Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.25.20

Sunburn Orange Tally (8)
Coffee is for closers. So is Sunburn, your morning rundown of Florida politics.

Moore is one of the top public relations firms in Florida and nationwide, according to O’Dwyer’s PR News’ 2020 “Top PR Firms” list.

The magazine placed the Tallahassee-based firm in the No. 1 spot for Public Affairs firms, Agriculture firms and Healthcare firms operating in the Sunshine State.

Moore also ranked among the top-20 nationwide in all three categories, as well as Travel and Economic Development firms.

Congratulations to the team at Moore, named by O’Dwyers as one of the top PR firms in the state. Image via Moore blog. 

Overall, O’Dwyer’s ranked Moore as the No. 4 agency in Florida and the No. 55 agency in the United States.

The favorable rankings follow Moore’s recent recognition as a top-200 agency by PRovoke Media — up from No. 328 in 2019. Moore was also named as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” for the eleventh consecutive year by Florida Trend.

“Recognitions like O’Dwyer’s, Provoke and Florida Trend illustrate our strong dedication to our team and the deep commitment to our clients,” said Karen Moore, founder and CEO of Moore.

“I’m most proud that our clients consistently indicate our customer service is unmatched, which is a hallmark of our agency and a continuous driver of our successful growth.”


Welcome to the family — Chewie, the new pup at Erin and Matt Isaac’s home. We’re sure Michael is super excited.

Woof, woof!


Tweet, tweet:

@TBridis: Glad to hear former President [Barack] Obama last week reject media being ‘enemy of the people.’ But Obama made it hard at times to do journalism, including when FBI seized @AP phone records in leaks investigation for 21 phone lines over two months, including my personal cell number.

—@MichaelGWaltz: Madame Speaker, as a combat veteran, I’ve fought America’s real enemies all over the world and even been shot at by them to protect our Constitution. It’s absolutely shameful to compare your own countrymen & patriots to America’s enemies & terrorists for cheap talking points.

@NoahPransky: Turns out, having workers and students across America log on to video calls all at the same time may be easier said than done.

@Fineout: Dick Corcoran? Not sure every heard him called that. (It’s what AFT head Randi Weingarten just called him.)

@EdYong209: As I wrote, it’s not surprising/worrying if reinfections *can happen*. More important Qs are: — How common are they? (Not addressed in this study) — Is the 2nd time more/less severe than the 1st? (2nd infection was asymptomatic here, but that’s 1 case.)

@KevinRoose: When I was at Liberty, a guy in my dorm got suspended for going to Waffle House with a girl after curfew, so I’m gonna guess this is probably the end of [Jerry] Falwell Jr.’s run.

@MDixon55: [email protected]: now employs nearly the entire 2010-2017 version of the Florida Cabinet

@StorySlug: One of the big problems with “dark and gritty” Batman movies is that the people writing them can’t craft a mystery that’s so complex only Batman can solve it, so Batman’s “superpower” ends up being “the ability to violate people’s Constitutional rights.”


Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 3; U.S. Open begins — 5; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” rescheduled premiere in U.S. — 8; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 11; Rescheduled date for French Open — 33; First presidential debate in Indiana — 35; “Wonder Woman 1984” premieres — 38; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 39; Ashley Moody’s 2020 Human Trafficking Summit — 42; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 43; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 48; Second presidential debate scheduled in Miami — 51; NBA draft — 52; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 52; NBA free agency — 55; Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum — 56; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 58; 2020 General Election — 70; “Black Widow” premieres — 74; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 76; College basketball season slated to begin — 77; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 87; “No Time to Die” premieres — 87; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 100; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 166; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 178; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 311; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 332; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 339; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 437; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 535; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 577; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 619; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 772.


Radical break from tradition: Donald Trump to accept nomination at the White House” via Peter Baker of The New York Times — A stage has been constructed on the South Lawn of the White House for President Trump’s nationally televised speech this week accepting the nomination for a second term. Melania Trump will speak from the Rose Garden. Their appearances at the Republican National Convention will be a radical break from tradition even for an administration that has repeatedly shattered norms. Never in recent times has a President used the majesty of the White House to stage a nominating convention. The convention speeches — the President is to speak on Thursday, and the first lady and Mr. Pompeo will appear on Tuesday — are only the latest examples of how Mr. Trump has further blurred the lines between the government and his campaign.

‘It’s a horror film’: Matt Gaetz warns of Democratic rule at Republican convention” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — U.S. Rep. Gaetz started the Republican National Convention with a dark warning. Moments after the cable broadcast of the first night of the Republican National Convention began, Gaetz cast the opposing party as one dominated by “woketopians” who are to blame for “cops killed” and “children shot.” “It’s a horror film really,” Gaetz said from the near empty Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington D.C. “They’ll disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home, and invite MS-13 to live next door.”

Jeanette Nunez, Pam Bondi to speak at GOP convention via News Service of Florida — In another nod to the importance of Florida in the November presidential election, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez and former Attorney General Pam Bondi are slated to speak Tuesday during the second day of the RNC. “Excited to join President Trump and many of our party’s patriots to address the nation on Tuesday night during the Republican National Convention!” Núñez, who co-chairs a national Latinos for Trump effort, wrote Sunday on Facebook. Bondi has been a longtime supporter of Trump and worked on his defense team during the impeachment process. Winning in Florida is likely critical for Trump’s reelection hopes. On Monday, RPOF Chairman Joe Gruters seconded the formal nomination of Trump to be the GOP candidate.

Joe Gruters seconded the nomination for Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.

Florida didn’t get the Republican convention, but state is still a focus” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Republicans didn’t get to have their convention in Jacksonville as they hoped, but Florida still will be a big focus — from the speakers to the target audience — during the biggest event to date of Trump’s reelection campaign. The first day of the RNC kicked off Monday with a number of prominent Floridians set to play important roles, none bigger than Trump himself, who officially switched his residence to Palm Beach County last year. “This is the President’s home state, obviously it’s very important,” said Florida GOP Chair Gruters. “We’re the most important state in the country politically. Florida’s the largest swing state.”

The trade-off at Trump’s Republican convention: No stadium crowds, but full control” via Michael Wilner and Francesca Chambers of the Miami Herald — After changing cities twice and pining for a crowd, in the end, Trump may get a Republican National Convention this week that works to his advantage: A controlled, scripted show that is all about him. Republicans who had planned to use the convention as a battleground for the future direction of their party will have to wait, unable in this pandemic-era event to bend ears in backrooms or win over party support on a packed convention floor. Those looking for divisions within the GOP will have to look elsewhere — including at the Democratic National Convention last week, which featured several prominent, lifelong Republicans who have rejected Trump’s takeover of their party establishment.

