Super Bowl, on the challenges of the RNC” via Mike Mendenhall of the Jacksonville Daily Record — When Weinstein led the Jacksonville Host Committee for Super Bowl XXXIX from 2000 to 2005, he faced securing the event facilities, hotel capacity and transportation resources and drafting security protocols to support 100,000-plus people descending on Northeast Florida. Weinstein said that challenges will be similar for the Jacksonville 2020 Host Committee planning the Aug. 24-27 Republican National Convention. His group of 10 to 15 staffers had five years to prepare. The RNC host committee, now with 33 members, has 59 days.


Democrat congressional candidate Margaret Good slammed by Black-owned newspaper over racist video” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — The Democrat came under fire recently for a video her staff circulated that used the “n” word and mocked civil rights icon Rosa Parks and used derogatory terms to describe women — not a good look for a candidate hoping to capitalize on partisan qualms over civil rights and gender equality. The video was so repulsive, the editorial board for the only newspaper serving the Black community in Sarasota and Manatee counties is denouncing Good. The Tempo News called on Good to officially “apologize for the racist video.” From the suspicious exit of her loyal campaign manager to violating multiple state and federal elections laws, one has to wonder if Good’s campaign is on life support.

DeSantis endorses Marva Preston for SD 3” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — DeSantis endorsed Republican Preston in the race to succeed term-limited Democratic Sen. Bill Montford in Senate District 3. “Marva Preston possesses a genuine sense of responsibility for the people of North Florida, the challenges they face and the opportunities they deserve,” DeSantis said. “I am proud to endorse Marva because Florida’s hardworking families deserve an advocate in the Senate who won’t stop at good enough, but will instead fight for more.” DeSantis’ endorsement follows nods from Senate President-Designate Wilton Simpson and Majority Leader Kathleen Passidomo, who weighed in on the race last week. Preston faces Benjamin Horbowy in the primary. The winner will go up against Democratic Rep. Loranne Ausley in November.

Ron DeSantis is backing Marva Preston for the Florida Senate. Image via Facebook.

—“Meet Brian Norton, a Republican running for Senate District 29” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

Greater Orlando Builders Association backs Bob Cortes for HD 30” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Greater Orlando Builders Association endorsed Cortes in his bid to return to the Florida House. GOBA, founded in 1953, promotes the housing and building industry within Seminole, Orange, and Osceola Counties, including its cities. “Bob has been a champion and advocate for housing affordability and for creating in-demand high wage jobs in the homebuilding industry,” said Lee Steinhauer, GOBA’s government and legal affairs director. “We are proud to support him.” The GOBA endorsement adds to Cortes’ support from the contractor bloc. Earlier this month, he landed a nod from the Central Florida Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors. He has also been endorsed by BusinessForce.

Andrew Gillum’s political committee spends another $89K in legal fees in 12-day span” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The legal bills continue to pile up for Gillum‘s political committee, Forward Florida. The organization dropped nearly $89,000 in legal fees in just the first 12 days of June. That’s more than 80% of the $108,000 the PC spent during that time frame. The early June legal bills add on to hundreds of thousands already sent to those two law firms in recent months. Forward Florida spent more than $56,000 in May. The prior month, the PC dropped $125,000. In the last two months of 2019, Forward Florida forked over $450,000 to the two firms.


Coping with COVID-19” via The Wall Street Journal editorial board — The unhappy but inevitable truth is that Americans will have to learn to cope with the virus, which means trial and error and more individual responsibility. There’s no denying the flare-ups, even if some in the media almost seem to enjoy the rise in cases and hospitalizations in Arizona, Florida, Texas and other hot spots in the South and West. But political leaders have to consider overall public and economic health, and locking down again doesn’t seem justified by the evidence. Some clusters have been tied to bars and churches, and political leaders should do more to warn about social-distancing and to use masks.


When they call your Governor ‘Florida Man,’ you know it’s not a good COVID story” via the Editorial Board of the Miami Herald — For months, the Editorial Board has implored DeSantis to put a protective mask on the smiley face that he continues to flaunt as Florida’s coronavirus cases reach the stratosphere. He could mandate face masks. He could credibly threaten another lockdown. The number of cases is soaring, but no dice. He’s blamed Hispanic farmworkers. He’s blamed low-income residents. He owes both an apology, for they are the essential workers who let the rest of us stay home. His dereliction has gotten national attention, as most things Florida does. The headlines tell the most infuriating of stories. So, maybe he’ll listen to them: “Florida man leads his state to the morgue” … Chilling, yes, but we can’t say it’s off base.


Florida has now had two days in a row with more than 5,000 new cases of COVID-19.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— As the Chamber of Commerce works to get Florida back in business, a warning from the head of the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta. Raphael Bostic says customers won’t come back until they feel safe.

— Gov. DeSantis signs a bill expanding the number of vouchers that are available for kids to attend private schools on the public dime. He says it’s all about choice.

— Sunrise takes a deep dive into offshore drilling. Florida has been protected for years … but that could change soon.

— Checking-in with a Florida Woman who doesn’t want the government telling her to wear a mask. And this is just a taste of what’s to come.

To listen, click on the image below:


Dishonorable Mention: Rep. Chris Latvala, activist Becca Tieder, Ernest Hooper and communications expert Dr. Karla Mastracchio discuss politics and culture. Is it possible to go too far in looking at history through the lens of today? The hosts talk about the removal of certain statues and symbols across the nation. Florida man and overall great guy Steve Schale talks about what it’s like running the Unite the Country PAC, what might happen in November, who is QB1 for the Jags and much more.

Fluent in Floridian: SalterMitchell PR president and partner Heidi Otway interviews Executive Director of the Florida Nonprofit Alliance, Sabeen Perwaiz. Sabeen has dedicated her life to helping others whether this be in the nonprofit sector or helping others share their voice through her other venture, TEDx talks. She also advocates for women, saying she openly tells young people about her experiences, including the traumatic ones. “Everyone has their own inner demons that they’ve fought. And we just have to be able to talk about it comfortably so that we’re empowering other women too.”

Inside Florida Politics from GateHouse Florida: As Florida continues to break records for new coronavirus cases, some cities and counties are mandating that people wear masks in certain public settings. But Gov. DeSantis is rejecting calls for a statewide mask requirement. Reporters Zac Anderson and Mark Harper discuss the debate over masks, the decision to hold a presidential debate in Florida and an incident involving Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and her fiance that resulted in police being called.

podcastED: Step Up For Students President Doug Tuthill talks with Amy Anderson, the leader of a nonprofit organization committed to modernizing public education, creating the conditions for more expansive learning in an evolving society. ReSchool Colorado’s mission is to leverage and reorganize existing assets and resources in a purposeful way around the needs of children and families.

The New Abnormal from host Rick Wilson and Molly Jong-Fast: The Henry Winkler antifa rumors can finally be put to rest. The “Barry” actor — who went viral this weekend for proving that he, too, can drink a glass of water with one hand — addresses whether or not he is a card-carrying Antifa member. He also tells Wilson and Jong-Fast his thoughts on the president’s rally (“We are so not in control of the country we think we live free in.”) and what aliens and government have in common. The duo also chats with Andy Slavitt, President Barack Obama’s former head of health care, who explains why other countries are running circles around the U.S.’s COVID-19 numbers and what will happen with the virus this fall. Plus, Jong-Fast has a younger guest explain the K-pop fandom and Wilson shares a special message for Brad Parscale, the website guy.


Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable featuring St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and USF Health College of Public Health Dean Donna Petersen, who chairs the COVID-19 Task Force. They will also discuss the St. Petersburg Peaceful Protesters group.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: Remains on hiatus due to coronavirus.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: a one-on-one interview with Trump; the latest on the Biden campaign; and host Holly Gregory will speak with acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon talks with Liz Joyner of The Village Square.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Special guest host is Rick Mullaney, director of the Public Policy Institute at Jacksonville University; guests include Duval County school Board Chair Warren Jones and Jacksonville Civic Council Chair John Delaney.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Guests include Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert; Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin; Broward County Supervisor of Elections Peter Antonacci and Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections Christina White.


— ALOE —

‘Hamilton’ is coming to the small screen. This is how it got there.” via Michael Paulson of The New York Times — In the spring of 2017, a production executive withdrew an encrypted hard drive from a Midtown Manhattan vault and boarded a flight to London. A year before, a film crew had shot two of the final “Hamilton” performances featuring most of the original cast, and the plan was to lock the footage away for five or six years until the time felt right to share it with the public. But a cut was ready to show the person whose opinion mattered most: Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show’s laureled creator and star. The public will now finally get a chance to see the film and won’t even have to wear shoes. The film will air on Disney Plus.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, center, created and starred in “Hamilton” on Broadway. A filming of the show will stream this summer because of the coronavirus pandemic. Image via The New York Times.

‘Antebellum’ brings racial justice call to reopened theaters” via Aaron Morrison of The Associated Press — As many movie theaters reopen in the coming weeks, “Antebellum,” set to be released Aug. 21 by Lionsgate, will debut during the height of a reckoning in America when people are increasingly showing a hunger for works that light a path toward racial justice. Now is the moment that positions “Antebellum” as the only summer release that speaks both to the moment and to the broader movement to defend Black lives from entrenched, systemic racism. “We’ve always believed that 2020 would usher in a brand new era that would require a new type of filmmaking. … We had no idea just how prescient that would prove to be,” Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz said.

The NBA’s Disney World dream could turn into a nightmare, fast” via Hunter Felt of The Guardian — The NBA commissioner and his committees have worked tirelessly to come up with a way to salvage the 2019-20 season. After much deliberation, the league came up with a way to bring 22 NBA teams to Walt Disney World, where they will play an abbreviated regular season to finalize playoff seedings followed by a full postseason. Participation is completely voluntary, which means that players who don’t feel it will be safe, or think that it would be a distraction from the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, can sit out without penalty other than missed salary.

Baseball’s new rules: No spitting, no arguing and lots of testing” via James Wagner of The New York Times — This week, after months of haggling over pay and how many games to play, MLB and the players’ union finalized their season plan, including a 113-page operations manual that will govern this unprecedented 60-game season without fans in the stands. During spring training and the season, players and select staff will have their temperatures and symptoms checked twice per day at club facilities. They will also be given oral digital thermometers for self-screening each morning. Those with temperatures at or above 100.4 degrees will not be allowed to enter a team facility.

Phillie Phanatic, Mr. Met, MLB mascots now permitted in parks” via Ben Walker of The Associated Press — Mascots are getting a reprieve from Major League Baseball. A month after being tossed out of stadiums because of health concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, the fuzzy and funny creatures will return as inside-the-parkers. “The fur is back on the field,” exclaimed Dave Raymond, the playful mischief-maker who originally portrayed the Phanatic. On May 16, in its 67-page draft of the operations manual sent to teams, MLB banned Bernie Brewer, the Pirate Parrot, Dinger, Fredbird and their ilk from the ballpark, trying to restrict access and limit contact exposure. The final version of the manual this week reversed the policy. Mascots are in play, just not on the field.

The MLB will allow the Phillies Phanatic to return.

Hugh Jackman’s ‘Music Man’ won’t be a-comin’ to Broadway until spring 2021” via Jackson McHenry of Vulture — Roadway won’t be returning until at least early 2021, if then. The Jackman-led production of “The Music Man,” which was announced with much fanfare almost two years in advance with plans to debut in fall 2020, has said that it will move its production dates back to spring 2021. As of right now, Broadway, the biggest slice of New York’s theater industry, is formally shut down until this Labor Day. The move is also a sign that producers are betting that theater will return sometime next spring and hoping to reap some of the goodwill that might come from being the first shows to return to the theater.


Celebrating today is Reps. Mike Beltran, Diane Hart and Lawrence McClure, as well as Lydia Claire Brooks, Eric Carr, Ann Herberger and our friend Jack Levine of 4Generations Institute.


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.

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