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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.7.20

Good morning. ‘Sunburn’ has been waiting for you.

Liftoff — A SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying satellites and two Earth observation spacecraft lifts off at Kennedy Space Center earlier this morning, as seen in this four-minute time exposure from Cocoa Beach.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off rom Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center early Friday, Aug. 7, 2020, as seen in this four-minute time exposure from Cocoa Beach, Fla. The rocket is carrying 57 Starlink satellites and two Earth observation spacecraft for BlackSky. This the 10th Starlink launch. Photo via Malcolm Denemark/Florida Today via AP. 

Corcoran Partners is bringing on Eric Criss as a Senior Advisor in its Tallahassee office.

In his new role, Criss will focus on issues including technology, energy, retail and alcohol policy advocacy on behalf of the firm’s clients.

“I am excited to have Eric join our team,” firm principal Michael Corcoran said. “He has decades of experience advocating for issues of critical importance to our clients and the broad capacity to meet our firm’s growing needs in Tallahassee and Washington, DC.”

Lobbyist Eric Criss is moving over to Corcoran Partners. 

Criss brings decades of lobbying experience to the firm, having spent a decade as president of the Beer Industry of Florida, working as an in-house lobbyist for The Home Depot and as regional political director for the National Federation of Independent Business.

He is also an adjunct professor of Public Policy at Florida State University, where he teaches digital transformation and public policy development. Criss earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Florida, a master’s in government from Johns Hopkins, and a Ph.D. in history from FSU.

Rounding out his public policy expertise is Eric’s depth of experience in political, media and community engagement through his work with the National Republican Senatorial Committee in Washington, DC, as a political appointee in the Bush administration, and managing corporate grassroots, media relations, and political outreach programs for Fortune 500 companies in multiple industries.

Criss joins a lobbying firm that already features Jessica Corcoran, Matt Blair, Will Rodriguez, Andrea Tovar, Jackie Corcoran, Madyson Mahler, Caleb Blair and Michelle Kazouris.

Corcoran Partners’ roster of clients features major companies such as Walmart, Coca-Cola, Florida Crystals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Philadelphia Phillies, Tampa Electric Company and Verizon.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@SenBlumenthal: Shocked & appalled — I just left a 90-minute classified briefing on foreign malign threats to our elections. From spying to sabotage, Americans need to see & hear these reports.

@ProjectLincoln: [Donald] Trump: Sleepy Joe is too scared to debate me. Also Trump: Joe Biden is powerful enough to destroy the Almighty God.

@Hannaman00: I vote for one debate. And for sake of the mother f’ing Republic, no questions will be allowed. It should consist of a “challenge” — the old white man who can drink a glass of water, minus assistance of a straw, aide, or secondary hand … becomes President of the United States.

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@KarianneHolt: A school superintendent in GA says, “Wearing a mask is a personal choice and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them.” Tell that to EVERY SINGLE GIRL who has been sent home from school/forced to change for wearing spaghetti straps or shorts above the knee.

@LemieuxLGM: “Sorry, mask-wearing is a personal choice, so we have to let a deadly virus spread lest we interfere with the precious autonomy of our students. In other news, here’s our plan to do random urine testing of members of the Chess Club.”

@Colleen_Wright: I asked a School Board candidate why he’s running, what qualifies him for the School Board & what he does for a living. His first response was that those questions are not related to the School Board race and then said that it sounds like I’m working on a hit piece.

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—@Mims: when offices reopen are they going to accommodate the bizarre personal habits we’ve all picked up while working at home

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— DAYS UNTIL —

Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 11; Florida Bar exams begin online (rescheduled) — 12; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 12; Regal Cinemas reopen in U.S. — 14; Indy 500 rescheduled — 16; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 17; NBA draft lottery — 18; Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 21; U.S. Open begins — 24; Christopher Nolan‘s “Tenet” rescheduled premiere in U.S. — 27; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 29; Rescheduled date for French Open — 44; First presidential debate in Indiana — 53; “Wonder Woman” premieres — 56; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 57; Ashley Moody’s 2020 Human Trafficking Summit — 60; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 61; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 66; Second presidential debate scheduled at Miami — 69; NBA draft — 70; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 70; NBA free agency — 73; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 76; 2020 General Election — 88; “Black Widow” premieres — 92; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 94; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 105; “No Time to Die” premieres — 105; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 118; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 184; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 196; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 329; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 350; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 358; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 455; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 553; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 595; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 637; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 790.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Florida reports 7,650 new COVID-19 cases as test sites reopen” via Marc Freeman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida reported some encouraging news on the COVID-19 front, with the lowest percentage of positive tests in over six weeks. The state Department of Health reported 7,650 new cases of the disease in its latest coronavirus pandemic report. That pushes the overall total to 510,329 confirmed infections. But officials reported a testing positivity rate of 8.3% among people who tested positive for the first time in the most recent statewide results. That’s the lowest daily mark since June 21, when it was 7.7%. It happened as Florida counted 104,144 test results for the previous day, after three consecutive days of fewer than 61,000 tests. That was due to the temporary closure of testing sites because of Tropical Storm Isaias.

Ron DeSantis responds to Rick Scott: ‘Why would you have paid the $77 million?’” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Scott challenged DeSantis to “solve problems” and “quit blaming others” for the state’s failed unemployment insurance system. But when given an opportunity to respond to what was a personal criticism, DeSantis took the high road regarding the former Governor. Instead of attacking in kind, DeSantis restated his case that he inherited a botched system and was doing the best he could to fix it. But serious questions remain, he said, about why the state would have paid for a system unable to handle any bump up in caseload. “On the unemployment system, the fact of the matter is the state spent $77 million on a system that was not ready for prime-time, and it’s something that we’ve had to fix,” DeSantis said.

Ron DeSantis took the high road after criticism from Rick Scott over his role in the botched unemployment system. Image via Colin Hackley.

’You gotta meet your obligations’: DeSantis defends eviction moratorium’s narrower scope” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — The most recent order limits protections to single-family homeowners and renters who are “adversely affected” by the pandemic. The distinction potentially puts many Floridians back on the hook for issues such as unpaid bills or property damage. “I think the order would apply to all folks who lost their jobs in this period and obviously would apply to anyone that is either been ill or had a family member ill,” DeSantis said, speaking in Jacksonville. “So I think it covers the core group of people that we’re looking to protect. At the same time, if you had no effects on it and you’re still working and everything, then you gotta meet your obligations just like another other Floridian would.”

DeSantis lifts travel restrictions on New Yorkers” via Jim Turner of News Service of Florida — New Yorkers and their neighbors from the tri-state region no longer have to self-quarantine for two weeks after entering Florida. DeSantis, who had repeatedly disparaged New York as an example of how not to manage the coronavirus pandemic, quietly lifted travel restrictions Thursday on people coming to Florida from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The three states are not the coronavirus hotspots they were when the 14-day self-quarantine restrictions were put in place on March 23. DeSantis lifted the restrictions Thursday in an executive order that focused on ensuring restaurants comply with employee coronavirus-screening protocols updated by the CDC.

As Florida nursing home residents died, operators raked in federal handouts” via Ben Wieder of the Miami Herald — Heather Williams knew on April 28 that her mom, 63-year-old Sarita Redmond, had tested positive for COVID-19. But the Southern Oaks Care Center, which had become a petri dish of infection, would tell Williams nothing more. Call after call to the Pensacola nursing home went unanswered. And a state executive order intended to protect elders in long-term care barred her from visiting. The day before Williams learned that her mother had COVID, Southern Oaks reported that 92 residents and 15 employees at the 210-bed facility had tested positive for the virus — the most cases of any nursing home in the state at that point.

Nursing homes to get rapid COVID-19 tests” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Nearly 70% of the state’s nursing homes will receive rapid test kits from the federal government in the coming weeks after being identified by regulators as having increased risks for COVID-19 infections. The Trump administration announced it would send “point of care” COVID-19 test kits to nursing homes in viral hotspots and to facilities the federal government considered to be at an elevated risk for COVID-19 outbreaks. Twenty-four Florida counties were included on the list of hotspots the government published. And of the 693 nursing homes in the state, 471 are included on the test-kit distribution list.

Nearly three-quarters of the state’s nursing homes will get rapid COVID-19 tests.