Lawyers examined Mike Pompeo’s plan to address GOP convention from Jerusalem, aides say via Michael Wilner of the Miami Herald — Pompeo’s decision to deliver a speech to the Republican National Convention while on official travel to the Middle East was cleared by four teams of lawyers, two sources close to the secretary said on Sunday. But the nature of the speech, scheduled for Tuesday during a visit to Israel, is raising concerns in both Washington and Jerusalem, with two Israeli officials telling McClatchy that the event could aggravate a growing political divide over Israel in the United States. The address to the critical presidential election year political event from a sitting secretary of State is an uncommon event. While Pompeo’s aides did not say whether his speech would be live or pretaped, they said he would be delivering it from Jerusalem, where the Trump administration moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv in 2017.


Why Trump’s approval ratings on the economy remain durable via Jim Tankersley of The New York Times — It is an enduring political question amid a pandemic recession, double-digit unemployment and recovery that appears to be slowing: Why does Trump continue to get higher marks on economic issues in polls than his predecessors Obama, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush enjoyed when they stood for reelection? Trump’s relative strength on the economy, and whether Joe Biden can cut into it over the next 10 weeks, are among the crucial dynamics in battleground states in the Midwest and the Sun Belt that are expected to decide the election. Many of these states have struggled this summer with rising coronavirus infection and death rates as well as job losses and vanishing wages and savings — hard times that, history suggests, will pose a threat to an incumbent President seeking reelection.

Approval ratings for the economy, still a bright spot for Donald Trump.

What Mike Haridopolos is reading — “The supporters buoying Trump’s spirits: Boat owners via Michael C. Bender of The Wall Street Journal — Since the pandemic has shelved his signature campaign rallies the splashy displays of approval have helped buoy Trump’s spirits in recent weeks, aides said. Aides have tried to route the President’s motorcade past boat parades, and are considering having the President participate in one in the coming weeks. The President has publicly praised the boat parades this summer, including twice during separate coronavirus news briefings, at a roundtable discussion on Venezuela, and while signing legislation to impose sanctions on Chinese officials. In private, Trump broaches the subject of boat parades himself, aides said, asking if they have seen the flotillas of his followers crowding waterways from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.

How Trump’s hard line against immigration could hurt him in Florida” via Sabrina Rodriguez of Politico — President Trump has long touted his policy on Venezuela as part of his commitment to fight socialism, but he has repeatedly refused to offer Venezuelan exiles protection from deportation. With the election less than three months away, Trump has made Latinos in South Florida central to his reelection in the battleground state, repeatedly sending top administration officials down to Miami to tout his hard line against Cuba and Venezuela. The Republican National Convention will feature the two countries, as multiple speakers discuss their experiences with socialism — and warn that Democrats would replicate the hard-left policies of the Cuban and Venezuelan governments.

Assignment editors — Florida Trump Victory will host a MAGA Meet-Up at its field office in The Villages, featuring Congressman Dan Webster and Sen. Dennis Baxley, 12:45 p.m., 2752 Brownwood Boulevard, The Villages.

Joe Biden enjoys post-convention bump in favorability via Kendall Karson of ABC News — The Democratic National Convention, which attracted a smaller audience compared to the last cycle, still delivered a favorability boost for Biden, particularly among the core base of the party, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday. Before the convention, Biden had a net negative favorability rating, with slightly more Americans having an unfavorable view of the former Vice President than a favorable one. In the days after the convention, Biden’s favorability ticked up from 40% just over a week ago to 45% in the new poll, which was conducted using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel. Notably, this change was fueled by the more than 8 in 10 Americans who knew enough about him to form an opinion, since there was little change in the number of Americans who were willing to assess Biden.

Joe Biden is getting a nice post-convention bump.

Assignment editors — The Biden for President campaign will hold a virtual roundtable to talk about COVID’s impact on older Floridians, featuring the members of the Florida Democratic Party and Congressman Ted Deutch, Rep. Bruce Antone and other leaders. Also on the agenda is a discussion of the unemployment crisis with St. Petersburg area leaders, a talk with state leaders and local business owners on the impact on Black-owned small businesses and a call with Central Florida leaders and other residents affected by the housing crisis, 3:45 p.m. Members of the public who wish to attend can RSVP here.


Everytown teams up with Priorities USA to defeat Trump — The Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund and Priorities USA Action announced Monday that they’re teaming up to take down Trump and elect Biden in November. Everytown plans to spend $4 million on television, and $2 million digital ad buys in Florida with the first round dropping after Labor Day. The TV ads will air in the Orlando and Tampa media markets, and the digital ads will run statewide. “Facing a gun violence crisis that claims 100 American lives every day, President Trump has chosen the gun lobby over the safety of the American people at every turn,” said John Feinblatt, head of Everytown Victory Fund. “Together with Priorities, we’re going all-in to make sure Trump’s a one-term President.

— 2020 —

Report shows 18,000 mail-in ballots rejected in Florida in March primary, and 538,000 nationwide” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — A report estimates 18,000 mail-in ballots were rejected in Florida in the March presidential primary, with more than 558,000 rejected nationwide. The report, which comes amid attempts by President Donald Trump to inaccurately portray mail-in voting as “fraud,” instead shows a much greater danger of legitimate ballots not being counted. The report, by National Public Radio, showed a much higher rejection rate nationwide in the presidential primaries than the more than 318,000 rejections in 2016.

Shock report: Margaret Good voted against bill to outlaw child sex dolls via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — In 2019, the Legislature voted unanimously to pass a bill making it illegal to sell or possess childlike sex dolls. House vote records show that Rep. Good switched her vote from a yes to a no days after it cleared the Legislature. The change made Good the only lawmaker to vote against the bill. Vote changing isn’t rare. For Good, however, it was the only instance in the 2019 Session where she switched her vote, all but guaranteeing the switch would go unnoticed. Just one hour before Good changed her vote, she cast a separate vote in support of legislation (HB 7125) that increased the threshold for what constitutes a felony for certain criminal offenses.

Ballot images battle goes to appeals court via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Elections Supervisors in eight large counties have gone to a state appeals court in a dispute about whether they should be required to preserve digital images generated when voters cast ballots. The Supervisors Of Elections in Broward, Orange, Lee, Duval, Hillsborough, Palm Beach, Pinellas and Miami-Dade counties filed a notice of appeal last week after a Leon County circuit judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by three Democratic lawmakers, the Florida Democratic Party and individual voters. The lawsuit, filed last month, involves digital images that are generated after voters fill out paper ballots and feed the ballots into scanners.


