Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.17.20

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Don't miss your first look at stories driving today's agenda in Florida politics.

Before we tackle Hurricane Sally and the pandemic and a slew of new TV ads, I want to thank all of the Sunburn readers who helped make this happen for Ella Joyce.

It hasn’t been an easy year for any of us, but there are still so many rays of light and hope.

Michelle and I thank you for your generosity and assistance.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@KyleGriffin1: Why would the President ever — ever — when talking about American COVID deaths, start a sentence with, “If you take the blue states out …”?

@JesseLehrich: imagine if thousands of rural Americans were dying & [Barack] Obama said red-state deaths don’t count.

@CDCDirector: I 100% believe in the importance of vaccines and the importance in particular of a #COVID19 vaccine. A COVID-19 vaccine is the thing that will get Americans back to normal everyday life. The best defense we currently have against this virus are the important mitigation efforts of wearing a mask, washing your hands, social distancing and being careful about crowds.

@JimmyPatronis: Just got off the phone with @NikkiFriedFL who’s offered support & resources of @FDACS to help recover from #Sally. Our state Fire Marshal’s Office works in close coordination with DACS. Thank you to their great team & we’ll work together to get the Panhandle back on its feet.

@AnniePNJ: Waffle Houses across Pensacola are fully closed. This is not a good sign

@Taniel: Do a 10% lead for Mark Kelly, a 16% lead in [Joe] Biden in MN, a 10% lead for Biden in WI, a 21% lead for Biden in ME, still count as “outliers” — if they all come within 24 hours from 4 pollsters? These may all be skewed & off for similar reasons. But “outlier” feels wrong term here.

@DrMacManus: Just wondering why statewide public opinion polls with around 400 Florida respondents are still being taken seriously, especially when they dissect the data by race & ethnicity. Florida’s Latino, black, and Asian voters are hardly monolithic.

@AveryJaffe: Basically: As goes @AmyMercado, so goes the nation

@PonieWozik: I don’t have strong feelings about Jim Carrey as Biden. Maybe he’ll be good! But continually hiring outside stars for big roles just underlines how SNL is more concerned with the *impression* of the person (voice, likeness) than the *idea* of the person (writing, character)

— DAYS UNTIL —

Rescheduled date for the French Open — 3; First presidential debate in Indiana — 12; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 16; Ashley Moody’s 2020 Human Trafficking Summit — 19; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 20; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 26; Second presidential debate scheduled in Miami — 28; NBA draft — 29; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 29; NBA free agency — 31; Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum — 33; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 35; 2020 General Election — 47; “Black Widow” premieres — 50; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 55; The Masters begins — 56; College basketball season slated to begin — 63; “No Time to Die” premieres — 64; Pixar’s “Soul” premieres — 64; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 76; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 76; “Wonder Woman 1984” rescheduled premiere — 99; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 143; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 156; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 288; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 309; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 317; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 417; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 513; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 566; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 747.

— #SALLY —

Heartbreak and devastation in Pensacola after Sally: Residents begin to venture out” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — There was little standing water along Nine Mile Road, but debris littered the area and surrounding residential roads. Signs above businesses were twisted and shredded like sheets of paper, and along thoroughfares like Chemstrand and Roberts roads lines of cars took turns navigating around downed trees and dangling powerlines. In Cantonment, residents of the Bristol Park area saw a heartbreaking repeat of the flooding that devasted the area in 2014. Escambia County authorities spent much of the morning using high water vehicles to rescue people in homes. Nearby, emergency responders blocked off access to Highway 297-A. A small lake had formed just outside at the nearby Ashbury Hills neighborhood, forcing commuters hoping to check on their loved ones and properties to find another way home.

Hurricane Sally ravaged hard-hit Escambia County.

Three Mile Bridge suffers massive damage after Sally topples crane, section missing” via the Pensacola News Journal — Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan confirmed a section of Three Mile Bridge is missing, the largest reported damage to date from Hurricane Sally. Photographs posted on social media are showing damage to the surface of the Pensacola Bay Bridge. The images indicate a crane fell on the bridge and knocked away a section of the road. “They’re working it right now, the emergency ops folks, are working to get a tug out there right now to get it to stop,” Morgan said. Another barge is loose and drifting in Escambia Bay toward the Interstate 10 bridge. The Florida Department of Transportation said it will not be able to assess any possible damage to the bridge until conditions are safer.

Curfew declared in Escambia County and city of Pensacola in wake of Sally” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — All of Escambia County will be under a nightly curfew beginning at sunset Wednesday as teams are still going house to house rescuing flood victims from Hurricane Sally. The curfew will be in place in both the city of Pensacola and unincorporated Escambia County. “We will be enacting a curfew from dusk to dawn for the next three days,” Escambia County Public Safety Director Jason Rogers said Wednesday. “That curfew will be enforced by the law enforcement community that will be here, and we will reevaluate the need for that curfew in three days.” Sheriff Morgan said the curfew was needed to protect homes vacated because of flooding or other damage from potential looting.

Ron DeSantis to travel to Pensacola Thursday to assess storm’s ‘severe’ impact” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — DeSantis on Tuesday said he plans to visit Pensacola today to assess Hurricane Sally’s “severe” impact. Speaking to reporters from the State Emergency Operations Center, DeSantis said he is unaware of any fatalities directly caused by the storm, although two individuals were found dead in Santa Rosa County from non-storm related causes. Moving forward, the state will now focus on recovery as Tropical Storm Sally advances inland beyond the Florida Panhandle. The Florida National Guard has activated roughly 500 Soldiers and Airmen. The Governor said their mission, among others, will include search and rescue, food and water distribution, shelter support, and route clearance. The FLNG will also begin aerial search and rescue missions tomorrow morning.

Ron DeSantis will travel to Escambia County to survey the damage from Hurricane Sally. Image via Jason Delgado.

