Connect with us

Emails & Opinions

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.5.20

Rise ‘n’ shine. Wake up to the best blurbs on politics and policy in Florida.

The University of South Florida St. Petersburg is saying goodbye to one of its top executives and a fearless advocate for the school, its students and faculty and staff.

Helen Levine, regional vice chancellor of external affairs, is retiring. Her last day is Sept. 4.

“Helen has been a tremendous asset to the University of South Florida. Her presence on our campus and her advocacy for the university, the city and the county has been nothing short of phenomenal,” Regional Chancellor Martin Tadlock wrote in a letter to staff.

Helen Levine’s retirement from USFSP leaves some big shoes to fill. Image via Facebook.

“She has helped the university navigate through some of its most challenging times and served as my proverbial ‘right arm’ since I assumed the role of Regional Chancellor.”

Levine was a regular figure in Tallahassee during each Legislative Session and in committee weeks. Those within the political process new her as a staunch policy wonk and someone who somehow made notice of every single detail.

She spent more than three decades working with agencies throughout the state and worked with the city of St. Petersburg and the City University of New York. In all of her roles, she was a master at bringing individuals together regardless of differing backgrounds or ideological differences to further various initiatives.

Her successes were many, but it was never about credit for Levine. As she leaves her longtime, that hasn’t changed.

“During my time at USF St. Petersburg, I was honored to have participated in teams who brought new initiatives, plans, buildings and programs to our campus,” she said. “However, the most rewarding aspect of my career was the people I met and came to know.”

___

Entering the sixth month of the coronavirus pandemic, a majority of Floridians share the same sinking feeling: The worst is yet to come.

A State Innovation Exchange poll found four-fifths of Floridians fear they will lose their job or their life. Maybe both.

A full five in six are concerned that their friends, neighbors, or they will be in the unemployment line or forced to take a pay cut due to the virus. The same number believe that the local businesses that shut down won’t reopen. And seven in 10 said they’ve felt forced to choose between their health and their job.

For many, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. After weeks of record case numbers and daily death tolls, a full two-thirds believe rock bottom is still on the horizon. Just 18% say otherwise.

Pessimism is just as pervasive over the direction of the country, with 65% saying the nation is headed the wrong way on a one-way track. About three-fifths felt the same about the state.

Though the anxieties are somewhat universal, Floridians are split on how they intend to vote in the upcoming elections. Just over half of voters told SiX they plan to vote by mail while 47% are planning to vote in person.

The divide ends there, however. Floridians by and large support measures to make in-person voting safer, whether or not they plan to go to the polls themselves.

Five in six voters said they are in favor of opening additional polling places so voters can avoid crowds; 82% support an extended early voting window, and 71% encourage policy that would allow registered voters to cast a ballot at any polling location in their county.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@JoeBiden: On July 1st, Donald Trump predicted the coronavirus was going to “just disappear.” He was wrong — and more than 25,000 Americans died due to the virus last month. Mr. President, step up and do your job before even more American families feel the pain of losing a loved one.

@RyanStruyk: [Anthony] FAUCI: “I have said, and I’ll say it right now, I mean, obviously, disinfectants, injecting, or whatever, is dangerous and should not be done.”

@ScottFist: The constantly moving goalposts of what to think about Florida’s coronavirus outbreak. I’m old enough to still remember when the Governor used to point to our low fatalities rate as the best indicator.

@NickRiccardi: So absentee ballots are good, mail ballots are bad, except in Florida, where mail ballots are really absentee ballots so they’re good.

@Fineout: “If you mail in your ballot in Florida,’ it’s going to matter,” said @realDonaldTrump who praised both @GovRonDeSantis & @SenRickScott for how voting has gone in the state … To be precise Florida’s big changes on mail-in voting occurred under another GOP governor — @JebBush

@FLSecofState: From modernization of voting equipment to logic & accuracy testing, the Department of State and #Florida’s Supervisors of Elections are working diligently to ensure everything is in order for your vote to be accurately recorded in the upcoming Primary Election on August 18

@ChristinaOn3PR: Congrats to all involved in today’s incredible victory! @On3_PR worked on this @FixOurParksUS project and I want to give a special shout out to former On3PR team members @alixpmiller and @laurenbankert who led our #Florida efforts! #FixOurParks

— DAYS UNTIL —

Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 13; Florida Bar exams begin online (rescheduled) — 14; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 14; Regal Cinemas reopen in U.S. — 16; Indy 500 rescheduled — 18; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 19; NBA draft lottery — 20; Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 23; U.S. Open begins — 26; Christopher Nolan‘s “Tenet” rescheduled premiere in U.S. — 29; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 31; Rescheduled date for French Open — 46; First presidential debate in Indiana — 55; “Wonder Woman” premieres — 58; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 59; Ashley Moody’s 2020 Human Trafficking Summit — 62; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 63; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 68; Second presidential debate scheduled at Miami — 71; NBA draft — 72; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 72; NBA free agency — 75; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 78; 2020 General Election — 90; “Black Widow” premieres — 94; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 96; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 107; “No Time to Die” premieres — 107; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 120; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 186; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 198; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 331; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 352; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 360; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 457; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 555; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 597; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 639; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 792.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Ron DeSantis visits Jacksonville senior center to discuss lockdown’s limitations” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — Tuesday afternoon, DeSantis visited Jacksonville’s ElderSource senior center along with his wife Casey DeSantis to discuss protecting the elderly community at a roundtable meeting. In attendance were Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew, Department of Elder Affairs Secretary Richard Prudom, Vice President of Public Policy for the Central and North Florida Alzheimer’s Association Michelle Branham and Mary Daniel, the Jacksonville woman who garnered national attention earlier this year when she got a job as a dishwasher to be closer to her husband, whose senior center was prohibiting visitors. “We want to make sure what we’re doing is really meaningful,” DeSantis said during the initial part of the roundtable that was open to the press. One idea the governor floated was allowing family members who have tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies to go inside senior facilities.

Ron and Casey DeSantis visit a Jacksonville senior center to talk about protecting Florida’s elderly community. Image via Local10.com.

DeSantis looks to allow visitation at nursing homes” via the News Service of Florida — DeSantis, acknowledging what he called the “emotional damage” caused by a lockdown of nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic, said that the state will look at ways to ease restrictions that have kept nursing-home residents and family members separated since March. “I think that would put a lot of people at ease knowing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” DeSantis said. He said one idea that the state is considering would allow people who test positive for COVID-19 antibodies to be able to enter nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The governor said he will set up a task force to also look at other options.