Setting the table — “Andrew Learned, Michael Owen face tough battle for the future partisan makeup of HD 59 via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The race will likely be competitive, with Democrat Learned leaning on his military record and experience as a small-business owner to wage a moderate campaign that can reach voters on both sides of the aisle. Republican Owen ran a conservative primary campaign, touting endorsements from Christian groups and the anti-abortion Florida Right to Life PAC. He’s also spoken out against policies he says would “erase our history” and efforts to “demonize our men and women” in law enforcement, subtle nods against removing Confederate statues and the Defund the Police movement, respectively. This is Owen’s first political campaign, potentially putting him at a strategic disadvantage against Learned, who ran unsuccessfully for CD 15 in 2018.

Andrew Learned and Michael Owen are battling it our for the political makeup of HD 59.

—“Marco Rubio endorses Chuck Clemons in tight HD 21 campaign via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

—” Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg, local leaders endorse Joe Casello via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

—“Former Atlanta Hawks owner donates to Democrats running for Florida Legislature via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics


Just one vote: In Hardee County, Sandy Meeks wins Florida’s closest election via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Everyone knows someone who didn’t vote, or someone who says he or she would have voted differently given a chance … or worse, someone who thought their vote didn’t matter. Don’t tell that to Meeks or Colon Lambert. A hand-recount Monday of undervotes and overvotes in the Hardee County Commission District 1 Primary Election resulted in one ballot being added for Meeks, breaking a tie and electing Meeks. Final vote: 1,532 votes for Meeks and 1,531 for Lambert. There are no Democrats, independents, or write-in candidates in the contest. So last Tuesday’s Republican primary was open to all voters. And with Monday’s recount, Meeks, the former office manager for the Hardee County Commission, was elected.

Who says a single votes doesn’t count? Sandy Meeds won a Hardee County Commission seat by just a single vote.

Amid Venezuela scandal, David Rivera wins election in Miami-Dade via The Associated Press — Democrats are sharpening attacks on a former congressman who was quietly elected to the Miami GOP’s executive committee despite a federal investigation into a $50 million lobbying contract with a favorite Republican target in south Florida: Venezuela’s socialist government. Rivera’s election to the 160-member committee, which has not been previously reported, was largely overlooked amid the results of Miami’s Aug. 18 primaries. Rivera, who lost his reelection attempt in 2012 but retained strong name recognition, won 35% of the ballots cast by Republicans in the 23rd district of Miami Dade county. Democrats are hopeful the scandal-plagued politician’s comeback attempt could undermine what they see as red-baiting by the Trump campaign, which compares Democrat nominee Biden’s policies to those of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

Assignment editors — The Daniella Levine Cava campaign hosts a virtual news conference to announce a key endorsement in her bid for Miami-Dade County Mayor, 10 a.m. Register at

“‘Most consequential election in Santa Rosa County in 20 years’: What’s next for the county? via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — “I think we sent a strong message that the commissioners work for the citizens, and we, as the taxpayers, are wanting some change,” said Dara Hartigan, leader of the Save Our Soundside group, a citizen activist group founded around two years ago to provide an organized voice against what they say is overdevelopment, depletion of local natural resources and a squeeze on existing infrastructure. “We unseated two incumbents. … I think that (Tuesday’s) message is that the citizens count, and going into the 2022 (election), that message is going to resonate for the next two years, at least, when Districts 2 and 4 are up for reelection.”


State reports 72 new deaths as some signs suggest virus’ spread is slowing via Jane Musgrave of The Palm Beach Post — The pace of the spread of the deadly coronavirus continued to slow on Monday as the number of new cases continued to drop and the percentage of people testing positive neared levels sought by global health experts, according to the Florida Department of Health. Florida tallied 2,258 new cases, the lowest level since June 15, when 1,758 additional people tested positive for the highly contagious respiratory disease. The additional cases pushed the state’s total caseload to 602,829. At the same time, the state’s daily positivity rate dropped to 5.20%. Before Saturday, when it dipped to 4.89%, the state hadn’t recorded a daily positivity rate below 6.0% since June 13.

How starving public health fueled a COVID-19 fire in Florida via Laura Ungar, Jason Dearen and Hannah Recht of The Associated Press — Although Florida’s population grew by 2.4 million since 2010 to make it the nation’s third-most populous state, a joint investigation has found, the state slashed its local health departments’ staffing, from 12,422 full-time equivalent workers to 9,125 in 2019, the latest data available. According to an analysis of state data, the state-run local health departments spent 41% less per resident in 2019 than in 2010, dropping from $57 to $34 after adjusting for inflation. Departments nationwide have also cut spending, but by less than half as much ― an average of 18%, according to data from the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

It was under Gov. Rick Scott when health care funding in Florida dropped significantly. How we are all paying the price. Image via AP.

Florida family calls nursing home isolation a death sentence via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times — Since March, a governor’s executive order has barred visitors from nursing homes and assisted living facilities in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Although the order allowed homes to make exceptions for certain family members to visit their relatives, most homes refused. Ron DeSantis should end the isolation policy, and include “emotional caregivers” like her and her sister, she said. He “should have mandated they do Zoom meetings with families, something to allow family contact,” Nan Thomas said, because “you can’t put these old people in rooms alone 24/7. “Thomas’ mother Rita is staying in an assisted living facility and has been impacted by the DeSantis’ order.

COVID-19 hamstrings long-term care advocate program — Thousands of Florida nursing home residents without friends or family have been cut off from their only link to the outside world — the network of volunteer advocates who regularly check on them. Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO is reporting that nearly 60% of the state’s 140,000 long-term care residents rely on the Florida Long-term Care Ombudsman Program, staffed by volunteers who advocate, provide companionship and serve as watchdogs for the nursing home industry. Since the coronavirus pandemic began in early March, Sarkissian notes, facilities have refused entry to these volunteers, isolating thousands of seniors.

Assignment editors — The Task Force on the Safe and Limited Reopening of Long-Term Care Facilities will hold a virtual meeting at 2 p.m., both livestreamed and e available via The Florida Channel. More information on the Task Force can be found here.

Inmate COVID-19 death toll reaches 84” via News Service of Florida — Three Florida inmates died from complications of COVID-19 over the weekend, bringing the death toll among prisoners to 84, according to data released Monday by the state Department of Corrections. August has been the deadliest month in Florida’s prison system since the start of the pandemic, with 33 inmates and three correctional officers dying of COVID-19. In July, the second deadliest month, 25 inmates died of COVID-19. As more inmates and workers get sick, DeSantis’ response has remained focused on testing and isolating symptomatic people. As of midday Monday, 15,366 inmates and 2,424 corrections workers had tested positive for the virus.


