Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.24.20

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Your morning review of the issues and players behind Florida politics.

Duval County was once the shining example of how to flatten the curve, but the recent uptick in case numbers and the looming invasion of thousands of Republican National Committee attendees has its residents shook.

A new poll from the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida found most Duval voters are against playing host to the GOP nominating spectacle, 58% to 42%.

Their languor doesn’t stem from disbelief of the benefits — two-thirds recognize the RNC could bring up to $100 million to the area.

Most Duval voters do not want the RNC to come to Jacksonville. Image via The New York Times.

Nearly three quarters say it’s the potential for a renewed outbreak that has them worried. Similarly, 61% said they were concerned about protests and social unrest. More than half cited possible negative media coverage, an understandable belief in the birthplace of #FloridaMorons.

“National nominating conventions are polarizing events, and unsurprisingly the levels of support for Jacksonville hosting the RNC varies dramatically by partisanship,” said PORL director Michael Binder. “Under the backdrop of a pandemic that appears to have come more fervently to Florida, the opposition to this event being hosted locally seems much more concerning.”

The RNC opposition was coupled with lingering pandemic-related fears. Nearly four-fifths said they were either somewhat or very concerned about the pandemic in general and two-thirds are worried they may contract the virus themselves.

Additionally, 35% of respondents said they personally know someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, up from 21% in April. To that end, 56% said they believe Jax is moving too quickly on easing restrictions and reopening the economy.

“Even though levels of concern have abated somewhat since our last poll in April, COVID-19 worries remain extremely high in Jacksonville,” Binder said. “More people know somebody that has contracted the virus and the economy is not turning around as quickly as people might have hoped two months ago.”


With Election Day fast approaching, Florida Realtors PAC unleashed a volley of endorsements in legislative races across the state.

Near the top of the list was former Rep. Jason Broduer. The Sanford Republican aims to replace term-limited Republican Sen. David Simmons in SD 9, one of the most hotly contested Senate districts this cycle.

Jason Brodeur is at the top of the Florida Realtors’ endorsement list.

Others GOP Senate candidates getting the nod: Jennifer Bradley in SD 5, former Rep. Jim Boyd in SD 21 and Rep. Ray Rodrigues in SD 27. All three are running in safely Republican districts, though Rodrigues is being challenged by Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen in the primary.

The committee also issued nine state House endorsements.

The picks: Republican Sam Garrison in HD 18; Democrat Samuel Vilchez Santiago in HD 48; Republican Ned Hancock in HD 55; Republican Rick Kozell in HD 82; Republican Dana Trabulsy in HD 84; Democrat Christine Hunschofsky in HD 96; Democrat Brian C. Johnson in HD 101; Democrat Robin Bartleman in HD 104; and Republican Jim Mooney in HD 120.

The committee said its selections considered “numerous factors,” including voting records for the candidates with prior elected experience.

“The difficulties brought on by the pandemic make it clearer than ever that having the right people in government is essential to ensuring public safety and protecting the basic functions of society,” committee board of trustees chair Tim Weisheyer.

“We believe these candidates are the right choice to fulfill those responsibilities and look forward to supporting them in the upcoming election.”


Good news about great peopleChloe Barr joins Allison Aubuchon Communications — Tallahassee-based public relations firm Allison Aubuchon Communications is growing with the addition of Barr, who began her new post as account manager this month.

“Chloe is passionate about public relations, poised and professional beyond her years and a joy to work with,” said firm president Allison Aubuchon, APR. “It’s time for smart growth. Chloe has proved herself to be a rock star and an asset. Her support, energy and creativity will continue to add value to our purpose-driven client work.”

Congratulations to Chloe Barr, who is joining Allison Aubuchon Communications.

Barr had worked for Allison Aubuchon Communications as an account assistant while a student at Florida State University, where she double-majored in political science and public relations. After a year and a half in that position, she now beings a full-time role.


@GTConway3d: It’s been 118 days since @realDonaldTrump said covid-19 cases “would go down to zero,” 61 days since he suggested doctors inject household cleaning solutions into people, 3 days since he said he slowed down testing, and 6 hours since he said he wasn’t kidding about that.

@realDonaldTrump: Cases are going up in the U.S. because we are testing far more than any other country, and ever-expanding. With smaller testing, we would show fewer cases!

Tweet, tweet:

@Weijia: Just now I asked the President if he was kidding when he said he told his people to slow down testing, which is how White House officials explained the comment. He said, “I don’t kid.” He also said again testing is a double-edged sword and praised the job the U.S. has done.

@GwenGraham: The level of #COVID deception in the @GovRonDeSantis administration is appalling. If intensive care unit beds are full, the beds are full and unavailable. Clearly, Florida is now trying to manipulate ICU bed availability. The State’s defense is ludicrous.

@HollyBullardFL: I’ll drive my jalopy to the dance party USA then settle in to re-watch the Red Wedding. Just another day in God’s waiting room

@bomani_jones: sad part is this bubba story now is pretty much everyone did what they were supposed to. NASCAR thought they saw a noose in their Black driver’s garage and called the FBI. FBI investigated. no one was accused. No one’s name sullied. but it won’t be discussed as such.

@mattyglesias: Isn’t capitalizing all the ethnicities except “white” a weird way of privileging whiteness as if White people don’t have racial identity?


NBA training camp — 6; “The Outpost” with Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood premieres — 9; NBA teams travel to Orlando — 13; Major League Soccer will return to action — 14; Disney World Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom to reopen — 17; Disney World Epcot and Hollywood Studios to reopen — 21; Federal taxes due — 21; “Mulan” premieres — 30; TED conference rescheduled — 31; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premieres — 37; NBA season restart in Orlando — 37; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 54; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 55; NBA draft lottery — 60; Indy 500 rescheduled — 60; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 62; Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 65; U.S. Open begins — 68; “A Quiet Place Part II” premieres — 72; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 74; Rescheduled date for French Open — 96; First presidential debate in Indiana — 100; “Wonder Woman” premieres — 100; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 101; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 108; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 110; Second presidential debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 113; NBA draft — 113; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 114; NBA free agency — 116; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 122; 2020 General Election — 132; “Black Widow” premieres — 136; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 139; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 146; “No Time to Die” premieres — 153; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 160; “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres — 202; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 228; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 394; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 403; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 499; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 597; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 639; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 681; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 835.