At least 1 dead, hundreds rescued after Hurricane Sally” via the Associated Press — Hurricane Sally lumbered ashore near the Florida-Alabama line Wednesday with 105 mph winds and rain measured in feet, not inches, killing at least one person, swamping homes and forcing the rescue of hundreds as it pushed inland for what could be a slow and disastrous drenching across the Deep South. The death happened in Orange Beach, Alabama, according to Mayor Tony Kennon, who also told The Associated Press that one person was missing. Kennon said he couldn’t immediately release details.

After Sally: Rescue, recovery and a wary eye on rivers” via the Associated Press — Rivers swollen by Hurricane Sally’s rains threatened more misery for parts of the Florida Panhandle and south Alabama on Thursday. Coastal residents looked to begin the recovery from a storm that turned streets into rivers, ripped roofs off buildings, knocked out power to hundreds of thousands and killed at least one person. Gov. Ron DeSantis warned residents and visitors in flooded areas that they would need to remain vigilant as water from the hurricane subsides, because heavy rains to the north were expected to cause flooding in Panhandle rivers in coming days.

—“Pace woman recalls rescue after Hurricane Sally floodwaters trap her inside home” via Madison Arnold of the Pensacola News Journal

—“Volunteers rescue residents in Milton due to flooding” via the Pensacola News Journal

—“Walton deputies and good Samaritan rescue man from flooded home near Nick’s Seafood” via Northwest Florida Daily News

Sally packed a bigger punch than Escambia officials were expecting” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Hurricane Sally packed a punch that officials in Escambia County weren’t expecting. Although the Category 2 storm officially came ashore in Alabama early Wednesday, Pensacola and Escambia County spent most of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in the strongest winds Sally had to offer. Sally was the strongest storm to impact the Pensacola area since Hurricane Ivan, which occurred 16 years to the day as Sally. “I think many of us were beating ourselves up first thing this morning because the reports that we had gotten from the National Weather Service etc. led us to believe that while we would certainly have some impact from this storm, it would not be a direct hit on Escambia County,” Sheriff Morgan said.

Behind Sally, more storms loom in the Atlantic.” via The New York Times — Still recovering from Hurricane Laura and now bracing for Hurricane Sally, residents along the Gulf Coast and the Eastern Seaboard warily watched reports of other major storms developing in the Atlantic. On Monday, before Tropical Depression Rene dissolved, there were five concurrent named storms in the Atlantic, which has not happened since 1971, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Three are still active. This hurricane season has been among the most active on record, with 20 named storms so far. Along with the wildfires that have devastated the West Coast, scientists see the twin crises as yet more effects of climate change, which threatens to reshape America.

— MODELS —

To get a fair idea of how the presidential race is playing out, state polling is the way to go — particularly in battleground states like Florida. There are outlets that offer a poll of polls, gauging how Donald Trump or Biden are doing in select areas, then averaging the polls to get a general idea of who leads nationwide. Sunburn will be updating these forecasts as they come in:

CNN poll of polls: As of Sept. 13, the CNN average gives Biden a 51% chance of winning, with Trump at 43%.

FiveThirtyEight.com: As of Wednesday, Biden has a 76 in 100 chance of winning compared to Trump, who has a 23 in 100 shot. Even though the topline numbers haven’t changed all that much, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been movement at the state level. FiveThirtyEight also ranked individual states by the likelihood of delivering a decisive vote for the winning candidate in the Electoral College: Pennsylvania leads with 32%, while Florida comes in second with 14.6%. Other states include Wisconsin (9%) Michigan (6.5%), Arizona (6.4%), North Carolina (4.6%).and Minnesota (3.2%),

Joe Biden still holds a slight lead over Donald Trump.

PredictIt: As of Wednesday, the PredictIt trading market still has Biden in the lead, at $0.59 a share, with Trump priced at $0.44.

Real Clear Politics: As of Wednesday, the RCP average of polling top battleground states gives Biden a 49.0% likelihood of winning, with Trump getting 43.1%. Nearly every poll used in the RCP model has Biden up from anywhere between 2 and 13 points. A single Rasmussen poll has Trump up by one point.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball: Florida and North Carolina are significantly closer. Of the Leans Republican states, Trump’s leads in Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, and Texas, as well as for the single ME-2 electoral vote, appear to be quite small. So Trump has more work to do: He needs all of the Toss-ups just to get to a tie — which would be the craziest possible end to a crazy year, and where the Republicans likely would retain an advantage in a U.S. House of Representatives vote to determine the election. The Industrial North states, to us, remain the key to the election, with Nevada as an underappreciated GOP target as well.

— PRESIDENTIAL —

How Mike Bloomberg’s $100 million Florida bet may shape campaign” via Alexandra Jaffe and Brian Slodysko of the Associated Press — When the billionaire ended his presidential campaign in March, he pledged to spend “whatever it takes” to help Democrats defeat Trump. Less than two months before the election, he’s finally coming through. Facing questions about whether he would fulfill his promise, Bloomberg over the weekend moved to direct $100 million to Florida alone in support of Biden. It’s a massive sum on par with the resources he poured into helping Democrats retake the House in 2018 and could put Trump on defense in a state that is critical to his reelection.

Joe Biden campaign ramps up to $65M week in Florida, other swing states” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Biden‘s campaign announced Wednesday it is again ramping up advertising in Florida and other swing states, this time spending $65 million this week. The campaign also announced it is rolling out two new 30-second TV commercials, “Anthony,” which will air in Florida and Arizona, and “Little Brother,” which will air in five other swing states. Additionally, the campaign is launching two ads on television that pull excerpts from Biden’s speeches, showing Biden speaking directly to voters. “Unforgivable” uses a portion of Biden’s nomination acceptance speech promising to protect America no matter what. “Do Your Job” shows Biden’s speech in Wilmington, Delaware last week on the COVID-19 economic crisis.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

DNC drops new ad in Florida — The Democratic National Committee released a TV ad contrasts Trump’s public statements downplaying the severity of the coronavirus while privately admitting its dangers to journalist Bob Woodward. The ad will air on cable in the West Palm Beach media market as part of a six-figure buy. “Donald Trump was caught red-handed lying about the coronavirus, and now Floridians are paying the price,” DNC Chair Tom Perez said. “Over 12,600 Floridians have lost their lives, and the state’s economy continues to suffer — all because of Trump’s incompetence and his refusal to care about anyone but himself. Floridians know we can’t afford another four years of this failed, chaotic leadership, and this November, they’ll bring this disastrous and dishonest presidency to an end.”