Judge: Reopening public schools ‘disregards safety’” via Tamara Lush and Bobby Caina Calvan of The Associated Press — A Florida judge temporarily blocked DeSantis and top education officials from forcing public schools to reopen brick-and-mortar classrooms amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, ruling that the state’s order “arbitrarily disregards safety.” But the temporary injunction issued Monday by Leon County Judge Charles Dodson was immediately put on hold when the state appealed the ruling. In his ruling, Dodson said the mandate to reopen schools usurped local control from school districts in deciding for themselves whether it was safe for students, teachers and staffers to return. “The districts have no meaningful alternative,” the judge wrote in his opinion.

A Leon County Circuit judge gave a smackdown to Ron DeSantis and Richard Corocoran in their school reopening order.

Keeping schools closed could cost the U.S. economy at least $700 billion via Lisa Beilfuss of Barron’s — The only thing standing between a recovery and a double-dip recession might be the back-to-school season. As August turns to September, some 56 million K-12 students are starting a school year like no other. Most students will be learning from home; others will be back in school full time; still others will experience a hybrid model that combines the two. The risks to reopening schools are clear but the costs of keeping schools closed could be even higher. Schools are a vital, if often overlooked, cog in the U.S. economy. They provide child care for working parents, fuel spending at retailers, and fund businesses that provide food for cafeterias and dispose of the garbage they create. Their absence could cost the economy $700 billion in lost revenue and productivity, and that’s before considering potential long-term damage to the labor market.

Florida schools are reopening so we can go back to work. Businesses have other ideas. via Natalie Weber of the Tampa Bay Times — In pushing for schools to reopen, DeSantis has argued that the decision is vital to helping Florida’s economy recover. But across industries, many employers say reopening classrooms is having little influence on whether they are summoning people back to the office. Those who must work in-person do, but leaders at other companies say they will continue to keep their employees at home and adjust when things look safe. “The pandemic is still driving that decision,” said Danny Rice, with commercial real estate management company Colliers International. As school districts debated whether or not to bring kids back this fall, Clearwater-based cybersecurity education firm KnowBe4 gave parents the option to work remotely through the end of the school year, if they wanted their kids to do online schooling. The company also offered to talk with parents if they wished to help making a decision and allows its employees to work flexible schedules around their family needs.

Private schools get millions in federal aid, aren’t tied to same reopening rules as public campuses via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — Central Florida private schools received millions in CARES Act money this year, including forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans, while not being tied to the same social distancing and reopening requirements as their public counterparts. Some public school advocates say they think private schools were allowed to “double-dip” because they received two forms of federal aid, a portion of relief dollars allocated to public districts on top of PPP loans, which were intended to help businesses weather the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic without laying off workers. Public districts weren’t eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program dollars, and the U.S. Department of Education required them to share a portion of their CARES Act money with local private schools.

Partial Zoom outage is fixed after school disruptions via Alan Yuhas of The New York Times — A widespread outage on the video call service Zoom caused problems for students, teachers and professors around the United States on Monday morning, the first day of classes for many schools and universities that are reopening online because of the coronavirus pandemic. The partial outage, which lasted almost four hours, took place just as working and school hours began on the East Coast and affected the wide variety of people who now rely on Zoom as a lifeline. Businesses could not make video calls to clients, courthouses could not conduct hearings, and city and county governments had to postpone meetings.

Department of Health lists 24 Duval County school-related COVID-19 cases via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — Less than two weeks since private and public schools resumed in Duval County, the Florida Department of Health reported 24 COVID-19 cases in the county’s elementary, middle and high schools. That number is part of a new data set included in the state department’s daily COVID-19 report. According to the department, the new segment tracks student and staff cases related to schools based on residency (not school location). It does not differentiate between public and private schools. Statewide, the department said 559 COVID-19 cases related to primary and secondary schools were recorded between Aug. 10 and Sunday in its Monday morning report. An additional 1,351 elementary, middle and high school-related COVID-19 cases were recorded by the department between March 1 and Aug. 10.

Principals say Lee County’s in-person summer school made them feel ‘ready’ for back-to-school via Pamela McCabe of the Fort Myers News-Press — There are many what-ifs surrounding teaching and learning in the new COVID-19 landscape, where students are required to wear masks, sit farther away from each other and follow new rules in school for the sake of public health. But Lee County principals who opened their schoolhouses for a three-week, in-person summer school program say the experience has helped them feel ready for what’s to come. “We’ve had a dry run with a handful of kids and we’re ready for them,” said Jackson Morgan, principal of Lehigh Elementary School. Because of the sudden pivot from in-person to distance learning at the end of the year, the district opened up an “Expanded Learning Virtual Program” to help keep students engaged in learning during the summer. School spokesperson Rob Spicker said the voluntary program reached about 15,000 students.

COVID-19 exposure concerns lead veteran teacher to resign via Erin Murray of Bay News 9 — Jessica Smith, with five years of teaching under her belt, decided to put in her resignation. “With figuring out a new technological platform, while not being able to circulate around the room checking on the kids in class, because we are supposed to be trying to maintain our distance, and also, now that I am streaming to someone, I need to be visible to them on camera too, right?” Smith said. As of August 17, 90 teachers retired through the DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Program), with 58 other retirements, and 252 people resigned. DROP is a program where state employees choose to enter years earlier and set their retirement date. Usually that date is five years out, but many came due this year, the school district said. It is also important to note in the 2019-2020 school year, 245 people retired, which is only seven fewer than this year.

Former teacher Jessica Smith, is resigning over exposure to COVID-19. Image via Spectrum Bay News 9.

Report shows COVID-19 cases popping up on campuses via Ana Ceballos of The News Service Of Florida — More than 700 coronavirus cases have been linked to K-12 schools and higher education institutions over two weeks as students and employees began returning to campuses across the state, according to a Florida Department of Health report. The report breaks down the number of cases tied to elementary, middle and high schools, as well as colleges, universities and trade schools. Altogether, 714 people, including students and employees, have tested positive for COVID-19 since Aug. 10. The cases reflect a two-week period in which thousands of students throughout the state returned to classrooms or began moving into dorm rooms at colleges and universities.


