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Sunburn for 7.3.20 — Celebrating America’s Independence

Here’s your AM rundown of people, politics and policy in the Sunshine State.

Happy Independence Day.

Each year, we urge Florida Man and Woman to be safe out there. This year, we truly hope you will take this message to heart.

There won’t be an edition of Sunburn on Monday. The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics will return to inboxes on Tuesday, July 7.


As you celebrate July Fourth, keep in mind, it was July 2 which got the shaft. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress of the 13 American colonies voted to formally separate from Great Britain (New York abstained). On that occasion, John Adams, a future president of the renegade United States, wrote to his wife, Abigail, “The second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.” Continued Adams, “It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.” It was not to be.

Two days later, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence written by a showoff named Jefferson. (Psst! Look over here!) Ahem … The rest is history. So Happy Independence Day, otherwise known as the Fourth of July. Just remember, it’s Adams who eventually got the HBO miniseries.

A bunch of troublemakers, led by some showoff named Thomas Jefferson.

—“Independence Day comes only once a year, or does it?” via Brent Batten of the Naples Daily News

Getting the facts straight about the Founding Fathers” via PolitiFact — Invoking the Founding Fathers on Independence Day to celebrate our nation’s birth is a fine thing to do. Invoking them to score political points? Watch out. Take, for example, a Facebook post about Benjamin Franklin that circulated in May 2014, a post that was actually aimed at making fun of Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann. The meme quotes Bachmann as saying, “This country could use a president like Benjamin Franklin again.” Of course, Franklin was never president. And we think Bachmann knows that, as well, because she never actually said the quote. We rated the fabricated Facebook meme Pants on Fire. It’s not just claims on social media. Pundits and politicians get things wrong time and time again when they use the Founding Fathers to support their political views. Over the years, PolitiFact has found numerous errors about what the Founding Fathers supposedly said or did, especially when it comes to constitutional issues and civil rights.

—“Fathers in chief via Tevi Troy of the Weekly Standard

—“The 7 most badass Founding Fathers” via Dave Forsmark of

—“5 forgotten Founding Fathers” via Daniel Holzel of Mental Floss

—“4 more forgotten Founding Fathers” via Erik Johnson of Mental Floss

—“A nostalgic look at Independence Days of yesteryear” via Stephen Hiltner and Tariro Mzezewa

Even George Washington had to fight fake news” via Angie Drobnic Holan of the Tampa Bay Times — Forged letters from before his presidency claimed to show in his own words that he privately sympathized with the British monarchy and thought the American cause was doomed. The letters also suggested that Washington thought Americans weren’t ready for democracy. The letters were clever forgeries, but they dogged Washington. They circulated in pamphlets, during both the American Revolution and Washington’s presidency — until Washington grew tired of hearing about them and issued an adamant fact-check of his own. Whoever forged the letters worked to make them believable, including details about Washington’s life as a Virginia farmer. The letters were immediately recognizable as fakes to Washington’s inner circle.

The truth about Paul Revere’s ride brought to you by the Florida Medical Association — “The FMA wishes Sunburn readers a happy Independence Day! We hope you’ll celebrate safely. We also encourage all Floridians to thank our nation’s Veterans and their families for protecting the freedoms upon which our country was founded.” — FMA Executive Vice President Timothy J. Stapleton. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out this fascinating Paul Revere factoid involving a doctor (on message!) — a young physician was most likely the only Patriot who reached Concord during the famous “midnight ride” of Paul Revere.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow got a lot wrong in the “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”

The History Channel tells us that “Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1861 poem about Revere’s ride got many of the facts wrong. For one thing, Revere was not alone on his mission to warn John Hancock, Samuel Adams and other patriots that the British were approaching Lexington on the evening of April 18, 1775. Two other men, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, rode alongside him, and by the end of the night, as many as 40 men on horseback were spreading the word across Boston’s Middlesex County. Revere also never reached Concord, as the poem inaccurately recounts. Overtaken by the British, the three riders split up and headed in different directions. Revere was temporarily detained by the British at Lexington and Dawes lost his way after falling off his horse, leaving Prescott — a young physician who is believed to have died in the war several years later — the task of alerting Concord’s residents.”

10 U.S. historical facts to rain on any July 4 party” via Florida Politics — Every party has a pooper, that’s why some people go to Fourth of July parties armed with trivia that casts doubt on conventional wisdom — especially in American history. When partygoers are lighting fireworks, exclaiming “Isn’t America beautiful?” these historical fact-checkers rain the truth on their parade. Here are 10 “truth firecrackers” to liven up (or put a quick end to) any Independence Day festivities: 1. Baseball, the “All-American” sport, likely came from England; 2. Apple pie is British, too; 3. The melody of the American national anthem comes from an old English drinking song; 4. The Pledge of Allegiance was created for one reason — to sell more flags; 5. Canadians own the Mall of America; 6. Bald eagle screeches are much weaker than the iconic sound, which is actually from the red-tailed hawk; 7. Settlers didn’t tame the American frontier; it was already pretty tame; 8. Hot dogs on the Fourth? Lewis, Clark and the “Corps of Discovery” ate over 200 dogs during the trip; 9. Speaking of wieners … President Lyndon Johnson would frequently pull his out his own “Johnson”; and 10. Independence Day is actually July 2 (see above).


@RealDonaldTrump: The United States has been experiencing, believe it or not, Historically Low Crime Rates. The last thing we will be doing is Defunding or Eliminating our many and various Police Departments or, putting an end to our great Second Amendment!

@MatGertz: Some housekeeping: [Donald] Trump had 67 live tweets in June, his highest total since January. Of those, 65 responded to Fox or Fox Business (the other two were CNBC and the infamous OAN tweet). Fox & Friends (14), America’s Newsroom (10), and The Ingraham Angle (7) led.

@ProjectLincoln: The Nasdaq can’t cure coronavirus.

@MarcoRubio: #Florida surge isn’t because opened too fast It’s because we got complacent &/or assumed group socializing was safe Lockdown isn’t the answer We need to: -restrict settings conducive to spread -indoor mask-wearing -protect +65 & high-risk -daily #’s for #Covid admissions & ICU

@GabrielSherman: Trump campaign in discussions to cancel Trump’s Jacksonville convention rally bc of Florida’s COVID outbreak, per source working on campaign.

@JeffreyBrandes: I asked @FloridaDBPR for an update on the current bar/brewery pause. After speaking w/@HalseyBeshears it appears they are re-evaluating every 2 weeks as they look for a drop in numbers. I believe we can responsibly reopen with updated guidance and vigilant enforcement.

Tweet, tweet:


NBA teams travel to Orlando — 4; Major League Soccer resumes — 5; Disney World Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom to reopen — 8; Disney World Epcot and Hollywood Studios to reopen — 12; Federal taxes due — 12; MLB starts — 20; WNBA starts — 21; PLL starts — 22; TED conference rescheduled — 23; NBA season restart in Orlando — 27; NHL resumes — 27; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premieres (rescheduled) — 28; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 46; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 47; “Mulan” premieres (rescheduled) — 49; Indy 500 rescheduled — 51; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 52; U.S. Open begins — 52; NBA draft lottery — 53; Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 56; “A Quiet Place Part II” premieres — 63; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 64; Rescheduled date for French Open — 93; First presidential debate in Indiana — 88; “Wonder Woman” premieres — 91; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 92; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 96; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 102; Second presidential debate scheduled at Miami — 104; NBA draft — 105; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 105; NBA free agency — 108; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 111; 2020 General Election — 123; “Black Widow” premieres — 128; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 132; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 138; “No Time to Die” premieres — 140; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 151; “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres — 173; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 219; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 385; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 393; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 490; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 588; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 630; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 672; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 826.


Mike Pence: Florida can thank Donald Trump for being prepared to handle COVID cases” via Steve Contorno and Kirby Wilson of the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau — The coronavirus case numbers are worse than ever in Florida. But Thursday, Pence came to Tampa with a message for the Sunshine State: Florida is in a good position to weather the storm. “I want the people of Florida to know we’re in a much better place thanks to the leadership of President Trump, the innovation of American industry and to the partnership that we’ve forged, not just in testing, but in personal protective equipment,” Pence said in an event at USF. Pence noted a handful of differences between the current outbreak in Florida and the earlier ones in New York and Seattle this spring. Treatment options have improved, testing capabilities have expanded and hospitals are ready for a surge.

Mike Pence says we can thank Donald Trump for being prepared to handle COVID-19.

Ron DeSantis won’t take responsibility for rising coronavirus cases, cites low death rate” via Steven Lemongello and Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis would not take any responsibility for Florida’s skyrocketing coronavirus numbers Thursday, just hours after the state recorded its highest single day of new cases with more than 10,000. “Well, do you give credit for Florida for having much lower fatalities per 100,000 than all the states you just praised?” DeSantis told a reporter who asked about Florida and other Southern states’ case numbers compared with the Northeast. Florida reported a record-setting 10,109 coronavirus cases Thursday for a total of 169,106, and 67 new fatalities to bring the death toll to 3,617. Pence acknowledged what he called “this outbreak in Florida,” and said he and Trump supported DeSantis’ efforts to combat the rise in cases.

As COVID-19 spreads in juvenile lockups, public defenders, advocates call for testing” via Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — On April 10, the Department of Juvenile Justice reported the first three cases of COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. All three were staff members. Now, less than three months later, 97 young people and 106 staff at residential programs and detention centers have tested positive. While the department has set guidelines for screening incoming youth and staff and suspending visitation, public defenders, other attorneys and academics are asking why DJJ is still only testing those with symptoms or those who had contact with someone believed to be sick with coronavirus. There are about 1,700 youth at 72 facilities statewide, 541 of whom have been tested for the virus, according to DJJ.

Airbnb limits young renters as Scott Rivkees warns against July Fourth parties” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Ahead of the Independence Day weekend, Rivkees and Airbnb have issued a reminder to people to maintain social distancing and to avoid house parties. To adhere to local rules, the popular vacation rental service Airbnb previously announced it would restrict parties and events at listings if local COVID-19 precautions prevented gatherings. The company announced it would limit people younger than 25 from renting an entire home locally unless the renters have records of good reviews. Rivkees reminded Floridians to avoid closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings, which health experts have dubbed the Three Cs. “This 4th of July, as we celebrate with family and friends, it is important that we all remain vigilant in our pursuit of curbing the effects of COVID-19 and doing everything we can to protect our state’s most vulnerable residents,” Rivkees said.