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Is Biden ‘making the sale’ to Florida voters? Not according to Ron DeSantis” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Even during a state of emergency in the Panhandle, the political questions continue for DeSantis. The Governor, on Fox News Wednesday afternoon, contended that Biden wasn’t “making the sale” with persuadable voters in South Florida even to the levels Hillary Clinton was four years ago. “I think that Biden has not been able to make the sale with a lot of the voters that a Democrat would need to win,” DeSantis told host Bill Hemmer. “The difference between now and ’16,” DeSantis said, “you look at a place like Miami-Dade County. The President didn’t perform well there but he still won the state. He’s performing much better there.” The Governor’s take is buttressed by polling showing that Trump is making inroads, both at large within the county and among certain Hispanic communities.

Donald Trump fuels spread of altered Biden video, tweeting it twice” via Beatrice Dupuy of The Associated Press — A video altered to make it appear as though Biden played a song disparaging the police was viewed more than 4.5 million times on Twitter by Wednesday afternoon, its spread fueled by Trump, who tweeted it — twice. The video, which appears to show Biden playing a controversial song by the rap group N.W.A. during a campaign trip to Florida, was labeled as manipulated media by Twitter, but it continued to circulate widely. In the original video, Biden pulls out his cellphone and plays “Despacito,” a song by Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Luis Fonsi, who introduced him at a Hispanic Heritage Month event Tuesday in Kissimmee, Florida. In the altered video, N.W.A.’s “F—- Tha Police” plays.

Ivanka Trump to stump for dad in Tampa ‘fireside chat’” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Ivanka, Trump’s eldest daughter and an advisor, is traveling to Tampa Thursday for a “fireside chat” with her father’s supporters. “Florida holds a special place in my heart and I am excited to visit Tampa once again to support my father’s campaign,” Trump said. “The President has fought for Florida priorities, including combatting human trafficking, lowering prescription drug costs, increased access to childcare, cutting taxes for hardworking families, and prioritizing our great military. Trump will continue to be a champion for the people of Florida in his second term!” Details about the visit are sparse. The Trump campaign did not say exactly where the event will be, only that it is at noon in Tampa. Vikki Brill, chief of staff for Sen. Joe Gruters, will also participate. Fireside chats first began under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the early 1930s through 1944. During those addresses, Roosevelt addressed millions of Americans over the radio to quell tensions related to the recession, New Deal initiatives, and World War II.

Pro-Trump youth group enlists teens in secretive campaign likened to a ‘troll farm,’ prompting rebuke by Facebook and Twitter” via Isaac Stanley-Becker of The Washington Post — One tweet claimed coronavirus numbers were intentionally inflated, adding, “It’s hard to know what to believe.” Another warned, “Don’t trust Dr. [Anthony] Fauci.” A Facebook comment argued that mail-in ballots “will lead to fraud for this election,” while an Instagram comment amplified the erroneous claim that 28 million ballots went missing in the past four elections. The messages have been emanating in recent months from the accounts of young people in Arizona seemingly expressing their own views, standing up for Trump in a battleground state and echoing talking points from his reelection campaign. Far from representing a genuine social media groundswell, however, the posts are the product of a sprawling yet secretive campaign that experts say evades the guardrails put in place by social media companies to limit online disinformation of the sort used by Russia during the 2016 campaign.

Trump campaign hiding payments to top adviser embroiled in child support battle” via S.V. Date of HuffPost — Trump’s reelection campaign is hiding what it pays a top adviser who claims he speaks to the president daily and who is embroiled in a long-running dispute with a former lover over how much child support he can afford to pay. Jason Miller, who joined the reelection team in late spring after he served as an informal adviser since 2017, has not once appeared in the 2020 campaign’s filings on its expenses with the Federal Election Commission. If Miller can be shown to have a higher income than he has detailed, a court could force him to pay more child support.

Why are people sending the Biden-Kamala Harris campaign $19.08?” via Clyde McGrady of Roll Call — The notifications wouldn’t stop. It had been 24 hours since former Vice President Biden announced that Sen. Harris would be his running mate in his quest to win the White House. Soon after, the phone of the Democratic Party’s chief fundraiser was buzzing every other minute, alerting him that the campaign had just received another donation of exactly $19.08. It’s not uncommon for campaigns to solicit donations for particular amounts, like $7 or $23, to make the ask stand out, but a number that precise, down to the red cent, was strange. The ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. were springing into action to support one of their own, Harris, who pledged at Howard University as an undergrad in the 1980s. But why $19.08? That’s the year the AKAs, the oldest Black sorority in America were founded. “The week after she was announced, I was getting one every 15 minutes,” says Cox. “It was that frequent.”

Close contest in Wisconsin; in Minnesota, not so much” via Gary Langer of ABC News —In Wisconsin heading into the final seven weeks of the 2020 presidential campaign, women, suburban residents and independents are among the groups lifting  Biden to a substantial lead in Minnesota, according to new ABC News/Washington Post polls. Trump benefits from much greater enthusiasm among his supporters, who are far more apt to plan to vote on Election Day. That makes Biden’s ability to mobilize early and absentee voting central to the outcome. Results are similar among the broader pool of registered voters, with Biden-Trump at 50%-46% in Wisconsin and 57%-40% in Minnesota in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.