COVID-19 turned their Miami Springs nursing home into a death trap. The virus killed 52. via Meghan Bobrowsky, Shirsho Dasgupta, Kevin G. Hall, and Ben Wieder of the Miami Herald — After the Miami Springs nursing home Fair Havens Center locked down in March, Maria Garcia would still drive 50 miles a day round trip to talk to her esposo through a window. COVID-19 was sweeping through the nation, and Maria was worried. But her husband, Jose Garcia, better known as “Cheo,” was fine as far as she could tell. Cheo was a jokester and would play tricks on her, like pretending to be asleep, to lighten the mood. Then in late April, a private laboratory tested all the residents. The day the results came back, the nursing home reported 86 new positive cases. By the end of August, COVID-19 had claimed 52 residents.

Fair Havens Center has become a COVID-19 ‘death trap.’

Miami Dolphins to allow 13,000 fans to home opener vs. Bills at Hard Rock Stadium via Hal Habib of The Palm Beach Post — The Dolphins announced a plan Monday morning to allow 13,000 fans to attend their home-opener Sept. 20 against Buffalo. The plan equates to 20 percent capacity to allow for social distancing and only applies to the first home game. The Dolphins will make determinations on subsequent home games in stages, depending on the area’s response to COVID-19. “If the data and the marketplace should get worse, it’s possible we’ll have games in the future with no fans,” Dolphins Vice Chairman and CEO Tom Garfinkel said. “If it gets better, it’s possible we end up with maybe a half-full stadium.” Season-ticket holders will get first priority for those 13,000 tickets. Those who choose to attend will be grouped with their party. The Dolphins say they will assure 6 feet of distance between parties by covering all seats within that 6-foot perimeter.

—“While Dolphins will allow a limited amount of fans at football games, Tampa Bay Bucs still uncertain via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida

Nude dancers, stripper poles and DJs: How cops busted secret pandemic parties” via Andrew Boryga of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Police in Miami busted two parties that violated county emergency orders and featured makeshift stripper poles, DJs, entrance fees, underage guests and alcohol for sale. They unearthed the parties thanks to old-fashioned police work — done mostly by scrolling on Instagram. On Aug. 22, Miami-Dade police saw a flyer on Instagram advertising a party called Blow Money Fast at a secret location. The flyer was posted by an account linked to Gerald Silvene, 40, police said. It promised tight security, table service and 5,000 balloons that would drop from the ceiling.


“‘Expect the unexpected:’ Small Orlando businesses struggle to stay afloat as pandemic aid runs dry via Austin Fuller of the Orlando Sentinel — Many small businesses in Orlando are still struggling to survive as federal assistance like Paycheck Protection Program loans have been used up after months of slumping sales and coronavirus restrictions. Some places have shut their doors permanently. According to a second quarter report from the review site Yelp, there were 5,300 permanent business closures in Florida since March 1. After Congress adjourned for the month without a deal for another round of coronavirus relief, Central Florida small businesses also have differing views on how the government should help out as the pandemic drags on.

Pinellas sheriff tested negative for coronavirus a week after diagnosis via Kathryn Varn of the Tampa Bay Times — Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is feeling better a week after being diagnosed with coronavirus, he said Monday. The sheriff said he got tested Friday at a community health center and received a negative result on Saturday, a week after his agency announced that he had come down with the virus. He dealt with some fatigue and headaches, but it was overall a mild case, he said. He still can’t taste or smell — “I can’t even smell bleach,” he said. “I have a lot of sympathy for those who have moderate and severe cases,” Gualtieri said. “It’s terrible. I’m a very lucky one to only experience the minor symptoms I did.”

Bob Gualtieri has tested negative after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Collier, Lee athletes must sign COVID-19 waivers, but will they protect schools in court? via Adam Fisher of the Naples Daily News — The NCAA president has said he is against requiring athletes to sign waivers releasing colleges from liability should players contract the coronavirus. This summer, two U.S. Senators sponsored a bill that would make it illegal for colleges to force athletes to sign COVID-19 waivers. Yet as high school athletes prepare to return to practice in Southwest Florida, they are required to sign documents releasing local school districts from responsibility if the players contract COVID-19. School officials say the waivers are educational — that they spell out the risks of playing sports during the pandemic so students can protect themselves. However, there is clear language in the documents that doesn’t hold the districts responsible in the event of an infection.

Panama City area churches heed the call to give during COVID-19 pandemic via Tony Simmons of the Panama City News-Herald — Area churches are following the Christian mandate to help others who may be less fortunate as they navigate through this COVID-19 infected world. For instance, Gulf Beach Presbyterian Church has hosted food giveaways by Mercy Chefs on Aug. 12 and 19. Giveaways will continue to those who need it on a first-come, first-served basis from 9-10 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 26, and Sept. 2, 9, 16 and 25. On Aug. 12, another group, CityReach, dropped off “encouragements” including coffee drinks, granola bars and more to Ascension Sacred Heart/Bay Medical Center’s COVID Unit.


New COVID-19 cases in U.S. fall to lowest level in more than two months via Allison Prang and Adam Martin of The Wall Street Journal — The number of new coronavirus infections in the U.S. declined from a day before, reaching the lowest level in more than two months and notching a ninth straight day with fewer than 50,000 new cases. The nation reported 34,567 new cases on Sunday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. That is down from 44,572 on Saturday and the lowest since June 22, when the U.S. reported 30,536 new cases. Case counts, however, often dip at the start of the week. Total infections in the U.S. have now passed 5.7 million, nearly a quarter of the world’s roughly 23.42 million, according to Johns Hopkins data. More than 808,000 people worldwide have died, including more than 176,000 in the U.S.

As Trump pushes COVID-19 vaccine, FDA soothes fears via Sarah Owermohle of POLITICO — FDA chief Stephen Hahn is stepping up efforts to convince Americans that his agency won’t sacrifice the safety or efficacy of a coronavirus vaccine for the sake of speed, even as Trump is urging the agency to move faster on COVID-19 shots and treatments. News late Sunday that the FDA would authorize emergency use of convalescent plasma despite questions about its effectiveness renewed many public health experts’ fears that the administration will rush through a COVID-19 vaccine without proof that it works. But it’s not clear whether Hahn’s efforts will persuade Americans who are hesitant about taking a coronavirus vaccine to do so.

FDA chief Steven Hahn is trying to convince Americans his agency will not sacrifice safety to develop a vaccine.

Thousands allowed to bypass environmental rules in pandemic via Ellen Knickmeyer, Cathay Bussewitz, John Flesher, Matthew Brown and Michael Casey of The Associated Press — Thousands of oil and gas operations, government facilities and other sites won permission to stop monitoring for hazardous emissions or otherwise bypass rules intended to protect health and the environment because of the coronavirus outbreak. The result: approval for less environmental monitoring at some Texas refineries and at an army depot dismantling warheads armed with nerve gas in Kentucky, manure piling up and the mass disposal of livestock carcasses at farms in Iowa and Minnesota, and other risks to communities as governments eased enforcement over smokestacks, medical waste shipments, sewage plants, oil fields and chemical plants.