Is it time to allow visitors in Florida nursing homes?” via Kirby Wilson and Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — For months, Floridians have been forbidden to visit their relatives at long-term care facilities. DeSantis said that it’s time for that to change, even as the state continues to report thousands of new coronavirus cases per day along with hundreds of deaths and hospitalizations. The Republican Governor floated policy ideas that would allow some visits. For example, family members who have COVID-19 antibodies should be able to visit relatives, DeSantis said. The Governor’s office is forming a committee, which will include Florida Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew, to discuss which policies could be implemented to ensure safe visitation.

DeSantis: Emergency room visits, not positivity rates, are the best COVID-19 metric” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — After months of pointing to the testing positivity rate as the best tool to track COVID-19 spread, DeSantis now says emergency department visits for symptoms related to COVID-19 are the best way to track the virus’ spread. The Governor acknowledged the change when asked about a recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics that schools not reopen until there is a 5% positivity rate. Florida’s positivity rate is currently above 10%. But in recent weeks, some labs or hospitals have reported testing batches with 100% positive results, indicating the labs are not reporting negative results. That has raised questions about the state’s positivity rate, including from DeSantis, who said to use the positivity rate, “you kinda gotta get all the negatives there as well.” By Tuesday, he seemed committed to the change of course, questioning labs’ commitments to reporting all results in a timely manner.

First correctional officer dies amid prison COVID-19 woes” via Ana Ceballos of the News Service of Florida — Robert Rogers, who was assigned to the Graceville Work Camp in Jackson County, died Friday, the Department of Corrections announced. His wife, Lauri Wood Rogers, also died from complications of COVID-19. Jim Baiardi, who leads the state corrections chapter of the Florida Police Benevolent Association, said Rogers served the department with dignity and honor and that he was “well-liked and highly respected by his fellow officers.” “Being a correctional officer has always been a dangerous job, but working in a dense prison environment during COVID-19 has made correctional officers’ jobs twice as dangerous, which is why they need more support and better safety equipment from the Department of Corrections to keep them safe,” Baiardi said.

Jackson County Correctional Officer Robert Rogers and his wife, Lauri Wood Rogers, died of COVID-19 within an hour of each other. Image via Facebook.

Juvenile justice worker cases top 250” via the News Service of Florida — The number of workers in Florida’s juvenile justice system who had tested positive for COVID-19 increased to 253, while recent upticks in cases among youths appeared to slow, according to data released by the Department of Juvenile Justice. The 253 workers who had tested positive was up from 235 in a Thursday count. In all, 113 of the 253 workers had been cleared to return to work. As of Tuesday, 311 youths in the juvenile-justice system had tested positive, up from 306 on Thursday. The department said 159 of the 311 youths were no longer in medical isolation.

Ports seek federal money and virus losses mount” via the News Service of Florida — The Florida Ports Council says Congress needs to allocate $3.5 billion for maritime businesses across the country as talks continue on an economic-stimulus package because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter to U.S. Senate leaders, Florida Ports Council President Doug Wheeler pointed to an economic analysis from Martin Associates, which projects the virus can be tied to a potential loss of 169,000 jobs related to cargo- and passenger-ship industries in Florida. “A survey and review of cargo and passenger activity at Florida’s seaports indicated that COVID-19 will likely result in the loss of 5.6 million tons of liquid bulk cargo, 1.6 million tons of dry bulk cargo, and a loss of 4.9 million passengers at our seaports.”

Florida’s port industry lost 169,000 jobs, $23B in business during the pandemic” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Florida’s seaports weren’t spared the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic, a new analysis shows. A report produced research company Martin Associates shows dips in every sector of the state’s maritime industry, from cargo throughput to cruises. The result after more than five months of the pandemic recession: A loss of 169,000 Florida jobs and nearly $23 billion in economic activity. Job losses include those directly supporting cruise and cargo activity at Florida ports, as well as those lost as a result of the disruption to the supply chain and the maritime transportation system. With no light at the end of the tunnel, the Florida Ports Council is urging Congress to help keep the industry afloat.

— BACK TO SCHOOL? —

’Sweden was right’: DeSantis says school openings will go forward” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis said that no matter what happens to the state’s positive testing rate for the novel coronavirus, schools need to reopen. DeSantis looked to Scandinavia to make his point that whether schools open or not will make little difference in the fight against COVID-19. “Sweden was right,” DeSantis said, noting that while Norway shut its schools down and Sweden did not, the two countries found little difference in virus transmission. “Sweden kept it open the entire time. They didn’t have a lockdown. Sweden and Norway put out a joint statement recently saying ‘Norway shut down schools. Sweden didn’t. Guess what? Sweden was right.’ It did not increase the spread in the community.”

Ron DeSantis says Sweden was correct in keeping schools open, showing a similar transmission rate as Norway, which closed its schools.

DeSantis ‘cautious’ about tying school reopenings to virus rate” via the News Service of Florida — The Governor’s remarks came a week after the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics sent a white paper to DeSantis advising that schools should not reopen unless they are in locales with a positive COVID-19 test rate below 5% when averaged over a 14-day period. The pediatricians said that in many areas of Florida where districts are grappling with reopening classrooms amid the pandemic, “coronavirus prevalence will not decrease enough in the next 4-6 weeks to make the benefits of school attendance outweigh the risks.” DeSantis told reporters that while he was “religiously hyping positivity in March, April and May,” he now is unconvinced the positivity rate is an efficient barometer.

State expects steep drop in pre-K enrollment — State economists on Tuesday predicted enrollment in Florida’s voluntary pre-kindergarten program could drop by as much as 10% this school year. As reported by Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida, the revenue estimating conference expects a drop of more than 15,000 students from its January estimate of 159,799 students. The panel rejected the theory that enrollment would recover when schools resume classes. “I don’t know that I personally would share your optimism that things are going to look totally different in a few weeks,” EDR coordinator Amy Baker said Tuesday. “It’s not going to flip back to normal.”

Duval Schools employees won’t have to pay COVID-19 medical expenses under new proposal” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — Duval County Public Schools employees won’t have to pay for medical expenses if they contract the coronavirus, under a new proposal announced Tuesday. Duval Teachers United President Terrie Brady, Duval County School Board Chairman Warren Jones and Superintendent Diana Greene hosted a news conference in the Cline Auditorium ahead of a regular school board meeting to make the announcement. “This is one of the most aggressive initiatives in the state for school district employees,” Brady said at the conference. Under the proposed agreement, all Duval County Public Schools employees will have out-of-pocket medical services related to COVID-19 completely covered by the district if they are already under Duval Schools’ insurance plan.