Health experts emphasize drop in acuity of COVID-19 cases” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Florida may be counting twice as many new COVID-19 cases daily as it did during the pandemic’s April peak, but hospitalization rates still remain low, according to officials. DeSantis traveled to Orlando to meet with medical experts at Orlando Health. The positivity rate in Orange County has doubled in the last ten days and weekly emergency department visits for COVID- and flu-like illnesses have nearly triple this month. While that matches the trend statewide, 23.2% of hospital ICU beds are available across the state, as are 21.2% in Orange County. That share is greater than what it was at the start of the pandemic. But local emergency department officials have counted more hospital visits in recent weeks.

State defends ICU capability, reporting changes” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — In a statewide phone call with hospitals, Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew said a system that tracks the available number of hospital ICU beds doesn’t provide the public with a full picture of the ability to provide intensive-level care because it only includes the current number of beds and not the potential number of beds facilities could offer if they converted unused hospital space. “Hospitals still have adequate capacity around the state. What we are not seeing captured is the ability (for hospitals) to convert beds to ICU to have a level of ICU surge capacity if needed,” Mayhew said. She said the state is closely tracking hospital admissions as the number of people with COVID-19 spikes.

Mary Mayhew defends the change in ICU reporting.

State sends message as it suspends bar’s license” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — A bar near the University of Central Florida has had its state alcoholic beverage license suspended for violating reopening guidelines after 13 employees and at least 28 customers tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation announced the emergency suspension of the license of The Knights Pub in Orlando. The suspension came two days after DeSantis said the state would begin cracking down on restaurants and bars that fail to follow coronavirus guidelines. “Due to the Suspended Licensee’s failure to abide by the explicit terms of Executive Order 20-139 and disregard of the well-known dangers of COVID-19, it is likely that the Suspended Licensee will continue its harmful business practices and behavior,” the suspension said.

University reopening plans given green light” via Ana Ceballos of the News Service of Florida — The Florida university system’s Board of Governors approved individual reopening plans put together by each of the state’s 12 state universities. Chair Syd Kitson acknowledged it is likely schools will see new cases pop up as students and employees return to campus in the fall. “Social-distancing policies and other protections for students and employees will become the norm,” Kitson said. All the Florida university leaders will require the use of face masks on campus, with a few schools saying they intend to reprimand employees and students who do not comply. Florida State University President John Thrasher told the board that employees who do not use face masks or abide by social-distance guidelines could be suspended.

 State looks to draw tourists amid ‘devolving’ circumstances” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — VISIT FLORIDA intends to use marketing dollars unspent from late winter and spring to get people to again explore the state. In addition to a more-traditional $39.8 million marketing plan that will go before the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors, the tourism agency is looking to roll over $13 million from campaigns that were shelved as the virus largely shut down the travel industry. VISIT FLORIDA Chief Marketing Officer Staci Mellman told members of the public-private agency’s Marketing Council that the starting date for tiered marketing efforts is a “moving target.” “Our plan was designed to remain nimble as local health data, traveler attitudes and resident sentiment evolves,” Mellman said.


Coronavirus closes Orlando restaurants and bars from Mills 50 to UCF and Doctor Phillips” via Austin Fuller of the Orlando Sentinel — Restaurants near the University of Central Florida, in Orlando’s Mills 50 neighborhood and in Doctor Phillips have shut down again as employees and customers across the region have tested positive for coronavirus. From when restaurants could open back up May 4 through May 26, there were 335 complaints filed against restaurants and bars not following coronavirus rules. The department’s inspectors have been reaching out to restaurant operators by phone about the governor’s executive orders to supplement inspections responding to complaints and other license matters.

The Knights Pub owner says he closed the place weeks ago” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The owner of the University of Central Florida area bar that lost its liquor license Monday and became the poster child for state officials’ vow to crack down on coronavirus scofflaw businesses said he closed the place weeks ago out of his own concern, and that he is now being made a scapegoat. The Knights Pub owner Michael D’Esposito disputed statements in the state’s order to suspend his liquor license, as well as those made by DeSantis and Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears, that the bar was ever flagrantly violating Phase Two bar-reopening rules.

The Knight’s Club outside of UCF had already been closed for weeks when the state suspended its liquor license.

Orange County moving forward with $700 million convention center expansion” via Stephen Hudak and Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County will continue pressing forward with and spending money on a nearly $700 million convention center expansion, though the project is likely to be slowed because tax collections have collapsed amid the coronavirus pandemic. In a presentation to county commissioners, Orange County staffers said they may have to split the expansion into two phases. The overall project involves two physically separate additions: A multipurpose venue that would add more exhibition space and another section that would add a big ballroom and more meeting rooms.

Affordable housing company to raise rent, just as Orange County shoots down rent freeze” via Stephen Hudak and Caroline Glenn of the Orlando Sentinel — A Central Florida affordable housing company that faced pushback for trying to raise rent in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak is again moving forward with increases, at the same time that Orange County commissioners shot down a proposal to freeze rent for the next year to offer some relief to residents upended by the virus’ economic impacts. Concord Rents issued a letter informing tenants that it would be enforcing the rent increase it had previously rescinded in April. The increase, which varies depending on tenants’ incomes, kicks in July 1.

Coronavirus spoils Fourth of July fireworks” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In previous years, thousands of people across the nation have gathered on the Fourth of July to stare at a sky lit up by fireworks. This year, those kinds of supersized crowds could allow the coronavirus to spread even more. And that’s why so many cities have canceled this year’s fireworks shows. Hollywood Mayor Josh Levy said: “30,000 people close together, even outdoors, is not a safe or responsible thing for a government to coordinate. We were all resigned to recognize the risk of the virus and found ourselves with no choice.”


U.S. Attorney Larry Keefe running office remotely after coronavirus diagnosis” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Keefe, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced that he tested positive for COVID-19. However, Keefe, who has mild symptoms so far, is still managing the office, which prosecutes federal crimes from Pensacola to Gainesville. Keefe, who routinely wears a mask in public, is the first prominent government official in Tallahassee to announce he contracted the virus. He most likely got the coronavirus while in Charleston, South Carolina, to be with his youngest son, Patrick, while he had surgery for a brain tumor discovered just weeks ago.

Larry Keefe is working remotely since his exposure to coronavirus.