Grace period for Duke Energy customers ending in September via Tampa Bay 10 staff reports — Back in March, Duke Energy and other utility companies announced they would suspend disconnecting service for those who couldn’t make payments. The grace period was enacted because of financial impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Five months later, Duke Energy said it’s ending the grace period and will begin disconnecting service for nonpayment as early as next week. On its website for Florida customers, Duke Energy posted a reminder about the grace period ending at the top of the page. It also links to a company resource for those who need help paying their bill, including requesting extra days to pay or making a 3-6 month payment plan.

To-go drinks an elixir for public, a lifeline for business via Dee-Ann Durbin of The Associated Press — At least 33 states and the District of Columbia are temporarily allowing cocktails to-go during the pandemic. Only two, Florida and Mississippi, allowed them on a limited basis before coronavirus struck, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. Struggling restaurants say it’s a lifeline, letting them rehire bartenders, pay rent and reestablish relationships with customers. But others want states to slow down, saying the decades-old laws help ensure public safety. Julia Momose closed Kumiko, her Japanese-style cocktail bar in Chicago, on March 16. The next day, Illinois allowed bars and restaurants to start selling unopened bottles of beer, wine and liquor, but mixed drinks were excluded.

To-go drinks are becoming a lifeline for businesses. Image via AP.

De Beers cuts diamond prices after COVID-19 curbs demand via Thomas Biesheuvel of Bloomberg — De Beers has finally decided to cut the price of its diamonds in a bid to spark sales after the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed the industry. De Beers, the world’s No. 1 producer, told customers that it is cutting prices for larger stones by almost 10% at its sale starting this week, according to people familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified as the details are private. The Anglo American Plc unit, along with Russian rival Alrosa PJSC, had previously tried to defend the value of the gems as the pandemic hammered the sector. With jewelry stores closed, cutters and polishers stuck at home and global travel at a standstill, the entire diamond industry ground to a halt. In the second quarter, De Beers and Alrosa sold a combined $130 million in rough diamonds, down from $2.1 billion a year earlier.


Hong Kong man’ first case’ documented of getting coronavirus twice, researchers say via Jacqueline Howard of CNN Politics — A 33-year-old man living in Hong Kong had COVID-19 twice this year, according to preliminary research. He had symptoms the first time around, but no apparent symptoms the second time, the team at the University of Hong Kong reported Monday. The preprint study found that the man’s second case of COVID-19 occurred 142 days after the first. During his first episode of illness, the patient had a cough, sore throat, fever and headache for three days, according to the study. He tested positive for COVID-19 on March 26. Then during his second episode, the patient was returning to Hong Kong from traveling in Spain via the United Kingdom, and he tested positive during his entry screening at the Hong Kong airport on August 15, the researchers said. The man was hospitalized again but remained asymptomatic.

A man in Hong Kong is the first documented care of COVID-19 reinfection.

China says it began public use of COVID-19 vaccine a month ago, bypassing clinical trials via Eva Dou of The Washington Post — China is claiming the dubious honor of the first nation to roll out an experimental coronavirus vaccine for public use, saying it began inoculating high-risk groups in late July. For those keeping score, that would put Beijing’s civilian rollout three weeks earlier than Russia’s, with neither vaccine having yet passed standard clinical trials. Beijing health officials said Saturday they began dosing some medical workers and state-owned enterprise employees with an experimental COVID-19 vaccine in late July under “urgent use” protocols. Officials around the world have been debating how far they should suspend ordinary drug-development protocols to get COVID-19 vaccines and treatments to market. Many governments declared early on that they would not cut corners in developing a vaccine. Still, they are proving amenable in practice to corner-cutting as the pandemic’s human and economic tolls mount.

China’s vaccine front-runner aims to beat COVID-19 the old-fashioned way via Bloomberg Businessweek staff reports — Many of the 200-plus COVID-19 vaccine projects underway around the world are focused on new technologies, inoculations based on messenger RNA, for example, or genetically modified cold viruses. The company developing one of China’s leading vaccine candidates, by contrast, is betting that humanity’s best chance may lie with a shot not too different from the kind that’s been in use for hundreds of years. Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech Ltd., a company with a strong medical track record but a turbulent corporate history, began final-stage trials in July on CoronaVac. Sinovac’s candidate has a good chance of entering commercial production almost as quickly as Moderna Inc.’s mRNA vaccine, or the genetically modified shot being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca PLC.


Mike Pence hopes four years of subservience to Trump will lift his political future via Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker of The Washington Post — When John Lewis died last month of pancreatic cancer at 80, Pence, now Vice President, held off on issuing a public comment on the civil rights hero’s passing. Trump was no fan of the late Congressman and openly complained about Lewis’s refusal to attend his inauguration. That hesitation, deferring to Trump for cues, and then following his lead, was classic Pence. It exemplified the well-honed subservience of a man who once governed his home state of Indiana but who as Vice President, has transformed himself into a loyal student and servant of Trump. Pence is betting that will pay off.

Four years of being Donald Trump’s yes man, Mike Pence is hoping it will pay off.

As Census count resumes, doubts about accuracy continue to grow via Michael Wines of The New York Times — With the 2020 Census into its final stage, more than one in three people hired as census takers have quit or failed to show up. Many still on the job are going door to door in areas that largely track places where there are elevated rates of coronavirus infections, according to calculations. And with 38 million households still uncounted, state and local officials are raising growing concerns that many poor and minority households will be left out of the count. Wracked by the pandemic and politics and desperately short of time, the last stage of the national population count — a Constitutional mandate to tally everyone living in the United States accurately — is unfolding in historic doubt.


Ron DeSantis’ office paid D.C. law firm $250,000 to defend felon voting law via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis’ office paid prominent Washington law firm Cooper & Kirk $250,000 to defend the state’s law banning people convicted of felonies from voting before they’ve paid off all court fees, fines and restitution to victims. According to the contract released by the governor’s office Monday, DeSantis general counsel Joe Jacquot inked the deal with the firm in November. The $250,000 flat fee covers the firm’s work for a year. Last week, the firm’s co-founder, Charles Cooper, represented Florida before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

Ron DeSantis paid a D.C. law firm $250K to represent the state in the former felon voting case. Image via AP.