Scott Rivkees is working with Airbnb to help maintain social distancing protocols.

Florida high school sports practices could fall back to Aug. 10 or later” via Ruddy Collings of the Orlando Sentinel — A fall sports task force voted to recommend that the Florida High School Athletic Association move its start date for official fall sports practices from July 27 to “no earlier” than Aug. 10 due to continuing coronavirus concerns. That shift, which would also push back the start of play, does not require the approval of the Association’s board of directors and could be enacted by FHSAA executive director George Tomyn and his staff in the coming days. The board of directors is not scheduled to meet until Sept. 27-28. But incoming Board President Lauren Otero, a Tampa Plant assistant principal, said she will be talking to Tomyn and suggested that a special board meeting could be held sooner.

As Florida virus numbers rise, NBA arrivals draw closer” via Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press — The coronavirus numbers kept climbing Thursday, with a single-day record for new cases being set in Florida and the NBA revealing that the count of players and staff from the 22 remaining teams that have confirmed diagnoses of COVID-19 continues to grow. The NBA numbers: nine more positive players from tests conducted between June 24-29 to bring the total to 25 who have been positive since mandated testing began June 23. At Disney, preparations continued for the arrivals that start. Practice courts have been put into place in what typically are hotel ballrooms. The arenas that will play host to games are being set up for NBA needs, and some staff were getting set to arrive to begin their quarantines.


Is Miami mentally prepared for the idea of another COVID-19 lockdown? We got this” via Connie Ogle of the Miami Herald — The fear surfaces even as we try to ignore it: Will the coronavirus force Miami to shut down again? State and local officials say no. Never! Maybe they’re right, and it won’t happen. Local officials tell us if we wear masks all the time in public we can keep the tattered shards of our economy running. And we should listen because our officials are known for their cool heads, passionate attention to detail, making sure things run smoothly and never being part of the problem. They know all the facts, such as apparently the virus can only be transmitted after midnight. But say it happens. There is no need to panic! We are older and wiser. Older anyway. We acquired many skills on our coronavirus journey.

Is Miami ready for another possible COVID-19 lockdown? Image via Forbes.

Miami-Dade Mayor: Wear masks because closing businesses again ‘brings so much suffering’” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — When COVID numbers started looking bad again two weeks ago, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez announced a crackdown on emergency business rules and declared the economy would remain fully open. “We’re not going back at this point,” he said on June 18. On Thursday, with coronavirus statistics in Miami-Dade the worst ever, that optimism was gone from Giménez’s public statements. “No one wants to go back to close nonessential businesses. I certainly do not,” Giménez said at a news conference Thursday morning at Charles Hadley Park in the Liberty City area of Miami. “I know how much suffering that has caused for working families. So please, everybody, follow the rules.”

‘The needle he has to thread is very tricky.’ COVID-19 puts Miami-Dade mayor in a bind” via Alex Daugherty and David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Giménez wanted to campaign on opposing socialism and his nine years as Miami-Dade County Mayor. But a force larger than politics, the coronavirus pandemic, is defining his race for Congress against Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and complicating his path to victory. As a Republican running in a left-leaning congressional district, he also has to consider the president’s hard-core voters, some of whom shun masks and resist government lockdowns. This week alone, Gimenez issued a new mandate ordering that masks are worn in public at all times, or those not complying will face fines, with few exceptions. He also ordered beaches and pools closed for the July Fourth weekend and set a 10 p.m. countywide curfew.

South Florida clamps down while cases hit new peak and COVID patients fill hospitals” via Ben Conarck and Daniel Chang of the Miami Herald — On the day Florida recorded a record high single-day of 10,109 new cases of COVID-19, South Florida’s local governments responded with more restrictions, including a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in Miami-Dade, as patient volumes at local hospitals continued to swell past the high water mark from early April. Amid those developments, the health department reported the death of an 11-year-old boy in Miami-Dade, the youngest person to succumb from the novel coronavirus in the state. After weeks of surging case numbers, health officials scrambled to ramp up testing to the maximum capacity of 28,000 tests a day at the 47 state-run sites dotting Florida. Local government leaders pleaded with residents to obey recently enacted face mask orders or risk a repeat shutdown of nonessential businesses, a drastic measure from which the state has struggled to recover.

Miami boy, 11, is youngest Florida victim of COVID-19. He beat other illnesses but not this one.” via David Ovalle and Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — At 18 months old, his body suffering from deformities and his kidneys failing, Daequan Wimberly joined the family of a Miami pastor as a “medical foster child.” Four years later, Bishop Jerry Lee Wimberly adopted the boy, who despite constant health issues, became a smiling presence at Miami’s Ambassadors of Christ church. “He was happy. He could have been an usher anywhere,” said Gladys Brown, a family friend and church member. “He wouldn’t stop until he shook everyone’s hand.” But Daequan’s already precarious health — he had to undergo dialysis three times a week — took a fatal turn after he contracted COVID-19. Daequan, 11, became the youngest victim of the virus to date when he died Tuesday at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Four clerks test positive for coronavirus as Miami judges return to criminal court Monday” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — As judges prepare to return to Miami-Dade’s criminal courthouse, at least four clerks have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, authorities confirmed Thursday. The four employees from the ninth floor of the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building tested positive within the past two weeks. Another clerk, from the traffic division, also tested positive about three weeks ago. To cut down on crowds at the Gerstein building, trials remain suspended, and limited hearings have been held through Zoom, with rotating judges in three courtrooms holding court via computers and lawyers appearing remotely. The number of people at the aging building will rise on Monday as all circuit judges — there are 25, plus support staff — will return to work.

Four employees from the ninth floor of the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building tested positive within the past two weeks.

Two South Florida men accused of fleecing millions from SBA’s COVID-19 loan program” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — As the coronavirus shoved the nation’s economy off a cliff, Congress passed a rescue plan for small businesses. A pair of South Florida businessmen got in line for the government bailout so many times with copycat loan applications that federal authorities are now accusing them of fleecing more than $10 million from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program for employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. In June, Ross Charno of Fort Lauderdale and James Richard Stote of Hollywood were arrested on charges of bank and wire fraud in an alleged conspiracy extending from South Florida to Ohio, according to a criminal complaint.

Palm Beach County beaches to close starting Friday” via Hannah Morse of The Palm Beach Post — Following the footsteps of its South Florida neighbors, Palm Beach County beaches will be closed starting Friday through Sunday, ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend. All beaches, no matter if they are municipal or private, will be closed. Restaurants and shops inside beach parks will be allowed to operate but must continue to abide by the mask mandate and physical distancing guidelines. The restriction will be lifted Monday, similar to Broward’s order. Miami-Dade beaches will reopen Tuesday. Officials were concerned about crowds gathering on the shores after positive coronavirus cases across Florida spiked in recent weeks.

Wellington to refund more than $880,000 in utility deposits as part of coronavirus response” via Kristina Webb of The Palm Beach Post — Utility customers in Wellington are getting a hand dealing with the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Over the next two months, Wellington will refund deposits to its 6,500 accounts, Director of Administrative and Financial Services Tanya Quickel said. That amounts to more than $880,000 back in customers’ hands. The refund will show up as a credit on utility bills over in July and August, she said. The average credit is $135, and of the 6,500 accounts, about 6,100 will receive more than $100, Quickel said. “We hope it helps,” she said.


Visit Orlando handed out nearly $300,000 in extra pay as hotel taxes plummeted because of coronavirus” via Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel — Agency leaders would not say who received the “incentive compensation,” which totaled $278,549.29. The payments were made during a month in which county hotel taxes essentially evaporated, falling from nearly $26 million a year ago to less than $800,000. “Our governing body did approve the decision to pay incentive compensation per the company’s compensation plan, given that these payments pertained to (and were accrued for) an outstanding performance in 2019,” Visit Orlando Chairman Adrian Jones said in an email. “We discussed if delaying was appropriate but concluded that these were earned and due for past performance, accrued and should rightfully and morally be paid.”

Rene Plasencia presses Orange County schools for reopening information” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Plasencia expressed concerns that parents and teachers are being left out of Orange County Public Schools’ planning to reopen schools in the coronavirus crisis, in a letter sent Wednesday to the district’s superintendent. Plasencia stressed that the information is critical particularly for families with exceptional student education plans who are being brought back for extended school year sessions as soon as July 13. Plasencia, a Republican representing a swath of eastern Orange County and northwestern Brevard County, also is planning to host a virtual town hall meeting to discuss COVID-19 and the 2020-21 school year, set for 11 a.m. next Wednesday.

Rep. Rene Plasencia wants more information from Orange County Public Schools about reopening plans.

Lake, Osceola school districts to offer in-person, virtual, hybrid options this fall” via Dana Cassidy of the Orlando Sentinel — Before schools reopen in Lake and Osceola counties this fall, parents will need to make a choice for their children: virtual education, a return to in-person classes — or a mix of both. School boards from both counties met this week to discuss their plans for the 2020-2021 school year, with no end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic. They revealed plans that mix virtual learning and traditional classes — modified to embrace social distancing, increased cleaning and other precautions. The “modified day” option in Lake County’s plan would allow students to take language arts and math in school, but science and electives at home. One challenge for parents: The district isn’t planning to provide midday transportation for students who opt for that choice.

Prepping for fall return amid virus adds up to $4.6M bill for UCF” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — The University of Central Florida plans to spend more than $4.6 million to help stop the spread of coronavirus on its campus this fall, scheduling hourly wipe-downs of door handles and installing hundreds of touchless hand sanitizer stations, ventilation system upgrades and Plexiglas panels. The campus has been mostly shuttered since students left for spring break in early March. When the break ended, the university switched to online-only courses. UCF and the other state universities have received the green light to resume in-person classes next month from the Board of Governors, which oversees them.

Disney College Program is indefinitely suspended” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — When Disney World reopens, Disney College Program participants won’t be among the thousands of employees returning to work. Disney is indefinitely suspending its internship program, saying it doesn’t know when it can reopen the Disney-owned apartments where the students had lived together. Last month, a Disney union leader acknowledged it was unlikely to return anytime soon. Disney said Thursday the suspension was “until further notice,” calling it a “difficult decision.” … “We understand this is not the news you were hoping to hear and we want to assure you this decision was not made lightly,” Disney said in an open letter on social media, promising to refund students their fees and allow participants, including recent college graduates, to reapply.