— 2020 — 

‘I owe everything to America’: Anna Paulina Luna drives fast in new ad, ‘Always’” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Luna has released a new commercial to boost her in the race against incumbent Charlie Crist for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. The ad, which Luna posted to Twitter Tuesday night, is called “Always.” It features Luna speaking directly to the audience while walking down an airplane runway and speeding off in a red sports car. “Unlike the crooks in Congress, I’m not going to lie to your face and tell you what you want to hear,” Luna says in the ad. “I survived poverty, shootings and gangs. I joined the Air Force and I owe everything to America. And now, I’m fiercely independent because of it all.” Before Luna speeds away, engine roaring, she says, “We may not always agree, but unlike these career politicians, I’ll always serve you, not myself.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Luna threatens to sue Twitter over blue checkmark” via Josh Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times — Luna, who last month secured the Republican nomination to take on U.S. Rep. Crist in November, is threatening to sue Twitter because it hasn’t verified her account. She says the social media company is censoring her voice. A conservative and Hispanic social media darling, Luna has 195,000 followers on Twitter. Yet the blue checkmark next to her name that signifies verification has eluded her. “Ultimately I do feel that this is political prejudice,” she told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday. Verification indicates to other Twitter users that a profile is in the public interest and authentic, which can lead to more followers and a higher social media profile. In February, Twitter’s Public Policy Director Bridget Coyne wrote in a blog post that the company would verify “candidates running for US House of Representatives, US Senate, or Governor in the 2020 US election who have qualified for the general election ballot.”

Charlie Crist emphasizes CD 13 roots in new ad — U.S. Rep. Crist’s reelection campaign is airing their first campaign ad of the election season starting Thursday. The 30-second ad highlights Crist’s roots in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, where he grew up. When you serve the people of Florida as long as I have you get called a lot of names,” Crist says as passersby greet him as “Congressman,” “Mr. Crist,” “Guv” and even “boomer.” Crist then highlights his work “to strengthen your Social Security, provide better benefits for our veterans, and protect and improve your health care.” The closer: “In Washington, I’m Congressman Crist but here at home it’s just Charlie and I work for you. I always have and I always will.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

From sex dolls to profit: Margaret Good donors include child porn defenders” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Good, a Democrat congressional candidate, has accepted thousands of dollars from lawyers who specifically specialize in defending child pornographers, according to her campaign finance disclosures. Defense lawyers are an important part of the criminal justice system and, sometimes, they have to defend the seemingly indefensible. However, Good’s acceptance of donations from donors who openly flout beating child exploitation laws is particularly troubling considering not only her curious no-vote on a childlike sex doll ban, but the donors’ extensive records of defending heinous crimes. One lawyer who contributed multiple times to Good’s campaign has labeled police the “true predators” and alerted prospective clients on avoiding specific websites monitored by law enforcement for child sex crimes.

Carlos Giménez’ first TV ad promises to ‘get results’ in Congress” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Giménez is releasing his first TV ad for his congressional bid, introducing himself to voters and promising to “get results” in Washington, D.C. The 30-second ad is titled “Answering the Call.” Giménez is running as a Republican in Florida’s 26th Congressional District. Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell currently holds that seat. “He’s been leading for years, answering the call as a firefighter, paramedic, then chief,” the ad’s narrator begins. “As Mayor, he cut his office budget, even his own salary, and then delivered the largest tax cut in county history. So when the COVID crisis came he answered the call again — working to keep us safe, making the tough choices, getting us what we need — because Carlos Giménez knows politicians fighting in Congress won’t get results. But he will.” While discussing the Mayor’s salary cut, the ad displays a graphic noting he took a 50% pay cut.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell ad highlights push for more COVID-19 relief” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Democratic Rep. Mucarsel-Powell says there’s a “difference” in how she and her Republican opponent will handle COVID-19 relief in Congress. Mucarsel-Powell lays out the case in a new ad, called “When Crisis Hits.” The 30-second spot will air on English and Spanish television networks and is backed by a seven-figure buy, according to the Mucarsel-Powell campaign. “There is a difference,” the ad’s narrator begins. “Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Democrats fight for us. They passed a stimulus bill putting $1,200 in our pockets and made sure South Florida’s small businesses got loans. But Carlos Giménez gave himself a 67% pay raise. Yes, 67%. And the Republicans in Congress voted to let giant corporations hide their PPP loans. The difference is clear.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Lois Frankel calls opponent ‘bigot,’ assails Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis for failed leadership” via William Kelly of the Palm Beach Daily News — U.S. Rep. Frankel — never one to mince words — delivered biting criticisms of President Trump, Gov. DeSantis and her opponent in the Nov. 3 election, Republican Laura Loomer, during a virtual campaign gathering. Frankel, a Democrat and former West Palm Beach mayor, has represented Florida’s 21st Congressional District since 2017. She represented Florida’s 22nd congressional district from 2013 to 2017. About 15 to 20 people logged on for the 50-minute Zoom meeting hosted by Town Council President Margaret Zeidman and her husband, Mark. Frankel participated from the living room of her West Palm Beach home.

— LEG. CAMPAIGNS —

Can Drake Buckman win HD 72 on the cheap?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics – Amid a series of established Democratic endorsements, Buckman’s voice lifts as he talks about a lesser-known group. He landed the support of the Federation of Manufactured Home Owners of Florida. “It’s an organization that represents people who live in manufactured homes in the parks, and we have hundreds of them here,” he said. The Sarasota Democrat hopes that type of endorsement makes a difference as he runs against Republican Fiona McFarland. He’s unrolling endorsements as he fights for attention on what could be one of Florida’s tightest House races. But he still faces a level of skepticism among forecasters and pundits on whether he has the raw resources to defend the seat.