John Morgan touts effort to help felons pay legal debts via News Service of Florida — Orlando attorney John Morgan and his firm Morgan & Morgan launched a fundraising campaign Monday to help felons regain the right to vote. As part of an effort to help the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition’s Fines and Fees Fund, Morgan announced he would match the first $100,000 in donations to his “Voice for Voters” campaign. The money is expected to help felons pay court-ordered financial obligations that keep them from completing all terms of their sentences after they are released from prison. “If we don’t act now, hundreds of thousands of Floridians will be silenced in this year’s election,” Morgan said in a prepared statement.

UWF balks at returning $2.4M to state — Fearing a massive budget crunch during a pandemic, leaders of the University of West Florida are pushing back against the state board of governors over $2.4 million in repayments for education programs previously under its control. As reported by POLITICO’S Andrew Atterbury, UWF trustees are seeking negotiations with state university system leaders instead of full payment, arguing that returning the funds would be a “devastating budget blow” during the pandemic. However, the board is standing firm. “I think we’re being bullied,” UNF trustee Lewis Bear Jr. told POLITICO. “We ought to at least dig our heels into the sand a little bit and ask for the negotiation.”


Florida Behavioral Health Association Annual Conference sets record — With more than 2,000 people participating, the Florida Behavioral Health Association (FBHA) annual conference, known as BHCon, set a record for registered attendees. Held last week, BHCon, the largest behavioral health conference in the southeast, was held virtually this year. Among the speakers were such state leaders as First Lady Casey DeSantis, Attorney General Moody, who spoke on the opioid epidemic, Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew and Department of Children and Families Secretary Chad Poppell. Hosting the conference virtually allowed many to attend who otherwise could not because of travel barriers, said Darcy Abbot, mental health coordinator for the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s Disaster Recovery unit.


Delray formally charges city manager: Allegations’ mind-blowing,’ one says via Mike Diamond of The Palm Beach Post — Suspended Delray Beach City Manager George Gretsas was formally charged by a 5-0 vote Monday with engaging in “a number of instances of misconduct” that warrant his firing. The latest set of charges against Gretsas are different from those that resulted in his suspension on June 24 when it was alleged that he bullied and harassed Assistant City Manager Suzanne Fisher, resulting in her going on medical leave May 15. According to City Attorney Lynn Gelin, the suspended city manager: Improperly put “cronies” on the city payroll to help him violate the city charter and state law.

Suspended Delray Beach City Manager George Gretsas was formally charged with several counts of misconduct. Image via Delray Beach Times.

Jacksonville City Council investigating JEA sales attempt will examine asking Mayor Lenny Curry to waive executive privilege via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — A Jacksonville City Council investigatory committee discussed but took no action Monday on asking Curry to waive the ability of upcoming witnesses to claim executive privilege about their conversations with Curry. City Council member Randy DeFoor contrasted the use of executive privilege with Curry’s pledge to cooperate with the committee, which is investigating last year’s attempted sale of JEA. But the council committee left unresolved whether the final round of witnesses can decline to answer certain kinds of questions about their conversations with Curry. Committee Chairwoman Brenda Priestly Jackson asked city attorneys to research the issue further, but she did not set a date for when the committee would make a decision one way or the other.

State Attorney Aramis Ayala demotes top assistant Deborah Barra after primary defeat via Grace Toohey of the Orlando Sentinel — Ayala this week eliminated the position of her second-in-command, effectively demoting Barra, who Ayala had once endorsed to replace her as Orlando’s top prosecutor. Ayala said in a statement Monday that she eliminated the role of chief assistant state attorney because it was “evident through statements made during the campaign that Barra and I have fundamental differences as it relates to how the office operates and our overall vision for the office.” The relationship between Ayala and Barra, who launched her campaign for state attorney with her boss’s endorsement in June 2019, rapidly and publicly disintegrated in the lead-up to last week’s primary, with Ayala shifting her support to the eventual winner, Monique Worrell.

University of Florida removes Loring monument from downtown St. Augustine via Sheldon Gardner of The Florida Times-Union — Crews working on behalf of the University of Florida Historic St. Augustine board removed the monument to William Loring, a Confederate major general, this morning. The monument has been moved to Trout Creek Fish Camp, the same place where the city’s Confederate memorial will be moved, said Ed Poppell, liaison to the UF Historic St. Augustine board. The Loring monument, an obelisk that included an image of a Confederate flag, was in a park just west of the Governor’s House Cultural Center and Museum. UF Historic St. Augustine is tasked with caring for state-owned properties in St. Augustine and received support from descendants of Loring to remove the monument, Poppell said.

Osceola County to sue Orange County over Split Oak election via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Osceola County plans to sue Orange County over an election initiative involving a controversial road through a nature preserve the two counties share. Osceola County wants the road. Orange County voters are being asked in November to stop it. In a virtual meeting Monday, the Osceola County Commission voted to approve an unannounced measure, taken up at an emergency meeting, to sue Orange County, and to seek a court injunction to prevent the Orange County election from taking place or invalidate the results if voters approve the measure. Osceola County wants to block Orange County from asking voters if they would like to offer special protective status to the Split Oak Forest Wildlife and Conservation Area.


These are the roads to Florida’s future via Jeb Bush with the Tampa Bay Times — Florida needs innovative ideas to ensure a promising future. The Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) program is exactly the kind of plan that will change Florida’s future for the better. This plan to create new roadways throughout Florida, in one form or another, has been discussed for decades. As a growing state, we must see it through, and to make sure it is done right, we must see it through now. The M-CORES plan has long been needed. Florida is growing, and we can’t stop it, nor should we. We need to be rising to meet this demand, rather than shrinking from it. And the time to do so is now. By being practical with the way we do this — making the corridors multiuse with different modes of transportation, utilities and broadband — the M-CORES plan has the potential to deliver many benefits for Florida. All of which can be done while still protecting the vital natural resources we have been blessed to steward.


There’s no winning the coronavirus recovery via Daniel Moss of Bloomberg Opinion — Many of the governments once lauded for their textbook COVID-19 responses, replete with strict lockdowns, sophisticated contact-tracing apps and clearly articulated policies, got tripped up by something in the end. In Singapore, it was an outbreak in foreign worker dorms. In South Korea, it was the premature reopening of nightclubs. Then other countries did nothing glaringly wrong and still suffered. It only goes to show that there’s no winning the coronavirus recovery. Malaysia is an excellent example from column B. Despite doing a lot of things right, it has seen the steepest collapse of major East Asian economies, with a decline in the gross domestic product of 17.1% from a year earlier. Malaysia moved quickly to implement tough movement control orders, while policymakers made significant interest rate cuts and introduced supplementary budgets, in addition to loan moratoriums.