Disney workers won’t stay in NBA bubble — and many live in coronavirus hot spots” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Many of the Walt Disney World workers who will be cleaning hotel rooms, preparing meals and providing other services for NBA players confined to a “bubble” on the resort’s property will be commuting from some of the hottest coronavirus infection zones in greater Orlando. Of the 20 Central Florida ZIP codes with the most Disney workers represented by union UNITE HERE, half rank in the region’s top 30 ZIPs for confirmed COVID-19 cases, an Orlando Sentinel analysis shows. More than 8,600 Disney workers live in those ZIP code areas. UNITE HERE officials, who represent nearly 30,000 workers at the parks, say the planned procedures will keep their workers safe during the anticipated three months of NBA play.

15 St. Petersburg police officers test positive for COVID-19” via Kavitha Surana of the Tampa Bay Times — Fifteen officers and one civilian employee have tested positive for COVID-19 since June 15, the St. Petersburg Police Department announced. It’s another sign that the coronavirus pandemic is still spreading across Tampa Bay and Florida. Six of the officers tested positive this week even as the agency says it stepped up measures to contain the virus. The infected officers work in the investigative, uniform and administrative bureaus. The department did not name those officers, explain how they came in contact with the virus, give a timeline of the infections, their current medical conditions, or say what specific duties the officers or the civilian employee performed, citing privacy concerns.

Pinellas beaches will be open for July 4 holiday, but officials expect self-policing” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — Public beaches along Pinellas County’s 35 miles of sand will remain open this weekend for what’s expected to be a busy holiday. In discussions this week, local officials worried that closing the outdoor spaces would only divert crowds to more susceptible congregating points indoors, like restaurants, as coronavirus infections continue to rise in the Tampa Bay area. “Even within the hotels, they’re having a hard time with crowds in terms of trying to get them to spread out, practice social distancing within the hotels and out on the pool decks. So the beach becomes a relief valve for people to be able to spread out and not be contained so much,” county administrator Barry Burton told the County Commission.

Pinellas beaches will be open for the Independence Day weekend, with a heavy reliance on self-policing. Image via WUSF.

Lakeland commissioners pass monthlong mandatory mask mandate” via Andrea Lyon of ABC Action News — The City of Lakeland has passed a mask mandate Thursday after it failed to make it to a vote last week. At last week’s meeting, officials didn’t have enough support to hold a vote so the motion to require masks died. “I am disappointed that we didn’t even get enough interest to get a vote on the topic,” Mayor Bill Mutz said. Now due to more COVID-19 cases, leaders voted 5-2 to enforce mask-wearing. The mandate requires people to wear masks in certain public indoor locations when not maintaining social distancing.

Escambia County launches $250,000 ‘Mask Up’ ad campaign in lieu of mask mandate” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — Escambia County is undertaking a $250,000 public health ad campaign in lieu of a mask mandate to encourage people to wear masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19, as the number of local cases continues to rise — especially among younger people. The campaign, dubbed “Mask Up, Escambia!”, will feature print, online, TV and digital advertisements, social media pushes, and distribution of masks and mailers to Escambia County citizens. The price tag will be fully funded by the CARES Act, the $5 billion federal bill passed to help local governments impacted by COVID-19. The campaign is marketed toward people ages 25 to 34, which has taken over as the age group with the highest number of positive COVID-19 cases statewide.

Pensacola Beach Fourth of July fireworks show canceled due to COVID-19 spike, rain threat” via the Pensacola News Journal — The Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce has canceled its Fourth of July “Fireworks at the Beach” event in response to both the surge in COVID-19 cases and the threat of inclement weather. The event was originally expected to take place at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk. “We’re disappointed to be postponing this annual event, but public safety and the health of the community remains our top priority,” said Alison Westmoreland, director of the Pensacola B­­­each Chamber. The chamber’s announcement comes just a few hours after the Blue Wahoos announced they will also be canceling their scheduled Fourth of July movie and fireworks event Saturday at the stadium.

What Ryan Wiggins is reading —Blue Angels cancel 2020 Pensacola Beach Air Show” via Jake Newby of the Pensacola News Journal — The 2020 Pensacola Beach Air Show, originally scheduled for July 8-11, has been canceled. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels team informed the Santa Rosa Island Authority of their decision to cancel their performance on Thursday afternoon. In a statement from the Blue Angels: “After much discussion and consideration regarding the current rise in COVID cases in our hometown, we have come to the conclusion that canceling our flights during the Pensacola Beach Air Show is the only way we can ensure the safety of our community we love so much. Each year we look forward to the opportunity to fly for our friends, family and neighbors here in Pensacola. This was not an easy decision to make.”

The Blue Angels will not be at the annual Pensacola Beach Air Show.

Another record number of COVID-19 patients at Sarasota Memorial Hospital Thursday” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients in Sarasota Memorial’s intensive care unit also has been rising, hitting a record of 16 on Wednesday and Thursday. Sarasota Memorial Chief Medical Officer Dr. James Fiorica and Chief of Staff Dr. Alissa Shulman wrote a guest editorial in the Herald-Tribune urging local officials to adopt mandatory mask requirements, something the city of Sarasota did this week. The Town of Longboat Key followed suit on Thursday. “As Florida’s reopening gains momentum, we are seeing a rapid and alarming rise in patients hospitalized with the novel coronavirus,” wrote Shulman and Fiorica. Joining other area hospitals, Doctors Hospital of Sarasota is implementing a modified visitor policy, continuing until further notice.


Confirmed coronavirus cases are rising in 40 of 50 states” via Jake Coyle and Terry Spencer of The Associated Press — Four U.S. states, Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, reported a combined 25,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases Thursday as the infection curve rose in 40 of the 50 states heading into the July Fourth holiday weekend. With the number of daily confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide climbing past 50,000, an alarming 36 states saw an increase in the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus. “What we’ve seen is a very disturbing week,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, said.

Patrons wait in line for the auto tag agency to open in Deerfield Beach. A new rule went into effect in Broward County requiring facial coverings outdoors where social distancing is not possible. Image via AP.

Assessment of U.S. COVID-19 situation increasingly bleak” via Jeffrey M. Jones of Gallup — As coronavirus infections are spiking in U.S. states that previously had not been hard-hit, a new high of 65% of U.S. adults say the coronavirus situation is getting worse. The percentage of Americans who believe the situation is getting worse has increased from 48% the preceding week, and from 37% two weeks prior. The latest results, from June 22-28, are based on Gallup’s online COVID-19 tracking survey. Gallup first asked Americans in early April to say whether they thought the coronavirus situation was getting better or worse. At that time, 56% said it was getting worse and 28% better.

America’s told-you-so moment: How we botched the reopening” via Joanne Kenan of POLITICO — States emerging from the coronavirus “stay at home” orders this spring had a road map to safety at their fingertips. Much of it was never put in place. Or it was largely ignored. And the alarming surge in coronavirus cases now spreading across the country is less a surprise than a tragically predictable national “I told you so” moment. “Every state was allowed to go off and do their own activities,” said Howard Koh, a senior public health official in the Barack Obama administration. The current resurgence of COVID-19 cases and most experts see this as a wave within a first wave, not the second wave that many fear will arrive in the fall, wasn’t inevitable.

U.S. seeks large-scale expansion of blood-plasma collection for COVID-19” via Amy Dockser Marcus of The Wall Street Journal — Federal health officials are in talks with the American Red Cross and blood organizations about ramping up the collection of blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients, in a large-scale effort to build supplies of the promising experimental treatment. In recent weeks the Red Cross and the industry group America’s Blood Centers were asked if they are able to collect 400,000 units or more of antibody-rich convalescent plasma for treating patients infected with the coronavirus, a multifold increase over the amount they have collected so far. Current talks between Barda and the American Red Cross involve it potentially collecting 200,000 units of convalescent plasma over the lifetime of their contract.

Nation has supply of 130 million N95 masks in July, possible shortage of 30 million” via Donna Cassata of The Washington Post — Government documents show the nation faces a demand for 160 million N95 masks this month, but the supply is only 130 million, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn said at a hearing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on the national stockpile. Clyburn, chairman of the subcommittee, said the government suggests decontaminating and reusing old masks, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has raised safety concerns about such a step. “How is it possible that more than five months into this crisis, our country is still facing a possible shortage of 30 million N95 masks this month?” he asked. Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, the supply chain task force lead at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the supply chain doesn’t take into account what states or private institutions have purchased.

The United States could be short as many as 30 million N95 masks.

Pfizer reports encouraging early coronavirus vaccine data” via Carolyn Y. Johnson of The Washington Post — An experimental coronavirus vaccine being developed by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and the German firm BioNTech triggered stronger immune responses in recipients than those seen in people naturally recovering from an infection in a small study. The work has not yet been peer-reviewed, and it is still unclear what level of immune response will protect a person from getting sick. “It’s the first positive data I’ve seen coming out of Operation Warp Speed,” said Peter Jay Hotez, dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, referring to the U.S. government effort to speed up the development, testing and production of multiple coronavirus vaccines.

Heart conditions drove spike in deaths beyond those attributed to COVID-19, analysis shows” via Reis Thebault, Lenny Bernstein, Andrew Ba Tran and Youjin Shin of The Washington Post — The coronavirus killed tens of thousands in the United States during the pandemic’s first months, but it also left a lesser-known toll: thousands more deaths than would have been expected from heart disease and a handful of other medical conditions. That spike contributed to Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York state and the city having a combined 75,000 “excess deaths” during that period, 17,000 more than the number officially attributed to COVID-19. The analysis of data shows heart disease is the major driver of excess deaths, excluding those officially attributed to COVID-19.


Who’s waiting for unemployment checks? Thousands of Floridians still in system limbo” via Caroline Glenn of the Orlando Sentinel — Many unlucky people are labeled “pending” or “active” or even “eligible” in the unemployment portal, and their application, for some reason, is stuck inside the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s struggling system that continues to be fraught with errors and glitches. During the process, the department confirms the claimant’s identity and investigates whether they’ve received wages from a previous employer or filed an unemployment claim in another state. But it’s unclear why for some that process has taken months. The DEO in emails to applicants has said it’s “working diligently to process as many claims as soon as possible.” The DEO recommends that applicants log in to claim their weeks, even if they are still labeled “pending.”

Thousands of Floridians are still waiting for their unemployment benefits. Image via AP.

Even before the pandemic, poverty was a way of life for many Black children in Tampa Bay” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — About 20 percent of Hillsborough County children live in poverty, according to U.S. Census data, roughly the same as the average across Florida. But in parts of East Tampa, a predominantly Black neighborhood, almost one in every two children lives in a home where the family income does not cover the essentials, such as food, transportation and health care. It’s a similar story in South St. Petersburg, another predominantly Black community, where about 40 percent of children live in poverty. The Black Lives Matter protests have made it tougher to ignore Black poverty. Community leaders are calling on those in local government to do more before another generation of Black children grows up with less opportunity than most of their white peers.

U.S. Treasury reaches loan agreements with five major airlines” via Alison Sider and Kate Davidson of The Wall Street Journal — The U.S. Treasury Department has agreed to terms for loans to American Airlines Group Inc. and four smaller airlines as part of an aid program to help the industry weather the coronavirus pandemic. The Treasury said that in addition to American, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, SkyWest Airlines and Spirit Airlines Inc. had agreed to loan terms and signed letters of intent. Air travel fell sharply this spring as government restrictions on travel and fears of infection kept passengers from flying. While air travel has started to rise, demand remains a fraction of what it was a year ago and airline executives have said they expect a full recovery will likely take years. These are the first airlines to accept government loans from a $25 billion pool Congress earmarked under the Cares Act.

McDonald’s halts reopening plans” via Heather Haddon of The Wall Street Journal — McDonald’s Corp. is pausing the reopening of dine-in service in the U.S. as coronavirus cases continue to spread across states. The burger giant said that it would wait three weeks before any new U.S. restaurants add dine-in service to its drive-through, takeout and delivery operations. “Our resiliency will be tested again. COVID-19 cases are on the rise,” said a company letter by Joe Erlinger, McDonald’s U.S. president, and Mark Salebra, head of the National Franchisee Leadership Alliance owners association. Restaurant owners that began offering dine-in service can continue if their jurisdiction still allows it, the letter said, but the company decided to halt additional openings as a number of state and local governments tighten social-distancing regulations ahead of the July 4 holiday weekend.


‘How the hell are we going to do this?’ The panic over reopening schools via Nicole Gaudiano and Juan Perez Jr. of Politico — Pediatricians say schools should strive to bring kids back to classrooms. Teachers unions are on the verge of revolt, in fear of infections. Local school districts are struggling with everything from technology to staging schools for socially distanced learning. And Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is largely on the sidelines, saying the coronavirus back-to-school planning is a state and local issue. No wonder parents across America are freaking out.

For TV networks missing sports, there’s one unthinkable scenario: Losing the NFL season” via Ben Strauss of The Washington Post — Throughout the spring and into the summer the sports world has continued to feel the steady drumbeat of the NFL. The league opened free agency as usual, providing news-making moments such as Tom Brady signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and then its April draft went off without a hitch, delivering boffo ratings for ESPN. For the TV networks and sports media outlets that cover the league, this has been most welcome. But as the calendar flips to July, with NFL training camps set to open at the end of the month, doubts have surfaced about the viability of football season.

For TV networks, the unthinkable scenario: A canceled NFL season. Image via AP.

Boat, RV dealers ride sales surge” via Brian Hartz of the Business Observer — The popularity of recreational vehicles and the RV lifestyle was already experiencing a resurgence earlier this year. That’s thanks, in part, to the strength of the economy (at the time) and increased interest among millennials who aren’t ready or can’t afford to buy a home and are able to work remotely while they indulge their wanderlust. Sales of luxury, big-ticket items like RVs and boats were supposed to come to a screeching halt because of the economic shutdown. But something funny happened on the way to a COVID-19 crisis-led downturn: a surge in sales. “Even with a ton of uncertainty in the world right now, and more uncertainty to come, people are pretty dang passionate about boating,” says Brett McGill, CEO of Clearwater-based MarineMax.

The hair salon is now a place of anxiety. And clients can’t wait to return.” via Karen Heller of The Washington Post — Going to the hair salon, a quotidian treat and a monthly or, in some cases, weekly, reclamation project, is no longer normal. Given the tactile nature of hair care, a glut of new regulations has completely altered the experience. For the foreseeable future, getting a haircut, and color, which can take hours longer, will be the epitome of our risk/reward calculations. “Thirty percent of hairdressers live paycheck-to-paycheck,” says Mary Rector, founder and CEO of Behind the Chair, an industry website. The median stylist income was $26,270 in 2019. During the shutdown, some stylists continued to work in defiance of state orders; some were jailed.


Jacksonville protesters have no plans to back down when Republican convention arrives” via Casey Craig of Creative Loafing Tampa Bay — Republican leaders recently announced that Jacksonville would play host to major parts of the RNC. Jacksonville, known for its relatively large conservative demographic, has been given a fair share of praise for the decision. However, as protests against police brutality and racism continue to surge across the country and Duval County, the announcement has also been met with significant backlash. Many have devoted dozens of hours — some, every day — to the protests, despite grueling heat and inclement weather. “Tentatively, if it’s not disrupted by coronavirus, I might go out and protest the arrival of the RNC, ideally we can get it shut down before it happens,” a Jacksonville protester who only identified herself as Jenn told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.

Protesters in Jacksonville are not going to let up when the RNC comes to town.

Miami-Dade police moving to fire officer who hit a woman at Miami International Airport” via Devoun Cetoute and David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — The Miami-Dade Police Department is beginning the process to terminate an officer who hit a woman, knocking her on the ground Tuesday night at Miami International Airport. A day after a video of the incident started circulating on social media, Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo Ramirez said Thursday that due to an administrative investigation, he will be initiating the termination process of the officer who punched the woman, Paris Anderson, 21. Multiple sources have identified the officer as Antonio Clemente Rodriguez, a Black officer of Puerto Rican heritage stationed at the airport. Ramirez has not publicly identified the officer that he intends to terminate.

South Florida cops charged for abuse of Blacks. Why did it take protests?” via the Editorial Board of the Miami Herald — And just like that, brutal officers in South Florida are being fired and charged with crimes for mistreating the public. Imagine that. Last week, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle filed four battery charges against a Miami Gardens police officer who pressed his knee on the neck of a woman outside a strip club and tased her in January. Then on Tuesday, suspended Fort Lauderdale Officer Steven Pohorence, who was captured on video shoving a kneeling woman during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in May, was charged with misdemeanor battery, the Broward State Attorney announced. So why did it take so long to hold accountable officers who abuse their power?

Man videotaped flinging water at protesters near Black Lives Matter mural in downtown Orlando” via David Harris of the Orlando Sentinel — Jake Ramsey and Rucsandra Bitere were standing on the sidewalk alongside the Black Lives Matter street mural in downtown Orlando, holding signs in support of the movement, when a man in a pickup truck stopped in front of them Tuesday afternoon. After exchanging a few words, the man unscrewed the cap to a half-full water bottle and splashed Ramsey and Bitere in the face. A nearby business captured part of the incident on video. Activists have identified the man as a retired, high-ranking employee at the Orlando Fire Department. An OFD spokeswoman said the agency is investigating a complaint against an employee.

Color us shockedSt. Louis couple who pulled guns on protesters on private street once armed selves when friend cut through property in 80s” via Jim Salter of the Orlando Sentinel — The St. Louis couple who became internationally famous for standing guard with guns outside their mansion during a protest have pulled a gun before in defense of their property, according to an affidavit in an ongoing case. As demonstrators marched near the Renaissance palazzo-style home of Mark and Patricia McCloskey, video posted online showed him wielding a long-barreled gun and her with a small handgun. No shots were fired. The protesters, estimated at around 500 racially mixed people, were passing the house on the way to the nearby home of Mayor Lyda Krewson.

This is not the first time Mark and Patricia McCloskey pulled a gun to defend their property. Image via Reuters.


Congress stares down funding cliff for coronavirus aid” via Heather Caygle, Marianne LeVine and Sarah Ferris of POLITICO — As the U.S. enters its sixth month of grappling with the coronavirus pandemic — with cases soaring and unemployment claims hovering in the millions — Congress is again facing a double-barreled dilemma: how to address both the health and economic catastrophes threatening the country. And in typical Congress fashion, lawmakers have teed up a crunchtime crisis this month, giving themselves just a few weeks to wrangle together a massive bipartisan coronavirus relief deal and ship it to Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said “of course” Thursday when asked whether Congress can pull a massive relief bill together in the coming weeks. “First of all, I’m not leaving for two weeks,” Pelosi told reporters of the upcoming Independence Day holiday.

Rick Scott enlists India in ‘New Cold War’ with China” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Scott continues his efforts toward a global coalition to stand up against Communist China in the wake of recent Chinese conflicts with India. Thursday saw his office publicize a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, offering condolences for China killing Indian soldiers and asserting shared purpose. “The United States stands with India as you fight against Communist China’s aggression,” Scott wrote, offering help in whatever way possible against the Beijing regime. For Scott, this is the latest outreach in what he has called a “New Cold War” with China, an effort that has seen him take an unusual interest in global alliance building for a first-term Senator.

Rick Scott is seeking to enlist India in a ‘New Cold War’ against China.

NAS Pensacola attack: Base security act may be rolled into national defense budget” via Kevin Robinson of the Pensacola News Journal — Scott‘s proposal to enhance vetting and increase security around foreign students training on U.S. military installations is being considered as part of the overall defense budget. Scott put forward the Secure U.S. Bases Act after a flight student from the Royal Saudi Air Force killed three people and wounded eight others in a shooting spree Dec. 6, 2019, at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Subsequent investigations found the gunman had spent years planning the attack in collaboration with al-Qaida and that his personal social media accounts contained anti-American rhetoric and jihadi ideology. The Secure U.S. Bases Act calls for thorough vetting of prospective foreign students seeking training on U.S. military bases, as well as screening their immediate family members and ongoing monitoring of their activities once they arrive in the U.S.

Trump’s July Fourth celebration: No tanks, lots of planes” via Lara Seligman of POLITICO — Trump‘s second annual Independence Day celebration will feature one major change from last year: It will have no tanks or other military equipment on static display in the nation’s capital, according to two defense officials. Defense Secretary Mark Esper last week approved an Interior Department request for the 2020 “Salute to America,” providing aerial, musical and ceremonial support to the day’s events, said Army Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell, a Pentagon spokesperson. This year, the festivities will also include a flyover of Mount Rushmore as well as an “aerial salute” to several cities that played roles in the American Revolution.


The coronavirus pandemic and its effect on Fourth of July top Americans’ concerns” via Chris Jackson and Mallory Newall of Ipsos — The latest wave of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index finds that American fears of the coronavirus pandemic have resurged to levels last seen during the acute parts of the initial wave. Risk aversion may also put a damper on the upcoming Fourth of July holiday with 78% saying attending celebrations is a large or moderate risk. Also, 73% say taking a vacation is either a large or moderate risk. Americans have started curtailing social engagement; however, the number engaging in out of home commercial activities remains stable or continues to increase.

From big cities to backyards, July 4 not usual blowout bash” via Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press — The idea sounds almost un-American. The Fourth of July was always a time for communities to come together, daylong celebrations with patriotic parades in the morning and fireworks finales to cap it off. This year, people are being urged to stay home. If they want a show, watch it on TV. Fireworks will still crackle over the National Mall in Washington and other places, though with fewer people packed together watching them. Backyard barbecues will replace some traditional trips to beaches or ballparks, as virus fears keep some home for this holiday. Marching bands blaring tunes while kids wave their handheld flags can’t happen as usual with the virus refusing to let go of its grip on some places and even strengthening in others.

A surprise display of fireworks sponsored by Macy’s explodes over the Hudson Yards area of Manhattan as seen from a pier in Hoboken. In New York, the Macy’s annual summer spectacle was replaced by a series of smaller, surprise shows. They’ve been ringing out all week, leading into the televised finale Saturday. Image via AP.

Revived Mount Rushmore fireworks will feature Trump but no social distancing” via David Welna of NPR — A decade after being banned amid concerns about wildfires and groundwater pollution, and despite protests by Native Americans and recommendations from public health officials to avoid public gatherings, fireworks will once again be exploding over Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of western South Dakota, at the urging of Trump. About 7,500 spectators will be there, too, having won an online ticket lottery sponsored by South Dakota’s state tourism department. And despite at least 91 deaths registered in South Dakota from COVID-19, these visitors will not be told to don face masks or to practice social distancing at the event.

I was in charge of Mt. Rushmore. Trump’s plan for fireworks there is a terrible idea.” via Cheryl Schreier of The Washington Post — It has been more than 10 years since fireworks were last seen at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The fireworks were canceled in 2010, my first year as superintendent of the memorial, and they never resumed during my tenure. While such patriotic celebrations were memorable, they also endangered public safety and irreplaceable natural and cultural resources within the national park and surrounding area. Yet this year, Trump and his administration, with the support of South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem, have insisted on resuming the fireworks on July 3. And the Interior Department, undersecretary David Bernhardt, is allowing this to happen. Thanks to an extremely dry summer, South Dakota faces a higher than usual risk of wildfires.

—“Anthony Fauci: Avoid gatherings like Trump’s Rushmore fireworks show” via Matthew Choi of POLITICO

Experts fear July 4 weekend will exacerbate coronavirus spread” via Jessie Hellmann of The Hill — Experts worry that the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. will worsen after the Fourth of July weekend, when millions of people gather across the country during one of the busiest travel periods of the year. “I am very concerned, especially given this coming weekend, that the same types of spikes, the same types of surges could be seen not just in the places that are currently experiencing surges, but in places that have already experienced surges, and in ones that haven’t yet,” said Joshua Barocas, assistant professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine. Experts hope people follow guidelines over the weekend and hold their events or gatherings outdoors, where the risk of transmission is lower than inside.

How to safely celebrate the 4th of July during a pandemic” via Amanda Tarlton of USA Today — For most Americans, the Fourth of July is going to look a lot different this year. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many cities and states have decided to cancel their annual parades, festivals, and fireworks displays, along with closing picnic areas and park pavilions to discourage crowds from gathering. While you may not be able to attend the usual festivities or gather with friends and neighbors to watch fireworks, there are still ways to celebrate the Fourth of July while social distancing and following the CDC’s guidelines for preventing the further spread of COVID-19. A few displays will be livestreamed on the Fourth, including Macy’s annual fireworks in New York and the D.C. fireworks. Some cities have also announced that they will stream their fireworks displays on local news networks for residents who opt to stay home.

6 peculiar Fourth of July celebrations across the country” via Natalie Compton of The Washington Post — Bet on lobster races in Bar Harbor, Maine; Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s 10-acre Strawbery Banke Museum celebrates Independence Day with a naturalization ceremony for more than 100 new citizens from more than 30 nations; see Willie Nelson and friends in Austin; take in the golf cart parade in Catalina Island, California; run up a mountain in Seward, Alaska; cheer on lumberjacks in State College, Pennsylvania — the Central PA 4th Fest, a big buffet of American activities, including, but not limited to, ax-throwing, free hot dogs, foot races, roller-derby entertainment and a big community parade.

Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic in Austin is one of the more unique ways to celebrate Independence Day.

Misunderstood ‘patriotic’ songs for the Fourth of July” via Maeve McDermott of USA Today — “Born in the USA,” Bruce Springsteen: Perhaps the most famous song to be widely mistaken for a patriotic anthem, Springsteen’s famous 1984 single has been used by political candidates from Presidents Ronald Reagan to Trump. Yet, listen past the song’s booming chorus, and its lyrics tell the story of a young American kid sent against his will to fight in Vietnam, only to return home to a country arguably as hostile. “Fortunate Son,” Creedence Clearwater Revival: The song has been similarly treated as a patriotic working-class anthem, but listen past its star-spangled opening lines — “Some folks are born made to wave the flag/Ooh, they’re red, white and blue” — for John Fogerty‘s anti-establishment storytelling about how the poor were sent to fight and die in Vietnam while the wealthy were spared. “This Land Is Your Land,” Woody Guthrie: It wasn’t intended as such when the singer-songwriter, irritated by radio stations playing Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” on a constant loop, wrote the song in 1940.

What states are searching about grilling this Fourth of July” via Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy of CNN — Data from Google Trends is revealing what people in each state across the U.S. checklist are searching about grilling as we approach the Fourth of July holiday weekend. The most searched “how to grill …” In the Western states is “tri-tip.” In the eastern part of the country, fish and steak are popular. In Florida, it’s “grouper.”

The case for a Fourth of July Seder” via Alan Burdick and Eliza Byard of The New Yorker — Independence Day should be restful, yes, but it could also be more purposeful. What the Fourth of July needs, we think, is a Seder. For those unacquainted with it, the Seder is the meal served at the beginning of Passover, the Jewish holiday that recalls and celebrates the flight of the Israelites from bondage in ancient Egypt. It is a ceremony replete with symbolic foods (bitter herbs, invoking the bitterness of slavery; matzo, the bread of affliction) and ritual acts (hand-washing, blessings over wine). It’s also an adaptable holiday, responsive to its audiences through the ages and to changing historical tides. What would a good Fourth of July Seder look like? One core ritual, easily carried out in ten minutes, should be to read the Declaration of Independence out loud. It’s a declaration; let’s declare it. And one more thing: a proper Seder requires that you invite a stranger to your celebration, someone who is wandering alone in the desert, beyond the borders of your community. That shouldn’t be hard to find.

The Statue of Liberty” via Miss Cellania of — The story of the statue begins with the American Civil War. When fighting broke out in 1861, the rest of the world watched with rapt attention: Could the grand experiment in democracy survive? The United States had been an inspiration to the French, who were locked in a cycle of extremism, swinging between bloody democratic revolutions and imperial autocracy. When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865, the French were crushed. More than 40,000 grieving citizens contributed to a fund to award Lincoln’s widow a gold medal … It was in this climate, in the summer of 1865, that a group of prominent Frenchmen were discussing politics at a dinner party given by Edouard René de Laboulaye, a prominent historian and law professor … He proposed that France give America a monument to liberty and independence in honor of her upcoming centennial. After all, tens of thousands of Frenchmen had just contributed to a medal for Mary Todd Lincoln — how much harder could it be to pony up for a statue? Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, an up-and-coming sculptor … wanted his monument to be just as inspiring, and his sketches leaned on the popular imagery of the time-broken chains, upheld torches, crowns meant to represent the rising sun … Bartholdi didn’t want “Liberty Enlightening the World” to be just a tribute to American freedom. The statue had to send a pointed message to France that democracy works. It didn’t take long for Bartholdi to perfect his vision for the sculpture. Getting the statue actually built, however, was another matter … Given the statue’s message, backing from the French government seemed unlikely … Laboulaye had an idea: What if he and Bartholdi pitched the project as a joint venture between the two countries? As a show of their shared friendship, France could provide the statue and America the pedestal … Bartholdi’s workmen started by creating a 4-foot model. Then they doubled the size. Then they quadrupled it to create a 38-foot-tall plaster model. The workmen then broke down the structure into 300 sections, taking each piece and enlarging it to precisely four times its size. The result? A full-scale model of the final statue — in pieces! On October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was finally ready. New York held its first-ever ticker-tape parade for her unveiling. And while hundreds of thousands cheered from Manhattan, only 2,000 people were on the island when she was finally opened to the public — a “tidy, quiet crowd,” an officer on duty told The New York Times.

The Statue of Liberty on display in Paris in 1878, before it was assembled in the United States.

Forget plain ketchup: Try making these nine condiments for your Fourth of July cookout” via Michelle Stark of the Tampa Bay Times — Kranch. Mayocue. Mayomust. Three “new” condiments introduced by Heinz this year, all kind of weird until you really think about it. We’re not going to defend the names, but mixing classic condiments is a no-brainer. If you squint, Kranch resembles Russian dressing. In fancier circles, Mayomust might be called “mustard aioli.” For this year’s Fourth of July food spread, we are going all-in on condiments. Keep the food simple. Heat up a grill, cook up some meats and veggies. And ahead of time, whip up a number of accompanying creations. We’ve broken it down by three of the most common condiments, bases onto which you can build: ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard.

Holiday travel expected to drop amid pandemic” via the News Service of Florida — “The roadways, we expect them to be much less congested than they would on a typical 4th of July or a typical holiday weekend,” AAA spokesman W.D. Williams said. AAA expects 15% fewer trips will be taken this summer, and 97% of travelers will drive to their destinations. Air travel is expected to be down by 74%. Nationally, last year’s most popular July 4 holiday destination was Orlando. But Williams said the pandemic has caused Central Florida to drop to number eight in 2020. “All of the attractions are not yet open in the Orlando area, and people are a little wary of going into places with large, massive crowds,” he said. This year’s top summer travel destination is Denver.


DeSantis backs proposals for Space Force headquarters” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — DeSantis endorsed six Florida counties and three cities that hope to land the command headquarters of the U.S. Space Force. In a letter to Air Force Assistant Secretary John Henderson, DeSantis supported the proposals by Jacksonville, Pensacola, Brevard County, Miami-Dade County, Orange County, Pinellas County, Seminole County and a joint proposal from Tampa and Hillsborough County. “Our state has a long history of support for our nation’s effort in space through the operations of the Kennedy Space Center, the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station,” DeSantis wrote. “Equally important as our military installations, is Florida’s robust commercial space industry.”

Ron DeSantis is backing a significant push to have the U.S. Space Force headquarters located in Florida.

AppointedRoberto Alonso to the Miami Dade College District Board of Trustees; Elizabeth Justen and Steven Harvey to the South Broward Hospital District Board of Commissioners.

Environmentalists challenge ‘rights of nature’ preemption in SB 712” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Environmentalists in Orange County have filed a federal lawsuit against DeSantis to stop a provision in Senate Bill 712 that would preempt local “rights of nature” laws like one Orange County is considering. DeSantis signed SB 712, the Clean Waterways Act, calling it “probably the most comprehensive bill we’ve seen in quite some time.” The law, sponsored by Sen. Debbie Mayfield, provides sweeping new regulatory authority over septic systems, stormwater and agriculture runoff. But the act also includes a provision that bans a radical new kind of environmental protection effort being pursued in Orange County and elsewhere: using a legal concept acknowledged by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1970s to assign rights to rivers and other natural features.

What Jeffrey Brandes is reading —A new law was supposed to make Florida’s criminal justice data radically transparent. It failed.” via Andrew Pantazi of The Florida Times-Union — In 2018, a law passed to make Florida’s criminal justice system the most transparent in the nation. But FDLE’s failure to meet deadlines has meant the law has failed to live up to its promise. The new database built by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would give the public individual case data and show how many people are in jails and prisons. The American Bar Association called the law a blueprint for the nation. Wired magazine said it would bring unprecedented transparency to criminal justice. Yet as protests draw a renewed focus on how the state handles punishments, the public has no more ability to access that data than it did the day the law passed.

State attorney asks Governor to reassign Sheriff Darryl Daniels investigation to another circuit” via Dan Scanlan of The Florida Times-Union — The yearlong investigation into whether Clay County Sheriff Daniels used his position to illegally order the arrest of a woman he had an affair with has been completed by FDLE. But in a Thursday letter to DeSantis, State Attorney Melissa Nelson has asked for the case to be reassigned to another judicial circuit for final review after her office initiated that investigation in May 2019. Daniels, known for his get-tough policy on crime, posted a video this week saying he would make “special deputies of every lawful gun owner in this county” if he feels the community is overwhelmed by protesters. He is also being challenged by six other candidates in his bid for a second term as sheriff.

Orange County property appraiser asks court to reconsider ruling that could save Disney and other hotel owners millions in taxes” via Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh wants an appellate court to reconsider a ruling that could save Walt Disney World and other hotel companies millions in property taxes. Singh’s office on Thursday asked the 5th District Court of Appeal to hold another hearing in a yearslong legal battle with Disney over the assessment of Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort, a luxury hotel with an annual property tax bill of more than $4 million. The request comes two weeks after the court ruled that Singh’s office had improperly inflated the value of the Disney hotel, where the tax assessment more than doubled in 2015 to nearly $340 million.

Legal woes mount for owner of popular tourist restaurant under tax investigation” via Melissa Hernandez of WUFT — The new legal problems also may complicate efforts by David Biegler, co-owner of the Hurricane Oyster Bar and Grill in Santa Rosa Beach, to pay the IRS and Justice Department over what the government said he owes. The latest arrest means Biegler is simultaneously fighting separate drunken driving cases against him in two states. Biegler and his estranged wife, Kellie, are accused of failing to pay payroll and other taxes on more than $4 million in wages for hundreds of employees and failing to file personal or corporate income tax returns for more than 10 years.


Florida was off center stage in American Revolution despite some important events via Kevin Derby for Sunshine State News — As the nation celebrates this Fourth of July … Floridians can look back at the strange and almost entirely forgotten role their state played in the American Revolution. A Spanish colony for nearly 200 years, the English gained Florida at the Treaty of Paris in 1763, which ended the Seven Years War. People in the U.S. call it the French and Indian War. Dividing the peninsula into East Florida and West Florida, the British attempted to develop plantations in their new holdings but generally used the Floridas for military purposes. The strong military presence helped ensure that the Floridas would not join the 13 colonies to the north in rebelling against George III. … rebellious Americans looked at the Floridas as a threat since the British could launch attacks into Georgia and South Carolina from the south. Colonists loyal to the British crown fled to the Floridas and helped form military units, like the East Florida Rangers, to fight against the American forces. While they did not play a leading part in the American Revolution, Florida and Floridians provided some dramatic moments. James Grant, who served as governor of East Florida from 1764 until 1771, played a crucial part in British successes in capturing New York, and would capture St. Lucia from the French later in the war. American prisoners were held in St. Augustine — including Arthur Middleton and Edmund Rutledge, two South Carolinians who signed the Declaration of Independence. One recent Florida politician with a keen interest in his state’s role in the American Revolution was longtime U.S. Rep. Charles E. Bennett … who represented the First Coast in Congress from 1949 until retiring in 1993. Bennett wrote several books on the Revolution, including a book on battles as well as a biography of Robert Howe with Donald Lennon.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission urges safe boating practices over July Fourth weekend” via Spencer Fordin of Florida Politics — FWC is conducting an education and enforcement initiative called Operation Dry Water that seeks to educate people about the perils of irresponsible boating. The Fourth of July is one of the busiest boating holidays across the United States, and last year, there were five fatalities and 68 people injured in Florida in July in boating under the influence incidents. FWC is reminding boaters it is illegal to operate a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs and that doing so can lead to serious injuries and consequences. The law in Florida states that it is illegal to operate a boat with a blood alcohol content level of .08 or higher.

The FWC is promoting safe boating for Independence Day,

Florida Forest Service offers safety tips for Independence Day — Residents and visitors should always check local laws before using fireworks. If choosing to celebrate with fireworks, grills, or campfires, follow these safety tips: Light fireworks in a cleared area free of vegetation or dry debris; Clear debris from around campfires, grills and all fire sources; Remove debris from any location where fireworks could land; Always have a water source available; Aim fireworks away from people, homes and wooded areas; Never use homemade fireworks; Discard used fireworks in a bucket of water; Store unused fireworks, matches and lighters out of the sight and reach of children; Never leave a fire unattended and ensure it is completely out before leaving it; Report any fire immediately to 911.

South Florida carnival drive-thru brings deep-fried Oreos, funnel cakes for July 4 weekend” via Phillip Valys of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Summer is carnival season, and not even a pandemic will keep people from indulging in deep-fried Oreos. That’s the gamble behind this weekend’s Fair Eats Drive-Thru, a three-day bonanza of artery-clogging carnival food rolling into the South Florida Fairgrounds July 3-5. Visitors — without leaving their cars — can order 14 menu items for curbside pickup, including candy apples, elephant ears, funnel cakes, small and jumbo corn dogs, turkey legs, fried Oreos and Snickers, cotton candy, chicken tenders, roasted corn and buckets of French fries. “People are going nuts for this on our social media,” says Vicki Chouris, South Florida Fairgrounds’ president and CEO. “Which makes me nervous, because it could be too popular.”

Fourth of July gives Tampa Bay’s tourism a boost, but future remains unpredictable” via Veronica Brezina-Smith of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Hotels are filling back up and passengers are hopping back on airplanes, for now. The Fourth of July weekend is one of the busiest for local tourism as people get together and many book hotels along the beach, and the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t seem to be stopping that. Airlines flying in and out of Tampa International Airport are expected to add more than 3,400 flights in and out of Tampa this month. St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport indicated it is also seeing an increase in travelers.


—“Pandemic patriotism: Here’s where you can watch fireworks in Florida this July Fourth Weekend” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Fireworks are America’s favorite face exploding, dog torturing, bird murdering way to celebrate its birthday” via Caitlin Gibson of The Washington Post — You could argue that “fireworks gone wrong” (Google it: 37 million results) serve a kind of Darwinist function, reappropriating the anatomical inheritance of whoever can’t be bothered to follow the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s advice to “NEVER LAUNCH FIREWORKS OFF YOUR BODY.” But leaving aside that fireworks themselves can malfunction and that many of the wounded are just kids, consider the collateral damage of humankind’s fascination with these over-the-counter explosives. The National Fire Protection Association reports that roughly 18,500 fires are started by fireworks every year — house fires, vehicle fires, even wildfires, like the guy who set ablaze 47,000 acres in Arizona and caused more than $8 million in damage after he detonated fireworks as part of a “gender reveal” party.

Firework tent sales boom as organized shows fizzle with COVID-19” via Sarah Hollenbeck of WFTS — In turn, local firefighters are preparing for a spike in calls. While firework shows may be fizzling out on both sides of the bay, at the Galaxy Fireworks tent on Dale Mabry in Tampa, sales are exploding. “The sales have been definitely a lot higher than normal,” Catherine Parbel, an employee at the tent explained. “Fireworks are often a last-minute sale so we really expect July 3 and 4 to be extremely busy.” TNT, Pyro Junkies and Phantom Fireworks tell ABC Action News they are also seeing a spike in sales thanks to a triple whammy: canceled organized shows, the holiday falling on a Saturday and a new state rule that makes fireworks legal on July 4 (and New Year’s Eve).

—“Fireworks sales rise as cities cancel public celebrations” via Julius Whigham II of The Palm Beach Post 

Jimmy Patronis wants you and your companions to be safe this Fourth of July.

Fireworks! The science and psychology of fireworks via PBS — NOVA presents the colorful history of pyrotechnics and reveals how high-tech firing systems are transforming public displays into a dazzling, split-second science. Here’s what you’ll find online: Name That Shell … Watch video clips of fireworks bursting in air and find out how well you know your chrysanthemums from your peonies, your roman candles from your palm trees. Anatomy of a Firework … Where you see brilliant light and vivid color, a pyrotechnician sees a successful lift charge, black powder mix, time-delay fuse, bursting charge, and other essential ingredients. Pyrotechnically Speaking … Dr. John Conkling, adjunct professor of chemistry at Washington College and former executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, describes what it is about fireworks that gets him, well, all fired up. On Fire (Hot Science) … This virtual laboratory lets you explore the basics of combustion, including how a fire ignites, what a flame is made of, and how burning molecules rearrange themselves.

’They think they’re going to die’: How to keep dogs safe and calm during Fourth of July celebrations” via Jorge Ortiz of USA TODAY — It’s not too hard to tell your dog is scared if you know what to look for. Shivering, shaking, panting, salivating, yawning, and trying to hide are some of those indications. Frightened dogs may also lick their lips repeatedly or get stiff. Depending on the pitch fireworks that may seem distant can still elicit stress. Music, preferably classic or reggae, can block out some of the offending sounds. A familiar surrounding would also provide a sense of comfort. It’s best to leave pets behind in a secure place. If they’re outside, a leash is advised. The ASPCA points out alcoholic drinks can poison pets, which may get weak and depressed or even go into a coma after ingesting alcohol.

With fireworks canceled, TV offers a way to see rockets’ red glare” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times — All the major city fireworks shows in the Tampa Bay area are canceled this year in an effort to keep crowds from gathering during the coronavirus pandemic. But you can still see the rockets’ red glare on TV and online this weekend as some firework shows are televised and livestreamed to let you watch from the comfort of your couch. The Sarasota park that hosted a drive-in stunt show for daredevil Nik Wallenda last month is going the drive-in route again, this time for fireworks. The 40th annual broadcast of A Capitol Fourth airs on PBS on Saturday from 8-9:30 p.m. The Macy’s fireworks show in New York City will be broadcast on NBC from 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday.

— 2020 —

’What do I do? What do I do?’: Trump desperate, despondent as numbers crater, ‘loser’ label looms” via Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair — To console himself, Trump still has moments of magical thinking. “He says the polls are all fake,” a Republican in touch with Trump told me. But the bad news keeps coming. This week, Jacksonville, Florida — where Trump moved the Republican National Convention so he could hold a 15,000-person rally next month — mandated that people wear masks indoors to slow the explosion of COVID-19 cases. According to a Republican working on the convention, the campaign is now preparing to cancel the event so that Trump doesn’t suffer another Tulsa–like humiliation. “They probably won’t have it,” the source said. “It’s not going to be the soft-landing Trump wanted.”

Donald Trump is despondent over the possibility he may lose big in November. Image via Bloomberg.

Trump’s ardent defense of Confederate monuments continues as Americans swing the opposite direction” via Eugene Scott of The Washington Post — Trump’s continued defense of monuments to and institutions named in honor of Confederate figures puts him in opposition not only to his political opponents, who view monuments to Confederate soldiers as racist — but to most Americans, as well. While attacking Sen. Elizabeth Warren in what many consider a slur against Native Americans, Trump tweeted Wednesday that he would veto any bill attempting to rename military bases named for Gen. Robert E. Lee and other military leaders of the Confederacy.

In wake of Trump’s Tulsa rally, his campaign is still contending with the fallout” via Josh Dawsey and Carol D. Leonnig of The Washington Post — It was just hours before Trump was set to take the stage for his rally in Tulsa last month when the news broke: Six staff at the site had just tested positive for the coronavirus. The president, who was en route from Washington, was livid that the news was public, according to people familiar with his reaction. Health care workers were quizzed about whether they had leaked the information about the positive cases to the news media and then were given a different list of people to test. Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman, said the Trump campaign “performed more tests than originally anticipated” in Tulsa, adding that the event was in compliance with Oklahoma state guidelines and that campaign employees “wore masks during the rally in accordance with guidelines.”

Trump set to headline high-dollar fundraising dinner at a private Florida home next week” via Josh Dawsey and Michelle Ye Hee Lee of The Washington Post — Trump is set to hold a high-dollar dinner at a private residence in Hillsboro Beach, Florida, next week to raise money for his campaign and the Republican National Committee, according to an invitation sent to top GOP donors, his first in-person fundraiser since mid-June.

Tweet, tweet:

Democratic ad-makers think they’ve discovered Trump’s soft spot” via David Siders of POLITICO — Trump wasn’t halfway through his speech in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Democratic ad makers in Washington and New York were already cutting footage for an air raid on the slumping president. They didn’t focus on the president’s curious monologue about his difficulties descending a ramp or drinking water at West Point, the small crowd size of the Tulsa event, or even his use of the racist term “Kung flu.” Instead, the ads zeroed in on Trump’s admission that he urged officials to “slow the [coronavirus] testing down.” They are pouring tens of millions of dollars into ads yoking his behavior to substantive policy issues surrounding the coronavirus, the economy, and the civil unrest since the death of George Floyd.


Coronavirus crushing hospitals in Jacksonville, host of the Republican National Convention” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — In Jacksonville, UF Health, the sole safety-net hospital, is exhibit A. CEO Leon Haley and medical professionals described the situation in the city with the fastest case growth in the country. That growth is wreaking havoc at UF Health and elsewhere. Haley, in a briefing to local officials and state legislators, described “significant rises” in “cases and hospitalizations,” giving the lie to the politicians’ narrative that a surge in cases among the young didn’t matter because they wouldn’t die as older patients would. “We have continued to see a rise in patients,” Haley said, which intensified in recent weeks as people “started to relax a bit.” “We have 38 COVID patients in the hospital,” Haley said. “We were as low as eight 12 days ago.”

Pence promises ‘safe and healthy’ Republican National Convention” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Republican National Convention host city is now an epicenter of coronavirus spread, but the Vice President is “excited” to head there. Speaking to reporters in Tampa, Pence was vaguely affirmational about the convention in Jacksonville next month. “We’re excited about coming to Jacksonville. I was in a meeting when I heard of very sophisticated plans to make sure it’s a safe and healthy environment,” Pence said. Pence said his goal was to make sure “the people of Florida can “rest easy’,” expressing hope “for great events to happen in Florida, not just the RNC … [and] Florida to once again be a great destination.”

DeSantis engineered a Trump campaign aide’s ouster. Now she’s back” via Gary Fineout and Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — Trump’s decision to reinstate Susie Wiles to his campaign’s good inner circle follows months of behind-the-scenes efforts to bring her back after she was exiled at the demand of DeSantis, who had her cast out of the President’s good graces in September. The Trump campaign tweeted the news Thursday: “Susie Wiles (@susie57) was a very important part of how we Made Florida Great Again with @realDonaldTrump in 2016 and it’s tremendous to welcome her back to the team. We will win Florida again going away!” The decision to welcome back Wiles comes as polls show Trump trailing Democrat Joe Biden in Trump’s adopted home state. It wasn’t immediately clear if DeSantis had been told about the move.

Florida Democrats call for #NoJaxRNC in new digital ad, petition — As COVID-19 spikes overwhelm Jacksonville’s ICU and “safety net” hospital capacity, the Florida Democratic Party drops a new digital ad, “#NoJaxRNC,” with an accompanying petition calling on Trump to “put public health ahead of his ego trip.” The ad highlights recent developments in Jacksonville, including a poll showing 71% of Duval County voters are concerned about COVID-19 transmission and an open letter signed by 200 doctors calling the RNC convention “provocative of disease, predictably harmful, and medically disrespectful to the citizens of this city.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:


New super PAC slams Byron Donalds as “Never Trumper’” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A newly formed political action committee launched a website and attack ad against Congressional candidate Donalds. Honesty America, a super PAC formed in April, announced in a news release it plans to “shine [a] light on shady and dishonest candidates.” That apparently starts with labeling Donalds, a Naples Republican running in Florida’s 19th Congressional District, as a “Never Trumper.” Club For Growth, a conservative group that fought Trump’s nomination in the 2016 Republican primary, endorsed Donalds last month. The organization booked more than $1 million in airtime in the Naples-Fort Myers market, which kicked off with pro-Donalds ads. But the group in other races has produced negative ads in primaries as well.

A new ad calls Byron Donalds a ‘Never Trumper.’ 

Mike Hill called out for NRA hoax” via Rick Outzen of Rick’s Blog — At a recent gun show at the Pensacola Interstate Fairgrounds, Hill displayed his campaign literature on a table sponsored by the National Rifle Association. His campaign told people that the NRA had endorsed Hill in his reelection bid against Michelle Salzman. Marion Hammer, NRA past president and executive director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida, found out and isn’t happy. Hammer yesterday fired off a message to all NRA and USF members. In capitalized red letters, she wrote, “NRA HAS NOT ENDORSED MIKE HILL!” and “USF HAD NOT ENDORSED MIKE HILL!” She added, “Mike Hill files legislation he KNOWS will not pass just so he can say he filed a bill.”

Scott Plakon with Beatles on his mind as candidates muse campaign theme songs” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — For 90 minutes Wednesday, the East Side Regional Hob Nob rolled out Zoom moments with candidates and elected officials from Seminole and Orange counties. And while almost every one of them tried to squeeze in a few campaign statements, host Dan Pollock managed to cut most of them off pretty quickly. Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, a Democrat seeking a third term representing Florida’s 9th Congressional District in Orange and Seminole Counties: “Only in America” by Brooks & Dunn. “My story could have only happened here in America,” said the congresswoman who came to America as an infant Vietnam refugee with her parents.

Nick Duran touts $47K June haul as he defends HD 112 seat” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Duran says he added more than $47,000 in June as he faces a challenge to his House District 112 seat. Former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro and president of the Douglas Park Neighborhood Association Rosy Palomino are competing for the Republican nomination in HD 112. Duran won the seat in 2016 and is seeking his third term. Candidates face a July 3 deadline to report all fundraising through June 26. Neither Duran nor the Republican challengers have filed their reports covering that span. A Duran campaign official, however, said the candidate raised $37,500 during June through his campaign. Leadership for Miami-Dade, a political committee Duran chairs, added another $10,000, according to his team. That gives him more than $160,000 still on hand between those two accounts.

Ricky Junquera says campaign added more than $30K in June” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Junquera is touting a $30,500 haul in June as he seeks the House District 118 seat this November. Junquera is taking on incumbent GOP Rep. Anthony Rodriguez. Both are unopposed in their respective primaries, meaning the two will face off in the general election Nov. 3. Campaigns have recently been ramping up their fundraising operations, which had been slowed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Junquera’s June number is his largest since he entered the contest in October. “It’s reassuring to know that I have the support of the community in what many are calling the top House race in Florida,” Junquera said. The race is expected to be close. Rodriguez defeated Democratic Rep. Robert Asencio in 2018 by just 2 percentage points. Junquera is hoping to ride a blue wave to take the seat back for Democrats in 2020.

Ricky Junquera posts a major haul in June. 

—“Meet Bibiana Potestad, a Republican running for House District 105” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics


The Fourth of July can be a virus reset. Here’s exactly what we need to do.” via Leana S. Wen of The Washington Post — Remember Memorial Day? There was a sense of optimism that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic was behind us. Most states had declining numbers of infections, and nearly all had announced plans for reopening. Now, we are seeing the consequences of rapid reopening. Top health officials testified before a Senate committee that 29 states are seeing increasing numbers of infections, and 12 states have set record highs in the past week. States with escalating infections must take urgent, large-scale action. Closing bars, as some state and local officials have already mandated, is a critical first step, since crowded indoor bars have clearly been identified as the source of numerous outbreaks.


The anti-Trump movement will outlast Trump” via John F. Harris of POLITICO — The Trump years have scrambled old ideological lines. So perhaps it is not so surprising that in recent days George F. Will, the elegant dean of conservative columnists, and Matt Taibbi, a raucous liberal iconoclast, found themselves gnawing on different parts of the same bone. In this case, both writers were agitated by what they see as the left’s effort to stifle freethinking and bully those who dissent from its rigid ideological and racial orthodoxy. The motivation is primarily revulsion toward Trump personally, his vulgarity, his mendacity, the heedlessness and even nihilism of his approach to governance, rather than ideology.

I’ve watched in alarm as my fellow Republicans shun masks. It’s selfish.” via Karen Hughes of The Washington Post — I’ve watched in alarm and dismay as the course of action recommended by almost all of our nation’s infectious-disease experts has been shunned by many of my fellow conservatives and Republicans. Trump, Pence and many governors either refuse to wear a mask or wear one only occasionally. I understand the need to get the economy moving. People have to work to feed their families; small businesses and restaurants must be open to pay their rent and employees. But reopening successfully requires deliberate precautions.

Gary Ostrander: Federal help needed to maintain research, innovation hit hard by COVID-19” via Florida Politics — Congressional action is key to continuing the progress that American researchers and innovators have made both in combating the coronavirus and overall scientific discovery. The facilities that house and train these researchers also are important job creators in our communities. Support for these facilities and the people who work and train there is vital for the creation and maintenance of the scientific and creative pipeline that is critical to American innovation. Without this funding, future innovations in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, space exploration and digital agriculture — to name just a few — will be hindered while agencies are forced to abandon these projects or use future appropriations intended for new research to cover existing grants.


Florida has achieved the dubious distinction of setting another record for COVID-19 cases, more than 10,000 new cases in a single day.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

Pence and Gov. DeSantis meet in Tampa to talk about the surge in coronavirus, but Democrats claim they’re both to blame for the failed response nationwide and in Florida.

— Speaking of death, Florida reported 67 more COVID-19 fatalities Thursday (if you believe the state’s numbers) bringing the death toll in the Sunshine State to 3,718.

— Three state lawmakers who are leaving the Legislature this year are hoping to remain in Tallahassee by appointment to the Public Service Commission.

— As the new trade deal between the U.S., Mexico and Canada begins, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried says Florida growers are getting the shaft. Fried, Rep. Murphy and blueberry grower Bud Chiles will talk about the new deal.

— The latest with Florida Man, a veteran cop who’s been relieved of duty for punching a woman in the face at Miami International Airport.

To listen, click on the image below:


Dishonorable Mention: Rep. Chris Latvala, activist Becca Tieder, Ernest Hooper and communications expert Dr. Karla Mastracchio discuss politics and culture. The hosts discuss survivors of sexual assault and rape from the USF Greek System, who are telling their stories on Twitter over the last week. How has this systematically persisted for decades, what can be done legislatively, and what can we do to fix the system so the victims can be heard? With the spike of COVID — 19 cases, are we taking this pandemic seriously? They also give their thoughts on Trump’s recent Twitter activity and allegations. Hooper talks about the BET Awards last week and introduces some new artists he discovered. With everything happening in the world, how can we rise up from all of the pain and tragedies?

Inside Florida Politics from GateHouse Florida: DeSantis took an ax to the coronavirus-battered state budget this week and hacked off $1 billion in spending. Journalists Zac Anderson, John Kennedy and Antonio Fins discuss the Governor’s budget cuts, a series of significant bills he signed into law and continued questions about his handling of the coronavirus outbreak as cases surge.

podcastED: Step Up For Students President Doug Tuthill talks with the head of the leading platform for enabling educator advancement via micro-credentials, a form of micro-certification that supports, scales and grows effective teachers. Sanford Kenyon joined BloomBoard as chief revenue officer in 2015 after 25 years in software and technology-based businesses and assumed the role of chief executive officer in February 2017. Unlike a traditional course or workshop where the learning process is linear and time-based, the micro-credential learning process is a unique online experience whereby educators gain an understanding at the outset of their specific goals, and then personalize their learning to achieve the specific requirements for achieving competence. BloomBoard, based in Palo Alto, California, offers competency-based professional learning programs to state and district leaders.

The New Abnormal from host Rick Wilson and Molly Jong-Fast: “It’s not just treason. It’s historic treason,” Wilson says about the revelation that the Russians offered bounties on U.S. soldiers — and Trump kissed up to the Kremlin anyway. “This is a guy who was already going down into the dustbin of history. And now there’s going to be a line at his grave where they’re going to have to throw cat litter down. Because people are gonna piss on it for all time.” Democratic Rep. Connor Lamb talks up his favorite Republican. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison gets real about police unions. (“I’m reluctant to even call it a police union because a union is an honorable, wonderful institution,” he says. “These institutions are not like that at all. The teacher’s union does not deliberately harm the kids. Nurses don’t hurt the patients. UAW doesn’t break the cars.”) And Jong-Fast dishes on White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany: “At least with Sean Spicer, you did feel he possessed a human soul. Whereas with Kaylee, it’s just this sort of terrifying, blonde sea of obfuscation.”

The Yard Sign with host Jonathan Torres: Chris VerKuilen, Anibal Cabrera, Jodie Lopes and Torres discuss the COVID-19 spike, face mask lawsuits, Biden’s VP picks and protests — both local and national.


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

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable featuring journalist-author Charlayne Hunter-Gault; Ray Arsenault, John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History at USF-St. Petersburg; PolitiFact Editor-in-Chief Angie Holan and Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist/reporter Steve Bousquet.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: Host Holly Gregory will interview Rep. Kathy Castor about a new proposal to tackle climate change in the U.S.; a look at Gov. DeSantis’ budget cuts due to the coronavirus and the latest on a major decision from the Supreme Court.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon talks with Leon County Commission Chair Bryan Desloge, and Ryan Tyson of the Tyson Group.



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Is throwback Thursday still a thing? If so, I am not throwing away my shot. ⭐️ #hamiltonfilm #hamiltonmusical @disneyplus

A post shared by Anna Alexopoulos Farrar (@annaalexopoulosfarrar) on

— ALOE —

As ‘Hamilton’ arrives on Disney+, five lyrics that have shaped the culture” via John Jurgensen of The Wall Street Journal — There are many ways to quantify the success of “Hamilton,” such as its 11 Tony Awards, its multiplatinum cast recording album and how many of the musical’s lyrics have seeped into the American lexicon, repurposed everywhere from pop-culture to politics. Now “Hamilton” quotes stand to further their reach, as the musical about the triumphs and failings of the nation’s Founding Fathers premieres in its most accessible form yet: A performance filmed live on Broadway in 2016 and featuring its original cast, including Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton, is set for release Friday on the Disney+ streaming service.

Hot take alert — “You don’t need to watch ‘Hamilton’” via Marisa Martinelli of Slate

Starting today, Disney+ will begin streaming a filmed version of Hamilton, which may hold no surprises for those who have listened to the album. Image via Disney.

Mad Men is moving to a new (old) home” via Josef Adalain of Vulture — Just weeks after leaving Netflix, Mad Men has found a new (old) home for subscription-based viewing, AMC Networks. The company, whose AMC cable network greenlit Matt Weiner’s period drama and aired it for its full seven-season run, has struck a deal with production studio Lionsgate Television, giving it broad U.S. rights to the show on multiple platforms, including linear cable networks and subscription video-on-demand services. The AMC Networks portion of the deal kicks in early this fall. At that point, AMC Networks will get the right to air Mad Men reruns on its cable channels and add the show to its various subscription-based streaming services, potentially including Sundance Now and the recently launched AMC Plus.

What Taylor Biehl is reading — “Jimmy Buffett takes over St. Pete Twitter page to promote new Pier opening” via Tampa Bay 10 — The new St. Pete Pier just got a shout out from the king of Hawaiian shirts and the founder of Margaritaville. Buffett, the famous singer-songwriter of “Cheeseburger in Paradise” fame, took over the St. Pete Twitter account on Thursday to “say hello to my good friend Mayor Rick Kriseman” and “all you Parrot Heads in Pinellas County.” In the video, Buffett said he can’t wait to get back to the area to check out the new Pier, which opens Monday to the public. “Stay safe until we see you again,” Buffett said. “Fins up, and have a happy Fourth of July!”


Happy birthday in the coming days to state Sens. Janet Cruz and Joe Gruters, Rep. MaryLynn Magar, Rep. Barbara Watson, Ron Barnette, Susanne Dudley, Brad Herold, our friend James Kotas, Tim Nungesser, Tim Parsons of Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, Fatima PerezVan Poole, and Tim Stapleton of the Florida Medical Association.


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

Written By

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.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Phone: (727) 642-3162
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St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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