Lake schools to offer rapid, on-site COVID-19 testing” via Payne Ray of the Leesburg Daily Commercial — Through a partnership with Lake County, the Lake County Department of Health, and Adult Medicine of Lake County, Lake County schools will offer free, rapid COVID-19 testing to students and employees before the first day of school on Aug. 24. Testing will also be available throughout the school year, the district said in an announcement Tuesday afternoon, for students or staff who show symptoms of COVID-19. “The safety of our students and staff is our top priority,” Superintendent Diane Kornegay said. “Having the ability to quickly determine when someone has been infected will help us minimize risk of infection to others. We will know exactly who should be quarantined and when it’s safe for them to return.”

Closing schools around the world could cause a ‘generational catastrophe,’ U.N. secretary-general warns” via Antonia Noori Farzan and Siobhán O’Grady of The Washington Post — The world is facing a “generational catastrophe” due to ongoing school closures, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned Tuesday, calling the coronavirus pandemic “the largest disruption of education ever.” Allowing students to safely return to classrooms must be a “top priority” as countries get local transmission under control, Guterres said in a video message released early Tuesday morning. A policy brief published alongside Guterres’s message emphasized that suppressing transmission of the virus is “the single most significant step” leaders can take toward reopening schools.

Children, who have missed online classes due to a lack of Internet access, listen to prerecorded lessons over loudspeakers in Maharashtra, India. Image via Reuters.


— CORONA LOCAL —

The politics of CARES Act relief in Miami: Which government gets to give it away?” via Joey Flechas and Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Miami elected leaders are taking the fight over federal COVID-19 relief funds into the political arena by accusing Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez of using most of $474 million in CARES Act money to boost his profile with voters during his congressional campaign. Miami commissioners argued that City Hall should be the steward of at least $90 million, stoking the flames of a debate raging across Miami-Dade’s local governments: Who gets to give away hundreds of millions of dollars in federal relief in an economy ravaged by the coronavirus — and who gets to reap the political benefits?

COVID-19 outbreak took out half this fire department” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Nearly half the firefighters in Oakland Park have COVID-19, forcing the city to shut down one station for two days and depend on Fort Lauderdale for help covering shifts. Some firefighters say the department mismanaged the outbreak when it started to emerge. And some say they’re working up to 120 hours per week, or five 24-hour shifts every seven days. The outbreak forced Oakland Park to close one of its three firehouses for two days in late July. The station is now being staffed part-time by Fort Lauderdale. The first firefighter tested positive on July 15. By Monday, 28 firefighters were out sick or in quarantine because they’d been exposed to the virus. That’s half the 56-member department.

Coronavirus has sidelined fully half the firefighters in Oakland Park. Image via Facebook.

The next ‘Titanic’? Doctors worry COVID-19 could soon overwhelm hospitals” via Wells Dusenbury of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Doctors in Palm Beach County are sounding the alarm: If COVID-19 cases continue to surge, the health care system soon will be overwhelmed and the county could be the next ‘Titanic.’ That dire health warning came during Tuesday morning’s Palm Beach County Commission meeting when officials played a six-minute video from the Palm Beach County Medical Society. “If this surge rages on, we’ll be out of space in our hospitals and ICUs,” Dr. Kleper de Almeida, an internal medicine and infectious diseases physician, said in the video. Palm Beach County has seen 488 patients hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of the new coronavirus, according to state data. County hospitals currently have a bed capacity of 29.51%.

St. Mary’s nurses say cheap masks ‘snapping off’ as they care for COVID patients” via John Pacenti of The Palm Beach Post — Nurses at St. Mary’s Medical Center complain they have been forced to wear masks that are not hospital-grade and snap off while they tend to the needs of patients with COVID-19. “They are the masks that can be found at Home Depot or Lowe’s,” said one nurse. Some say they have purchased their own personal protective equipment but the owner of St. Mary’s — Tenet Hospitals — prohibits the use of masks purchased on the open market. A few weeks ago, the hospital provided nurses with Chinese-made masks that were ill-fitting and also broke easily, they say. Those have been replaced by 3M masks that are not N-95 hospital-grade and snap off if the nurse dares to adjust her face shield.

— MORE LOCAL —

Grim realities of COVID-19 return with 26 more deaths in NWF” via Tom McLaughlin of the Northwest Florida Daily News — Following a weekend lull in reporting abetted by Tropical Storm Isaias’ brush with the state’s east coast, residents of Florida and the Emerald Coast were again awakened Tuesday to the grim realities of COVID-19. Another 245 lives were reported lost to the novel coronavirus in the state Department of Health’s daily tally. Among those were 26 Northwest Florida residents, including 15 from Bay County, six from Santa Rosa County, four from Okaloosa County and one from Walton County. The four Okaloosa County deaths were reported a day after its leading public health official spoke critically of efforts to stem transmittal of the virus. “Every one of these deaths was preventable,” Department of Health Director Dr. Karen Chapman said.

5 hours from home, Fort Walton Beach single mom fights COVID-19 alone” via Wendy Victora of NWF Daily News — Brandy Hearne, a single mother from Fort Walton Beach, has a 6-year-old daughter, Lily, and a 13-year-old son, Alex. She hasn’t been able to talk to them, or anyone, for more than two weeks. That’s how long she’s been on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, which she was placed on after her lungs completely failed while fighting COVID-19, according to her older brother, Barry Boutwell. Hearne, who works in the finance office of the Okaloosa Tax Collector’s office, began feeling ill in early July. During the time she has been hospitalized, Hearne has used up her paid time off, emergency paid time off and CARES Act money.

Brandy Hearne has not been able to speak with her two children (or anyone else, for that matter) in more than two weeks. Image via the NWF Daily News.

Adult ICU capacity dips to 3% in Hillsborough County” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Hillsborough County might be facing a COVID-19 health care crisis as adult intensive care unit capacity plummeted Monday to just 3%, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration. Only 12 of the county’s 377 adult ICU beds are available. That number has fluctuated between 5-10% over the past couple of weeks as those confirmed positive with the virus face lagging health outcomes. The dip in ICU capacity comes as another 22 patients were hospitalized Monday, according to Florida Department of Health data released Tuesday. Capacity also dipped in neighboring Pinellas County, though capacity there has not gotten as low as in Hillsborough. Pinellas ICU capacity dropped to 10% Monday with 29 of 258 adult ICU beds available.

Mask up, Lakeland: City ordinance extended” via Sara-Megan Walsh — Lakeland residents and workers will be required to wear a mask when in public indoor spaces through September. The city commission voted 5-2 Monday afternoon to extend Lakeland’s face mask mandate through Sept. 8 to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the city. “When people want to know where we are headed to relax, we want to be under 10% (positivity rate),” Mayor Bill Mutz said. County health director Joy Jackson shared a chart with city commissioners demonstrating the city’s daily number of new cases started leveling off around July 19, approximately two weeks after the mandate went into effect. The county’s average daily positivity rate dropped to 11.3% last week, she said, down from an all-time high of 17%.

Steep uptick in COVID-19 cases being seen in Okaloosa County children” via Tom McLaughlin of the NWF Florida Daily News — COVID-19 cases began rising steeply among children in Okaloosa County around Memorial Day, about the same time their “traditional summer” vacation would have begun, according to Okaloosa County Department of Health Director Dr. Karen Chapman. “This coincides with children participating in summer recovery programs, summer camps, and other group activities, such as dance and sports,” Chapman wrote Monday in her weekly report to county officials. The 224 cases thus far diagnosed among children 17 or younger may seem small in the context of Okaloosa’s 3,106 overall cases, but Chapman noted that the number of sick kids totaled just six before May 23. “Since that time 219 children have been diagnosed with COVID-19,” she said in the report.

— CORONA NATION —

Donald Trump’s nursing home plan limits supply of free COVID-19 tests” via Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of The Associated Press — The Trump administration’s plan to provide every nursing home with a fast COVID-19 testing machine comes with an asterisk: The government won’t supply enough test kits to check staff and residents beyond an initial couple of rounds. A program that sounded like a game-changer when it was announced last month at the White House is now prompting concerns that it could turn into another unfulfilled promise for nursing homes, whose residents and staff represent a tiny share of the U.S. population but account for as many as 4 in 10 coronavirus deaths.

The Donald Trump administration will provide every nursing home with fast COVID-19 testing machines, with a pretty big caveat.

Trump spares only Texas and Florida in cutting funds for National Guard” via Alice Miranda Ollstein of POLITICO — While all other states and territories will have to shell out millions to cover 25% of their National Guard costs starting later this month, Texas and Florida will be fully covered. The two key states are struggling to contain the coronavirus surges. But other states are worse off by several metrics — including total COVID-19 cases and the percentage of people testing positive. The decision to fully fund the Guard deployments was hailed by officials in Texas and Florida, but also prompted accusations from others of an ulterior motive. “With American lives at risk, the president is continuing to manipulate our nation’s pandemic response to benefit his own political fortunes,” said Noam Lee, the executive director of the Democratic Governors Association.

Novavax sees encouraging results from two studies of its experimental vaccine.” via The New York Times — Novavax, the little-known Maryland company that received a $1.6 billion deal from the federal government for its experimental coronavirus vaccine, announced encouraging results in two preliminary studies. In one study, 56 volunteers produced a high level of antibodies against the virus without any dangerous side effects. In the other, researchers found that the vaccine strongly protected monkeys from coronavirus infections. John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine who was not involved in the studies, said the Novavax results were the most impressive he had seen so far. “This is the first one I’m looking at and saying, ‘Yeah, I’d take that,’” Dr. Moore said. It won’t be possible to say whether the vaccine is safe and effective until Novavax conducts a large-scale study.

— CORONA ECONOMICS — 

Florida consumer confidence dips again due to COVID-19 resurgence” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — Florida consumer confidence is falling as the coronavirus resurgence drags well into the summer, the Bureau of Economic Business Research at the University of Florida reported. Statewide consumer sentiment had been on the upswing in May and June when it appeared the COVID-19 outbreak was on the wane. But the record-setting increase in cases and deaths due to the illness in July offset any positive upswings in consumer viewpoints in Florida. The consumer sentiment rating dropped two points in July to 82.5. “The decline in July comes as no surprise as the record number of cases and deaths attributed to the coronavirus in Florida have reduced consumer activity and slowed the pace of the economic recovery,” said Hector Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at the UF bureau.

Disney loses nearly $5 billion as pandemic slams theme parks” via R.T. Watson of The Wall Street Journal — The Walt Disney Co. said it lost nearly $5 billion in its latest quarter as the majority of its business reeled amid global efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus by shutting down public spaces. Crippled by sweeping social-distancing measures, the entertainment company swung to a fiscal third quarter loss of $4.72 billion, from a year-earlier profit of $1.43 billion. Total revenue for the period, which ended June 27, fell 42% to $11.8 billion. As expected, Disney’s theme-parks business was hit the hardest. The company estimated the pandemic had a $3.5 billion negative impact on the segment. The result was a $1.96 billion loss for the business, compared with $1.72 billion in operating income a year earlier.

The Walt Disney Co. took a substantial fiscal third quarter hit.

And yet — “Disney squeaks by with profitable quarter, boasts more than 100 million streaming subscribers” via Lauren Feiner and Sarah Whitten of CNBC — Disney reported earnings for its third quarter of 2020 after the bell on Tuesday as it continues to feel the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on sectors like its parks business. Disney’s report will show how partial reopenings of its parks and the return of live sports are impacting its business. The company’s new streaming service has benefited from stay-at-home orders across the U.S. that left millions looking for entertainment options. Disney said it now has 100 million paid subscribers across its streaming services, which include Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+. Revenue for the Parks, Experiences and Products segment, which includes cruises, resorts and merchandise, fell 85% to below $1 billion during the quarter.

Port Canaveral, other major U.S. ports seek $1.5B in coronavirus relief, warn jobs are at risk” via Evie Fordham of FOX Business — The American Association of Port Authorities is asking Congress to provide $1.5 billion for ports because of lost revenue due to coronavirus, warning that up to 130,000 jobs at coastal ports could disappear. “Our ports have kept vital goods moving to medical professionals and first responders, have ensured that our Nation’s shelves remain stocked, and have enabled commerce to continue flowing during these uncertain times,” the American Association of Port Authorities wrote in a letter. The letter was addressed to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Signatories included transportation and port officials from Hawaii to Connecticut. “Seaports,” like airports, need relief, Port Canaveral CEO John Murray said. Airports received $10 billion in relief in April.

— MORE CORONA — 

Iran cover-up of deaths revealed by data leak” via BBC News — The number of deaths from coronavirus in Iran is nearly triple what Iran’s government claims. The government’s own records appear to show almost 42,000 people died with COVID-19 symptoms up to July 20 versus 14,405 reported by its health ministry. The number of people known to be infected is also almost double official figures: 451,024 as opposed to 278,827. The official numbers still make Iran the worst-hit in the Middle East. In recent weeks, it has suffered a second steep rise in the number of cases. The first death in Iran from COVID-19 was recorded on Jan. 22, according to lists and medical records. This was almost a month before the first official case of coronavirus was reported there. A level of undercounting, largely due to testing capacity, is seen across the world, but the information leaked reveals Iranian authorities have reported significantly lower daily numbers despite having a record of all deaths, suggesting they were deliberately suppressed.

When COVID-19 subsided, Israel reopened its schools. It didn’t go well.” via Isabel Kershner and Pam Belluck of The New York Times — As the United States and other countries anxiously consider how to reopen schools, Israel, one of the first countries to do so, illustrates the dangers of moving too precipitously. Confident it had beaten the coronavirus and desperate to reboot a devastated economy, the Israeli government invited the entire student body back in late May. Within days, infections were reported at a Jerusalem high school, which quickly mushroomed into the largest outbreak in a single school in Israel, possibly the world. The virus rippled out to the students’ homes and then to other schools and neighborhoods, ultimately infecting hundreds of students, teachers and relatives. Other outbreaks forced hundreds of schools to close. Across the country, tens of thousands of students and teachers were quarantined.

Israel attempted to reopen schools after a slowdown in coronavirus infections. It did not go quite as planned. Image via Getty.

‘Forced labor’: Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line crew say they’ve been working without pay” via Taylor Dolven of the Miami Herald — As cruise companies begin to operate passenger cruises again, thousands of crew members remain trapped on ships without pay as they wait to be sent home. For crew on Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s Grand Celebration ship in Palm Beach, the delay has been especially grim. Cleaners and cooks have been working since mid-March without pay, according to two crew members and a lawsuit filed in Miami federal court Tuesday. The suit accuses the company of engaging in “forced labor,” among other claims. The Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line crew members allege the company is not paying crew who have been working since mid-March. Their ship, the Grand Celebration, rarely leaves U.S. waters. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

— SMOLDERING —

Miami-Dade police review panel won’t go to voters, but commission can still revive it” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Reviving Miami-Dade County’s police review board hit another setback Tuesday when five commissioners blocked the vote needed to send the proposal to voters in November, but the oversight panel could still see new life by the end of the summer if Mayor Giménez doesn’t issue another veto. Because of procedural rules, sponsor Barbara Jordan needs nine of the 13 commissioners to vote for a November ballot item amending the county charter to require a civilian oversight panel for the largest police department in the Southeast. But she only needs seven votes to pass a law reviving the board, and on Tuesday Jordan promised to be back soon with a win with legislation Giménez will support.

Miami-Dade County Council member Barbara Jordan is sponsoring a measure to revive a police oversight panel. She may have an uphill battle. Image via the Miami Herald.

Beach cop who cold-cocked man: cleared. Officers who released video of punch: punished” via Aaron Leibowitz and Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — A Miami Beach police officer suspended after body camera footage showed him cold-cocking a restaurant patron two years ago, has been cleared of any wrongdoing by internal affairs and state prosecutors. Two other officers wound up in hot water instead. Their misdeed? They copied and shared the video of the punch. Internal Affairs investigators gave Miami Beach Police Officer Alfredo Garcia a written warning last month for “producing and distributing an unauthorized version of recordings” from his body camera. And Officer Frederick Dominguez — who did not see the punch in-person — received notice of a 10-hour suspension for releasing a copy of the tape made by Garcia to his attorney.

Duval School Board to reconsider schools named after Andrew Jackson, Jean Ribault” via Emily Bloch of the Florida Times-Union — The School Board will launch the process to consider renaming three additional schools, the namesakes of which are tied to the marginalization of Native Americans. At a School Board meeting, Ashley Smith-Juarez introduced a bill to consider renaming Andrew Jackson High School, Jean Ribault High School and Jean Ribault Middle School. “We began with six schools named for Confederate officers. We should continue with schools that are named for people responsible for systematically marginalizing and killing Indigenous people,” Smith-Juarez said.

Tallahassee Police sergeant demoted, disciplined after Black Lives Matter mural post” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — A Tallahassee Police Department sergeant has been suspended and demoted following a social media post where he derided the city-backed “Black Lives Matter” mural in the Gaines Street District. Sgt. Gavin Larramore, a 17-year veteran on the police force, was initially placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation after a Facebook post on July 9 calling protesters a “mob of thugs” and criminals. The post also chides the local protesters as a “gang of anti-anyone not Black racists who encourage murdering police officers nationwide.” In a statement, TPD Chief Lawrence Revell said Internal Affairs concluded its investigation of “a questionable social media post made by a member of the Tallahassee Police Department.”

Eppes Professors program renamed without fanfare at Florida State University” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — While last month’s swift removal of the Francis Eppes statue from the campus of Florida State University triggered pushback from some university supporters, the removal of another long-standing Eppes distinction at FSU was done earlier this year with no fanfare. Since 1999, FSU has been able to attract some of the country’s leading scholars to campus by designating them Eppes Professors, a coveted bonus that provides additional funding to add staff or continue research at the university. The Eppes Professorship Program was established in 1999 with some of the money FSU received from royalties generated by the commercialization of the anti-cancer fighting drug Taxol, developed by FSU Professor of Chemistry Robert Holton, now Professor Emeritus at FSU. He continues to conduct research.



— D.C. MATTERS —

Worries about 2020 census’ accuracy grow with cut schedule” via Mike Schneider of Florida Politics — The U.S. Census Bureau is cutting its schedule for data collection for the 2020 census a month short as legislation that would have extended the national head count’s deadlines stalls in the U.S. Senate. The Census Bureau said late Monday that the door-knocking and ability for households to respond either online, by phone or by mail to the questionnaire will stop at the end of September instead of the end of October so that it can meet an end-of-the-year deadline to turn in numbers used for redrawing congressional districts. Census experts and civil rights activists worry the sped-up count could produce inaccurate data that will have lasting effects through the next decade since it determines how $1.5 trillion in federal spending is distributed and how many congressional districts each state gets.

A premature end to the 2020 Census count is worrying civil rights activists. Image via AP.