The grand old meltdown via Tim Alberta of POLITICO Magazine — You could forgive a 17-year-old, who has come of age during Trump’s reign, for failing to recognize a cohesive doctrine that guides the President’s party. The supposed canons of GOP orthodoxy — limited government, free enterprise, institutional conservation, moral rectitude, fiscal restraint, global leadership — have gone from elastic to expendable. Identifying this intellectual vacuum is easy. Far more difficult is answering the question of what has filled it. I decided to call Republican pollster Frank Luntz: “I don’t know how to answer that. There is no consistent philosophy. You can’t say it’s about making America great again at a time of COVID and economic distress and social unrest. It’s just not credible … That’s the best I can do.”

Why Trump so often says the quiet part out loud via Max Boot of The Washington Post — Politics at its highest level has always been a realm of healthy egos and personal ambitions cloaked as public needs. Yet even the most driven politicians usually recognize the need to serve some cause greater than their own self-interest. There are few profiles in courage, but even politicians who act out of sheer expediency are usually troubled by occasional pangs of guilt. Trump is, therefore, a unique, or at least very unusual, specimen of homo politicus. He shows no sign of being aware of any interest that he should serve other than his own. Doing the right thing, for him, is simply doing whatever he thinks will benefit him the most. What makes Trump truly extraordinary is not just that he acts so unethically. It is that he is so open about it, because he can’t conceive there would be anything wrong with anything he does to help himself.

Judge correctly gives power back to local school boards via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Local school boards have rightly regained the power to decide when schools can safely reopen classrooms during this pandemic. Local boards can weigh the best medical evidence, not worry about financial penalties wielded by the state, in making such important steps. That’s thanks to Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson, who ruled Monday in favor of the Florida Education Association’s legal challenge to the state’s forced reopening of schools before the end of August. The Florida Department of Education had required all 67 districts to file reopening plans that gave students the option of returning to class by Aug. 31 if the districts wanted to receive millions of dollars in state money. That was an arbitrary date that didn’t take into account the safety of doing so.

Having fans at Miami Dolphins, Hurricanes games this fall is a bad idea and big risk via Greg Cote of the Miami Herald — Hard Rock Stadium officials are trying their best to assure Miami Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes football fans they will be taking every possible precaution to keep everyone safe in announcing on Monday that a limited number of fans would be permitted at home games this season. Well, they are not taking every possible precaution. Not the safest one of all, in fact. The safest by far. That precaution would be not allowing fans at all — like most every other major sports league is doing. The vast majority of NFL teams have said they will have no fans this season or at least to start. Leaders decided that allowing 13,000 fans to be at Dolphins and Canes games starting next month will be safe … enough.


A Leon County Circuit Judge delivered a swift gut punch to DeSantis and Education Commissioner Corcoran by blowing up their emergency order forcing Florida schools to reopen classrooms by the end of the month or lose money. It was a huge win for the Florida Education Association.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— Meanwhile, in Miami, DeSantis sounds like he’s warming up for a victory lap in the fight against COVID-19.

— Before the judge issued his ruling on school reopening, DeSantis said the Department of Health reported 2,258 new cases of coronavirus Monday, with 72 more fatalities. The statewide death toll is 10,534, and the total number of infections is just short of 603,000.

— The Republican National Convention is underway. Florida Republicans are getting screen time while Florida Democrats trash the President from the sidelines.

— Sunrise takes a deep dive into the huddle as the Miami Dolphins announce the reopening of Hard Rock Stadium for football fans next month. Seating is limited; masks are mandatory.

— Checking-in with a Trump-supporting Florida Man who is facing criminal charges after deputies say he punched a neighbor in a dispute over their yard signs.

To listen, click on the image below:



View this post on Instagram


Ready for election zoom season

A post shared by Steve Schale (@steveschale) on

— ALOE —

CFP selection committee set to release 1st ranking Nov. 17 via Ralph D. Russo of The Associated Press — The College Football Playoff unveiled a revised schedule for its weekly rankings, with the first set pushed back two weeks to Nov. 17 and the final list now on tap for Dec. 20. The pandemic has caused the 10 major college football conferences to rearrange their schedules, with some delaying the start 1-3 weeks. Leagues are also preparing to push back their championship games to as late as Dec. 19. Four conferences, including the Big Ten and Pac-12, have postponed the fall season altogether. CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock said originally planned playoff dates and sites remain in place. The semifinals are scheduled to be held Jan. 1 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, and Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. The championship game is slated for Jan. 11 in Miami Gardens.

The College Football Playoff unveiled a revised schedule for its weekly rankings, with the first set for November. Image via AP.

Disney leads old media giants in making money from streaming via Christopher Palmeri of Bloomberg — Online video is becoming serious business for some of America’s oldest and largest media companies, with Walt Disney Co. leading the pack. Disney will generate an estimated $11.2 billion in direct-to-consumer revenue this year, according to a report released by Macquarie Research. That would account for 19% of its total sales — a level rivals in traditional media haven’t matched.

Netflix documentary in the works on civil rights attorney Ben Crump” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — The year-long project includes interviews from Crump’s law partners, investigators, family and community leaders in Tallahassee, where he’s headquartered. Crump and his team orchestrated logistics as thousands, including celebrities, mourned the death of 46-year-old George Floyd, whose controversial death in May while under arrest for passing a counterfeit bill in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sparked countless protests in the U.S. and a global end to police brutality. The film produced by #BlackAF and “Blackish” creator Kenya Barris is slated to debut next year. It will be directed by Nadia Hallgren, who netted two Emmy nominations for directing former First Lady Michelle Obama‘s Netflix “Becoming” documentary.

State program approves robotic ‘legs’ for severely injured children via Rosanne Dunkelberger of Florida Politics — An innovative technology could soon greatly expand the world of some of Florida’s most vulnerable children. The Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association (NICA), a state program that provides lifetime support and care to families with children affected by catastrophic birth-related neurological injuries, has agreed to purchase Trexo Robotics gait trainers for all qualified children. The robotic “legs” offer newfound mobility, allowing them to be upright and walk extended distances, a step forward for children mostly limited to a wheelchair and/or passive movement through therapy. So far, three NICA children have received the new gait trainers, and another seven are currently going through the approval process to obtain this cutting-edge technology.

The Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association (NICA) is purchasing high-tech exoskeletons from Trexo Robotics to help severely injured children to walk.


Best wishes to POLITICO Florida’s Gary Fineout.


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

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as 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. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn