Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.1.20

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

Survivors of the Red Wedding take a breath of life today as Florida enters the next fiscal year.

After Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a historic $1 billion in budget vetoes Monday, which the Governor preemptively likened to the bloody scene from “Game of Thrones” lore, the state is left with a $92.2 billion spending plan for the new fiscal year.

Amid those historic cuts, brought on by the COVID-19 economic freeze, DeSantis still found the cash to fund some of his top priorities: teacher and correctional officer raises, environmental projects and affordable housing.

Ron DeSantis vetoed more than $1 billion from the budget, reminiscent of the ‘Red Wedding’ in ‘Game of Thrones.’ Image via Colin Hackley.

The state is paying $400 million to raise the minimum teacher salary toward $47,500 and an additional $100 million to give veteran teachers pay raises. Correctional officers are also getting $500 to $2,500 on top of the 3% pay raise allotted for state workers.

Along with the budget, more than 100 bills take effect Wednesday, including controversial measures like parental consent for abortions and E-Verify.

Outgoing House Speaker José Oliva earned his wins on the scope of practice in medicine on bills signed nearly four months ago.

And unlike with last year’s toll road breakthrough, outgoing Senate President Bill Galvano didn’t take major Ws that were his own. Senators’ myriad justice reforms didn’t see the light of day, except for the officer pay raises and officer shifts that were backed by the Department of Corrections.


It is with deep sadness that we report on the passing of William Gregory Turbeville, a lobbyist with Ballard Partners.

The following is a statement from Brian D. Ballard:

“It is with tremendous sadness that I must share the passing of a longtime partner and friend, William Gregory Turbeville, who passed away today after a valiant fight against an illness that may have sapped his energy but never his spirit.

RIP: William Gregory Turbeville.

“Greg was well-known in and beyond Florida, as a policy director for former Gov. Jeb Bush and Chief of Staff for former House Speaker/now FSU President John Thrasher. Public service was in his DNA, and he constantly provided that service honorably and selflessly.

“What wasn’t as well-known was his love of music, always armed with a guitar and a thirst for some of his generation’s most popular bands. It was a passion matched by another unquenchable love: he was a huge FSU Seminoles fan, garnet and gold proud.

“As much as Greg merited respect with his ideas, he always wore life — and a love for others — on both sleeves.

“We feel great sorrow for his family, and our hearts go out to them, because to us Greg will always be family.

“Everyone in the Ballard Partners family was honored to call him our colleague and our friend and we will all miss him dearly.

“May he rest in peace.”


Here’s some positive news: There’s a new lobbying shop in Tallahassee.

After years of experience in the process, top Florida lobbyists Mark Delegal and Josh Aubuchon on Wednesday announced the launch of their new venture: Delegal | Aubuchon.

“This is the culmination of years of experiences,” Delegal said. ”And this is the right time and the right business partner. Our client focus will remain strong, and our size will keep us agile and effective. I’m grateful for the talented Holland & Knight team, and to have worked for a firm of its stature for seven years.”

Congratulations to top Florida lobbyists Mark Delegal and Josh Aubuchon on the launch of their new venture: Delegal | Aubuchon.

Aubuchon added, “I’m extremely proud to be going into business with Mark. We’ve worked together for 12 years and make a great team. I feel grateful to love what I do and help clients working on issues that make an impact in Florida, and I am excited about what we’ll be able to accomplish in this new chapter.”

The duo boasts decades of experience in the public policy and government relations fields and are already off to a fast start — Florida Chamber of Commerce EVP David Hart and Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida CEO Justin Senior endorsed their skills on day one.

Delegal’s and Aubuchon’s knowledge spans several major industries, including agriculture, health care, local government, alcoholic beverages, insurance, regulated industries and general business issues.

No matter the sector, their mission is the same: Helping their clients effectively navigate the legislative process, and advocate for issues before all branches of state government.

Check them out at


@RealDonaldTrmp: As I watch the Pandemic spread its ugly face all across the world, including the tremendous damage it has done to the USA, I become more and more angry at China. People can see it, and I can feel it!

@MarcoRubio: According to various #Florida hospitals their primary concern at this point is not bed capacity, it’s that the increased community spread could lead to an increase in staff community exposure/infection & result in a potential staffing level crisis. Need to keep an eye on this.

Tweet, tweet:

@MarcACaputo: We’ve globally known about Covid-19 for about six months now. It’s called a “novel” virus because it’s new. We don’t know a lot about it. Please, if you’re going to cite studies about kids & COVID, also cite the many scientists who say we need a lot more research

@JaneCastor: I have seen firsthand the incredible work that the @FeedingTampaBay team has accomplished throughout this difficult time. To all staff, sponsors, and volunteers — thank you from the bottom of my heart for your dedication and service to our community

Tweet, tweet:


Vice President Mike Pence to visit Florida (tour canceled/meeting with Gov. DeSantis) — 1; “The Outpost” with Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood premieres — 2; NBA teams travel to Orlando — 6; Major League Soccer will return to action — 7; Disney World Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom to reopen — 10; Disney World Epcot and Hollywood Studios to reopen — 14; Federal taxes due — 14; TED conference rescheduled — 26; NBA season restart in Orlando — 32; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premieres (rescheduled) — 42; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 49; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 50; “Mulan” premieres (rescheduled) — 51; NBA draft lottery — 55; Indy 500 rescheduled — 55; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 57; Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 60; U.S. Open begins — 63; “A Quiet Place Part II” premieres — 67; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 69; Rescheduled date for French Open — 91; First presidential debate in Indiana — 96; “Wonder Woman” premieres — 96; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 97; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 103; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 105; Second presidential debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 108; NBA draft — 108; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 109; NBA free agency — 111; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 117; 2020 General Election — 127; “Black Widow” premieres — 131; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 134; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 142; “No Time to Die” premieres — 149; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 156; “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres — 198; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 224; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 389; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 398; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 494; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 592; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 634; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 676; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 830.


Breaking overnight —“Florida becomes first state to protect DNA from life, disability insurers” via Renzo of Florida Politics — Florida is now the first state to guarantee DNA privacy for customers’ life, disability, and long-term care insurance. State and federal law already prevent health insurance providers from demanding customers hand over the results of their DNA tests like 23andMe or AncestryDNA. But the new law (HB 1189) will add those protections for the three additional types of insurance. House Speaker-Designate Chris Sprowls spearheaded that effort to patch a prospective problem he envisioned when he was applying for life insurance. While he was on hold on the telephone waiting for assistance, the Clearwater Republican said he was struck by advertisements from genetic testing companies encouraging people to buy tests.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed Chris Sprowls’ DNA privacy bill.

Breaking overnight — “Governor eases regulations on occupational licenses” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis signed off on the Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act, easing regulations on licensed practitioners of a wide swath of occupations ranging from body wrapping to boxing announcing. Auctioneers, barbers, electrical contractors, and geologists will have fewer education requirements, with nutritionists, interior designers, landscape architects, nutritionists, accountants, and alarm system installers seeing some licensing requirements eliminated completely. The bill allows for reciprocal licensing from different states. The bill also clears the way for food trucks to operate with impunity statewide, eliminating the fights in many jurisdictions the industry has faced.

New law requires sea-level impact study for publicly-funded coastal projects” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — DeSantis signed off on legislation requiring publicly-funded coastal project contractors to study nearby environmental effects before building can begin. Democratic Sen. José Javier Rodríguez backed the bill while Republican Rep. Vance Aloupis supported the House version. Both lawmakers represent portions of Miami-Dade County. “In a state where more than two-thirds of the population lives near the coast, requiring planning when state taxpayer dollars are spent on infrastructure in the coastal zone is a necessary and long overdue initial step in addressing the impacts of climate,” Rodríguez said Tuesday. The law does not take effect immediately. Rather, it tasks the Department of Environmental Protection with developing the standard for the newly-required sea level impact projection study.