— STATEWIDE —

DeSanitis, JNC Chair defend appointment of Renatha Francis to Supreme Court” via Raychel Lean of Law.com — The saga over the appointment of Francis to the Florida Supreme Court continues, as DeSantis and Judicial Nominating Commission Chair Daniel Nordby have fired back against claims that they exceeded their authority in selecting the jurist before she was technically eligible. Florida State Rep. Geraldine Thompson challenged Francis’ elevation, arguing she hasn’t been a member of the Florida Bar for long enough. The state constitution says justices must have been a member for at least 10 years, but Francis has only been a member for nine. That will change Sept. 24, when she’ll officially join the court. DeSantis and Nordby asked her would-be colleagues to throw out the petition.

Ron DeSantis is doubling down on his appointment of Renatha Francis to the Florida Supreme Court.

Florida awards Deloitte $135M contract despite unemployment failures” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO — Deloitte Consulting, the company under fire for its work on Florida’s failed unemployment system, has been awarded a state Medicaid modernization contract worth at least $135 million. The company, which is still under investigation and was hit in a 2019 state audit, has drawn political and public scrutiny after the unemployment website it built in 2013 failed under a crush of pandemic-related jobless claims. For months, Floridians have told horror stories about attempting to access the system or get state help.

DeSantis suspends Fred Hawkins from Osceola County Commission” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — DeSantis suspended Hawkins following Hawkins’ arrest last month and charged with impersonating a law enforcement officer. “It is in the best interests of the residents of Osceola County, and the citizens of the State of Florida, that Fred Wilbur Hawkins be immediately suspended from public office, which he now holds,” DeSantis said in an executive order signed Friday night. Hawkins is also a Republican candidate for the open Florida House District 42 seat to represent parts of Osceola and Polk counties. DeSantis’ order does not affect his status in that race. Hawkins was arrested June 21 after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated an incident that occurred last November at an election meeting of the Turnberry Reserve Home Owners Association in Osceola County, in Hawkins’ County Commission district.

Nikki Fried rolls out major changes to Florida’s prescribed burn program” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — The changes, which include redrawn zone boundaries and a state-certified training course, come as the second-phase of promised improvements. Among the improvements, Fried announced the Florida Certified Prescribed Burn Manager Training Course for Everglades Agricultural Area burners. The training is intended to reduce potential community impacts by teaching burners how to consider weather parameters and map and mitigate smoke. It will be available to individuals in public and private organizations that are responsible for conducting prescribed burns. “We want to ensure all prescribed fire applicators are held to the same standard across the state,” said Florida Forest Service Director Erin Albury.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Forest Service announced a second phase of major enhancements to the prescribed burning program.

Appointed — Laura Laurie to the 15th Circuit Court and John Parnofiello to the Palm Beach County Court.

Happening today — Aides to Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet will meet ahead of an August 11 Cabinet meeting, 9 a.m., Cabinet Meeting Room.

Back-to-school tax ‘holiday’ offers breaks on computers” via Tom Urban and Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — The state will hold a sales-tax “holiday” from Friday through Sunday, allowing back-to-school shoppers to avoid paying sales taxes on clothes costing $60 or less and school supplies costing $15 or less. A third part of the holiday — no sales taxes on the first $1,000 of the cost of personal computers and some related accessories — has been drawing attention as school districts debate when and how students will begin classes. Many children are expected to start the school year taking classes online because of concerns about the spread of the virus, likely spurring some families to look for computer equipment. Best Buy and Walmart have taken notice, running online ads that banner the state’s tax-holiday period above computer discounts.

Bay County seeing rise in overdose deaths possibly from mysterious new narcotic” via the Panama City News Herald — The Bay County Sheriff’s Office warned residents on Tuesday about a potentially new, powerful narcotic that is possibly causing a rise in accidental deaths and overdoses. According to a sheriff’s office news release, the currently unknown substance, even when taken by habitual drug abusers in amounts similar to their typical narcotic doses, has caused accidental overdose deaths. “The BCSO is experiencing an increase in the incidents of accidental overdose deaths,” the news release states. “BSCO Narcotics investigators have spoken with agencies in surrounding counties and other law enforcement agencies in Bay County and learned they are all seeing an increase in accidental overdoses as well.” The news release states the latest accidental overdose with the unknown narcotic was Monday.

Key players agree to provide testimony on failed JEA sale” via Christopher Hong of The Florida Times-Union — Five people asked last week to testify to a special Jacksonville City Council investigative committee about their role in last year’s failed attempt to sell JEA have agreed to do so. Jason Gabriel, the city’s general counsel, said Tuesday that attorneys for all five people said they agreed to testify. Doing so avoided the council having to issue subpoenas to force their testimony. A date for the interviews isn’t known yet. The committee identified the five people as “key witnesses” who could provide important information about the failed sale of the city-owned utility.

Medicaid managed care changes on the way” via the News Service of Florida — The state is moving to change a rule about disenrollment and when people can request to be switched to different managed care plans. The state Agency for Health Care Administration announced its intent to change a rule to “clarify reasons an enrollee may request to change managed care plans.” The current rule allows disenrollment for good cause and lays out a series of qualifying reasons, including when a patient is receiving a medically necessary, active and continuing course of treatment from a provider that is not in the managed care plan’s network but is in a different network. Patients who would have to switch residential or institutional providers due to changes in plans’ networks also can qualify for good cause.

State hits Medicaid plan for contract breaches” via the News Service of Florida — Staywell Health Plan, which has the largest market share in the state’s Medicaid managed-care system, had the most sanctions with 24 and the largest amount of liquidated damages with $668,150, according to the data. Eight of the sanctions against the company stemmed from “provider services” violations, which included issues related to network adequacy, payment, credentialing and contracting and untimely or inaccurate reporting. For those eight violations, Staywell paid $261,750 in damages. Overall, provider services accounted for nearly one-third of the total number of sanctions during the fiscal year, with the state assessing $673,250 in liquidated damages against plans for 61 violations.

Randy Fine says hydroxychloroquine is ‘not magic’ COVID-19 cure, but believers won’t let go” via Allessandro Marazzi Sassoon of Florida Today — After two weeks battling COVID-19, Fine posted on Facebook that he needed his lungs X-rayed as his symptoms now included a recurring fever and a hacking chest cough. He remarked that the hydroxychloroquine therapy he had been on proved ineffective. “For those who want to believe that (hydroxychloroquine) is some kind of magic solution, I’ve been taking that too,” he wrote. By the time the X-ray images came back showing lung damage serious enough that doctors ordered Fine to stay for observation, a debate over hydroxychloroquine raged on Fine’s Facebook page.