—“Dana Trabulsy now holds cash edge in HD 84 over incumbent Delores Hogan Johnson” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Chip LaMarca ad promises he’ll do ‘whatever it takes’ to help HD 93 constituents” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Republican Rep. LaMarca is launching a new TV and digital ad campaign as he seeks to defend his House District 93 seat against Democratic candidate Linda Thompson Gonzalez. The new ad is titled, “Whatever It Takes.” It highlights several policies LaMarca backed during his brief time in the Legislature. The ad begins with LaMarca and his wife, Eileen, walking their dog. “Chip and I do this walk all the time,” Eileen LaMarca says. “Almost,” Chip LaMarca interjects before Eileen responds. “Right,” she says, “when he’s not busy working hard for our community. Chip’s been helping families and businesses recover from coronavirus and he got higher teacher pay and funding for school safety. Chip fought to protect our beaches from sewage leaks and offshore drilling. I’m Eileen LaMarca. Trust me, Chip will do whatever it takes to keep Broward safe and clean.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

— DOWN BALLOT —

Brother of Miami-Dade mayoral candidate led Facebook ‘hate group’” via Joshua Ceballos of the Miami New Times — In a self-described hate group on Facebook, the brother of a Miami-Dade County mayoral candidate disparaged the Black Lives Matter movement and supported locking and loading for a “civil war.” Enrique Bovo, who also goes by Henry, is the younger brother of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo, who is running for the county mayoral seat against fellow Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava in a November runoff election. Esteban Bovo styles himself as the conservative candidate for mayor and has aligned himself with Trump. Enrique Bovo was until recently an administrator for a public Facebook group called “BLM hate group.” The page description called it a “non-racial hate group against BLM.”

Governor raises money for Miami-Dade mayoral candidate Esteban ‘Steve’ Bovo — Gov. DeSantis was in South Florida this week raising money for Bovo’s Miami-Dade County mayoral bid. That effort was held at the Riviera Country Club, according to a source. Joining DeSantis and Bovo were William Rubin of Rubin, Turnbull & Associates, and former Rep. José Félix Díaz, now of Ballard Partners. DeSantis’ involvement adds to the stakes of the race to lead Florida’s most populous county. Bovo is seen as the conservative option in the race, having secured an endorsement from DeSantis’ number-two, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez. Bovo is battling fellow County CommissionerLevine Cava in the race. Levine Cava has courted plenty of Democratic support, including from DeSantis’ possible 2022 opponent, Agriculture Commissioner Fried.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Florida reaches 13,100 deaths from COVID-19, as disease claims 1,000 victims every 10 days in state” via Marc Freeman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Every 10 days in Florida, another 1,000 people are reported dead from the new coronavirus. The state topped 10,000 COVID-19 victims on Aug. 19; 11,000 on Aug. 27; 12,000 on Sept. 6; and now 13,000 with the pandemic data released Wednesday. These sobering numbers come at a time when Florida is trying to rebound following April shutdowns that crippled the economy while temporarily slowing the spread of the virus before a summer surge. Recent infection and hospitalization trends are encouraging a wave of reopenings, including plans to resume in-person classes in South Florida public schools. But people are continuing to die, most of them elderly, records show.

Florida cuts back on some nursing home safeguards that protected sites from COVID” via Christine Sexton of News Service of Florida — Florida, which embarked on an aggressive strategy to limit the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, is stepping back from some efforts that DeSantis has touted as keeping down the number of deaths and serious illnesses among seniors. In recent days, the DeSantis administration has announced it is eliminating state-supported every-other-week testing of workers in long-term care facilities and that it is shuttering 23 COVID-19 nursing facilities dedicated to residents who are battling the virus and cannot be properly isolated in facilities where they normally live. The argument is that the policies are no longer necessary, even as nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other congregate living centers reopen their doors to visitors.

Ron DeSantis is making cutbacks in nursing home rules that protected them from COVID-19.

Regulator says bars, breweries will ‘do a better job’” via Jim Turner and Tom Urban of The News Service of Florida –After many establishments were closed for months amid the coronavirus pandemic, Florida’s top business regulator believes bar and craft-brewery owners will do a better job this time of self-enforcing state safety restrictions. But the Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears said his agency won’t go easy on bars and breweries that violate rules such as indoor occupancy limits. “We’re going to continue to suspend the license for those who are just blatant about, maybe overcrowding, the egregious actors out there,” Beshears said. “We’re going to continue to suspend their license, go after those people that don’t want to follow the rules.”

— BACK TO SCHOOL? —

Teachers union calls for schools chief’s removal; board considers ‘improvement plan’” via Andrew Marra of The Palm Beach Post — As the teachers union calls for his ouster, school board members are expected to debate the performance of Palm Beach County’s embattled schools’ superintendent at an in-person meeting today. The discussion comes the same day the Classroom Teachers Association’s President announced he would ask board members to fire Superintendent Donald Fennoy, saying teachers have “lost all faith” in his ability to successfully reopen campuses next week. “CTA has tried to work with the current superintendent, but we have lost all faith and now have zero confidence that a righting of this rudderless ship is possible without immediate change,” union President Justin Katz wrote in a message to teachers.

The teachers union is urging the Palm Beach County School Board to fire Superintendent Donald Fennoy.

Broward voters willing to delay school reopening, poll finds” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward County voters largely support waiting to reopen schools to ensure students and teachers will be safe from COVID-19, according to a new poll. The poll asked likely general election voters if they want to immediately reopen schools “to help students, parents and the local economy” or want to wait “until we can guarantee the health and safety of students, teachers, employees and their families,” according to a release by the Broward Teachers Union, which commissioned the poll. The results showed 67% of voters in the county supported delaying to ensure health and safety, while 27% favored immediately reopening schools. Half felt strongly about health and safety, but only 20% felt strongly about an immediate reopening plan, the union says.