DeSantis signs parental consent for abortion into law” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — DeSantis signed a bill that will require parental consent before minors can have abortions, a long-sought goal of abortion opponents in Florida. DeSantis did not make a public statement about the bill signing, but Senate President Galvano, and other supporters praised the measure and said parents need to be involved when their underage daughters consider having abortions. “The serious and irrevocable decision to end a pregnancy involves undergoing a significant medical procedure that results, in many cases, in lifelong emotional and physical impacts,” Galvano said in a prepared statement. 

Ron DeSantis signs Clean Waterways Act” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis has signed the Clean Waterways Act, part of the Governor’s latest efforts on environmental protection. The act, which the Governor called “probably the most comprehensive bill we’ve seen in quite some time” during a ceremonial signing in Juno Beach, implements several recommendations from the Blue-Green Algae Task Force. Of those recommendations in the priority legislation are improvements to septic systems, stormwater and agriculture runoff. In addition to allowing the Department of Environmental Protection to preemptively inspect the treatment systems, it would transfer septic tank inspection from the Department of Health to DEP, prioritizing environmental health alongside human health.

DeSantis signs off on Joe Gruters, Randy Fine sewage fine hike” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Fines for sewage spills, including from public utility systems, will soon increase significantly. DeSantis signed legislation Tuesday at a Juno Beach ceremony with sponsors Gruters and Fine. The lawmakers said protecting Florida’s water remained a chief priority for state government. “Florida is not Florida without its abundant natural waterways. Water is at the heart of the state’s terrific quality of life, and what makes tourism the backbone of our economy,” Gruters said. Fine said few missions are more important.

Randy Fine and Joe Gruters get a win on bigger fines for municipal sewage leaks.

DeSantis kills online learning program amid virus resurgence” via Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida — With a stroke of his veto pen, DeSantis wiped out the entire $29.4 million budget for a suite of online education services that have become critical to students and faculty during the COVID-19 outbreak. The move, barring action before midnight Tuesday, will kill the Complete Florida Plus Program, an array of technology systems that faculty, staff and students throughout Florida rely on, never more so than now, in the midst of a pandemic that has amplified reliance on distance learning. At least 2,000 adult learners could be cut off from their scholarships and school accreditation could even be at risk without the resources housed under Complete Florida, which are used by students at high schools, state colleges and universities.

DeSantis signs Alyssa’s Law to require panic alarms in Florida schools” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In the school year that starts 2021, every teacher and school staffer in Florida will be able to quietly and quickly tap their cellphone or computer to summon the police. This safeguard will be the result of a new law signed by Florida’s governor Tuesday in honor of one of the students killed in the 2018 Parkland high school massacre. Alyssa’s Law mandates that mobile panic buttons installed on every teacher and staff’s cellphone as an app or as computer software to be programmed to silently alert law enforcement to emergencies or life-threatening situations on all public and charter school campuses.

Automated pill kiosks now permitted at pharmacies after Governor’s signature” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — DeSantis has signed legislation allowing pharmacies to dispense medication through ATM-like kiosks. Those kiosks are already permitted at facilities such as long-term care homes and prisons. The machines will not dole out controlled substances, which can be addicting and are subject to more strict oversight. Democratic Rep. Matt Willhite sponsored the House version of the bill, which ultimately passed. Some Democratic Senators, such as Bill Montford, worried the machines could crowd out smaller pharmacies. Proponents of the measure pointed to the limited drugs available in the kiosks, arguing there would still be room for rural pharmacies.

Governor lights path for organ transplant discrimination remedies” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis is doubling down on the rights of Floridians with disabilities to receive organ transplants with a bill he signed Monday evening. Legislation carried by Jacksonville-area Republicans Rep. Jason Fischer and Sen. Aaron Bean prevents health care facilities, insurers and other entities from denying organ transplant services to people with developmental or intellectual disabilities solely because of that disability. “A lot of times, we don’t know because people didn’t know their remedy,” Bean told Florida Politics. The bill outlines a framework in state law for people to seek recourse.

DeSantis signs bill accommodating persons with pets in emergency shelters” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — DeSantis signed a bill into law Monday that will require counties with designated emergency shelters to designate a shelter for persons with pets. The bill would also require the Department of Education to play a part in strategizing evacuation for persons with pets in the state comprehensive emergency management plan. The bill is intended to put Florida in line with the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006, which mandates state and local governments to consider persons with pets in their emergency preparedness plans and authorizes FEMA to provide rescue, care, shelter and essential needs to persons with pets and service animals following an emergency such as a natural disaster.


Escambia and Santa Rosa see $5.65 million in cuts from DeSantis veto pen” via Jim Little and Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — DeSantis signed Florida’s $92.2 billion budget after carving out more than $1 billion in line-item vetoes to programs and projects across the state as it braces for a hit to its revenue from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Local programs and projects in the Pensacola area saw at least a $5.65 million slashed from DeSantis’ veto pen from what the Legislature approved earlier this year. DeSantis noted that more than $550 million of the cuts came from his own initiatives, and that the state was facing an unprecedented situation with its economy.

Ron DeSantis’ veto pen hit some communities hard. Image via Colin Hackley.

DeSantis’ budget cuts include $4 million intended to go to Treasure Coast” via Joshua Solomon of TC Palm — The local reductions, attributed to shortfalls from the coronavirus pandemic, were a part of $1 billion of final cuts, which focused mainly on reducing funds for affordable housing, social services and education. On the Treasure Coast, funding for seven specific projects was slashed, but the overall $1 billion of cuts is expected to result in a reduction of services here, as well. The largest local project vetoed by DeSantis was a $2.3 million planned extension of Hegener Drive in Port St. Lucie. The project is intended to create more jobs in the Southern Grove jobs corridor. The city had planned to match the state funds with $1 million of its own money. The half-mile road, if built, is expected to open access to 106 acres in Tradition.

TBARTA iced in Florida budget after unprecedented cuts” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority will not be receiving the $1.5 million originally approved in the budget to keep its wheels in motion. DeSantis vetoed the funding as part of his $1.66 million cut, the largest ever in Florida history. Rep. Jackie Toledo filed HB 2483 along with an appropriations request for the funding, which was originally included in the more than $93 million budget. It would have paid for a nearly $300,000 salary and benefits package for TBARTA Executive Director David Green. It also would have included more than $987,000 for additional staff salaries and benefits.

Cure Violence survives Ron DeSantis vetoes but KIPP charter school loses funding” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — DeSantis left standing $500,000 for expanding the Cure Violence program in Jacksonville and $3 million to help build a new youth sports complex in Clay County. Line items wiped out by DeSantis vetoes included $2 million for the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) charter school in Jacksonville that had been untouchable in previous budgets when it came to vetoes. The state support for Cure Violence will allow Jacksonville to enlarge its reach to cover to a third area of Jacksonville as the city continues to face a wave of homicides. Cure Violence treats violent crime as it were a public health epidemic whose spread can be slowed and constrained.

Once untouchable, KIPP Jacksonville gets the cold shoulder in the 2020-21 budget.

UF Lastinger Center funds vetoed from budget” via Florida Politics staff reports — A $1 million appropriation for the University of Florida’s Lastinger Center was nixed from the state budget as part of more than $1 billion in vetoes. The funding was set aside for the “Algebra Nation: Statewide Digital Match Enhancement Program” at the center, which researches new methods for teaching and improving learning outcomes. This is the second straight year the center was included in the budget sent to the Governor’s desk but failed to survive the veto pen. In the 2019 Session, the Senate included $2 million for the center in its sprinkle list. His veto doesn’t cancel the program, but it does leave it unfunded for the upcoming budget year, which begins July 1.


DeSantis extends moratorium on evictions just hours before it would have expired” via Steven Lemongello and Caroline Glenn of the Orlando Sentinel — Hours after the dodging the question, DeSantis night extended the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures until Aug. 1 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The moratorium, ordered by the governor on April 2, was scheduled to end at midnight. Without it, thousands of Floridians would have faced becoming homeless within days because landlords across the state have already filed the court paperwork necessary to remove tenants in anticipation of the order’s end. Since April, at least 2,672 evictions have been filed in courts in counties across the state. Once the moratorium has expired, courts will be able to again begin processing cases.