— LOBBY REGS —

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Brett Bacot, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: MUNIRevs

Roger Collins: Sunovion Pharmaceuticals

Ruth Nunnally: SAS Institute

— 2020 —

Trump is registering more new voters than Democrats in key states” via Stef W. Kight of Axios — The Trump campaign and RNC have now registered 100,000 new voters in the 2020 cycle, more than doubling their numbers from 2016 and shrinking Democrats’ registration advantage in key swing states, according to new Trump Victory data. Democrats still have more active registered voters in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida, but Republicans have managed to narrow the margins in those states by tens of thousands of voters since 2016. Trump won Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona and Iowa in 2016, but former Vice President Joe Biden is currently ahead in the polls in all but Iowa.

Donald Trump is outpacing Democrats in signing up new voters. Image via AP.

Trump’s campaign knocks on a million doors a week. Joe Biden’s knocks on 0.” via Alex Thompson of Politico — The Republican and Democratic parties — from the presidential candidates on down — are taking polar opposite approaches to door-to-door canvassing this fall. The competing bets on the value of face-to-face campaigning during a pandemic has no modern precedent, making it a potential wild card in November, especially in close races. The Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee think they can compensate for the lack of in-person canvassing with phone calls, texts, new forms of digital organizing, and virtual meet-ups with voters. Trump and the Republican National Committee, in contrast, started deploying mask-wearing field staffers and volunteers to the streets in June.

Trump trashed mail voting for months. He now says it’s great for Florida.” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — After months warning that voting by mail is riddled with fraud and would be used to rig the election against him, Trump suddenly reversed himself on Tuesday — at least as far as Florida is concerned. Trump now says voting by mail in Florida is great. “Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True,” he wrote Tuesday afternoon on Twitter. “[I]n Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail! #MAGA.” Trump’s about-face likely stems from self-interest. Florida’s 29 electoral votes, more than a tenth of the 270 needed to win the presidency, are critical to his hopes for reelection.

Karen Bass eulogized Communist Party USA leader” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO — When Rep. Bass’ “friend and mentor” died three years ago, she eulogized the community organizer’s passing in remarks she inserted into the Congressional Record. The California congresswoman described Oneil Marion Cannon as a one-man force in progressive politics who became the “union printer to the left” in Los Angeles, where he worked for “interracial and intercultural understanding,” opened a community hub and even once “belonged to the Independent Progressive Party.” Left out of the 406-word eulogy: Cannon was a top member of the Communist Party USA for decades. That omitted detail and her little-noticed 2017 eulogy today takes on outsized importance now that Bass is on Biden’s VP shortlist.

Karen Bass is getting extra scrutiny now that she is on Joe Biden’s VP shortlist.

GOP plans ‘nightly surprise’ for revamped convention” via Alayna Treene of Axios — The reworked Republican National Convention will be a four-night spectacle including still-under-wraps venues, a 10 p.m. “nightly surprise” and guests and themes playing to “the forgotten men and women of America.” The messaging will focus heavily on “very granular details” of what a second term for Trump would look like — answering a question Trump left hanging in a Fox News event earlier this summer — and attack cancel culture, “radical elements” of society and threats to public safety. Trump is to be formally renominated by delegates in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Monday, Aug. 24.

— MORE FROM THE TRAIL — 

Kat Cammack makes ‘pro-gun, pro-life, pro-wall’ pitch in new CD 3 ad” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The ad, “Lay An Egg,” sees Cammack hit many of the same notes as her first 30-second spot, including comparing her opponents to chickens, complete with a visual aid. “On our farm, I’m surrounded by chickens, so DC will be no different,” she says. “I’m Kat Cammack. I’m a Naval War College graduate and I am done with the Washington wimps who won’t support President Donald Trump. The media and insiders can go to hell. I’m pro-gun, pro-life, pro-wall and I won’t let the crazy liberals destroy our economy.” The closer: “We need fighters with grit. And my opponents? They’re just chicken.”

To watch the video, click on the image below:

 

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell advertisement strikes combative tone” via Spencer Fordin of Florida Politics — Mucarsel-Powell, who’s running for reelection in Florida’s 26th Congressional District, referenced her background early in the advertisement and made a play on her initials in the closing moments. “My name is Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and you call me DMP,” she says at the end of the 90-second clip. “Which as long as I’m in Congress stands for, ‘Don’t mess with my people.’” After Mucarsel-Powell mentions the corrupt group of people in power, the advertisement shows pictures of Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with a black line over their face.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

 

Heather Fitzenhagen disperses federal campaign fund, signals political allegiances” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Fitzenhagen has turned her focus from running for Congress to seeking a state Senate seat. Now she’s directing money from her federal campaign account to get Republicans elected in Florida. Fitzenhagen announced she had donated $1,000 from her federal campaign account to her Senate District 27 campaign, the maximum amount allowable. She also sent $1,000 to Jason Brodeur, a colleague in the state House who is also looking to move to the upper chamber. Brodeur is running to succeed term-limited Sen. David Simmons in Senate District 9, which is expected to be one of the hottest battleground races in the general election. She’s also supporting Bryan Blackwell in the open House District 77 race.

—“Florida Doctors endorse Spencer Roach for reelection” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

—“Rhonda Rebman Lopez dominating fundraising field in HD 120” via Spencer Fordin of Florida Politics

— DOWN BALLOT —

Pete Clarke stalking? Mayra Uribe claim draws backlash, ethics complaint” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The election battle for Orange County Commission’s District 3 seat took a nasty turn when incumbent Commissioner Uribe alleged in a Facebook post that her opponent was stalking her. Her chief opponent, former Commissioner Clarke said he was stunned. So were several political observers who’ve known Clarke for many years and found Uribe’s allegation last Friday hard to believe. “It’s just ridiculous,” Clarke said, denying Uribe’s assertions. The matter now has the attention of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Commission on Ethics. Clarke said he personally called the Sheriff’s Office Friday asking them to look into Uribe’s allegation and received a text that a probe would be assigned to the Sheriff’s intelligence unit.

Mayra Uribe is accusing her opponent Pete Clarke of ‘stalking,’ which most people who know Clarke think is ludicrous.

Tallahassee City Commission write-in candidate drops out after arrest on child sex charges” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Jermaine Miller, a write-in candidate for Tallahassee City Commission, officially withdrew from the race following his arrest on charges of lewd and lascivious behavior with a child. As a write-in candidate whose name would not appear on ballots, Miller was an asterisk in the race even before his arrest. And while his departure won’t change the outcome, though it will change the mechanics of the election itself. Three other candidates are running the Aug. 18 primary: City Commissioner Elaine Bryant, Jack Porter and William Moore. One candidate must get more than half the vote to win the seat outright. Otherwise, there’s a runoff in the Nov. 3 general election between the top two vote-getters.