Lives are going to be lost’: Dade, Broward teacher unions demand safety precautions” via Colleen Wright of the Miami Herald — Ahead of a possible reopening of schools for in-person learning on Oct. 5 or earlier, the teachers unions of Miami-Dade and Broward school districts are asking for safety precautions in the classroom. Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco joined United Teachers of Dade president Karla Hernandez-Mats at a press conference at UTD’s new Miami Springs headquarters to share similar concerns before returning to the classroom, particularly about cleanliness and social distance protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic.”

Hundreds of students not enrolled in Bay County schools or attended classes since March” via Tony Mixon of the Panama City News Herald — Bay County schools enrollment has dropped by hundreds year-over-year and officials have been trying to find out why. According to Bay District Schools, around 400 students haven been unaccounted for between the previous school year and the current one that began in August. The Monday announcement comes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused disruption in the school year and general economic uncertainty. Assistant Superintendent Denise Kelley said BDS had been trying to contact students and parents since the new school year began. The system started the new year with 800 students unaccounted for and has shaved that down to 400 — but that’s still a hefty list.

OCPS football parents are COVID crazy for fighting testing” via Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel — The headline on OrlandoSentinel.com read, “OCPS parents protest football COVID-19 testing.” I clicked on it, thinking that surely the story below the headline would be about those parents of regular students venting about financially strapped Orange County Public Schools wasting $2 million testing football players. Or maybe the story was about the parents of athletes in other sports who are upset because their kids aren’t getting tests. Nope. The story was about — and I swear I’m not making this up — parents who do NOT want their kids to be tested for COVID-19. That’s right, there are actually football parents out there who have started a petition to complain because OCPS is presumably trying to keep their kids safe.

State University System board chair on COVID-19: ‘No time to let our guard down’” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida State University System Board of Governors chairman Syd Kitson on Wednesday heralded the reopening of campuses but he warned that bracing against the spread of COVID-19 remains everyone’s responsibility. Kitson said the opening of the state’s public universities “was not an accident; it is the result of months of hard work and preparation. Each university outlined clear plans with policies and procedures in place to protect the safety of the students, faculty, and staff.” But he said recent reports of students dismissing the need to wear masks and practice social distancing will be addressed: “This is no time to let our guard down.”

FAU still hoping to play Saturday despite virus outbreak” via The Associated Press — Eleven people in the football program at Florida Atlantic University have tested positive for the coronavirus, but the Owls were still hoping to play their season opener Saturday against Georgia Southern, coach Willie Taggart said Wednesday. Taggart declined to specify how many of the positive tests involved players, coaches or staff. Contact tracing and retesting of the team were being done. The Owls practiced Wednesday after canceling Tuesday’s workout. FAU’s first two games were canceled months ago because of the pandemic.

Should Florida raise tuition at state universities? It’s being discussed.” via Divya Kumar of the Tampa Bay Times — Members of the Florida Board of Governors raised the possibility of a tuition increase for state university students, citing a decrease in state revenues because of the coronavirus. “What’s important to understand is that the state of Florida, like our nation for that matter, is feeling a fair amount of stress with regards to the economy,” said Brian Lamb, the board’s vice chair and chairman of its budget committee. “There’s a reasonable expectation — a real expectation — that revenues will be down.”

— CORONA LOCAL —

How hard will COVID-19 hit Miami-Dade this fall? We explored the potential scenarios” via Ben Conarck of Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Throughout the course of the novel coronavirus pandemic, public health experts have feared it could follow the pattern set in 1918 when a massive “second wave” of an influenza virus in the fall caused far more deaths and illness than the first, spring wave. Now, roughly six months after life in Miami-Dade County and much of the world was upended by the COVID-19 virus, concerns over that deadly second wave in South Florida have eased somewhat, according to several public health experts. Despite guarded optimism about the future, the experts agreed that a severe autumn resurgence could still materialize quickly. Its likelihood, though, may have slightly decreased after an unexpected summer surge that prompted curfews and closures and forced local hospitals to call for out-of-state nursing reinforcements.

Many felt that Miami-Dade could suffer a devastating second wave, much like the 1918 flu.

South Florida teens and young adults account for more new COVID-19 infections than any other age group” via Marc Freeman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — South Florida is reporting most new coronavirus cases are among younger people, an uptick blamed on college campus spread as local school districts are preparing for a return to in-person classes. The latest data show 29% of new COVID-19 infections in Palm Beach County were among 15- to 24-year-olds, in a report Tuesday from the state Department of Health. That age range accounts for 23% of new cases in Broward, and 17% in Miami-Dade — higher than any other age group in those counties.

Bar owner pleas make little headway for faster reopening” via Hannah Morse of The Palm Beach Post — The firm reopening date that long-suffering Palm Beach County businesses sought didn’t come to fruition Tuesday. But county commissioners left the business owners with a whiff of hope, by asking staff to find a way to let them open sooner, or, failing that, to provide some financial relief. After the state agreed last week to let stand-alone bars reopen Monday, the news that Palm Beach County’s bars would remain closed stunned owners and employees of businesses that have been closed since March. The week before that, commissioners approved a step-by-step approach to the governor’s Phase 2 reopening plan that would push stand-alone bars to the back of the line, a wait that could last until November. Some in the local bar and adult entertainment industry pleaded with commissioners Tuesday to work together on clear-cut rules that were easy to follow and made officials comfortable.

Palm Beach County bar owners’ pleas to reopen fell on deaf ears.