Housing activists place eviction order near the entrance of the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee. With just one day left, Ron DeSantis is extending the moratorium on evictions. Photo by Jason Delgado.

Florida tops 150,000 coronavirus cases” via Jane Musgrave of The Palm Beach Post — Florida continued racking up record-setting numbers of COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, with 6,093 new cases reported, pushing the state’s total to 152,434, according to the Florida Department of Health. It is the seventh straight day that the number of new cases has jumped by more than 5,000. While far less than the 9,585 new diagnoses that were reported on Saturday, it is well above the numbers that were reported in May that prompted DeSantis to reopen businesses. For the entire month of June, an average of 3,209 new cases were added to state tallies each day. In May, an average of 725 new cases were reported daily. DeSantis has steadfastly refused to issue a statewide order requiring people to wear masks.

As Florida begins third reopened month, future clouded by rising COVID-19 cases” via John Kennedy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — As Florida braced for beginning its third month of an economic reopening, another 6,093 new coronavirus cases were added to a toll that has spiked sharply over the past week. The climbing caseload has many questioning not only the response of DeSantis and state health officials to the virus but also just how long reopening can endure in its current form. “We’re telling our members to mandate masks, do everything above and beyond just so we’re not next” for shutdown, said Carol Dover, president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “I’ve told them, ‘We’re next if you’re not careful.’”

Under pressure, Florida will start reporting how many people hospitalized with COVID” via Daniel Chang and Ben Conarck of the Miami Herald — As hospital admissions for COVID-19 soar in Miami-Dade and more patients entering hospitals for other healthcare needs test positive for the virus, the governor’s office said Tuesday that the state will start reporting current hospitalization numbers for all counties this week. Miami-Dade County has released those numbers publicly for several months, but the state hadn’t been doing the same.

Inmate COVID-19 cases continue to climb” via the News Service of Florida — The number of Florida prisoners who have tested positive for COVID-19 surpassed 2,000 on Tuesday, according to the state Department of Corrections. All but three of the state’s 2,027 total inmate cases are concentrated in 16 prisons located in various parts of the state. Four of the prisons — Homestead Correctional Institution, Liberty Correctional Institution, Hamilton Correctional Institution and South Bay Correctional Facility — have at least 200 inmate cases.

COVID-19 cases increase in juvenile justice system” via the News Service of Florida — COVID-19 cases in the state juvenile-justice system has continued to gradually increase, with 100 workers and 93 youths testing positive, according to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. Those numbers were up from 89 workers and 85 youths in a Friday count. Palm Beach Youth Academy has had the most cases, with 21 youths and 11 workers testing positive. The Department of Juvenile Justice said Tuesday that 17 of the facility’s youths were no longer in medical isolation, and 10 of the workers had been medically cleared to return to their jobs. In all, 45 of the 100 workers who have tested positive have been medically cleared. Meanwhile, 66 of the 93 youths are no longer in medical isolation.

Assignment editors — U.S. Rep. Val Demings and state Sen. Vic Torres will host a roundtable with Orlando-area health care workers to discuss Florida’s surge in positive COVID-19 cases, Donald Trump’s failed response to the pandemic and Biden’s “Plan to Beat COVID-19,” 6 p.m. Eastern time, Media interested in joining the call should RSVP online no later than 4 p.m. Eastern time. Event Attendance: Members of the public who wish to participate should RSVP here.

DeSantis vetoed affordable housing funds, but there’s aid for people impacted by COVID-19” via Rene Rodriguez, Yadira Lopez and Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — For the first time in a decade, Florida legislators left funds earmarked for affordable housing intact rather than diverting them into a general-purpose slush fund. But $225 million of the designated monies still won’t go to housing, at least for now. DeSantis vetoed $225 million from the Sadowski funds, more than half the total $340 million allocated, essentially freezing the money until legislators come back into Session this fall and vote on an amended budget. That won’t happen until after the general election on November 3.


Escambia, Santa Rosa counties jump 17% Tuesday with record 361 new COVID-19 cases” via the Pensacola News Journal staff reports — Both Escambia and Santa Rosa counties saw a massive spike in COVID-19 cases overnight, combining for a total of 361 new cases in a single day, a 17% increase. Escambia County increased 250 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total in the county to 1,952 cases, a 15% jump. The median age of infected has dropped to 39. Santa Rosa County increased 111 cases to reach 593. The majority of the cases, 264, have in Milton, where residents were successful just hours earlier in demanding the city withdraw the mask mandate Mayor Heather Lindsay ordered on Friday.

Demand for Pensacola COVID-19 testing skyrockets as Florida cases continue to climb” via Kevin Robinson of the Pensacola News Journal — The line of motorists awaiting COVID-19 testing at Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital stretched off the hospital campus, down Bayou Boulevard and onto Ninth Avenue. A similar line formed around the Department of Health’s testing site on Gregory Street in downtown Pensacola. As COVID-19 rates in Florida have exploded in recent weeks, so too has the public demand for testing. Health officials from Ascension Sacred Heart and community clinic Community Health Northwest Florida both said along with growing demand for tests, they are also seeing an increase in the number of families and young people both seeking testing and testing positive.

People seeking COVID-19 testing are creating traffic jams and reducing the flow of vehicles around Ascension Sacred Heart off Bayou Blvd. In Pensacola. Image via the Pensacola News-Journal.

Visitors will see a big change on Key West’s Duval Street during the holiday weekend” via Gwen Filosa of the Miami Herald — Even with beaches and bars closed, Key West still expects crowds this Fourth of July weekend. And they’re expected to converge on Duval Street at a time when the Florida Keys are hitting daily record highs in new cases of the novel coronavirus. How can the city help to ensure social distancing? To start, city leaders said they will close most of Duval to cars and turn it into a pedestrian-only walkway for this weekend. That means only pedestrians may use Duval, spreading out into the street. This Fourth of July weekend will have limitations throughout the Keys, along with the historically heavy traffic on U.S. 1. But city leaders say they are ready.

No plan to close the Keys” via Timothy O’Hara of Keys News — The Florida Keys may be seeing record numbers of new COVID-19 cases, but there are no immediate plans to shut down the Florida Keys to visitors or erect new checkpoints limiting entrance. As of Monday morning, the Health Department had reported a total of 236 COVID-19 cases in Monroe County.

Islamorada shutting down popular outdoor gathering spots for Fourth of July weekend” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — Following the lead of Monroe County and the city of Key West, the Village of Islamorada will close its beaches, parks and boat ramps to the public over the Fourth of July weekend. The shutdown includes the “Fills” area near Indian Key, which is a popular destination for Miami-Dade County residents who enjoy picnicking, barbecuing, swimming and boating there. The village announced Tuesday that the entire area, from mile marker 77.5 to 79.8, will be off limits to parking, tents, chairs and other items, which will be welcome news to many village residents who are often left to clean up the mess left on the roadside beaches following busy weekends.

Duval County Public Schools unanimously approve use of protective barriers in the classroom” via The Florida Times-Union — Tuesday the Duval County School Board unanimously approved the use of protective barriers to help separate students during the upcoming school year. The district has already spent about $10.2 million since April 1 on coronavirus-reactive measures. That includes the cost incurred to move the district to distance learning in March. At least $9 million of that has gone to items labeled GSA, which covers the district’s bus vendor. Vendors have been delivering meals and instructional packets. Members of the School Board and the district said all of the plans laid out in recent weeks could change at a moment’s notice as the number of COVID-19 infections and local mandates continues to fluctuate.

Fire Betty’s, Fox & Stag permanently closed after latest coronavirus-caused bars shutdown” via Alicia Devine of the Tallahassee Democrat — Fire Betty’s and Fox & Stag, both owned by the Midtown Hospitality Group that operates a number of bars and restaurants in Tallahassee, announced on Facebook that they are permanently closing because of the coronavirus. The closure of the two bars, a staple in The Manor at Midtown for the past three years, comes upon the heels of other bars there throwing in the towel. Finnegan’s Wake closed after many years in business there, and Fifth and Thomas closed in May. In identical Facebook posts, the owners said this was one of the hardest decisions they have had to make, stating it was “based solely on the health and safety of our staff, patrons, and their loved ones.”

Fire Betty’s, Fox & Stag permanently closed, the latest casualty of the coronavirus bar shut down. Image via the Tallahassee Democrat.

Milton City Council rescinds mask mandate after public outcry; masks no longer required” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — Milton citizens will no longer be mandated to wear masks inside city businesses to help stop the spread of COVID-19, after nobody on the city council supported Mayor Heather Lindsay’s emergency mask declaration resolution and dozens of citizens spoke out against the mandate. Lindsay issued the declaration on Friday mandating all people to wear masks inside Milton businesses, the same day that the cities of Pensacola and Gulf Breeze issued similar directives. Milton City Council called an emergency public meeting Monday night to discuss either approving or rescinding the emergency order, and it was rescinded.

No mask mandate for St. Johns County” via Zachery Lashway and Vic Micolucci of — A day after Jacksonville enacted a mask mandate for indoor spaces, St. Johns County leaders declined to take it up. After discussing it for hours, only one county commissioner, Henry Dean, wanted a mandatory indoor mask policy. The other four did not second the motion. While they’re not required in the county, they are still required in indoor public buildings in St. Augustine city limits. “I don’t think anyone has the answers today to provide a definitive answer that will be effective, will be enforced and will protect everybody,” Commissioner Jimmy Johns said. Leaders heard from a number of members of the community for public comment.

Police report filed in case of woman in viral video coughing on cancer patient at St. Johns Town Center store” via the Florida Times-Union — The woman reportedly seen in a viral video intentionally coughing into the face of Jacksonville cancer patient has been identified in a police report obtained by First Coast News. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was able to identify Debra Hunter, of Fernandina Beach as the aggressor in a video that quickly made the rounds online. In the video, Hunter can be seen at a cash register of the Pier 1 store at the St. Johns Town Center being verbally abusive to an employee. Hunter then spots the victim taking the video, flicks her the bird and then walks up and coughs directly in her face.


CDC says U.S. has ‘way too much virus’ to control pandemic as cases surge across country” via William Feuer of CNBC — The coronavirus is spreading too rapidly and too broadly for the U.S. to bring it under control, Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, said. The U.S. has set records for daily new infections in recent days as outbreaks surge mostly across the South and West. The recent spike in new cases has outpaced daily infections in April when the virus rocked Washington state and the northeast, and when public officials thought the outbreak was hitting its peak in the U.S. The sheer size of the U.S. and the fact that the virus is hitting different parts of the country at different times complicates the public response here compared with other countries.

Senate health chairman urges Donald Trump to wear mask to end political debate” via Jacob Knutson of Axios — Sen. Lamar Alexander, chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, urged Trump to wear a face mask “when it’s appropriate” to help end the political debate over wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic. Studies show that wearing masks can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but efforts to encourage mask-wearing have been complicated by political partisanship and distrust in public health advice. Nationally, the percentage of Democrats who reported wearing a mask all the time when leaving home rose from 49% between April 10 and May 4 to 65% between May 8 and June 22. During the same time period, the percentage of Republicans who reported constant mask-wearing rose from 29% to just 35%.

Lamar Alexander is one of the Senate Republicans urging Donald Trump to start wearing a mask for the good of the country. Image via NBC News.

More isolation, tracing, masks needed amid pandemic” via the News Service of Florida — More isolation of COVID-19 patients, increased contact tracing and greater use of face masks in the workplace are needed to combat the coronavirus pandemic, a new report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. Less than half, 46%, of patients with COVID-19 who were surveyed by the agency reported known close contact with infected people in the two weeks leading up to their own diagnoses. At 45%, family members topped the list of reported prior known contacts, followed by work colleagues at 34%. The findings came from a telephone survey between April 15 and May 24 of 350 patients who had tested positive for COVID-19 at one of 11 academic medical centers.

U.S. pediatricians call for in-person school this fall” via Anya Kamenetz of NPR — The nation’s pediatricians have come out with a strong statement in favor of bringing children back to the classroom this fall wherever and whenever they can do so safely. The guidance says “schools are fundamental to child and adolescent development and well-being.” The AAP cites “mounting evidence” that transmission of the coronavirus by young children is uncommon, partly because they are less likely to contract it in the first place. On the other hand, the AAP argues that based on the nation’s experience this spring, remote learning is likely to result in severe learning loss and increased social isolation.

Millions track the pandemic on Johns Hopkins’s dashboard. Those who built it say some miss the real story.” via Kyle Swenson of The Washington Post — Since launching in January, Johns Hopkins’ Coronavirus Resource Center has exploded in scope and popularity, garnering millions of page views and popping up in news coverage and daily conversation. Through numbers, the tracker has told the story of what the virus is doing while the story is still unfolding, offering a nearly real-time picture of its silent march across the globe. But even as data has jumped to the forefront of international discussions about the virus, the Johns Hopkins team wrestles with doubts about whether the numbers can truly capture the scope of the pandemic, and whether the public and policymakers are failing to absorb the big picture.


Top CEOs say business fallout from coronavirus will extend through 2021” via Hannah Denham of The Washington Post — The chief executives of some of the nation’s largest companies expect the ill economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic to extend through 2021, and nearly a third of them say the harm will last even longer. The CEO Economic Outlook Survey fell to 34.3 in the second quarter, the lowest reading for the composite index since the same three months of 2009. But it’s well above the all-time low of -5.0, set during the first quarter of 2009 at the height of the Great Recession. Public health concerns continue to weigh on the economy as coronavirus infections surged last week in several states, promoting some to roll back their reopening timelines.

A national mask mandate could save the U.S. economy $1 trillion, Goldman Sachs says” via Sarah Hansen of Forbes — As mask-wearing becomes a political flashpoint new research from Goldman Sachs suggests a national mask mandate would slow the growth rate of new coronavirus infections and prevent a 5% GDP loss caused by additional lockdown measures. Goldman’s analysts found that wearing face coverings has a significant impact on coronavirus outcomes, and they suggest that a federal mask mandate would “meaningfully” increase mask usage across the country, especially in states like Florida and Texas, where masks are not currently required. Reducing the spread of the virus through mask-wearing, the analysts found, could be a substitute for strict lockdown measures that would otherwise shave 5%, or $1 trillion, off the U.S. GDP.

Paycheck Protection Program wraps up with $130 billion left unused, and lawmakers eye next steps” via Jonathan O’Connell, Erica Werner and Aaron Gregg of The Washington Post — With the deadline to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program ending Tuesday night at midnight, Sens. Marco Rubio and Ben Cardin have led a group considering how best to use the remaining funds to help small businesses as they begin to reopen. The issue is not expected to be resolved, however, until the Senate gets to work in late July on what Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said will be the final major coronavirus relief bill. At a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Trump administration supports legislation to re-purpose the more than $130 billion left in the small-business fund.

Tweet, tweet:

Housekeepers and custodians, fearful as campuses reopen, demand more protection from their schools” via Lauren Lumpkin of The Washington Post — The pressure colleges face to return to normalcy are high, too, even before fall. As campuses announce plans to reopen in the fall, service workers, many of whom are people of color, have been summoned to the front lines. Maintenance workers and custodial crews are being called back to work with little preparation, their union says. Faculty, staff and students will be asked to report their temperatures daily, and many officials say they want to make testing available to employees who want it.

European Union says it will bar Americans when bloc reopens to international visitors July 1” via Julia Thompson and Deirdre Shesgreen of USA Today — Americans will not be allowed to travel to European Union countries when the bloc opens up to international visitors July 1, the European Council announced. Travelers from 14 countries will be welcomed to the EU, including Canada, South Korea and Australia. But those from the U.S. and many other nations will be barred as too risky because of spiking coronavirus cases in their home countries. The criteria used to decide whether to lift pandemic travel restrictions were based on the epidemiological situation and containment measures in each country.