Stand With Parkland endorses Debra Hixon for Broward School Board” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Stand With Parkland, a group created following the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is backing Hixon for Broward County School Board. Hixon’s husband, Chris, was killed in the attack. She’s competing to succeed Broward School Board Member Robin Bartleman in the at-large District 9 seat as Bartleman runs for a Florida House seat. Hixon also serves as a Stand With Parkland board member. “Debbi Hixon’s 31 years of teaching experience, her compassion for others, and her advocacy for safer schools will make her a valuable addition to the Broward County School Board,” read a Tuesday statement from Stand With Parkland.

— TOP OPINION —

Agriculture Commissioner Fried: What COVID-19 should teach us about food” via Fox Business News — This pandemic is forcing a new consumer consciousness of how and where we grow, process and buy the food that feeds our families. COVID-19 has exposed weaknesses in every link of the food supply chain. The good news is that we can take steps to fix it. It starts with our farmers and ranchers. American agricultural producers are struggling with mounting losses from the closure of traditional food service businesses and large-volume buyers, such as restaurants, cruise lines and theme parks. It’s ultimately up to consumers to make the conscious choice to support our farmers. Consumers share a responsibility to shop as local as possible.

— OPINIONS —

Bass has a Cuba problem. If Joe Biden picks her as VP, he’s gifting Florida to Trump” via Fabiola Santiago of the Miami Herald — Fidel Castro has risen from his oversized, corn-kernel-shaped tomb in Santa Ifigenia Cemetery to play a role in another American presidential election. This time, Castro’s ghost looms over Biden’s all-female shortlist of candidates for Vice President. “The passing of the comandante en jefe is a great loss to the people of Cuba,” said California Congresswoman Bass when Castro died Nov. 25 2016, If you’re Cuban or Cuban American in Miami, this is what you’re hearing: “Comandante en jefe, ordene.” Commander in chief, at your service. They were the infamous words Cubans used when surrendering to the whims of a dictator who executed dissenters, destroyed lives and the economy and left this world with blood on his hands.

Alex Andrade: ‘Defunding the police’ has no basis in reality” via Florida Politics — Democrats argue that citizens are capable of holding one another accountable and creating a “community culture” of policing. But these same Democrats govern 90% of the cities with the highest rates of violence over the past few months, and have experienced increases in murder rates from June 2019 until the present. The truth is that every local government body is suffering under the stress of the COVID pandemic. Taking money from law enforcement to give to community programs won’t keep us safe. The President’s continued support of law enforcement is a model that an overwhelming percentage of Americans support.

Ex-Mayor Glenda Hood: Congress must act now to save small business” via the Orlando Sentinel — This second wave of instability is not only predictable, it’s fully preventable. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas recently introduced legislation — known as the SAFE TO WORK Act — that would provide the economic stability and predictability our small business community needs. It would lessen the impact of the virus on our dedicated job creators and our beloved community. The proposal would not only establish common-sense protections from frivolous lawsuits for our small businesses, so they can get back on their feet, but also the impact on front-line health care workers, churches, nonprofits and schools — the organizations that form the backbone of our communities and are key to a strong economy. We all need sensible protections to reopen and stay open.

— TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Florida’s Department of Health is reporting another 247 fatalities from COVID-19 — the third-highest daily death toll since the state began counting. But within those numbers are some hopeful signs: The number of newly confirmed cases Tuesday was under 10,000 for the 10th day in a row.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— Throughout the crisis, DeSantis emphasized the importance of protecting seniors and visitors banned from nursing homes and adult living facilities. Now he’s trying to find some way for families to visit their loved ones again.

— DeSantis asked Mary Daniels of Jacksonville to be part of the group that will come up with a visitation plan. She’s the woman who found a way to visit her husband at his memory care home by getting a job there as a dishwasher

— The director of the United Faculty of Florida talks about reopening college campuses, posing the ultimate COVID-19 question: “Are we all expendable?”

— The latest on a Florida Man accused of hacking his way into Twitter to steal more than $100,000 worth of bitcoin.

To listen, click on the image below:

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

The summer movie event of 2020 was released in 2014” via Adam Epstein of Quartz — The pandemic forced movie theaters in most countries to close indefinitely in March. Hollywood studios subsequently delayed the theatrical releases of their blockbuster movies. Though many theaters around the world have since reopened (with reduced capacity), they now have nothing new to show audiences. So they’re playing the hits. In the U.S., three of the four highest-grossing films of the weekend were rereleases of classics: The Goonies, Jurassic Park, and Back to the Future. Grease placed sixth. Chinese audiences were treated with the pandemic equivalent of a blockbuster summer movie event. Interstellar, first released in 2014, reentered theaters in China Aug. 2 and made $2.6 million. That’s the biggest single-day box-office total for any movie anywhere since theaters reopened.

A sign of the times: Released in 2014, ‘Interstellar’ is the blockbuster hit of 2020.

‘No one meant any harm’: Boater shares up-close experience with SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule” via Jake Newby of the Pensacola News Journal — One of the many private boaters to make a beeline for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule in the Gulf of Mexico Sunday said there was no clear instruction given from any party on what boaters should and should not have done during the estimated 90-minute window that the NASA spacecraft spent bobbing in the sea before recovery. Boater Chris Tipton said he and others on the estimated 30 boats in the vicinity that afternoon were excited to witness history and just wanted to get close enough to capture the moment on camera. “There’s probably 200 people out there altogether, personnel and everything, and we’re some of the only people getting to see this in 40 or 50 years,” Tipton said.

An open letter to the Weather Channel Graphics Department upon being accused of wanting my home destroyed to boost ad sales” via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Dear Weather Channel Graphics Department: We journalists all deal with a lot of trolling in this age of social media. And some of the trolling on the Sun-Sentinel’s Facebook page during our coverage of Hurricane Isaias has been a little confusing. I’d like to state in no uncertain terms that I do not want my family killed, my home destroyed or my friends or extended family here in South Florida similarly imperiled in order to increase revenue for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. I shouldn’t have to say that, but people seem to be thinking it is so. And, Weather Channel Graphics Department, I kind of blame you.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to our friend, Sen. Ed Hooper and Rep. Tyler Sirios.

___

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.

Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.

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.
Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Connect
Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.