Dozens of Miami city parks set to reopen after months of closure during pandemic” via Joey Flechas and Ana Claudia Chacin of the Miami Herald — Miami plans to reopen more than 100 parks inside city limits on Sept. 28 after months of closure during the COVID-19 pandemic. The city will also lift certain restrictions on team sports and other park activities. An internal memo confirmed the city’s plan for reopening as the number of COVID-19 cases in Miami-Dade continues to slowly decline. Officials are expected to make an announcement this week. Since May, fewer than 30 of Miami’s city parks have been open for limited use. Dozens of small parks across the city remained closed over concerns there would not be enough room to allow people to keep a proper social distance from each other to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider calls anti-maskers ‘moronic’ for protest inside Fort Lauderdale Target” via Lisa Huriash of the South Florida SunSentinel — Blaring Twisted Sister’s hit song “We’re not Gonna Take It,” a group of anti-maskers strolled into Target on Wednesday and ripped off their coronavirus masks. The band’s lead singer was not impressed. He shared a video recorded by an upset customer inside the Target at Coral Ridge Mall, a video that drew millions of views. “These selfish a——- do not have my permission or blessing to use my song for their moronic cause,” Snider tweeted.

— MORE LOCAL —

Orange Commissioners to keep meeting virtually for now” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Though Orange County playgrounds will reopen Saturday and bars reopened Monday, county commissioners will stick to virtual meetings for at least several months longer, Mayor Jerry Demings said. The mayor, speaking after a twice-weekly press briefing about the coronavirus pandemic, cited the board’s relatively small meeting space and an increase in public participation for delaying a switch back to in-person public meetings as some cities have already done. County Commission meetings are livestreamed on Orange TV, the county’s public access channel and commissioners participate generally through videoconferencing technology, casting votes and posing queries remotely from their offices or homes. The public also can weigh in virtually by submitting comments which are read into the commission’s meeting record.

5,400 Universal Orlando workers go on extended furlough; resort warns recovery could take until 2021” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — Universal Orlando has alerted the state that 5,400 furloughed employees won’t be back to work anytime soon as the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is expected to stretch into 2021. “Universal Orlando continues to experience unprecedented challenges with the economic effects likely to continue into next year,” Universal Orlando Resort’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources Scot LaFerte wrote in a letter to officials: “As a full recovery will take time, the Company has had to make very difficult decisions.” LaFerte said he did not expect the furloughs to be permanent for the 5,389 Universal employees across multiple departments. He noted the furloughs are until “further notice.”

Families rescued from decrepit Kissimmee motel; nonprofit eyes buying hotel for affordable housing” via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel — The final beleaguered families of the decrepit Star Motel in Kissimmee — with no power, running water or working sewer system — are being rescued this week by Osceola County and local nonprofits, one of which is hoping to buy a hotel of its own to use for affordable housing. “It’s just absolutely horrible. Those families don’t deserve to live like that,” said the Rev. Mary Lee Downey, CEO of the Community Hope Center, noting the motel is facing foreclosure after racking up $2,000-per-day fines for code violations. “I couldn’t take it any longer, knowing there were babies living in that place.”

Florida man attempts to rally support by misquoting ‘A Bug’s Life,’ after getting booted from Disney World for not wearing a mask” via Colin Wolf of Creative Loafing — A guest at Disney’s Hollywood Studios was seen attempting to rally onlookers for support by incorrectly quoting the movie “A Bug’s Life,” while security escorted him out of the park for refusing to wear a face mask. In a video originally posted to social media on Sept. 15 by Disney fan site WDWT, a man is seen screaming to onlookers about “A Bug’s Life,” in a last-ditch effort to drum up support for not wearing his mask. “Remember the movie that came out at Walt Disney World?,” yells the man. “It was called A Bug’s Life! Remember Hopper? If one guy stands up, one ant stands up, then they’ll all stand up and they’ll lose control.” Of course, the quote he’s actually searching for is “You let one ant stand up to us, then they all might stand up.” But apparently it doesn’t appear that guests were swayed, as Walt Disney World, like most theme parks in Florida, currently requires guests to wear face masks in most public places right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A maskless guest was escorted out of Disney’s Hollywood Studios for failure to comply with the mandatory face mask rule. Image via WDWNews.com.

Leon County commissioners chide flouting of mask ordinance at Doak Campbell Stadium” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Unmasked fans at FSU’s season-opening football game caught the ire of the Leon County Commission, which may look at whether its coronavirus-caused mask mandate can be applied to large, outdoor gatherings. Commissioners were terse in their assessment of some of the 17,528 fans who packed Doak Campbell Stadium, many of whom were not wearing face coverings or socially distancing. Images of fans during the loss to Georgia Tech made the national stage, as did photos of a crowded party at an off-campus apartment complex. “They may be isolated in Florida State University property while inside of Doak Campbell Stadium, but they spill out into our community all the time,” outgoing Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley said.

Manatee health officials say 3 churches have COVID-19 outbreaks” via Allyson Henning of WFLA — Commissioners in Manatee County enacted a mask mandate in late July. The resolution requires people to wear masks inside businesses when social distancing isn’t possible, but about three weeks ago, commissioners voted to amend part of the resolution that included places of worship. During a meeting Tuesday, Manatee County Department of Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Bencie told commissioners there are currently three churches in the county experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks. “The epidemiologists believe that the church was the common place where the virus was transmitted in these cases,” said Dr. Bencie. He did not go into detail as to where the churches are located, but she did explain there have been six, seven and eight cases adding up to a total of 21 people contracting the virus in church. “There is an issue of concern there,” she said.

Pinellas tourism bureau drops poster that shows kayaker in a mask” via Sara DiNatale of the Tampa Bay Times — Pinellas County’s tourism bureau cut one of its new promotional posters that showed cartoon people wearing masks while doing water activities like paddleboarding. But local leaders are still dealing with complaints from people who say that none of the three posters for Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwaters $2 million “Rise to Shine” campaign should depict mask use outdoors. The posters display beach scenes and local landmarks. Some of the cartoon people shown on the posters are wearing masks, some are not. Critics, who sounded off during the public comment portion of last week’s County Commission meeting, say that because the county’s mask order doesn’t require masks outside it should not be depicted in the ads.

Visit St. Pete/Clearwater posters have caused a disturbance with local business leaders. Image via Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.