There is no safe way to reopen colleges this fall” via Shweta Bansal, Colin Carlson and John Kraemer of The Washington Post — Universities across the country are announcing their intention to resume in-person classes despite the ongoing threat of a pandemic including some recent high-profile decisions. Colleges are proposing solutions like residential pods in dorms to balance physical distancing with the need for social contact or digital apps that trade-off privacy for contact tracing. These ideas could provide more flexibility in the future. Every way we approach the question of whether universities can resume on-campus classes, basic epidemiology shows there is no way to “safely” reopen by the fall semester. If students are returned to campus for face-to-face instruction, the risk of significant on-campus COVID-19 transmission will be unmanageably and unavoidably high.

California prison officials transferred inmates in an attempt to stop an outbreak. It backfired, badly.” via The New York Times — An effort by California officials to halt the spread of the virus at a prison in Chino backfired and caused a massive outbreak inside San Quentin, the state’s oldest and best-known prison. Late last month, 121 prisoners from the California Institution for Men in Chino, which had nearly 700 cases and nine deaths, were bused to San Quentin, where no inmates were known to have the virus. Now more than 1,000 of the 3,700 prisoners at San Quentin have been infected. A hearing is scheduled in the state Senate, where lawmakers say they have become alarmed about the outbreak and what they describe as a haphazard response by prison officials.

Minor league baseball’s 2020 season canceled” via Jenna West of Sports Illustrated — Minor League Baseball’s 2020 season has been canceled, the league announced. The announcement came after MLB informed its affiliated MiLB teams that it would not be providing players in 2020. “These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we’ve had a summer without Minor League Baseball,” said MiLB president and CEO Pat O’Conner. The long-awaited news came as no surprise after people across the industry anticipated the season would not take place.

The new corporate swag: Branded masks, sanitizer spray bottles and Zoom vanity light rings” via Jena McGregor of The Washington Post — As some businesses reopen and others try to stay in touch with employees working from home, companies are opting for coronavirus-related corporate swag, branded sanitizer bottles, “clean key” tools for pressing elevator buttons and, above all, masks, joining the tote bags, travel mugs and USB flash drives that have long defined company giveaways. Some companies, such as Dunkin’ and Bloomingdale’s, are selling face coverings with brands, distinctive colors, or catchphrases directly to consumers, and some companies offer them to front-line employees in service jobs.

Speaking of which:

The COVID 15: Lockdowns are lifting, and our clothes don’t fit” via Suzanne Kapner of The Wall Street Journal — People spent the spring sheltering at home in sweatpants, perfecting banana bread recipes and indulging in pandemic-induced stress-eating. Most of them escaped COVID-19, but not the “COVID 15” what people are calling the quarantine weight gain pushing Americans into roomier wardrobes just as lockdowns lift. Google searches for “elastic waist” spiked in recent weeks. Body-measuring apps are reporting a jump in people redoing their profiles and choosing looser fits. Some retailers say they are increasing orders of bigger sizes.


NBA, union plan to paint ‘Black Lives Matter’ on courts in Orlando” via Zach Lowe and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN — The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are planning to paint “Black Lives Matter” on the court inside both sidelines in all three arenas the league will use at the Walt Disney World Resort when it resumes the 2019-20 season late next month in Orlando, Florida. The WNBA is also discussing painting “Black Lives Matter” on the court when it begins its abbreviated 2020 season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Sources also said some WNBA players have suggested in talks with league higher-ups that players wear warm-up shirts with “Say Her Name” on them in an attempt to keep attention on female victims of police brutality.

It’s time for bold moves. The NBA should put victims’ names on jersey fronts.” via Jerry Brewer of The Washington Post — If the novel coronavirus allows the NBA to return as planned in late July, the league should come back with the strongest symbol it can offer about an incessant American tragedy. WNBA star Angel McCoughtry proposed the idea of using the jersey as a potent Black Lives Matter emblem, and now it has made it onto the NBA’s table. During the opening games of the NBA restart, when the 22 remaining teams take the court again, the opportunity exists for a heart-wrenching spectacle that would enhance all of the other messaging.

Fort Lauderdale cop charged with battery for shoving protester” via Mario Ariza and Andrew Boryga of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Steven Pohorence, the embattled Fort Lauderdale police officer accused of shoving a kneeling protester during a Black Lives Matters protest, has been charged with battery. The Broward State Attorney’s Office filed the charge in response to the May 31 incident in which Pohorence shoved Jada Servance as she knelt on the ground during a tense exchange between officers and demonstrators. According to her attorney, Servance suffered neck and shoulder injuries. The charging documents allege that Pohorence committed battery by “actually and intentionally touching or striking” Servance against her will. Pohorence’s attorney, Michael Dutko, said a video of the encounter might not tell the whole story.

Ft. Lauderdale police officer Steven Pohorence is being charged with battery after shoving a protester.

A ‘coup’ led by White supremacists led to placement of Pensacola’s Confederate monument” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Pensacola’s monument was an example of a “Lost Cause” monument and the first monument to not just soldiers of the war but Confederate leaders at a time when the “Lost Cause” narrative was galvanizing the public’s memory of the war. The warping of history with things like the Confederate monument while the civil rights of Blacks were suppressed and the creation of a segregated society for nearly 80 years, allowed for the creation of systemic racism that is the focus of modern protests. The monument was thought to be such a part of Pensacola that when a debate erupted in the 1960s about having Palafox Street cut through the middle of the square, a city council member suggested building a tunnel under the monument rather than disturb it.

Vandals deface Confederate monument in Pensacola’s Lee Square” via the Pensacola News Journal staff reports — Pensacola police are investigating the vandalism of the Confederate Monument in downtown Pensacola overnight. Vandals spray-painted what appears to be “Your Confederate Dead” on one side of the monument and threw a bucket of red paint on another side. Mike Wood, a spokesman for the Pensacola Police Department, said the paint was first discovered by police in the early hours of Tuesday morning. In recent weeks, PPD officers have been directed to routinely survey all the monuments and statues within Pensacola’s city limits as a part of their daily duties and night patrols. According to law enforcement, if police identify and arrest a suspect in connection to the vandalism, the accused would face a charge of criminal mischief. 

Pinellas commissioners disagree over ‘Black Lives Matter’ Zoom background” via Mark Puente of the Tampa Bay Times — Is the Black Lives Matter mural in St. Petersburg an appropriate backdrop for a government meeting? The question arose Tuesday at the end of the Pinellas County Commission meeting when Commissioner Kathleen Peters questioned the backgrounds that commissioners and administrators use during online meetings, specifically the background used by Commissioner Ken Welch. Welch’s background was a photo of the Black Lives Matter mural on the street in front of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum in St. Petersburg. Welch also used a Black Lives Matter photo as a backdrop last week during a meeting. A group of local artists collaborated this month to paint the mural for the city’s Juneteenth celebration. Peters said she has received complaints from constituents about Welch’s mural background.

MeanwhileWoman shot multiple times after being dared to steal Nazi flag from front yard” via Austin Breasette of KFOR — A 26-year-old woman was shot multiple times early Sunday morning after she was dared to steal a swastika flag from a Hunter man’s front yard. Garfield County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a shots-fired call at 3 a.m. Sunday. When they got on scene they found a woman lying in a ditch. “The female had multiple gunshot wounds, so my deputies rendered aid to her,” Jody Helm, Garfield County Sheriff said. According to the Sheriff, she was dared to try and steal one of the two swastika flags that hang in a neighbor’s front yard. So, she ran over to do it. “On the way back someone hollered gun,” Helm said. “She dropped the flag at the end of the driveway and shots were fired.”

Who’s the most galling, captivating character on our screens this summer? It’s Karen — and she’s everywhere.” via Hank Stuever of The Washington Post — Several times a day, Instagram and Twitter feeds serve up another galling, sad and often an intensely satisfying segment of a reality series we can just go ahead and call “Karens,” in which women make the mistake of policing, harassing or discriminating against their fellow humans in public. As soon as one Karen flames out across the internet, another apparently more unhinged Karen rises in her place. Now, with the cameras squarely and vigilantly in the hands of those who are sick of being hassled, the “Karens” show depressingly confirms some of our worst suspicions about people in general, wielding a similar power of stereotype.

In the latest viral ‘Karen’ incident, homeowners brandish weapons as they confront protesters marching to the St. Louis Mayor’s house. Image via Reuters.


Republicans have been skipping House Intelligence meetings for months” via Martin Matishak of POLITICO — Democrats see a boycott motivated by partisan politics. Republicans argue they have legitimate security concerns. Either way, GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee have skipped all but one of the panel’s proceedings, public and private, since before Congress went into its coronavirus-lockdown in early March. And that impasse shows no signs of ending. Democrats see it as yet another manifestation of the toxic partisan split dividing the panel during Trump‘s presidency, in contrast to the still-bipartisan spirit that prevails on the Senate Intelligence Committee.


A hefty price tag to retain the lobbying services of a former member of Congress poses no problem for foreign governments like the Saudis — especially given what they get in return. As part of a nine-month investigation, Noah Pransky of NBCLX found several examples such as former Rep. Buck McKeon of California. In his second career as a foreign agent, McKeon initially brought in $50,000 a month — as well as a $450,000 check from the kingdom just days after what was believed to be the Saudi-sponsored murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi of The Washington Post.

Former Rep. Buck McKeon of California has a lucrative second career as a foreign agent lobbying Congress on behalf of the Saudis. 

Mercenaryism by former members of Congress might raise eyebrows in the communities they once were elected to serve, but not in Washington, where lobbying on behalf of foreign entities is commonplace. An examination of official records shows that over the past five years, more than 50 former members of the House and Senate worked for foreign interests — including Russia, China and Saudi Arabia.

Foreign nations cannot send campaign donations directly to U.S. politicians, but they certainly can have lobbyists do so on their behalf. While the Constitution and federal laws prohibit foreign powers from spending money to influence American elections or give anything of value to elected officials, there’s nothing stopping them from spending hundreds of millions of dollars to influence American policies by hiring well-connected lobbyists.

One such agent — former Rep. Porter Goss of Florida — held up his Foreign Agents Registration Act (enacted in 1938 to prevent Nazi infiltration of American politics) disclosures as proof the system provides sufficient transparency. Others acknowledged FARA relies too much on former members’ honesty and ethical boundaries. Most remain tight-lipped about their involvement.

Former Florida lawmakers who are among the 50 or so former members of Congress now acting as foreign agents include Goss, Wexler, James Bacchus, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Connie Mack IV, Jeff Miller, and Robert Wexler.


Hepatitis A cases hit 675 this year” via the News Service of Florida — About a third of the cases are in Duval and Volusia counties, according to newly released data by the state Department of Health. The overall total includes 71 cases diagnosed between June 1 and Saturday. Duval County has had 163 cases this year, while Volusia has had 58, the state numbers show. They are followed by Brevard County, with 47 cases, and St. Johns County, with 37. Florida had a major outbreak of hepatitis A last year, spurring state Surgeon General Scott Rivkees to issue a public health emergency in August.

Mark Rodin, former head of Seminole Productions at FSU, arrested in $1.2 million fraud case” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Rodin, the founder and former executive director of Seminole Productions at Florida State University, is facing charges he defrauded the university of $1.2 million. Rodin was arrested on one count of fraud to obtain property of $50,000 or more and 24 counts of grand theft, according to Leon Circuit Court records. He turned himself in at the Leon County Detention Facility and was released after posting bail. Court records show bail set at $25,000 on the fraud charge and $10,000 on the grand theft charges. His first court appearance is set for Wednesday.

Mark Rodin, former executive director of Seminole Productions at Florida State University, is accused of defrauding the university of $1.2 million. 

Disney ruling could save hotel companies millions in taxes” via Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel — Walt Disney World and the lodging industry lobby just won a sweeping legal victory that could save Disney and other big hotel owners millions of dollars in taxes. Ruling in a yearslong lawsuit between Disney and Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh, an appellate court determined that Singh’s office improperly inflated the value of Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort, a luxury hotel with an annual property tax bill of more than $4 million. But attorneys and appraisers say the decision, which was issued June 19, will reverberate far beyond that one hotel. That’s because the court declared the entire method that Singh had used to appraise the Disney property, a method that is widely used by other property appraisers, is illegal under Florida law.

Former Seminole Tax Collector Greenberg pleads not guilty to federal charges” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Greenberg, who resigned this month as Seminole County’s Tax Collector, has entered a plea of not guilty to federal charges of stalking and identity theft against a political opponent, according to a court document. An arraignment hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday in the federal courthouse in downtown Orlando. Greenberg has waived his right to appear at the hearing. Orlando attorneys Mark Horwitz and Vincent Citro also filed documents to say that they have been hired by Greenberg to represent him in federal court.

Orlando Sentinel’s landlord sues over unpaid rent” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — The Orlando Sentinel is being sued by its landlord, who says the newspaper didn’t pay rent for three months during the coronavirus pandemic. Midtown Opportunities says it’s owed about $370,000 for rent from April through June, according to an Orange Circuit Court lawsuit filed June 18 against the newspaper at and its owner, Tribune Publishing Co. The lawsuit seeks unpaid rent as well as interest and legal expenses.

Miami businessmen, others charged in $1.4 billion health insurance scam in Florida” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — In one of Florida’s biggest health care schemes, 10 business people from Miami and elsewhere have been charged with submitting $1.4 billion in bogus bills for urinalysis and blood tests through rural hospitals. An indictment charges the defendants with bilking Florida Blue and other private insurance companies, which paid out $400 million for tests that were actually done by private labs instead of the rural hospitals. In doing so, the defendants were able to boost their reimbursements because the rural hospitals qualified for higher insurance payments between 2015 and 2018.

Miami-Dade Commissioner colludes with rail executive to do away with beach connector RFP” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — As we reported two weeks ago, a Miami-Dade County Commissioner may have violated the County’s Cone of Silence Ordinance during a discussion on the Beach Corridor Trunk Line RFP held on at the County Commission meeting June 2. In recent days Florida Politics has become aware of that the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics has opened an investigation into this matter and in less than a week, found that no violation had taken place by either Commissioner Joe Martinez or Jitendra Tomar, the representative for the rail company CAF. This is surprising not only due to the speed with which the COE acted, but with the rush, they may have missed critical evidence that would show possible wrongdoing.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez possibly violated the county’s Cone of Silence rules.

Longboat Key’s main sewer pipe breaks, spilling sewage” via Timothy Fanning of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The rupture, which could take days to fix, prompted the town to urge all commercial, resort and residential properties to minimize water and wastewater use to control the amount of effluent moving through the underwater pipeline until the repair is completed. Records show the spill began on June 17 but Longboat Key did not publicly report the issue until Monday, nearly two weeks later. The spill’s cause has yet to be determined and cleanup will be conducted once the release is stopped. It is unclear how much wastewater was spilled though the volume from the major line failure is considered significant.

Three outgoing lawmakers seek PSC post” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Three Republican lawmakers who will leave office in November, including former Senate President Tom Lee, have applied for an opening on the Florida Public Service Commission. Lee, Rep. Holly Raschein and Rep. Mike La Rosa were among seven hopefuls who had submitted applications for the $132,036-a-year position on the panel that regulates utilities, according to the Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council. The position is available because Commissioner Donald Polmann’s four-year term is slated to expire in January. Polmann has submitted an application seeking reappointment by DeSantis. The application deadline was set for 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Preteens sell ‘Helping hArt’ paintings to raise money for Feeding Tampa Bay” via Sean Daly of ABC Action News — When Florida Sen. Jeff Brandes brought his four preteen children to Feeding Tampa Bay events, he was proud of their response. “They wanted to do even more,” the beaming dad says. And they have. The talented Brandes kids aren’t just working at the nonprofit’s mobile food pantries, packing cars with fresh produce, milk and meats, they’re also raising money to help feed families in need. So far, the entrepreneurial Brandes crew has sold 60-some original pieces of artwork and has raised more than $2,500.