Inmate COVID-19 cases top 9,800” via the News Service of Florida — Another 361 state prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19, with the inmate death toll reaching 60. As of midday Thursday, 9,821 inmates had tested positive, up from 9,460 on Wednesday. Also, the number of inmate deaths linked to the disease increased from 59 to 60. Five prisons have had more than 500 inmate cases — Columbia Correctional Institution, Graceville Correctional Facility, Lowell Correctional Institution, Santa Rosa Correctional Institution and Taylor Correctional Institution. Of those facilities, Taylor Correctional had the largest increase Thursday, going from 453 cases to 501 cases. Also, 1,911 corrections workers have tested positive. That was up from 1,866 cases on Wednesday.

DeSantis wants to make sure Florida State-Florida football rivalry continues” via Wayne McGahee III of the Tallahassee Democrat — DeSantis wants to see the annual rivalry game between Florida State and Florida played this year. DeSantis spoke briefly about the cancellation of the FSU-UF game at a roundtable discussion at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville Wednesday. “I am gonna see if we can make sure that rivalry game continues because I know it’s one that we all look forward to every year,” DeSantis said. “Look, I don’t have a dog in the fight, but it’s one that I want to see. I think that the Gators’ prospects do look good, and I think they played LSU better than any team did. And then I think we got a new coach at Florida State. I think there’s some renewed optimism with the program there as well. “So I just think it would be something that would be good for the state if we could get it done, so we’re gonna we’re gonna work to see what the options would be for that.”

Florida State confident in coronavirus protocols in place as football practice begins” via Curt Weiler of the Tallahassee Democrat

— BACK TO SCHOOL? —

Health directors told to keep quiet as Florida leaders pressed to reopen classrooms” via Andrew Marra of The Palm Beach Post — As Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed this summer for schools to reopen, state leaders told school boards they would need Health Department approval if they wanted to keep classrooms closed. Then they instructed health directors not to give it. Following a directive from DeSantis’ administration, county health directors across Florida refused to give school boards advice about one of the most wrenching public health decisions in modern history: whether to reopen schools in a worsening pandemic.

School reopening fight moved out of Miami-Dade” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — Legal wrangling over an emergency order mandating that schools reopen this month has shifted to Tallahassee, after a Miami-Dade County circuit judge sided with a demand by DeSantis and transferred the case to Leon County. The ruling by Judge Spencer Eig was a setback for the Florida Education Association, which filed the lawsuit challenging Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s order. “The world will be watching us,” FEA President Fedrick Ingram told reporters. “You can be reckless with bars. You can be reckless with beaches. You can be reckless with restaurants. But you can’t be reckless with our public schools.”

The legal action against Ron DeSantis and Richard Corcoran over school reopening is moving from Miami-Dade to Leon County.

Fearing coronavirus and missed classes, many parents prefer mixing online and in-person school, poll finds” via Laura Meckler and Emily Guskin of The Washington Post — Most American parents think it’s unsafe to send their children back to school given the risks of the novel coronavirus, and more than 80 percent favor holding school at least partly online, according to a survey. But parents also express serious concerns with online schooling and many are drawn to systems that mix the two. The mixed feelings reflect deep and widespread anxiety among parents as they approach the end of a summer break that has produced no national consensus on how to balance the risks of the virus against the academic, social and economic impacts of keeping schools closed.

—“A Mississippi town welcomed students back to school last week. Now 116 are home in quarantine.” via Jaclyn Peiser of The Washington Post

America is about to start online learning, Round 2. For millions of students, it won’t be any better.” via Hannah Natanson and Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post — As the start of school inches ever closer and is already underway in some places many teachers have yet to be trained how to be more adept with online learning. School district leaders spent so much time over the summer trying to create reopening plans that would meet safety guidelines for classes inside school buildings that they had little time to focus on improving online academic offerings. And millions of students nationwide still lack devices and Internet access. That includes 700,000 students in California alone. Come fall, these children won’t log on for school because they don’t have computers.

Unhappy with school options, parents team up to form learning pods to educate their kids” via Lois K. Solomon of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — South Florida parents, desperate for in-person education for their kids during the COVID-19 pandemic, are teaming up with their neighbors to create 21st-century schoolhouses in their homes and offices, complete with teachers and tutors to supervise. These parents were disappointed with the virtual offerings from South Florida’s school districts last spring, when COVID-19 abruptly forced school buildings to close, and fear their children will lose important social and academic skills as education remains online. They want to make sure the kids get a more substantive, live learning experience this fall.

University faculty across Florida renew appeal for online-only” via Sarah Nelson of the Gainesville Sun — Faculty at Florida’s universities and colleges are continuing their pleas to the governor’s office and state education leaders to move fall semester online. Leaders from the United Faculty of Florida — with representatives from all 12 of the state’s public universities — said they’ve received no acknowledgment of their request to the state to begin fall semester remotely, and called the inaction “callous.” “It is apparent to UFF that these concerns after four consecutive days of record deaths last week and surges nationwide and worldwide require attention,” wrote UFF Executive Director Marshall Ogletree.

Hillsborough School Board votes to delay in-person classes” via Marlene Sokol of the Tampa Bay Times — Schools in Hillsborough County will be all-virtual for the first four weeks after their Aug. 24 opening, the School Board decided in a 5-2 vote on Thursday. Then, on Sept. 8, if COVID-19 numbers have fallen sufficiently, the board might vote to reopen their buildings to students. Thursday’s reversal of a decision two weeks earlier followed presentations from a panel of physicians who warned that, if the schools reopened for face-to-face instruction, there would likely be widespread closures because of the coronavirus. In hearing these explanations, board member Stacy Hahn — who had voted previously to reopen campuses — said she realized that face-to-face school, which most agree is best for children, would be greatly diminished.

Some Pinellas high schools opt for ‘end of school’ lunches” via Sarah Hollenbeck of WFTS — Some Pinellas County parents are upset with a decision to push lunch to the end of the school day at 13 high schools. The district argues it’s the best way to keep students socially distanced and minimize the spread of COVID-19. Thirteen high schools have opted to move lunch to the end of the school day. Students will still get a midday break where they are able to buy $1 snack bags, which can be consumed in class or between periods. Yet, students will have to wait until after all of their class periods are over to get a full meal. The change means some students will be able to choose to leave campus up to 30 minutes early.

Thirteen Pinellas high schools have opted to move lunch to the end of the school day.

Marco Rubio wants prep football in ‘20, and recommends how to do it” via Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times — The ongoing deliberations over whether to stage a prep football season in Florida has resonated to Washington, prompting Rubio to chime in. He wants a 2020 season, albeit with a series of strict protocols. In a 5-1/2-page letter to DeSantis dated Wednesday, Rubio outlined why he believes a high school sports season is essential in Florida. He then listed his sprawling list of protocols, tailored to football and culled from various sources including “numerous states,” the NCAA and youth-sports organizations. Rubio’s letter cited a national survey of prep athletes by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. It revealed that 68% of student-athletes surveyed reported depression and anxiety at levels that would normally require medical intervention.

— CORONA LOCAL —

Chimps’ sniffles key to vaccine trial in Palm Beach County” via John Pacenti of The Palm Beach Post — The coronavirus drug trial to start next week in Palm Beach County will test a vaccine that triggers the body’s immune response by using a chimpanzee cold virus as a Trojan horse. The trial is seeking as many as 1,600 volunteers to participate in testing the vaccine by the international pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, collaborating with Oxford University in England. “We hopefully will be able to vaccinate by the end of the week,” said Dr. Larry Bush, the primary principal investigator marshaling up the trial. Bush is known for his work fighting numerous highly infectious diseases, including the anthrax threat two decades ago. The trial will be conducted by the JEM research Institute near the campus of JFK Medical Center in Atlantis. Palm Beach County was picked to be one of the first to do the study on the AstraZeneca vaccine because it is in a hot spot for the coronavirus, Bush said.

Shevrin Jones to join CDR Maguire, OneBlood plasma drive” via Florida Politics — Jones will take part in a plasma drive Friday to help COVID-19 patients just over a month after he tested positive for the coronavirus. Jones announced he had tested positive on July 1. He was cleared of the virus a little more than two weeks later. Plasma donations are valuable due to antibodies built up by those infected with the virus. Doctors hope transferring plasma from recovered coronavirus patients, which contains the antibodies, into those still reeling from the virus can help the infected recover. Jones’ parents, who also contracted and recovered from COVID-19, will also join the lawmaker in donating their plasma Friday. The family will appear at a plasma drive hosted by the COVID-19 testing company CDR Maguire and OneBlood, a nonprofit donation service.

Shevrin Jones will attend a blood drive to help COVID-19 patients, just over a month after he tested positive.

— MORE LOCAL —

Nearly 1,800 children in Orange County have tested positive for COVID-19” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Orange County officials said Thursday that 1,785 children are among the 30,000 confirmed cases that have been confirmed in the county since March. And that includes more than 100 infants and hundreds more children in all age ranges. Dr. Raul Pino, Orange County health officer from the Florida Department of Health, said Thursday the county’s data show there have been 142 infants confirmed with COVID-19, including a significant number of newborns; 226 children among preschoolers, ages 1-4; 449 elementary school-age children, ages 5-10; 287 middle-school range children, ages 11-13; and 681 high-school-age children, ages 14-17. Both he and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings offered thinly veiled critical remarks Thursday about plans to reopen schools for in-person schooling. 

Pinellas County’s COVID-19 positivity rate plummets below 5%” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Pinellas County’s positive test rate for new COVID-19 diagnoses is almost at St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman’s target 5%. As of results returned Wednesday, the area’s seven-day rolling average positivity rate was just over 6%. That drop is largely fueled by Wednesday’s single day results, which returned just 3.7% first-time positive results. That came also as testing rebounded in Pinellas County after some testing site closures over the weekend due to the threat of Hurricane Isaias. Pinellas County returned 4,235 tests Wednesday, up from 2,066 Tuesday and 2,048 Monday. Meanwhile, the county confirmed just 156 new cases from Wednesday morning to Thursday morning, bringing the county’s pandemic-wide total to 17,358.

Pinellas County’s COVID-19 positivity rate is beginning the drop under St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman’s target of 5%. Image via Twitter.

Just take him out back and shoot himMan spit at boy who refused to remove his mask” via The Associated Press — A Florida man was arrested after confronting a child wearing a mask at a restaurant and spitting in his face when the boy refused to take it off, police said. Jason Copenhaver approached the child’s table Sunday and asked the boy if he was wearing a mask, according to Treasure Island police. Authorities did not release the boy’s age. Police said the 47-year-old then told the child to take it off. He then grabbed the boy’s hand tightly and put his face next to the child’s, telling the boy he now had the coronavirus, according to police reports. “Victim stated that (Copenhaver) was in such close proximity that spit particles from (Copenhaver’s) mouth landed in his face,” an officer wrote in the police report. Restaurant workers asked Copenhaver to sit down, saying he appeared drunk and wasn’t wearing shoes. The police report said he also tried to hit an employee. He was charged with simple battery and disorderly conduct. He was freed after posting $650 bail.

Alfie Oakes files federal lawsuit against Collier County over mask order” via Patrick Riley of the Naples Daily News — Oakes, the outspoken and controversial owner of a North Naples grocery store and eatery, has filed a federal lawsuit against Collier County over its recently passed mask mandate, claiming it is unconstitutional and invalid. In an effort to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, Collier commissioners last month passed the emergency order. The measure, approved by a 3-2 vote, requires owners, managers, employees, customers or patrons of a business in unincorporated Collier to wear a face-covering while in that business. It includes exceptions for some businesses or certain situations, like when food or beverages are being consumed by a patron. The rules will sunset at midnight Sept. 3 unless commissioners determine that the order needs to be extended.

— “Naples firefighter who died of COVID-19 remembered: ‘He was someone you could always look up to’” via Jake Allen of the Naples Daily News

Escambia County Commission rejects mask mandate, passes resolution calling for mask wearing” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Escambia County Commissioners rejected approving a mask ordinance and instead passed a resolution calling on residents to wear masks, wash their hands and practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The move came after increasing public pressure on the commission to pass a mask ordinance, including a letter from the Escambia and Santa Rosa County Medical Society and local hospitals, as well as public outcry that a mask mandate would violate civil liberties. Escambia County Commissioner Lumon May attempted to force a vote on a mask ordinance mirroring the city of Pensacola’s current mask ordinance.

Half of Escambia County CARES Act funding will go to families and businesses” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Escambia County on Thursday released a general outline of how it intends to distribute more than $57 million in CARES Act funding, detailing a plan that calls for half the money to help families and businesses. The Escambia County Commission was expected to vote Thursday night to approve a $24,560 contract with the consultant firm Blue Sky Emergency Management to ensure the distribution of the funds complies with the complex federal law known as the CARES Act. Despite a request from the city of Pensacola to receive $10 million of the funds, County Commissioners said Thursday that the city will have to apply for funds just like everyone else in the county. The county will develop and release ways to apply for the funding in the next few weeks.

Ocala City Council passes mask ordinance as emergency measure” via Austin L. Miller of the Ocala Star-Banner — By a 4-1 vote, the Ocala City Council passed an emergency measure Tuesday evening to require masks in stores, hotels and other businesses within the city limits, effective Aug. 14. The ordinance to control the spread of COVID-19 takes effect unless Mayor Ken Guinn vetoes it, in which case it would return to the council for a potential overriding vote. The ordinance defines face covering as “a material that covers the nose and mouth and that fits snugly against the sides of the face so there are no gaps.” The ordinance states the face-covering “can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk or linen.”

— CORONA NATION —

Even asymptomatic people carry the coronavirus in high amounts” via Apoorva Mandavilli of The New York Times — Of all the coronavirus’s qualities, perhaps the most surprising has been that seemingly healthy people can spread it to others. This trait has made the virus difficult to contain and continues to challenge efforts to identify and isolate infected people. Most of the evidence for asymptomatic spread has been based on observation (a person without symptoms nevertheless sickened others) or elimination (people became ill but could not be connected to anyone with symptoms). A new study in South Korea, published Thursday in JAMA Internal Medicine, offers more definitive proof that people without symptoms carry just as much virus in their nose, throat and lungs as those with symptoms, and for almost as long.

Anthony Fauci says nation can survive COVID-19 without another shutdown” via Dan Diamond of POLITICO — Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, says the United States is facing a “concerted challenge” to navigate the resurgent COVID-19 outbreak — but if Americans band together, the nation can avert another extended shutdown. “There seems to be a misperception that either you shut down completely and damage a lot of things, mental health, the economy, all kinds of things, or let it rip and do whatever you want,” Fauci told POLITICO’s “Pulse Check” podcast on Wednesday. In a wide-ranging conversation, Fauci addressed the breakdowns, the recent surge in cases and his own role in trying to steer the nation through a historic outbreak that’s already killed more than 160,000 Americans and appears to be surging again.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says a second shutdown may not be necessary, if Americans unite for a single purpose.

With old allies turning against her, Deborah Birx presses on against the coronavirus” via Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As Dr. Birx was taking heat from both Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week, the Democratic governor of Kentucky spoke up in her defense. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, had visited his state in late July, after he issued a statewide mask order and was contemplating even more aggressive steps, including closing down bars, Gov. Andy Beshear recounted on a private conference call with Vice President Mike Pence and the rest of the nation’s governors. It was a difficult move for a Democrat in a Republican state, but Birx provided him cover. “She stood in front of our press and made it very clear that she and the administration supported the steps that we were going to take,” Beshear said.

Yeah right — “Donald Trump says coronavirus vaccine possible before Nov. 3” via Donia Chiacu of Reuters — Trump said it was possible the United States would have a coronavirus vaccine before the Nov. 3 election, a more optimistic forecast on timing than anything suggested by his own White House health experts. Later at the White House, Trump said he was optimistic a vaccine would be available around that date. Asked if it would help him in the election, he said, “It wouldn’t hurt. But I’m doing it, not for the election; I want to save a lot of lives.” Trump, who is seeking reelection to a second term amid a U.S. economy crippled by coronavirus shutdowns, has pushed for schools to reopen and things to get “back to normal” as coronavirus deaths in the country average more than 1,000 per day.

Donald Trump claims a coronavirus vaccine will be available before November 3. Image via AP.

‘It’s been phenomenal.’ Volunteers line up for COVID-19 vaccine trials in Florida, U.S.” via Phil Galewitz and Jonel Aleccia of the Miami Herald — People’s eagerness to offer up their bodies to science reflects the widespread public interest in participating in the pivotal, late-stage clinical trials of the first two COVID vaccine candidates in the United States. Those trials began rolling out July 27. During the next two months, vaccine makers hope to recruit 60,000 Americans to roll up their sleeves to test the two vaccines, one made by Pfizer and Biotech, a German company, and the other by biotech startup Moderna. While small tests earlier this year showed the preventives were safe and led to participants developing antibodies against the virus, the final phase 3 testing is designed to prove whether the vaccine reduces the risk of infection.

New ‘Harvest of Shame:’ Most younger people dying from coronavirus are Black, Hispanic” via Joe Capozzi and Chris Persaud of The Palm Beach Post — While two-thirds of those 60 and older dying from COVID throughout Florida are white, the reverse is true for those younger: two-thirds are Black or Hispanic. In Palm Beach County, the pattern is even more pronounced, 70 of the 78 deaths under 60 have been people of color. Among those 42 were Latino. Only 14 people younger than 40 have died in Palm Beach County. Nine were Latino. The statistics expose the risks and vulnerabilities of poor working people during the pandemic. Many lack access to health care, often are uneducated, with little understanding of disease spread, and work in jobs where staying at home or social distancing is not an option.

White House calls Arizona a coronavirus success story as state resets after huge spike in cases

—“He fled Congo to work in a U.S. meat plant. Then he — and hundreds of his co-workers — got the coronavirus.” via Robert Klemko and Kimberly Kindy of The Washington Post

— CORONA ECONOMICS — 

Nancy Pelosi alleges Republicans don’t give ‘a damn’ about unemployed as Trump readies executive actions” via Erica Werner, Jeff Stein and Paul Kane of The Washington Post — Pelosi alleged that Republicans don’t give “a damn” about those in need. With talks appearing to falter, Trump told reporters that he was preparing to sign executive orders, as soon as Friday morning, that he says would extend enhanced unemployment benefits and provide a payroll tax cut. Trump has in the past, though, threatened to sign something and then reversed course. The messy back and forth came just hours before Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and top White House officials are set to meet in the Capitol for another round of talks.

White House officials and Democratic leaders ended a three-hour negotiation evening without a coronavirus relief deal or even a clear path forward.

1.2 million seek jobless aid after $600 federal check ends” via Paul Wiseman of The Associated Press — Nearly 1.2 million laid-off Americans applied for state unemployment benefits last week, evidence that the coronavirus keeps forcing companies to slash jobs just as a critical $600 weekly federal jobless payment has expired. The government’s report Thursday did offer a smidgen of hopeful news: The number of jobless claims declined by 249,000 from the previous week, after rising for two straight weeks, and it was the lowest total since mid-March. Still, claims remain at alarmingly high levels: It is the 20th straight week that at least 1 million people have sought jobless aid. Before the pandemic hit hard in March, the number of Americans seeking unemployment checks had never surpassed 700,000 in a week, not even during the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

New unemployment claims drop across U.S., Florida” via Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times — After two straight weeks on the rise, the number of Americans filing new unemployment claims dropped Thursday to its lowest level since mid-March. About 1.19 million Americans filed new jobless claims for the week ending Aug. 1, a drop of about 249,000 from the previous week. That’s the nation’s 20th straight week with more than 1 million new claims, and it brings the total number of Americans who have filed unemployment claims during the coronavirus pandemic to 55.6 million. Claims among Floridians also decreased, with 73,955 residents filing for unemployment insurance, a drop of more than 17,500 from the previous week. That’s the lowest of any week during the pandemic, except for the holiday week of July 4. To date, the state has handed out $13 billion in state and federal relief to 1.84 million claimants.

COVID-19 threatens 169,000 maritime jobs; Florida’s ports seek federal aid” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida’s seaports are asking Washington for at least $3.5 billion in aid for U.S. ports after the coronavirus pandemic all but brought the state’s maritime industry to a halt, eliminating thousands of jobs. From Port Everglades, PortMiami and the Port of Palm Beach, to several other ports around the state, cruise lines halted sailings and cargo operations slowed substantially, the Florida Ports Council said. The advocacy group said a maritime research firm concluded “nearly 169,000 Florida jobs and almost $23 billion in economic activity in the state is estimated to be lost” in 2020.

— MORE CORONA — 

Olive Garden is a No. 1 restaurant in COVID crisis, survey says. But not in Florida” via Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald — Since the spring, when COVID-19 shut restaurants faster than a ticked-off food inspector, fast-food joints have outperformed sit-down restaurants in customer visits once restaurants started reopening with restrictions. A new survey on casual dining found that on average, casual dining places saw 58% less traffic since the start of the pandemic in March, but fast-food restaurants experienced a smaller 30% decrease. The survey found that casual dining places like Applebee’s, Chili’s, and Olive Garden and chain steakhouses like Texas Roadhouse dominated America’s return to well-known sit-down restaurants. According to the study, “in Florida diners are choosing Outback Steakhouse as their go-to casual dining establishment in our COVID-dominated world,” the survey found.

Floridians are choosing Outback Steakhouse as their go-to sit down restaurant during the pandemic.

Remittances to Mexico rise during pandemic” via Kevin Sieff of The Washington Post — Instead of collapsing, remittances to Mexico were up year-over-year in five of the first six months of 2020. In June, payments to El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras also increased compared to the same period in 2019, after a dip earlier this year. In March, the month the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, remittances to Mexico topped $4 billion — a record. “I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, what happened here?’ ” said Jonathan Heath, deputy governor of Mexico’s central bank. “It’s the exact opposite of what we were expecting.” Typically during economic contractions, when immigrants are disproportionately vulnerable, remittances fall. Despite the global economic decline, Mexicans received $3.53 billion in remittances in June, an 11 percent jump year-over-year.

Uber’s quarterly sales tumble, ending a decade of growth” via Lizette Chapman of Bloomberg — Uber Technologies Inc. generated more revenue from delivering food than transporting people for the first time last quarter, but it failed to offset a steep and prolonged decline in ridership brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Sales fell 29% in the second quarter to $2.24 billion, ending a decade of unchecked growth. The loss in the quarter also widened, but Uber maintained Thursday that it will achieve its goal of turning an adjusted profit by the end of next year. The number of people using Uber’s platform each month, a closely watched measure of engagement, shrank 44% in the second quarter to 55 million customers, well below analysts’ expectations of a decline of about 7%.

Mail carriers deliver medicine and mail till dark, thanks to COVID-19” via Rose Wong of the Tampa Bay Times — Letter volume has decreased during the pandemic, the Postal Service says, but the volume of parcels that need to be delivered has increased, significantly. Postal Service spokesperson David Walton said the current volume of mail rivals that of Christmastime. And carriers keep falling ill with the virus. “Almost everybody is working overtime because of a large number of people out due to being sick or in quarantine,” said Albert Friedman, state president of the National Association of Letter Carriers.

— SMOLDERING —

Black Lives Matter movement sparks ‘collective awakening’ on marijuana policies” via Natalie Fertig of POLITICO — Since protests began in early June, many states and municipalities have adopted new cannabis regulations. Marijuana enforcement has disproportionately affected Black Americans for decades and are four times more likely to be arrested than white people despite similar usage rates. Lawmakers and advocates say the racial justice protests that began after George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others were killed have persuaded wavering elected officials to support drug policy changes, motivated prosecutors to take long-awaited action and opened the door for new conversations about marijuana policy reform. Many of the states and cities that did change their marijuana policies were already moving in that direction.

The Black Lives Matter movement is having a noticeable effect on marijuana policy throughout the country.



— D.C. MATTERS —

Barack Obama’s Medicaid expansion keeps gaining ground under Trump” via Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of The Associated Press — Trump is still trying to overturn “Obamacare,” but his predecessor’s health care law keeps gaining ground in places where it was once unwelcome. Missouri voters this week approved Medicaid expansion by a 53% to 47% margin, making the conservative state the seventh to do so under Trump. The Republican president readily carried Missouri in 2016, but the Medicaid vote comes as more people have been losing workplace health insurance in a treacherous coronavirus economy. That leaves only a dozen states opposed to using the federal-state health program for low-income people as a vehicle for covering more adults, mainly people in jobs that don’t provide health care. If present trends continue, it’s only a matter of time until all states expand Medicaid, acknowledged Brian Blase, a former health care adviser in the Trump White House, who remains opposed to the expansion.

Donald Trump is still trying to overturn “Obamacare,” but the health care law keeps gaining ground in places where it was once unwelcome. Missouri voters approved Medicaid expansion by a 53% to 47% margin, making the conservative state the seventh to do so under Trump. Image via AP.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell sounds urgent alarm on climate change” via Spencer Fordin a Florida Politics — Mucarsel-Powell gathered some climate experts to discuss findings from the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis report. The effects of climate change — in the form of flooding, above-average storm strength and frequency and continued degradation of the environment — are already being drastically felt in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, and Mucarsel-Powell said that they are already past the point of no return in parts of the Florida Keys. “As we see sea level rising, our water infrastructure, our septic tanks, are leaking fecal content into our water,” she said. “This is completely failed leadership by the county mayor here in Miami-Dade of not making the investments to replace those septic tanks into sewage.”

Supreme Court sees approval rating increase after consequential term” via Robert Barnes of The Washington Post — The Supreme Court has its highest public approval rating in a decade, according to a new Gallup poll, after a consequential term in which both liberals and conservatives could claim wins. The approval rate of 58% is the highest since 2009, the polling organization said. At a time when partisan divides are starker than ever, perhaps the most significant finding is that almost equal majorities of Democrats (56%), Republicans (60%) and independents (57%) approve of the court’s performance. Part of the reason for those numbers, though, is a drop in GOP approval of the court since last year, and an even greater increase in the number of Democrats who think the justices do a good job.

Florida lags in census response” via the News Service of Florida — About 60% of Florida households have responded to this year’s U.S. Census, trailing 31 other states in response rates, according to information released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The national response rate was 63.1%, while Florida was at 60.1%. The top states for responses were in the Midwest, with Minnesota at 72.4%, Wisconsin at 69.7% and Nebraska, Michigan and Iowa at 68.9%. In Florida, the highest response rate has been in Sumter County, at 69.8%.

— STATEWIDE —

Payments to Marion Hammer described as ‘improper’ in NRA lawsuit — Contract payments from the National Rifle Association to lobbyist Hammer were “improperly handled,” according to a lawsuit filed against the NRA by New York’s Attorney General. As reported by Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida, the lawsuit claims the payments are part of a pattern of improper spending, self-dealing and making false or misleading disclosers to the state’s Attorney General and the IRS. According to the suit, the NRA’s president or vice president didn’t approve the payments NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre made ahead of time. Hammer did not respond directly to the allegations, instead referring to the NRA’s statement.

Contract payments to Florida’s National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer were improper, according to a lawsuit filed against the NRA in New York.

Florida offers tax-free weekend for back-to-school items” via The Associated Press — It’s a tax-free weekend for Floridians searching for back-to-school bargains. But this year, in a pandemic, the priority may be on technology, as many Florida students will be returning to class via the internet. There may be less of a rush to buy school uniforms, with many students at many school districts beginning the year with remote learning. The tax-free period runs from Friday through Sunday, thanks to the Florida Legislature. It exempts state and local sales taxes on all school supplies that cost $15 and under, as well as for clothing costing $60 or less. It also exempts taxes on the first $1,000 on computers and accessories.

Why is the Governor leaving important environmental posts unfilled?” via Craig Pittman of Florida Phoenix — One of the trickiest jobs a governor has is picking the right people to run various state agencies. Ideally, he or she must find people who have a good background in that field who are willing to put in the hours and who will do the kind of job that will serve the public. A second option is to hand out the jobs to donors and campaign workers regardless of their qualifications, then cross your fingers that none of them screws up in a way that makes headlines. If they do, you can always pretend you never heard of them. DeSantis has chosen to go a third way, one that none of his predecessors ever attempted: Don’t fill the jobs at all.

Water district recommends OK for smaller Nestle permit” via Cindy Swirko of the Ocala Star-Banner — Nestle Waters should be granted a permit to pump more water out of the Ginnie Springs system but not as much as it wants, according to a recommendation by the Suwannee River Water Management District. The permit application by Seven Springs Water Co., whose family members own the Ginnie Springs park, sought permission for up to 1.152 million gallons a day. A recommended permit would cap withdrawals at just more than 0.98 million gallons a day, which is substantially more than the highest reported water use of 0.2659 million gallons a day at the plant during the past four years.

FDLE executes search at home of former Gulf Breeze Mayor Ed Gray” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement executed a search Wednesday at the home of Gray, a former Gulf Breeze Mayor and current Capital Trust Agency bondsman executive director. Gulf Breeze City Manager Samantha Abell confirmed the raid to the News Journal on Thursday morning, saying there was nothing to indicate the raid had anything to do with Gray’s involvement in city business. “Gulf Breeze Police Chief Rick Hawthorne advised me that he asked FDLE to investigate a matter that led to the FDLE searching Ed Gray’s home,” Abell said in an email. “The investigation does not relate to Capital Trust Agency bond issuance matters to the city’s knowledge.”

The FDLE raided the home of former Gulf breeze Mayor Ed Gray but is not related to city business. Image via the Pensacola News Journal.

Nassau County residents ask DeSantis to give Danny Leeper the boot” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — A group of Nassau County residents has asked the Governor’s Office to look into whether Leeper is eligible to hold his position. In a letter sent to DeSantis, the residents cite an investigation that found Leeper doesn’t live within the District 1 seat he holds. “Based on information we have learned, it is our belief that Leeper does not reside in District 1, and has not for over two years — a requirement imposed by the Florida Constitution for him to serve as a county commissioner representing our District,” the letter states. It then lists several bullet points summarizing the investigation, including that Leeper owns a home in District 2 and claims a homestead exemption on it.

Tampa airport planning staff buyouts, ‘three to four years’ for recovery” via Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay News — As the airline industry braces for a yearslong recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, Tampa International Airport laid out budget shortfalls and cuts it’ll see into 2021, including a round of staff buyouts starting Friday. For the full fiscal year, ending in September, the airport anticipates seeing 13.2 million passengers, about 43 percent lower than their budget and 40 percent lower than the previous year. Despite savings measures already taken this summer, it expects a net loss of more than $40 million. The airport will offset those losses through an $81.2 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act federal grant, using $44.2 million of that money to cover its debt. It plans to use the remaining grant money next year.

Tourist tax picks up in Orange County, but just barely” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Orange County’s tourist tax collections picked up some in the month of June with Universal Orlando, SeaWorld and other attractions reopening, but still came in at about 10 cents on the dollar compared with last summer. At that rate, in a few more months, Orange County could start approaching an unsustainable drain on its tax reserves, warned Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond. In June the county collected $2.6 million in tourist development taxes, essentially bed taxes for hotels. That’s 89.2% lower than what was seen in June 2019. Before the coronavirus crisis crashed the tourism economy in March, the county had budgeted collecting $25.2 million in June alone.

Disney says it’s seeing ‘higher-than-expected’ cancellations” via Graham Rapier of Business Insider — Even at half-capacity, Disney World is making money — not losing it — but that success hinges on Florida’s ability to contain its coronavirus outbreak. Disney executives told investors that its theme parks were “operating at a positive net contribution level.” In other words, they’re making more from ticket sales, souvenir shops, restaurants and the likes to offset paying staff and other underlying costs. “It’s worth noting that while Walt Disney World is operating at a positive net contribution level, the upside we are seeing from reopening is less than we’d originally expected given the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Florida,” CFO Christine McCarthy said. But leadership also warned that cancellations were surprisingly high, likely because of the state’s surging outbreak.

—“Disney World annual passholders feel slighted as theme parks navigate COVID-19 pandemic” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel

Second Florida city adopts resolution urging John Thrasher to remove student government leader” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — The Hallandale Beach City Commission voted unanimously to adopt a resolution that both condemns SGA Senate President Ahmad Daraldik‘s history of anti-Semitic social media posts and calls upon Thrasher to remove him. The resolution, sponsored by Commissioner Anabelle Lima-Taub, comes roughly three weeks after the City of Aventura adopted a similar resolution. “Jewish FSU students feel unsupported and I want them to feel supported,” Lima-Taub said. “They feel abandoned by the FSU administration.” Daraldik became the school’s SGA Senate President in June after his predecessor was removed for making transphobic comments. Weeks later, he too came under scrutiny when anti-Semitic remarks comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, among others, were unearthed. Daraldik refused to resign and survived a subsequent no-confidence vote.

A second Florida city is calling FSU President John Thrasher to remove Student Government President Ahmad Daraldik.

As flu season approaches, the ‘test and treat’ turf war rages on” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — “Test and treat” was a hallmark bill of the 2020 Legislative Session. The new law, however, didn’t allow pharmacists to start swabbing customers right away. It called for a complex rule-making process involving the Board of Pharmacy to work in consultation with the Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine to come up with some standards. The hope — at least in the Governor’s mansion — was it could all be hammered out by Aug. 1. It wasn’t. As was the case when the bill was working its way through the Legislature, physicians have been trying to kneecap the law even though it could lessen their load at a time when they’re expecting to work overtime.

Hurricane season will likely get busier with up to 25 named storms, highest forecast ever” via Adriana Brasileiro of the Miami Herald — Federal forecasters are predicting up to 25 named storms, the highest number ever forecast, pushing the season into extremely active territory. They may even run out of names in the 2020 hurricane list and may need to use letters in the Greek alphabet to name storms later this season. NOAA updated its forecast for named storms to 19 to 25 in its annual midseason outlook, compared with 13 to 19 in the first assessment announced in May. Seven to 11 storms are predicted to become hurricanes, with three to six of those forecast to become major hurricanes, NOAA said. That forecast takes into account the nine storms between May and July, including Hurricanes Hanna and Isaias. This latest update covers the entire six-month hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30.

— LOBBY REGS —

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Kimberly Case, Holland & Knight: Kirlin Builders, Kirlin Florida

Nelson Diaz, The Southern Group: Pearl Holding Group (Ocean Harbor)

Nick Iarossi, Capital City Consulting: Florida Transportation Builders Association

Melissa Kulpers, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck: Beckman Coulter Diagnostics, Belmar Pharma Solutions

Larry Williams, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: SROA Capital

— 2020 —

Trump outraises Joe Biden in July, breaking opponent’s short streak” via Matthew Choi of POLITICO — Trump raised more money than Biden in July, after falling behind his Democratic rival for two straight months. Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee reported that they raised $165 million last month — an amount they said eclipsed any single month in all of 2016. July was the largest online fundraising event so far, the campaign said. Biden’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, meanwhile, reported $140 million in July. The overwhelming majority of donations — 97% — were at the grassroots level, with the average contribution coming in at $34.77, the campaign said. Trump’s campaign also reported having more cash on hand than Biden, with $300 million in its war chest to Biden’s $294 million.

Donald Trump raised more than Joe Biden in July, breaking the former Vice President’s short fundraising streak. Image via AP.

Facebook removes troll farm posing as African American support for Trump” via Ben Collins and Kevin Collier of NBC News — Facebook removed hundreds of accounts from a foreign troll farm posing as African Americans in support of Trump and QAnon supporters. It also removed hundreds of fake accounts linked to conservative media outlet The Epoch Times that pushed pro-Trump conspiracy theories about coronavirus and protests in the U.S. Facebook took down the accounts as part of its enforcement against coordinated inauthentic behavior, which is the use of fake accounts to inflate the reach of content or products on social media. The foreign pro-Trump troll farm was based in Romania and pushed content on Instagram under names like “BlackPeopleVoteForTrump” and on Facebook under “We Love Our President.”

Trump and his spinners are suddenly freaking out about Florida. Here’s why.” via Greg Sargent of The Washington Post — After spreading endless lies about vote-by-mail’s supposed susceptibility to fraud, Trump and his family members, who often double as his propagandists, are suddenly scrambling to reassure voters that mail-balloting is actually tremendously secure and reliable. Yet they are mainly doing this in one particular state: Florida, which just happens to be an absolute must-win for Trump. But in undertaking this new scramble, Trump and his spinners are actually reminding us of the degree to which they are willing to corrupt our election on his behalf. The stakes are incredibly high: Large numbers of voters could be disenfranchised, allowing Trump to prevail. This push comes in the form of a new Trump campaign ad from Lara Trump, the President’s daughter-in-law, and a new tweet from the President himself.

GOP infighting reaches fever pitch in Trump’s critical swing state of Florida” via Wendy Rhodes of The Palm Beach Post — The infighting is a distraction that could spell trouble in a swing state that Trump narrowly won in 2016, and desperately needs to win in 2020. Florida Trump Victory is battling with one of the state’s largest Trump fan clubs: Trump Team 2020 Florida, led by former Palm Beach Gardens Councilwoman Anne Marie Delgado. Problems between the Republican Party of Florida and Trump Team 2020 Florida, the Trump club led by Delgado have festered for months. While state Republican Chairman Joe Gruters has brushed off talk of friction with the club, Delgado and others had been vocally critical of the state GOP for not doing enough to bolster the President’s Florida campaign.

Biden draws distinction on Black, Latino political diversity” via Bill Barlow of The Associated Press — Biden faces new scrutiny over how he discusses race and ethnicity after drawing distinctions between Black and Hispanic populations in the United States. “By the way, what you all know but most people don’t know, unlike the African American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things,” Biden said to a Latina reporter from NPR in an interview. “You go to Florida, you find a very different attitude about immigration in certain places than you do when you’re in Arizona.” The former Vice President was alluding to the dozens of national origins that make up the U.S. Hispanic population. His campaign said he was talking about political differences, not cultural diversity.

Joe Biden faces new scrutiny over how he discusses race and ethnicity after drawing distinctions between Black and Hispanic populations in the United States.

VP contender Karen Bass’ Cuba baggage a burden in Florida” via Adriana Gomez Licon and Bobby Caina Calvan — Until recently, Robert Lewis had never heard of Karen Bass, the California congresswoman in contention to be Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s running mate. But the recent college graduate had long heard stories from his grandfather recounting the days of oppression in Cuba under Fidel Castro. When he learned that Bass had called Castro’s death “a great loss,” the 22-year-old considered it a disregard for the plight of those who suffered at the hands of Castro’s government.Lewis’ reaction is a blow to Democrats who in recent years have tried to pull young Cubans in Florida away from the Republican Party.

Kanye West indicates that his spoiler campaign is indeed designed to hurt Biden” via Randall Lane of Forbes — Amid various reports that Republican and Trump-affiliated political operatives are trying to get West onto various state ballots for November’s presidential election, the billionaire rap superstar indicated, in an interview by text today, that he was, in fact, running to siphon votes from the presumptive Democratic nominee, Biden. Asked about that directly, West said that rather than running for President, he was “walking,” quickly adding that he was “walking . . . to win.” West rebuffed various attempts to clarify who was driving his ballot access or strategy and whether it’s being coordinated by or with Republican-affiliated officials.

Democrats demand Postal Service reverse new rules that have slowed the delivery of absentee ballots” via Amy Gardner and Jacob Bogage of The Washington Post — “Elections are sacred,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, told reporters after a meeting with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. “To do cutbacks when ballots, all ballots, have to be counted — we can’t say, ‘Oh, we’ll get 94% of them.’ It’s insufficient.” Schumer said he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told DeJoy, along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, that their demands regarding the Postal Service are necessary to strike a deal on broader relief bill that may also include new unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut.

How a world of fake profiles exploited Facebook to tout Roger Stone and Trump” via Anthony Man and Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Roger Stone spent a half-century honing his skills as a political operator and building a reputation as a stop-at-nothing dirty trickster, in support of a range of big-name politicians and causes, including Donald Trump and Richard Nixon. Now, a report from the cybersecurity firm Graphika suggests that Stone — who in recent years has become one of Fort Lauderdale’s best-known residents — was able to translate his real-world approach to the online world.

— MORE FROM THE TRAIL — 

Of course, they didn’t —Florida Democrats aimed to register 1 million voters by now. They didn’t come close.” via David Smiley of the Tampa Bay Times — Democrats emerged from the midterms with a new resolve to register more voters in the nation’s largest swing state as a path to victory in 2020. Former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, fresh off a stinging 34,000-vote loss, vowed to “flip Florida blue” by registering or “reengaging” 1 million voters, including 200,000 new Democrats added by the Florida Democratic Party. But those initiatives fell well short of their goals. And with seven weeks until mail ballots go out, Florida Republicans are closer to parity in voter registration than they’ve been in decades. Voter registration sets the foundation for campaign season. For Florida Democrats, who historically have had a harder time turning out their voters than Republicans, it’s even more crucial.

CD 5 candidate Gary Adler has Election Day court date” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Adler won’t be spending Aug. 18 wooing last-minute voters in Florida’s 5th Congressional District. At least not all of it. According to Duval County Clerk of Court records, the Jacksonville Republican will spend part of the afternoon in court. In February, Adler was arrested and charged with operating as a contractor without a license, a first-degree misdemeanor. The charges followed a 2017 investigation by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation where Adler and his company, Adler Design Associates, were found guilty of acting as a nonlicensed contractor and assessed with a fine of $4,552. Though the Jacksonville State Attorney’s Office case is based on the findings in the DBPR investigation, it is a separate action.

Gary Adler will be a little tied up on Election Day.

Byron Donalds, Dane Eagle potshot at one another over Parkland bill” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Donalds confronted House Republican Leader Eagle over a controversial gun control law at a Cape Coral forum. The question came after a moderator at the Cape Coral Republican Club asked candidates running in Florida’s 19th Congressional District if they would back federal red flag laws. Donalds challenged Eagle on the matter. “When we were in the Florida Legislature together, he did support red flag laws,” Donalds said, referencing the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act signed into law in 2018. Eagle shook his head at the debate, visibly upset as Donalds cast himself as the top gun rights advocate in the race. He then suggested Donalds took an extreme position against a school safety bill that had the full support of Trump.

—“Freedom Caucus members line up behind Byron Donalds” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

—“Group of physicians rally around Dane Eagle” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell nets another strong fundraising month” via Spencer Fordin of Florida Politics — Mucarsel-Powell raised another $195,000 in the latest filing period and has more than $2.8 million on hand for her reelection bid in Florida’s 26th Congressional District. Mucarsel-Powell has outraised Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez in three straight reporting periods. She spent $126,085 on her campaign this filing period and has spent $1,278,331 overall. Giménez, who is term-limited in Miami-Dade, is one of two Republicans running for the nomination. He raised $121,000 and spent $98,000 in the latest filing period, and he has $882,000 left on hand.

—“Florida Retail Federation PAC backs Ana Maria Rodriguez in SD 39” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Michelle Salzman files complaint over Mike Hill ad implying she supports defunding police” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — The advertisement received by Escambia County voters features a line that states, “Mike Hill‘s opponent and her liberal allies want to defund the police,” followed by a quote attributed only to “opponent of Mike” that says “Yes I do agree we need to defund our police department.” Hill’s only current opponent is Salzman, who is challenging him for the Republican nomination for House seat in the Aug. 18 primary election. Salzman did not say the quote. It was said by Franscine Mathis, a Democrat who is running for the party’s nomination for the seat. Mathis made the remark to The Capitolist in July. Salzman said she considers the mailer a direct attack meant to mislead voters before the primary.

— DOWN BALLOT —

Daniella Levine Cava comes up tops in mayoral poll” via Spencer Fordin of Florida Politics — Levine Cava may be feeling the winds of fortune behind her back. An independent poll shows Levine Cava is narrowly ahead of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo in the seven-candidate Miami-Dade County mayoral race, according to political blog Political Cortadito, which obtained the poll. The poll, which was reportedly conducted with a 400-person sample over the phone, showed Cava with 20% support and Bovo with 19%. Former Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas had 15%, while County Commissioner Xavier Suarez registered 10%. Polling began on July 30 and ended Aug 3. If no candidate wins 50% plus one vote in the Aug. 18 primary, the race will head to a runoff in November.

Daniella Levine Cava comes out on top in the latest polling for the Miami-Dade County the mayoral race.

Bad blood? Aaron Bean backs Janet Adkins’ opponent in Nassau County race” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Adkins wants another government gig, this time as Nassau County Supervisor of Elections. But that won’t happen if a fellow Republican and former legislative colleague who represents the same area she once served has anything to say about it. Sen. Bean led a host of endorsements from local Nassau leaders for Adkins’ opponent, Justin Taylor. Bean’s attempt to block Adkins’ political comeback is no shock. He backed Kathy Burns over the former legislator four years prior in the race for Nassau County School Superintendent. Bean’s latest endorsement focused on the positive. Tax Collector John Drew likewise enthused about Taylor, calling him “a prudent and proven leader.”

Collier County Commission candidate faces cocaine possession charge, calls to quit” via Patrick Riley of the Naples Daily News — A Collier County commission candidate’s arrest in East Naples this past weekend has prompted calls from his party to drop out of the race. John Jenkins, was booked into the Naples Jail Center Sunday morning and faces a felony charge of possession of cocaine, according to a Collier County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. He was released later that day on $5,000 bond. Jenkins is running as the lone Democrat in a crowded race to represent District 1, which covers East Naples, Marco Island, and communities from the Isles of Capri to Copeland. Commissioner Donna Fiala has been the commissioner for the district for 20 years but isn’t seeking reelection.

Collier County Commission candidate John Jenkins drops out of the race after his arrest for cocaine possession.

In Hillsborough clerk of the court race, PAC courts GOP votes for Cindy Stuart” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Politics makes strange bedfellows, and that’s apparent in the Hillsborough County Clerk of The Court race, where a veteran Democratic operative working through a Republican-funded PAC is sending mailers seeking Republican votes in the Democratic primary. Because no other candidates are running, the primary between Democrats Kevin Beckner and Cindy Stuart will be open to all voters. Orlando-based party operative and consultant Chris Mitchell is using the PAC, Impact Florida, to send mailers attacking Beckner as a tax-raising reckless spender who “slandered beloved outgoing clerk Pat Frank” in their 2016 primary battle. The mailers appear to be going to GOP voters. 

Corruption probe becomes issue in Osceola Clerk of Court race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — An investigation into claims of corruption and unprofessional behavior in the Osceola County Clerk of Court’s office concluded most of the claims were unsubstantiated, yet the extensiveness of the allegations and the findings are becoming a fiery issue in the Aug. 18 election for that office. The investigation and report were commissioned by incumbent Osceola Clerk of Court Armando Ramirez after he received three whistleblower reports from his staff. The allegations ranged from staff conducting political campaign business on the job, a pattern of hirings, promotions, and other human resources moves benefiting family and friends of top administrators, including Ramirez, and office behavior that included the use of coarse racial and homophobic slurs by top administrators.

— TOP OPINION —

I travel the country as a nurse. This pandemic is like a wildfire.” via Leigh Bowie of The Washington Post — In mid-February, I took a 13-week contract to work as a nurse at Westchester Medical Center, outside New York City. I’m a travel nurse, meaning that I work short-term contracts in health-care facilities in different parts of the country. By the time the job ended in May, I associated New York so strongly with all of the suffering and death I’d seen, all those people, of all races and ages, struggling for air, that I didn’t want to stay a day longer than I had to. What I saw at home shocked me. In Arizona, almost no one wore a mask. People dined indoors at restaurants; they got together in sports bars; they swam in pools. In New York, the pandemic felt inescapable, but here, it was as if they didn’t think the threat was real.

— OPINIONS —

Virus forces local spending priorities” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — With so much uncertainty, local governments are right to be cautious. Officials still don’t know what impact, if any, from property values next year may further undermine the tax base. Area governments are also plotting blind as Congress continues to debate whether to provide assistance to state and local governments in the next traunch of federal virus relief. With schools set to reopen across the Tampa Bay area later this month, the turmoil from the pandemic will likely flare anew. This is a moment for local government not to add to the problem by overreaching in the immediate term.

— TODAY’S SUNRISE —

The battle over reopening schools is moving to Tallahassee, where the Florida Education Association is suing the Gov. DeSantis and Education Commissioner Corcoran over their emergency order forcing schools to reopen by the end of August.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— While the lawsuit was filed in Miami — the epicenter of Florida’s COVID-19 outbreak — the judge says it belongs in Tallahassee. So, the lawsuit is delayed, but it will continue.

— As lawyers were in court defending the reopening plan, DeSantis was on a basketball court in Jacksonville, encouraging the return of high school athletics.

— The state sales tax holiday for back-to-school shopping began at midnight and lasts through the weekend. Scott Shalley of the Florida Retail Federation talks about what to expect.

— Checking-in with a Florida Man who was arrested with a beer in one hand and a gun in the other.

To listen, click on the image below:

— WEEKEND TV —

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 COVID-19 Task Force Chair Dr. Donna Petersen, Dean, USF Health College of Public Health; National Association of Letter Carriers Florida State President Al Friedman; Rep. Anthony Sabatini and Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley.

Political Connections Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: An exclusive interview with Pence during his visit to Clearwater; Sen. Janet Cruz comments on the local vote-by-mail process and the Democratic National Convention.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: An exclusive interview with Pence during his visit to Florida as part of a “Faith in America” campaign; and Biden campaign senior adviser Cristóbal Alex will discuss the VP pick process and new initiatives the campaign is launching.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon talks with Leon County School Board member Darryl Jones and Christina Paredes of the Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economic Vitality.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Gov. DeSantis, Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels and Clay County Commissioner Mike Cella.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Katherine Fernandez Rundle, State Attorney for Miami-Dade County; Miami-Dade State Attorney candidate Melba Pearson and Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony.

— LISTEN UP —

Dishonorable Mention: Rep. Chris Latvala, activist Becca Tieder, Ernest Hooper and communications expert Dr. Karla Mastracchio discuss politics and culture. The hosts recognized newly re-elected Largo Mayor Woody Brown’s birthday and discuss elections and divulge into some old fashioned polititainment. Cyn Epler relates a story about a flight attendant, her versatile work at MacDill and beyond, and reality TV.

Inside Florida Politics from GateHouse Florida: After weeks of slamming vote-by-mail, Trump reversed course this week when it comes to Florida and said the system works well in the Sunshine State. Journalists Zac Anderson and Antonio Fins discuss Trump’s change of heart, U.S. Sen. Scott‘s concerns about adding to the federal budget deficit as lawmakers consider another coronavirus relief bill and Florida Agriculture Nikki Fried rolling out her own coronavirus plan this week.

podcastED: Stand Up for Students President Doug Tuthill speaks with JoAnne Glenn, one of the nation’s top online learning leaders. In addition to being Pasco’s 2020 Principal of the Year, Glenn earned one of three Digital Principal of the Year awards from the National Association of Secondary School Principals. She is one of the founders of Pasco eSchool, which offers full- and part-time K-12 digital instruction. Over the past 12 years, the school’s mastery-based model has become a model for digital learning.

The New Abnormal from host Rick Wilson and Molly Jong-Fast: Taste the Nation host Padma Lakshmi joins Wilson and Jong-Fast to chat about her experiences foraging onions in the desert, hanging out with Thai women in Las Vegas and gaining 20 pounds, on purpose. Also, how immigrants and Native Americans have way more MAGA clout than Trump ever will. “It should be mandatory that [politicians] go and embed themselves for a week,” she says. MSNBC’s Joy Reid discusses her history-making career move, the impending “social civil war” and Trump’s ability to praise a drug that could kill people. (“It’s like a cult leader in a way,” she says.) Reid talks about a typical day in Florida (most notably the bath salt, face-eating zombie incident — not to be confused with the also-mentioned “Zombie bin Laden.”) The duo opine about Trump’s failing ad strategy.

The Yard Sign with host Jonathan Torres: Chris Licata, Cristina Serra, and Torres discuss a possible TikTok ban, Trump in Tampa Bay, “Hidin’ Biden,” and more presidential election updates.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Sports used to be an escape from the world. Now they’re a window into it.” via Jerry Brewer of The Washington Post — Sports escapism has been suspended. There is a chance the ol’ reliable expectation of games as breezy diversions may never return. As a result, American athletics likely entered an era of spectator volatility. Some of these leagues don’t realize it, but they will soon. Sports specialize in attaching themselves to what’s considered safe and unassailable, such as patriotism. Never before have they been this forceful, as a collective, in taking positions on anything polarizing. What for decades had been a passive show of patriotism has turned into a roll call of demonstration. You can’t tune in for pregame festivities without witnessing some form of protest during the national anthem. You can’t hold out hope for a college football season without learning about the players fighting for representation and fairness.

MLB gets serious with protocol measures after COVID-19 outbreaks on Marlins, Cardinals” via Bob Nightengale of USA Today — Major League Baseball, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreaks on the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, sent severe, revised protocol measures to all clubs, threatening to suspend a player or staff member for the remainder of the season for repeated or flagrant violations. MLB, which is dealing with scheduling havoc caused by 33 members of Marlins and Cardinals testing positive for COVID-19, is hiring officials to monitor clubhouses and team hotels to assure there are no violations. “We recognize that these changes place additional burdens and restrictions on players and staff,’’ according to a copy of a six-page memo that was distributed to all teams. “But if we desire to play, they are necessary to limit infections and, if someone does test positive, to keep the virus from spreading. The behavior of every covered individual affects the players and staff on his or her team, and on other clubs as well.

Major League Baseball enacts stricter safety protocols after recent outbreaks of COVID-19. Image via USA Today.

Clemson starts at No. 1 in preseason Amway Coaches Poll for second consecutive season” via Eddie Timanus of The Florida Times-Union — The prospect of successfully conducting a college football season in 2020 remains something of an exercise in wishful thinking. Even if it does happen, it is sure to be a season unique to those that have come before. We present the preseason Amway Coaches Poll as a sign of hope that there will be actual results to consider later. Clemson earns the nod as the preseason No. 1 team for the second consecutive year after never previously held that position before games started. The Tigers, firmly established as fixtures in the College Football Playoff era, managed a runner-up finish a year ago but still picked up the majority of first-place votes, topping 38 of the 65 coaches’ ballots. They again will be led by quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who is hoping to add a second national title before his expected departure to the NFL.

Florida State limiting attendance for home football games in 2020” via Wayne McGahee III of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida State’s 2020 football schedule was released Thursday. With it comes an update on the tickets for home games during the 2020 season. FSU made this announcement in a release about the home schedule. “Attendance for FSU’s 2020 home games will be limited in the stadium bowl and the Dunlap Champions Club. FSU will adhere to CDC social distancing guidelines, which will limit capacity to somewhere between 20-25%. The Seminole Boosters, Inc., and FSU’s Athletic Ticket Office will work with current 2020 season ticket holders to review their options as a result of the limited seating.”

Twilight of the imperial chef” via Tejal Rao of The New York Times — For decades, the chef has been cast as the star at the center of the kitchen. In the same way the auteur theory in film frames the director as the author of a movie’s creative vision, the chef has been considered entirely responsible for the restaurant’s success. Everyone else, line cooks, servers, dishwashers, even diners, is background, there to support that vision. This way of thinking has informed the industry’s culture at every level. The elevation of the chef to front and center is relatively new. Until about 40 years ago, chefs were considered unglamorous, trolls of the stove, hidden behind the kitchen’s swinging doors.

The only story that matters —‘Who’s The Boss?’ Sequel with Tony Danza & Alyssa Milano in works at Sony Pictures Television” via Mike Fleming Jr. of Deadline — Danza and Milano are on board to reprise their iconic roles as Tony and Samantha Micelli, a father/daughter relationship that families around the world grew up with over the course of 196 episodes on ABC from 1984-92. The show averaged more than 33 million live viewers per episode during its eight-season run on ABC and went on to be a big hit in U.S. and international syndication. “Who’s the Boss?” was progressive in its depiction of a modern family in the ’80s with a reversal of gender roles and stereotypes. The show was nominated for 10 Emmys and five Golden Globes. The deal comes at a time when some of the biggest streaming hits are classic half-hour comedies from past decades, comfort food and a reminder for some of a simpler time.

Will Broadway ever return to South Florida stages?” via Rod Stafford Hagwood of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Though it’s bad luck to say “good luck” in the theater world, South Florida’s largest stages are crossing their fingers for a lucky break when it comes to getting Broadway back on the boards. Best case scenario: The Broadway season that usually starts in the fall will return to this part of the country in the winter, most likely in December. The business model for Broadway tours needs full houses, so social distancing with empty seats separating audience members simply doesn’t work, financially. The centers have to wait until they can operate at full capacity again. With all the flashpoints going on it is easy to see why musicals are not exactly in the spotlight. But those national tours spawned by the Great White Way pump millions into local economies. That is especially true in South Florida, where road companies make regular stops at three large performing arts centers.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to Orlando Mayor Buddy DyerDavid Browning of The Southern Group, Kirsten Borman Dougherty, Jill GranNanette Schimpf of Moore, and Eric Seidel.

___

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

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