Leon County makes face coverings mandatory to stem coronavirus spread” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Enforcing a Leon County Commission-backed mandate that face masks be worn in public may be the toughest thing about the controversial measure unanimously approved Tuesday. The requirement to wear masks, which prevents the spread of coronavirus, has overwhelming community support. In a separate motion, the commission approved a civil fine schedule of $50, for the first infraction, $125 for the second and a court appearance and fine up to $250 for a third. Anyone in violation would not be subject to search and arrest for the noncriminal offense.

Lakeland Mayor remains hopeful for city mask mandate” via Staci DaSilva of News Channel 8 — Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz said he would enact a citywide mask mandate if he had the same powers afforded to other mayors in Florida. “I absolutely would have if I could do an executive order. I can’t. And I really want to hear through the voice of a commission,” he said. “I like our form of government. I’m not advocating a change in that. I’m sure with reconsideration, we’ll readdress this.” He repeated Tuesday he was stunned by the Lakeland city commission’s decision Monday not to take up his emergency mask order for a vote. “Not to even have a second on that proposal was a shock to me,” he said. The mayor said it is now in other commissioners’ hands.

Osceola County distributing $16M to residents, businesses, food pantries” via Megan Mellado of WESH 2 — Osceola County leaders are moving forward with plans to give out more than $16 million of federal coronavirus relief money to residents, businesses owners and food pantries. Commissioners voted Monday afternoon to split the money up in three ways. 70% will be going toward rental and mortgage assistance, 20% will be given to small businesses and 10% will be given to food pantries. The $16 million is just the first round of funding from the federal coronavirus relief bill. The county is expecting a total of $65 million for similar assistance programs. There’s no word yet on how the money will be distributed.


Donald Trump team weighs a CDC scrubbing to deflect mounting criticism” via Nancy Cook and Adam Cancryn of POLITICO — Trump administration aides in recent weeks have seriously discussed launching an in-depth evaluation of the CDC to chart what they view as its missteps in responding to the pandemic including an early failure to deploy working test kits. Part of that audit would include examining more closely the state-by-state death toll to tally only the Americans who died from COVID-19 directly rather than other factors. Aides have also discussed narrowing the mission of the agency or trying to embed more political appointees in it. Trump aides have also been looking for a person or entity outside China to blame for the coronavirus response and have grown furious with the CDC, including its public health guidance and actions on testing, making it a prime target.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention campus in Atlanta. Donald Trump is considering ‘scrubbing’ the agency as a coronavirus scapegoat. Image via AP.

E.U. may bar American travelers as it reopens borders, citing failures on virus” via Matina Stevis-Gridneff of The New York Times — European Union countries rushing to revive their economies and reopen their borders after months of coronavirus restrictions are prepared to block Americans from entering because the United States has failed to control the scourge. That prospect, which would lump American visitors in with Russians and Brazilians as unwelcome, is a stinging blow to American prestige in the world and a repudiation of Trump’s handling of the virus, which has more than 2.3 million cases and upward of 120,000 deaths, more than any other country.

Catching up when the virus comes” via Margaret Talev of Axios — People in mostly red states where coronavirus cases have been rising the fastest are developing a heightened sense of risk and taking steps to dial back their exposure. A much lower-than-expected turnout last weekend for Trump’s rally in Tulsa is consistent with the broader trend we’re seeing in Week 14 of our national poll. “In the places with the highest rates of increase, people are adjusting their behavior,” said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs. “The more proximate it is, the greater the likelihood they adjust their behavior.”

Anthony Fauci says ‘it will be when not if’ for a COVID-19 vaccine” via The Associated Press — Fauci has returned to Capitol Hill at a fraught moment in the nation’s pandemic response, with coronavirus cases rising in about half the states and political polarization competing for attention with public health recommendations. Fauci was testifying along with the heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services. He said he believes “it will be when and not if” there will be a COVID-19 vaccine and that he remains “cautiously optimistic” that some will be ready at the end of the year.


U.S. small businesses mull job cuts after stimulus aid runs out” via Katia Dmitrieva of Bloomberg — At least one in 10 small businesses in the U.S. are expecting to lay off workers once their fiscal relief funds run out, according to a new survey. While the vast majority of companies aren’t currently planning cuts, the data from the National Federation of Independent Business suggest that more aid may be needed to keep businesses afloat and workers employed as the economy gradually reopens in the midst of a pandemic — with many states now facing spikes in COVID-19 cases. In the survey, 14% of companies that received a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, the centerpiece of federal relief for small businesses, anticipate having to reduce their workforce after using the loan.

Once the stimulus money runs out, many small businesses are considering substantial job cuts. Image via Reuters.

Lawmakers ask fed to help businesses struggling to make mortgage payments” via Ben Eisen of The Wall Street Journal — More than 100 members of Congress are calling on the Trump administration and the Federal Reserve to help struggling businesses pause debt payments in a key real estate financing market. Many of the hotels, shopping malls and office buildings that borrow money in the roughly $550 billion market for commercial-mortgage-backed securities said they have been unable to negotiate debt reprieves during the coronavirus pandemic. The troubles stand in contrast to other types of debt such as home mortgages, where borrowers have been able to pause payments for as much as a year.

How bad did air traffic crash in April? 96% in Orlando” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Orlando International Airport air traffic fell 96% in April as the coronavirus crisis effectively shut down air travel, according to a new report Tuesday. That’s compared to April 2019 and reflects how devastating the coronavirus crisis was to the main engine of the Central Florida economy, the tourism and hospitality business. The theme parks were closed, the convention centers were closed, the cruise ships at nearby Port Canaveral were closed, and everyone was being discouraged from getting on an airplane. And so, almost no one came to Orlando. That reality already was reflected earlier this month when Orange County reported that its tourist development tax receipts — hotel taxes — had plummeted 97% in April.

Passenger traffic at Orlando International Airport dropped 96% in April.

Tampa Bay’s May home sales saw steepest declines of pandemic so far” via Emily L. Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — Single-family home sales in Tampa Bay plummeted in May at rates much higher than even April’s year-over-year declines as the pandemic continued to stunt the market, according to figures released Monday by Florida Realtors. Pinellas’ sales were down 46% compared to May 2019, Hillsborough saw a 28% drop and Pasco fell 32%. Those drops were steeper than the entire U.S. market, which saw an annual 26.6% drop in May. Also unlike April, these drops affected nearly every price range. Previously, Hillsborough and Pasco both saw some pricier homes continue to be sold at rates higher than last year. But in May, the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic left virtually no price point unscathed.

Orlando, Tampa July Bar exams expected to be in-person, raising concerns” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — In a month, more than two thousand law school graduates will gather in Orlando and Tampa to take the Florida Bar Exam. This event has some applicants worried during a time of rising coronavirus infections seen in both cities and Florida in general. The board indicated it has been working with the Florida Department of Health and has laid out a list of physical-distancing and mask-wearing requirements for the applicants, based on what the board calls “currently available public health information.” Some applicants say they are unconvinced that safety can be maintained, and are worried.


School children don’t spread coronavirus, French study shows” via Marthe Fourcade of Bloomberg — School kids don’t appear to transmit the new coronavirus to peers or teachers, a French study found, weighing in on the crucial topic of children’s role in propagating COVID-19. Scientists at Institut Pasteur studied 1,340 people in Crepy-en-Valois, a town northeast of Paris that suffered an outbreak in February and March, including 510 students from six primary schools. They found three probable cases among kids that didn’t lead to more infections among other pupils or teachers. The study confirms that children appear to show fewer telltale symptoms than adults and be less contagious, providing a justification for school reopening in countries from Denmark to Switzerland.

A new French study finds that schoolchildren do not spread coronavirus. Image via Reuters.

Most educators want schools to stay closed to slow spread of COVID-19” via Holly Yettick Kyrtz and Kevin Bushweller of Education Week — 65% of educators say schools should stay shut to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The remaining 35% say the U.S. should open up schools and get the country going again, even if that means more people would get the coronavirus. High school teachers and principals are more supportive of reopening schools than were educators working with younger students. And educators are significantly more likely to support a reopening if they or a close loved one do not have an underlying health condition associated with a higher risk of suffering ill effects from the virus.

Americans are actually drinking less during the pandemic” via Leslie Patton of Bloomberg — During the coronavirus pandemic, people are drinking less. (Yes, you read that correctly.) While the masses are buying more booze from grocers and liquor stores to drink at home, that hasn’t been enough to fill the gaping hole created by declines in shipments to restaurants, bars and sporting venues that were closed to slow the virus. Global alcohol consumption isn’t expected to return to pre-COVID-19 levels until 2024, and the U.S. recovery will take even longer, according to researcher IWSR said. This is especially troubling for brands in the U.S., where even before COVID-19 a growing number of Americans, led by 20-somethings, increasingly striven to be healthier.


Trump says ‘learn from history’ instead of removing statues” via Darlene Superville of The Associated Press — As America grapples with racism in its past, Trump lined up squarely Tuesday with those who argue that the pendulum has swung too far in favor of removing statues and other symbols of that flawed history, saying mistakes will be repeated if not learned from and understood. Trump’s campaign also sees the divide over this latest cultural flashpoint as a way to boost the President’s standing, which has suffered during his handling of the coronavirus outbreak and protests over racial injustice. He promised executive action to protect monuments after some statues of Confederates and other historical figures with checkered life stories were angrily brought down from parks and other places of public prominence.

Instead of removing statues and monuments, Donald Trump believes we should ‘learn from history.’ Image via AP.

Poll: Nearly all in U.S. back criminal justice reform” via Colleen Long and Hannah Fingerhut of The Associated Press — Americans overwhelmingly want clear standards on when police officers may use force and consequences for officers who do so excessively. The AP-NORC poll also finds there is strong support for penalizing officers who engage in racially biased policing. Americans are more likely now than five years ago to say that police violence against the public is a very serious problem and that officers who cause injury or death on the job are treated too leniently. Americans are largely united behind the idea that action is required: 29% think the criminal justice system needs “a complete overhaul,” 40% say it needs “major changes” and 25% say it needs “minor changes.” Just 5% believe no changes are necessary.

Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Chuck Schumer say GOP police plan is ‘not salvageable’” via Burgess Everett — Top Democratic senators told Mitch McConnell that the Republicans’ policing overhaul is “not salvageable,” the latest sign that Democrats will filibuster the GOP bill on Wednesday and that the Senate is headed for deadlock on the issue. Republicans were immediately incredulous that after demanding a debate for days, Democrats were now ready to shut it down before it truly started. McConnell says if Democrats want to amend his proposal, they need to cough up the seven votes needed to get to 60 and break a filibuster.

—“A low-flying ‘show of force’” via Alex Horton, Andrew Ba Tran, Aaron Steckelberg and John Muyskens of The Washington Post

Commissioners vote to keep Confederate Flag flying in Walton County” via Tom McLaughlin of the Northwest Daily News — A call to remove the Confederate Flag that has flown at the Walton County Courthouse since the Civil Rights era was rejected Tuesday by the county commission in a 3-2 vote. Commissioners Danny Glidewell, Trey Nick and Melanie Nipper voted against a proposal to retire the flag.

‘Slave Owner’ drawn on Jacksonville’s Andrew Jackson statue” via The Associated Press — “Slave Owner” was scrawled in red paint across a statue of Andrew Jackson in Jacksonville, following a nationwide trend defacing monuments and statues with ties to slavery in the wake of racial protests. The prominent statue is located in the center of a busy traffic circle. Media reports say Jacksonville was named after Jackson, the seventh president of the U.S. and an American military figure who led several campaigns against the Seminole Indians in Florida. The statue was also vandalized twice in 2015 when someone spray-painted “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice for D,” a reference to D’Angelo Stallworth, who was shot and killed by officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

They wanted to honor a Black man killed by police in Miami Beach. Now, they’re suing” via C. Isaiah Smalls II of the Miami Herald — Raymond Herisse was shot 116 times on Memorial Day Weekend in 2011. Eight years later, an artist paid tribute to him with a portrait as part of an effort to promote conversations about race in Miami Beach. But the city removed the work the day after it went on display. Now, the city is being sued over the decision to remove the work, with the artist and the exhibit’s curators claiming government officials violated the First Amendment. The lawsuit, filed in Miami federal court Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, accuses Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and City Manager Jimmy Morales of ordering the piece, entitled “Memorial to Raymond Herisse,” to be taken down.

A Florida cop killed Tony McDade. Now he’s hiding behind a law meant to protect victims.” via Laura Thompson of Mother Jones — Tallahassee police responded to a report of a fatal stabbing on a residential street on the south side of town. McDade, a Black transgender man, was identified as a suspect. When an officer chased after him, McDade pulled a gun and “made a move consistent with using the firearm against the officer,” according to a statement from police. The cop pulled the trigger. Witnesses claim the officer, who they say is white, never attempted to de-escalate the encounter before resorting to lethal force. The identity of the officer who shot McDade has been kept a secret. The Tallahassee Police Department says he is the victim of a crime, the alleged attempt by McDade to shoot him, and his identity should, therefore, be protected.

A Black trans person was killed in a police encounter in Florida, the ‘epicenter of anti-transgender violence.’ Image via AP.

Over 100 rally for police in Boca Raton” via Christine Stapleton of The Palm Beach Post — Over 100 supporters of the Boca Raton Police Department and Trump braved a 100-degree heat index on Monday to a rally for law enforcement and the President. The crowd, mostly dressed in red, white and blue and carrying signs and flags, split into groups to cover all four corners at the intersection of NW 2nd Avenue and NW Second Street outside the police department. The rally began with the Pledge of Allegiance and singing of God Bless America. Retired law enforcement officers in the crowd wore hats and shirts from their police departments, many emblazoned with NYPD. Two Boca Raton police officers briefly stopped by to survey the event and were lavished with thanks.

Cop who shoved kneeling protester faces more scrutiny after review of bodycam footage” via Rafael Olmeda and Brooke Baitinger of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Fort Lauderdale cop under investigation for pushing a kneeling woman at a demonstration against police brutality faces more scrutiny after a review of hundreds of minutes of bodycam footage. Police have reviewed footage from past cases involving Officer Steven Pohorence and found two incidents troubling. In one of the newly released videos, it appears. Pohorence places his knee on the neck of a suspect who refused orders to leave a parked bus and terminal. In the other video, Pohorence walks toward the suspect who allegedly trespassed on someone’s property and tells him to, “Put your hands behind your back or I’ll put my hands on you.”

Rally demands Lake County prosecutors charge officer in prisoner death” via Grace Toohey of the Orlando Sentinel — Dozens of people gathered at the Lake County prosecutors’ office demanding criminal charges against the officer they said is responsible for the death of a 51-year-old inmate at a state prison in Clermont last week. Assistant State Attorney Walter Forgie came out and addressed the group, saying that the office was also “very concerned” about the death of Christopher Howell. He said the agency had assigned a homicide prosecutor to work alongside Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators. Howell died at an Orlando-area hospital after what the Florida Department of Corrections described as a “use of force” incident at Lake Correctional Institution the day prior.

Tampa Police Chief Dugan has lost the public’s trust, and it’s his own damn fault” via Colin Wolf of Creative Loafing Tampa Bay — Dugan stood in front of reporters and vented. He said he’s at a loss of what to do with a beleaguered department that has witnessed near daily Black Lives Matter protests over the past month. “The police, we always have everybody’s back and nobody has our back,” said Dugan, a public servant whose salary is made possible by taxpayers. “Right now the officers feel like they can’t win. And I would have to agree with them.” The fact that he wholeheartedly thinks there’s a “winner,” at the end of all this, speaks volumes. But as Dugan stood alone at the podium, dressed in a button-down shirt rather than a traditional uniform, the moment felt like a stark shift in his career.


Prosecutor: Trump ally Roger Stone was ‘treated differently’” via Mary Clarke Jalonick and Eric Tucker of The Associated Press — A federal prosecutor is prepared to tell Congress on Wednesday that Stone, a close ally of Trump, was given special treatment ahead of his sentencing because of his relationship with the President. Aaron Zelinsky, a career Justice Department prosecutor who worked on cases as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, including the case against Stone, will say he was told in no uncertain terms by supervisors that political considerations influenced the handling of the case, according to testimony released by the House Judiciary Committee. “What I heard — repeatedly — was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the president,” Zelinsky says in the prepared testimony.

Prosecutors say Roger Stone received preferential treatment. Image via AP.

U.S. Chamber gives Vern Buchanan high marks, Frederica Wilson low ones” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued high marks to Buchanan for his legislative record this year. Wilson, on the other hand, did earn a passing grade from the group. The most prominent pro-business lobby in the nation, the U.S. Chamber just released its annual score card for every Senator and Representative in Congress. That included scores in the 80s for both of Florida’s Senators, Republicans Marco Rubio and Rick Scott. Rubio earned an 89% legislative score based on whether he took the same position as the Chamber on nine issues, voting differently only on a cloture vote for Kimberly Reed’s confirmation as Export-Import Bank president. In the House, Buchanan, a Sarasota Republican, tallied a higher Chamber grade than any Florida lawmaker, including either Senator.

Trump’s visa restrictions will have impact on South Florida’s multinationals, tech firms” via Michael Wilner and Monique O. Madan of the Miami Herald — Trump expanded his crackdown on foreign workers, freezing green cards issued outside the United States until the end of the year and adding many temporary work visas to the freeze, affecting tech companies, the tourism industry and hundreds of multinationals in South Florida, many staffed with high-paid foreign executives who live and work here. The new policy is “extending and expanding” on Trump’s April pause on issuing new green cards, which will continue beyond the initial 60-day period until the end of the year.


Bill limiting the use of solitary confinement for pregnant inmates signed by Ron DeSantis” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — DeSantis signed a bill that will vastly limit the use of solitary confinement for pregnant inmates in Florida. The measure, HB 1259, is also known as the “Tammy Jackson Act,” named after a prisoner who gave birth last year after being placed in an isolated jail cell in Broward County. While incarcerated, Jackson said she had complained of contractions overnight. Yet seven hours later, she delivered the child without being taken to the hospital. It will also require that a pregnant prisoner be observed by a correctional officer at least every hour. Should a pregnant prisoner be placed in solitary, the measure mandates a health care professional visit the woman once every 24 hours.

Ron DeSantis signed a slew of bills on Tuesday. Image via AP.

DeSantis signs Holocaust, Ocoee Massacre education bill” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — With racial injustice issues playing out at both the national and state levels, DeSantis signed legislation that would bring questions of race to the forefront of education. When the law goes into effect July 1, it will require public schools to certify that they teach about the Holocaust. Another provision of the bill sets the ball rolling on teaching about the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots. “While we will never replace the lives lost or erase the evils committed during the Holocaust, we can ensure Floridians never forget these atrocities,” said Sen. Lauren Book, the legislation’s Senate sponsor.

Early childhood music education program to live another day” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis has signed legislation giving a second chance to a childhood music education plan and study. The Early Childhood Music Education Incentive Pilot Program, which has yet come to life, was set to expire on June 30. But legislation spearheaded by Sen. Keith Perry extends the program and studies for an additional two years. Perry told Florida Politics the measure is an effort to narrow the achievement gap between students from low- and high-income households. Studies have suggested music education at a young age could help raise the intelligence of young students, and Florida’s study could help confirm those findings.

DeSantis signs bill allowing illuminated ads atop ride-share vehicles” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — DeSantis signed a bill that would authorize ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft to place illuminated and digitally operated advertisements on top of ride-share vehicles. The legislation, sponsored in the House by Republican Rep. Bob Rommel of Collier County, would allow illuminated and digitally operated advertisements ranging from 20 inches to 54 inches so long as the sign does not block the driver’s line of sight. The bill also clears the way for limousine companies to operate similarly to transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft and allow such companies to share the same regulations. The bill faced no resistance in the House. In the Senate, however, the measure passed 37-2 with a couple of Democrats bucking the consensus.

Citizens insurance expects to top 500,000 policies” via the News Service of Florida — After years of a relatively stable number of policies, the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. expects to see an increase to more than 500,000 policies this year, according to a report President and CEO Barry Gilway is slated to present to the Citizens Board of Governors. Citizens is projected to have about 517,000 at the end of 2020, the first time since 2015 that it has topped 500,000 policies, the report indicates. Citizens has long focused on trying to move policies into the private insurance market and has maintained a year-end policy count of between 427,392 and 455,843 over the past four years.

Happening today — The VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors will host a conference call, 9 a.m. Call-in number: 1-888-475-4499. Meeting code: 96652615158.

What Anthony Sabatini is readingSeminole Tax Collector Joel Greenberg indicted, accused of stalking election opponent” via Martin E. Comas, Monivette Cordeiro and Jeff Weiner of the Orlando Sentinel — Wearing handcuffs and shackles, Greenberg was escorted into a federal courtroom by U.S. Marshals, hours after he was arrested on stalking and identity-theft charges. A Twitter account set up using the victim’s name and photo, as well as a Facebook account that purported to belong to a concerned teacher, was traced back to the IP address of Greenberg’s home. Local authorities cleared the victim of wrongdoing, he said.

Seminole Tax Collector Joel Greenberg was arrested on federal stalking and identity-theft charges.

‘Suspicious’ car rental, other payments by Mayor’s campaign not criminal, probe finds” via Aaron Leibowitz of the Miami Herald — The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office investigated payments related to the 2016 mayoral campaign of Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert, finding a “suspicious” car rental and some “haphazard” accounting but insufficient evidence to prove any criminal activity, according to a memorandum that describes the probe. The investigation delved into whether Gilbert’s rental of an Infiniti QX80 constituted an unreported campaign expenditure; whether Gilbert instructed the Miami Gardens city clerk to falsify the date on an amended campaign treasurer’s report; and whether he directed his campaign to make improper payments to a for-profit company and to incorrectly label those payments as donations to a nonprofit. In each instance, prosecutors said they couldn’t prove the case.

New charges in Bay County corruption probe; Commissioner steps down” via Valerie Crowder of WFSU — A Bay County commissioner has resigned as a result of an ongoing investigation into public corruption. Former Bay County Commissioner Keith Baker was booked into the Bay County Jail for state felony charges related to fraud. Baker formally stepped down from his District 4 seat hours after his arrest. Baker is facing state felony charges of bid tampering, official misconduct and workman’s compensation fraud. He’s currently being held in the Bay County Jail without bond. If convicted of all three charges, Baker could face up to 35 years in prison. Baker’s arrest is part of a broad probe into the misuse of public funds. The first round of charges came last winter when two former Lynn Haven city officials were arrested.


New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Doug Holder, The Legis Group: Yawn Properties

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

Sam Wagoner, Sunrise Consulting Group: Florida Academy of Pain Medicine

— 2020 —

Barring a landslide, what’s probably not coming on Nov. 3? A result in the race for the White House.” via Amy Gardner of The Washington Post — After voters in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada went to the polls this month, some races hung in the balance for days as election officials waded through thousands of absentee ballots. On Tuesday, a similar scenario is expected to play out in Kentucky and New York, where officials have already announced that some results will not be available for as long as a week. That, in turn, means that a close race between Trump and Joe Biden in a pivotal state could take days, even weeks, to resolve, election officials across the country are warning.

Barring a landslide, chances are likely we will not get a definitive winner in the 2020 presidential race until well after November 3. Image via AP.

Trump’s polls are plunging but it’s too early to count him out” via Joshua Green of Bloomberg — With the nation reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, a recession that’s thrown 20 million people out of work, and waves of protests against police violence, nearly every recent poll shows Trump headed to defeat in November. And Trump’s sparsely attended rally in Oklahoma last weekend did little to indicate those polls are missing a hidden groundswell of support. The RealClearPolitics average of general election polls finds Biden with a commanding lead that’s grown to 9.5 points. A similar polling average from FiveThirtyEight puts Biden ahead by 9.2 points and leading Trump in every battleground state. On June 10, Gallup found that Trump’s approval rating had plummeted 10 points, to 39%.

Trump’s 2020 strategy: A never-ending war with states” via Anita Kumar of POLITICO — For the last six months, Trump has turned Governors into convenient stand-ins for his talking points, targeting them in the way he previously went after congressional leaders and the Democratic candidates for president. He has called them “weak” and “pathetic,” “jerks” and “fools.” One was a “snake” and another, he said, “doesn’t have a clue.” And White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany boosted Trump’s message, kicking off a press briefing by blaming governors for all matters of “violence and chaos” around the country. “These states are responsible for policing their streets,” she said. Trump’s strategy started during the pandemic and never stopped, migrating from one problem to the next. And now, as he restarts his campaign rallies amid the backdrop of both the pandemic and the protests, he’s poised to once again clash with Governors.

How Joe Biden is catching up to the Trump money ‘juggernaut’” via Shane Goldmacher of The Tampa Bay Times — Biden will hold his first event of the 2020 campaign with former President Barack Obama on Tuesday, and more than 120,000 people have already paid to attend, according to the Biden campaign, raising more than $4 million. The joint appearance will be the biggest grassroots fundraiser of the cycle for the Democratic Party, serving not just as a coming-out party for the former running mates but also as something of a punctuation mark on Biden’s arrival as a financial force in his own right. Biden’s at times anemic fundraising was one of his most glaring weaknesses during the primary race, when he was often badly outspent by rivals.

Trump’s willingness to meet with Nicolás Maduro becomes fodder for Biden campaign ads in Miami” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — News of Trump’s willingness to meet someday with Maduro, the embattled Venezuelan ruler, is coming to the AM radio dial in Miami. And to Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Following Trump’s acknowledgment during an Axios interview published Sunday that he would consider a face-to-face with Maduro, Biden’s campaign is planning to publish ads online and on Spanish-language radio in the Miami market highlighting the president’s openness to meeting with a foreign leader whose reign has seen millions flee poverty-racked Venezuela. Trump said on Twitter Monday that he would only meet with Maduro to facilitate a peaceful exit from the country.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley moves to Trump campaign” via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — Gidley, who has spent nearly three years as a top White House spokesman, will serve as the campaign’s national press secretary. The reelection effort has made several major staff moves in recent weeks as it prepares for the general election. In filling the position, Trump aides said they were looking for someone who could help coordinate between the White House and campaign. Gidley, who has been in talks with the campaign for around a month, became a TV regular during his tenure.

Why does Brad Parscale still have a job?” via Jonathan V. Last of The Bulwark — Five days before Trump’s Tulsa rally, Parscale publicly bragged that there had been “over 1M ticket requests.” In preparation for this mass event, the Trump campaign rented out not only a 19,000 seat arena but overflow space next to it. The campaign planned to have the President and Vice President make remarks both inside the arena and outside on a stage built for the overflow crowd. On Saturday, 6,200 people showed up for Trump’s rally. In the normal course of events, presidential campaign managers are people who spend decades learning how electoral politics function. This is Parscale’s first time he’s ever been the manager of a political campaign.

After the fiasco in Tulsa, how does Brad Parscale still have a job?


Trump puts the fear of the coronavirus into Jacksonville” via Ed Kilgore of New York Magazine — The key idea behind the convention’s switch from Charlotte switch was that Jacksonville had a Republican mayor and Florida had a Republican governor, both anxious for the attention and money a convention would bring the city and state’s hard-pressed tourism industry. So those North Carolina ingrates would be punished while Republicans enjoyed the eager hospitality available in northeast Florida. The locals in Jacksonville aren’t necessarily any happier about the public health implications. A poll showed 57% of Duval county voters were concerned the convention would spur a new COVID-19 outbreak while only 43% said they weren’t worried. The jitters in Jacksonville also don’t currently take into account the possibility that the Tulsa rally, sad as it was, may produce some coronavirus fallout.

Ashley Moody, Jimmy Patronis added to Republican National Convention host committee” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Jacksonville rolled out its host committee for the 2020 Republican National Convention last week, but the final formation of the group has been a work in progress. Appointed on Tuesday were three big names: Attorney General Moody, CFO Patronis, and Jacksonville City Councilwoman LeAnna Cumber. “Jacksonville is an incredibly special part of our State and we are thrilled to share it with a national and global audience,” Moody said in a statement. The trio will replace some high-profile departing members. Leon Haley of UF Health Jacksonville is exiting the committee and Vaughn McLaughlin of Potter’s House Church was listed as a member, however, he and the committee dispute whether or not he intended to be on the panel.

Jimmy Patronis and Ashley Moody are the latest to join the RNC host committee.

UF Health CEO Dr. Leon Haley will leave RNC host committee” via Mike Mendenhall of the Jacksonville Daily Record — Haley still intends to provide health and safety protocol guidance for the event, said UF Health Jacksonville Media Relations Manager Daniel Leveton, but the hospital CEO will leave the Jacksonville 2020 Host Committee to focus on preparing the medical facility for its role in the Aug. 24-27 convention. “I think the thought is that (Haley is) so tied up here, he didn’t want to be pulled away from that,” Leveton said. Leveton said because UF Health Jacksonville is the only Level I trauma center in Northeast Florida, the hospital will be involved in planning for President Donald Trump’s visit.

In Jacksonville, can RNC ‘coexist’ with anniversary of a racist attack? via Kirby Wilson and Margo Snipe of the Tampa Bay Times — Aug. 27 was already starred on the Jacksonville calendar. Then the city learned President Donald Trump was coming to town. Trump is scheduled to accept the Republican presidential nomination in Jacksonville on the 60th anniversary of Ax Handle Saturday, a notorious race riot in the city. On that day in 1960, hundreds of angry white people chased and beat demonstrators from the local NAACP Youth Council who sat at white-only lunch counters in an act of resistance. About 50 people were injured, and more than 60 were arrested, most of them black.


Congressional candidate claims coverage of campaign member is ‘fake news’ despite piles of evidence” via Dave Elias of NBC-2 — A candidate for Congress is making bold statements one day after reports a member of his campaign team was arrested. Dr. William Figlesthaler called the report fake news, despite mounting evidence supporting the story. He is also claiming a well known Collier County Republican tried to extort money from him. More Republicans are attacking Figlesthaler as he continues to deny that Matt Hurley, who was arrested, was one of his team members.

At virtual campaign kickoff, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell says race ‘key’ to winning White House” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Mucarsel-Powell is kicking her campaign into full gear with a virtual kickoff event. Mucarsel-Powell and other supporters joined together on Zoom to discuss her reelection efforts in Florida’s 26th Congressional District. “Her story really is the story of so many of her constituents in District 26,” said Javier Fernández, who is now mounting a state Senate bid. Mucarsel-Powell spoke of her background growing up in Ecuador and how that’s given her perspective on President Donald Trump‘s foreign policy.

SD 27 Republican primary could benefit Democrats — Florida Democrats’ hopes of flipping the Senate got a boost thanks to Republican Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen’s last-minute entry into the race for SD 27, where fellow GOP Rep. Ray Rodrigues had been running solo. As reported by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, SD 27 is safely Republican, meaning even a bitter primary would be unlikely to help Democratic candidate Rachel Brown win in November. However, Fitzenhagen could prove a key ally for Democrats as she hasn’t promised to vote for a Republican for Senate President. Sen. Wilton Simpson, who is expected to lead the chamber after the election, theorizes Fitzenhagen was recruited by incoming Democratic Leader Gary Farmer and that she could vote for him if elected.

Happening today — Former Rep. Brodeur, a Sanford Republican, will be holding a fundraiser in his campaign for Senate District 9, 5:30 p.m., McKinnon Groves, 1401 Williams Road, Winter Garden.

Save the date:

Angie Nixon takes cash lead in HD 14 contest” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — In Northwest Jacksonville’s House District 14, momentum continues to build for the challenger to Kim Daniels. Nixon, the Democrat who hopes to upend Daniels, took a major step in that direction between June 1 and 12. Nixon, who was an aide to Mia Jones, raised $26,146 during that period … a sum that pushed her over Daniels in the all-important cash on hand metric. Nixon has just over $60,000 on hand. Daniels, who has raised $63,750, has just under $50,000 to spend. Unlike Nixon, who aggressively fundraised in the first part of June, Daniels raised nothing, spending $7,229 on her qualifying fee and a print job.

— “Meet Pasha Baker, a Democrat running for House District 28” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

Leon County GOP chair suing Commission following mask vote” via Monica Casey of WCTV — Chair of the Leon County Republican Party Evan Power says he is suing the Leon County Commission after they passed an ordinance that will require masks to be worn inside public businesses. “We’ve had discussions with legal counsel and I think that a legal challenge would probably be coming because we feel that it’s infringing on people’s privacy and rights,” Power said. Leon County’s ordinance takes effect at 12:01 a.m.


Migrant workers are exploited for labor, blamed for coronavirus. Just ask this nun” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Health officials have spent the better part of a week talking about how young adults were largely responsible for spreading the disease. We saw 40-plus people infected at a single bar near UCF. But DeSantis claimed the “No. 1 outbreak” was among Florida’s farmworker community. The governor offered little in the way of proof beyond anecdotes. I asked the Florida Department of Health if they had any statistics to back that up. No one responded.


Donald Trump is flat-out wrong. Mail-in voting is safer, not vulnerable to fraud, like he says” via Juan-Carlos ‘J.C.’ Planas of the Miami Herald — After the dismal reviews of his political rally in Tulsa this weekend, Trump is back tweeting falsehoods about voting by mail and how it could “fraudulently” rob him of his reelection. As a former Republican member of the Florida Legislature, whose parents fled political oppression, I am appalled that my community would tolerate such an attack on our voting rights. There have been no cases in Florida where vote-by-mail fraud has been alleged, let alone, proven or overturned the results of an election. Mail-in voting lets Americans who, despite being unable to leave their homes, still perform their civic duty. Now, more than ever, when health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic require physical distancing, we must rely on this method of voting as never before.

DeSantis a serial fabricator on COVID-19 surge” via Randy Schultz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — DeSantis wants Florida to recover from COVID-19 as quickly as possible, he should stop lying about the rise in COVID-19 cases. As the state set records last week, DeSantis tried to wish away the numbers. The cause, he said, was increased testing. There was a cluster at Orlando International Airport and others among farmworkers living in crowded conditions. In fact, multiple reports confirmed that the increase in cases far outstripped the increase in testing. DeSantis now has conceded that he lied.


Florida’s Department of Health reports almost 3,300 new cases of COVID-19 — driving the total to more than 103,000 since the pandemic began.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— Florida has begun cracking down on bars and restaurants that are ignoring social distancing and capacity limits during the pandemic. An Orlando pub has earned the dubious distinction of becoming the first bar in Florida to have its liquor license suspended for violating the Governor’s order.

— Gov. DeSantis holds another news conference to talk about the state’s efforts to contain coronavirus. But Senate Democrats are giving him bad reviews, saying he’s not doing enough. Their biggest concern is his refusal tissue a statewide order requiring the use of protective masks. DeSantis says that’s not going to happen.

— Leaders of the state universities have presented their plans for what they hope will be a safe reopening of Florida’s higher education system. Each of the state’s 12 universities developed its own plan and they’re endorsed by the State Surgeon General.

— Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee says the election system is preparing for the worst this year. Lee tells Sunrise they’ve spent millions hardening security of local networks and training election workers to prevent hackers from getting in.

— And a story of the Florida Man who steered a very expensive boat into four channel markers before dumping it over an oyster bed.

To listen, click on the image below:


— ALOE —

Segway, popular with police but not the public, hits brakes” via Matt Ott and Cathy Bussewitz of The Associated Press — Segway, which boldly claimed its two-wheeled personal transporter would revolutionize the way people get around, is ending production of its namesake vehicle. The Segway PT, popular with tourists and police officers but perhaps better known for its high-profile crashes, will be retired on July 15. “Within its first decade, the Segway PT became a staple in security and law enforcement, viewed as an effective and efficient personal vehicle,” Segway president Judy Cai said. But the Segway accounted for less than 1.5% of the company’s revenue last year. “This decision was not made lightly, and while the current pandemic did impact sales and production, it was not a deciding factor in our decision,” Cai said.

Segway says it will end production of its namesake two-wheeled balancing personal transporter, popular with tourists and police officers but perhaps best known for its high-profile crashes. Image via AP.

TECO Peoples Gas named most trusted utility in the nation” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — National research and data analytics firm Escalent announced TECO Peoples Gas ranked highest in the nation for brand trust in a survey of residential utility customers. This is the sixth time TECO Peoples Gas has ranked highest in brand trust out of the 140 electric and natural gas companies across the country in the Escalent survey. The study provides a comprehensive view into utilities’ relationships with their residential customers, and the Brand Trust Index reflects a utility’s focus on its customers, community support, effective communications, reliable service, dedication to the environment and its overall reputation. Peoples Gas received the highest overall score, and along with 43 other utilities in the top, earned a Most Trusted Brand designation.


Celebrating today are Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady, Rep. Diane HartBlake Dowling, one of St. Pete’s best, Mario Farias, Katie Flury of GrayRobinson, Tara Price, and our dear friend Rich Newsome.


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 @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
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