Ana Cruz, Todd Josko, Ballard Partners: Domain Homes

Kasey Lewis, Lewis Longman & Walker: Navarre Beach Fire Rescue

Timothy Stanfield, Greenberg Traurig: SuttonPark Capital

— 2020 —

Jared Kushner changes top Donald Trump campaign staff” via Jonathan Swan at Axios — Michael Glassner, the man who organizes President Trump’s rallies, has been “reassigned,” and Trump’s 2016 Arizona chair Jeff DeWit will join the campaign as chief operating officer to oversee the final stretch to election day, three sources familiar with the situation tell Axios. Jared Kushner engineered these moves. Glassner, a Trump campaign original dating back to 2015, has been told he will now be handling the campaign’s various lawsuits, sources say.

Trump reelection campaign makes huge Florida TV ad buy” via Anthony Man of the Orlando Sentinel — Trump’s reelection campaign, which is seeing warnings that he’s vulnerable in Florida and other critical states, has gone on a buying binge of TV ad time for the final months of the campaign. The ad tracking firm Advertising Analytics reported a huge Trump campaign TV ad buy on Monday: $95 million in six states for ads starting the day after Labor Day through Election Day. Florida accounts for more than one-third of the ad time the Trump campaign bought on Monday for the final fall push: $32 million. Based on the latest ad time it bought, the Trump campaign is planning its biggest advertising pushes in two areas of the state that are often seen as the most up for grabs

Donald Trump is going big in Florida. Image via AP.

Trump’s Twitter feed reads like a local crime blotter as he stokes a culture war” via Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — The president posted 15 fliers from the United States Park Police to his 82.6 million followers, complete with grainy photos of Americans suspected of vandalism at Lafayette Square. The images hearkened to the kinds of posters one would see on the wall of a local post office. The president’s messages about protesters and vandals have continued apace, often in the early hours of the morning or the late hours of the evening when he is not surrounded by aides, but sometimes in interviews and executive orders.

Would Trump abandon Twitter?” via Ben Shrekinger of POLITICO — Big Tech is cracking down on Trump, which gives him all the more reason to retreat from its platforms into his own digital ecosystem. The president’s reelection campaign and some of his followers had already been joining and promoting alternative social media sites, much as the president pressures Fox News when it displeases him by calling attention to its upstart conservative rival, One America News Network. That was before the most recent wave of crackdowns on Trump and his supporters by social-media firms seeking to remove content that is deemed offensive, inaccurate or both.

Scenes from Joe Biden’s first encounter with the media in months” via Christopher Cadelago and Natasha Korecki of POLITICO — Biden made the short drive from his now-famous basement, jogged into the high school gym where he usually votes and excoriated Trump as failing miserably to protect the health and safety of Americans. Then, after laying out his own plan to slow the coronavirus, the presumptive Democratic nominee made what now amounts to news in this bizarre election: He opened the floor to questions from reporters, waving off aides when they tried to cut him off and marveling at how strange this has all become. “I’ve been tested, and I’m constantly tested,” he said. “I can hardly wait to compare my cognitive capability to the cognitive capability of the man I’m running against.”

Joe Biden holds his first news conference in months. Image via AP.

Biden rises with a less-is-more campaign” via Michael Scherer of The Washington Post — Trump has spent the past month lapping Biden on the campaign trail, traveling to more places with bigger crowds, giving more interviews and dominating daily news coverage. But political strategists in both parties agree that Biden is the one who had benefited so far. A Biden strategy of caution and discipline, which has limited his travel and put news conferences on hold for 88 days, has allowed the Democrat to keep the national focus on Trump and his polarizing approach to the coronavirus pandemic, the economic crisis and widespread fury over racist policing practices. Biden has made no secret of his own thinking on the matter. “The more that Donald Trump is out the worse he does. I think it is wonderful that he goes out,” Biden joked.


RNC chair Ronna McDaniel insists Jacksonville convention will be ‘safe and healthy’ after city mandates masks” via Talia Kaplan of Fox News — Republican National Committee Chairwoman McDaniel joined “Fox & Friends” to explain how the RNC plans to hold a safe convention in Jacksonville this August despite the surge of coronavirus cases in the state. “We’re going to … listen to the local authorities and we’re going to make sure this is a safe and healthy convention,” said McDaniel, who added that the RNC would “abide by what the Mayor and the Governor are saying.” … “The difference with Charlotte is the Governor would give us no guidance, so we kept continually coming to him and saying, ‘We will test people, we will do this and that’ and he said, ‘I’m not going to give you any guidance.’”

Trust me: Ronna McDaniel promises the RNC will be ‘safe and healthy’ in Jacksonville.

Jacksonville’s mask mandate raises questions about the RNC” via Scott Johnson of News4Jax — The marquee events of the Republican National Convention were rescheduled for Jacksonville after North Carolina’s Governor told the GOP and Trump he was “unable to guarantee” that the Charlotte arena where the convention was to be held could be filled to capacity. So when Jacksonville announced Monday that it would adopt a face mask requirement for indoor locations where social distancing is not possible, it was headline news. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday that Trump, who has not been seen wearing a mask in public, told her he “has no problem with masks.” Republican Party of Duval County president Dean Black said Mayor Lenny Curry continue to monitor health statistics through the convention.


Happening today Public officials in Florida face a filing deadline for financial disclosure. There is a “grace period” until Sept. 1 before fines begin.

Marco Rubio endorses Dane Eagle in CD 19” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Rubio knows which Southwest Florida candidate he wants to join him in Congress, endorsing Eagle in Florida’s 19th Congressional District. “The 21st-century challenges facing our nation are unprecedented, and we need leaders in Congress who know how to get results,” Rubio said. “As Republican Majority Leader of the Florida House of Representatives, Dane has proved time and time again his commitment to our conservative values, and his principles and track record of results make him the most qualified person in this race. I am proud to endorse Dane Eagle for Congress, and I look forward to working with him on behalf of all Floridians and our country.” Eagle is one of nine Republicans running to succeed retiring Rep. Francis Rooney.

Big get: Marco Rubio is endorsing Dane Eagle for Congress.

A lawsuit to kick Carlos Giménez off the ballot for Congress continues — for now” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — A one-letter typo led to a two-month legal fight between Giménez and firefighter Omar Blanco, and the dispute that began with a misspelled check now has Blanco accusing Giménez of using illegal funds to qualify for the ballot in Florida’s 26th Congressional District. The back-and-forth will continue, at least for now, after a Florida judge denied Giménez’s motion to dismiss Blanco’s lawsuit last week. Blanco is competing with Giménez in the Republican primary in August. The winner will face incumbent U.S. Rep. Debbie Murcarsel-Powell, a Democrat, who represents a district that includes western Miami-Dade County, Homestead and the Florida Keys.

SD 27 text campaign targets Wilton Simpson, Kathleen Passidomo — The SD 27 Republican primary between Reps. Heather Fitzenhagen and Ray Rodrigues is already getting dirty. As reported by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, an unknown party has been blasting text messages in the district that criticize Senate President-Designate Wilton Simpson and Senate Majority Leader Kathleen Passidomo, both of whom are backing Rodrigues in the primary. Axiom Strategies, a political consulting firm hired by Fitzenhagen, flatly denied the messages came from her camp. “Heather and her campaign have absolutely nothing — zero — to do with the texts, and she’s getting them just like everyone else,” said Lyndsey Blagrave, an Axiom consultant serving as Fitzenhagen’s campaign spokesperson.

NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer locks sights on Heather Fitzenhagen” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Hammer, Florida’s leading gun rights advocate, has turned her sights on the Senate District 27. She’s focused on stopping Fitzenhagen’s fledgling candidacy. In multiple emails sent to National Rifle Association members and other Second Amendment advocates, she portrays Fitzenhagen as a traitor to conservatives. She ties the sitting House member to incoming Senate Democratic Leader Gary Farmer, asserting the Democrat has Fitzenhagen’s vote for Senate President. Fitzenhagen called the emails dishonest and inaccurate. “As far as guns go, I have a strong record in the House,” Fitzenhagen said. “I don’t know where this is coming from, but it is again complete fiction,” she said.

Happening tonight:

—“Meet Fiona McFarland, a Republican candidate for House District 72” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

Former AG candidate Sean Shaw backs Maureen Porras in HD 105” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Shaw is endorsing Porras in House District 105. Porras, an immigration attorney, is competing against former HD 105 candidate Javier Estevez for the Democratic nomination. “Maureen has a proven record of standing up for justice and human rights,” Shaw said Tuesday. “She has used her voice to defend others and to elevate important issues facing the community. She has clear and workable solutions to protect Floridians and reform our broken systems. Now more than ever, Maureen is the fighter and leader that we need in Tallahassee.” Shaw previously represented House District 61, which covers parts of Hillsborough County. He then competed in the 2018 Attorney General contest, losing to Republican candidate Ashley Moody.

 ’Miami turf war’ roils Republicans” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Outgoing House Speaker José Oliva has sparked a Miami clash with statewide implications after his fellow Republicans accused him of helping to fund negative ads against a Miami lawmaker in line to be a future speaker of the Florida House. Oliva did not address rumors that he was trying to knock Rep. Daniel Perez out of his primary race. South Florida’s legislative delegation is notoriously fractious. “It feels like a classic Miami turf war, and the current speaker wants to be the most powerful guy from Miami,” said a Republican familiar with the brewing scuffle. “This is literally all ego.”

Eric Holder’s redistricting PAC backs four Florida House candidates, pledges $124K for those races” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a pro-Democratic PAC chaired by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, is endorsing four Florida House candidates and committing $124,000 to those races. The announcement came as the NDRC committed to backing 102 Democratic candidates in states across the country. The group has also pledged approximately $2 million to those races. To that end, the NDRC is endorsing Kayser Enneking in House District 21, Franccesca Cesti-Browne in House District 115, Ricky Junquera in House District 118 and Clint Barras in House District 120.


Miami-Dade mayoral race goes negative as group drops attack ads against Esteban Bovo, Xavier Suarez” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new group is releasing a pair of advertisements hitting Bovo over his association with David Rivera. Rivera has been in hot water after news broke his consulting firm, Interamerican Consulting, agreed to a $50 million deal with a Venezuelan oil company while it was controlled by the Nicolás Maduro regime. Bovo has since taken steps to distance himself from Rivera. A group called A Better Miami Dade is still going after Bovo in a 30-second Spanish-language ad highlighting those ties. Bovo’s mayoral campaign returned a $1,000 donation from Interamerican Consulting after The New York Times reported on the $50 million deal. Bovo also ended his relationship with the fundraiser in question, Esther Nuhfer.

Esteban Steve Bovo is on the defense after attack ads hit blasting his association with David Rivera. Image via Facebook.

One ad attacks Alex Penelas, the other defends him. Both trace back to same D.C. staffer” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — On Friday, some Miami-Dade voters received text messages linking to a political committee’s website accusing county mayor candidate Alex Penelas of being part of a “carousel of corruption” when he held the job in the 1990s and 2000s. Days later, a different committee was circulating a television ad urging voters to ignore the “lies” about Penelas, a former mayor who “cracked down on corruption.” The messages were funded by political committees led by Carlos Condarco, a lawyer active in local Democratic politics and press secretary to Miami Congresswoman Donna Shalala.

Beverly McCallum not qualified for state attorney, judge rules” via Cindy Swirko of the Ocala StarBanner — Eighth Circuit state attorney candidate McCallum does not qualify for the job because of a suspension by the Florida Supreme Court last year. Opponent Brian Kramer filed the suit to have McCallum disqualified and will become the top prosecutor unless McCallum wins an appeal. The circuit is composed of Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy and Union counties. Second Circuit Judge Angela C. Dempsey based her ruling on precedent set in an earlier case that, when suspended by the state Supreme Court, an attorney is no longer a member of the Bar.

Judicial candidate Kevin Alvarez’s campaign has hit rock bottom — and he’s starting to dig” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — A committee working to reelect Angela Dempsey in Florida’s 2nd Judicial Circuit sent out an email summarizing the many racist and misogynistic social media posts made by her opponent, Alvarez. “I am uncomfortable repeating the language used above, but I felt it was important for the community to know who is running to be their Circuit Judge,” the committee’s Jimmy Gustafson said. The posts, dated between 2009 and 2011, haven’t gone unnoticed by those paying attention to the race. The posts were considered too vulgar to publish according to at least one news agency.


Shevrin Jones: Less talk, more action in the fight for racial justice” via Florida Politics — The Black Lives Matter movement has continued to gain traction in recent years as countless Black men, women, and children senselessly lost their lives. For years, organizers have laid the groundwork in government and culture, calling attention to the systemic problems facing communities of color, and advocating for reforms to correct course after 400+ years of injustice. There is something notably different, however, about this moment. For the first time in my lifetime, there is a palpable shift in the discourse and a sustained national conversation about race. People across backgrounds, generations, and the ideological spectrum are showing up and advancing the conversation — community by community, block by block, kitchen table by kitchen table.


John Roberts is no pro-choice hero” via The New York Times editorial board — The Supreme Court upheld abortion rights on Monday, with Chief Justice Roberts concurring with the liberals on the court to strike down a Louisiana anti-abortion law. That sentence might surprise a lot of people, given that the chief justice is a staunch conservative, and that the court now has a solid right-wing majority. Roberts dissented in a case just four years ago that struck down what was an effectively identical Texas anti-abortion law. In a concurring opinion that provided the fifth vote for a majority, the chief justice wrote that the court’s doctrine requires it to “treat like cases alike.”

Could America’s pandemic response be any more medieval?” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — Rand Paul doesn’t much care what Anthony Fauci has to say. The Kentucky Republican gets his public health advice from Friedrich Hayek. Hayek, the Austrian-born economist and libertarian hero, died in 1992. But Paul, an ophthalmologist before he took up politics, still takes medical guidance from the 20th-century philosopher. “Hayek had it right!” Paul proclaimed at Tuesday’s Senate health committee hearing on the coronavirus pandemic. “Only decentralized power and decision-making based on millions of individualized situations can arrive at what risks and behaviors each individual should choose.”


More than 6,000 new cases of coronavirus were reported by the health department Tuesday, which brings Florida’s running total to more than 152,000 since March. 

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— The COVID-19 surge in Florida is now so bad that even the military is staying away. The Department of Defense says the Sunshine State is off-limits to military personnel because of the virus. The Vice President also canceled two campaign stops in central Florida.

— Floridians who want to visit relatives in prison will have to wait. The Department of Corrections has extended the ban on personal visitation until the middle of the month.

— July 1 is a big day for state government. The new budget takes effect, as does many of the bills passed during the 2020 Session, including the House Speaker’s health care reform bills.

— A deep dive into Gov.DeSantis’ environmental agenda. The Governor signed two bills that have been hailed as game changers in Florida, including one setting serious fines for polluters in a state that has a reputation for letting development run wild.

— Checking-in with a Florida Man, who lost his license years ago — long before his 9th DUI.

To listen, click on the image below:


— ALOE —

The revolution comes again: Lin-Manuel Miranda and Thomas Kail on ‘Hamilton’” via Jake Coyle of The Associated Press — Miranda likes to picture the millionaire, Mr. Howell, from “Gilligan’s Island,” saying the brag. You know the one. “Well, I saw it with the original cast.” On Friday, Miranda will steal that boast from anyone who ever saw “Hamilton” in its blistering first year and a half on Broadway. A live capture taken from two of the last performances with most of the original cast in June 2016 will premiere on Disney+, opening a new chapter in Miranda’s ever-evolving pop-culture phenomenon. Over Independence Day, more people will see “Hamilton” than ever before. Director Kail, who also shepherded the stage show, dispersed nine cameras and some 100 microphones around the Richard Rodgers Theatre to document the performances.

More people will see ‘Hamilton’ over the July 4 weekend than have ever seen it on Broadway. Image via Getty.


Celebrating today are Andreina Figueroa and Scott Strepina.


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.

One comment

  • Ron

    July 1, 2020 at 6:13 am

    The state’s budget this year was $93 Billion not “million” as shown in the TBARTA story.

Comments are closed.


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