Tampa police tasked with making sure bars follow COVID-19 reopening guidelines” via Justin Matthews of Fox 13 Tampa Bay — Tampa police officers are walking into pubs, taverns, and bars in SoHo and Ybor City, making sure business owners are complying with Gov. Ron Desantis‘ COVID-19 phase 2 re-opening orders. Officers are passing out forms with all the regulations for every type of business. For bars, taverns, and pubs, it says: 50% capacity indoors; outdoor seating-full capacity with social distancing; patrons must be seated to be served (nightclubs with no seating remain closed). “We understand the cabin fever, we want these businesses to continue growing, so it’s going to be a balance,” said Tampa Police Lt. Martha Murillo.

— CORONA NATION —

Trump contradicts the CDC chief’s testimony on masks and vaccines.” via The New York Times — Trump rebuked the head of the C.D.C. on Wednesday, saying that Dr. Robert Redfield offered “incorrect information” when he told a Senate panel earlier in the day that a coronavirus vaccine was unlikely to be widely available before the middle of next year. “I saw the statement — I called him. I said, ‘What did you mean by that?’” Trump told reporters during a news briefing at the White House. “And I think he just made a mistake.” The President also said that Redfield was wrong to say that a mask is more effective than a vaccine. “The mask is not as important as the vaccine,” the President asserted, adding: “The mask, perhaps, helps.”

Donald Trump completely contradicts Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about the effectiveness of wearing masks. Image via AP.

U.S. outlines sweeping plan to provide free COVID-19 vaccines” via Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of The Florida Times-Union — The federal government outlined a sweeping plan Wednesday to make vaccines for COVID-19 available for free to all Americans, even as polls show a strong undercurrent of skepticism rippling across the land. In a report to Congress and an accompanying “playbook” for states and localities, federal health agencies and the Defense Department sketched out complex plans for a vaccination campaign to begin gradually in January or possibly later this year, eventually ramping up to reach any American who wants a shot. The Pentagon is involved with the distribution of vaccines, but civilian health workers will be the ones giving shots.

Coronavirus kills far more Hispanic and Black children than White youths, C.D.C. study finds” via William Wan of The Washington Post — The coronavirus is killing Hispanic, Black and American Indian children at much higher numbers than their White peers, according to federal statistics released Tuesday. The numbers show there have been 391,814 known cases and 121 deaths among people under the age of 21 from February to July. Of those killed by COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, more than 75% have been Hispanic, Black and American Indian children, even though they represent 41% of the U.S. population, according to the C.D.C. The federal agency collected data from health departments throughout the country. The disproportionate deaths among youths echo pandemic disparities well-documented among adults. Previous studies have found the virus’s death toll is twice as high among people of color under age 65 as for White Americans. People of color also disproportionately make up “excess deaths,” those killed by the virus without being diagnosed or those killed indirectly by the virus’s wide effects on the health care system.

Pandemic isolation has killed thousands of Alzheimer’s patients while families watch from afar” via William Wan of The Washington Post — Beyond the staggering U.S. deaths caused directly by the novel coronavirus, more than 134,200 people have died from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia since March. That is 13,200 more U.S. deaths caused by dementia than expected, compared with previous years, according to an analysis of federal data. Overlooked amid America’s war against the coronavirus is this reality: People with dementia are dying not just from the virus but from the very strategy of isolation that’s supposed to protect them. In recent months, doctors have reported increased falls, pulmonary infections, depression and sudden frailty in patients who had been stable for years.

— CORONA ECONOMICS — 

Trump calls for stimulus payments and massive economic relief bill, upending Republicans’ more limited approach” via Erica Werner and Rachael Bade of The Washington Post — Trump called on congressional Republicans to support a massive economic relief bill with “much higher numbers” and stimulus payments for Americans, abruptly proposing an entirely different plan from what the Senate GOP sought to advance in recent days. His Twitter post could reframe talks that have stalled for more than a month and put the focus on Senate Republicans at a moment when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was under pressure from her caucus to come up with a new solution. Democratic leaders immediately seized on Trump’s new position and suggested it validated their position. “We are encouraged that after months of the Senate Republicans insisting on shortchanging the massive needs of the American people, Trump is now calling on Republicans to ‘go for the much higher numbers’ in the next coronavirus relief package,” Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

A tweet by Donald Trump urging a new round of stimulus seems to validate the position of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Image via AP.

The recession is testing the limits and shortfalls of the Federal Reserve’s tool kit” via Rachel Siegel of The Washington Post — In the six months since the coronavirus pandemic gripped the U.S. economy, the Federal Reserve has reached far beyond its playbook from the Great Recession, growing its balance sheet by roughly $3 trillion through emergency lending programs and moves to bolster the markets. The vast emergency response helped stabilize a stock market jolted by the rapidly spreading virus and is keeping credit flowing in ways that, Fed leaders say, have prevented an even deeper financial crisis. Yet the Fed’s moves have also pushed the central bank into uncharted territory, testing how far its tools can go and how inclusive they can be. The central bank was quick to bring interest rates to zero, backstop credit markets and buy up corporate debt — but those policies often sidestep Americans who don’t hold investments.

U.S. retail sales rebound slows after extra jobless aid lapses” via Reade Pickert of Bloomberg — The rebound in U.S. retail sales slowed by more than expected in August as federal relief for jobless Americans and small businesses dried up and the pandemic continued to weigh on activity. The value of overall sales increased 0.6% after a downwardly revised 0.9% increase the prior month, Commerce Department figures showed Wednesday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 1% advance. So-called control group sales, which exclude food services, car dealers, building-materials stores and gasoline stations, fell 0.1%, also missing forecasts. The measure is often considered more reflective of underlying consumer demand. With many more stores and restaurants now open, the initial boost in spending driven by reopenings is moderating.

— MORE CORONA — 

An experimental drug protects COVID-19 patients, Eli Lilly claims” via Gina Kolata of The New York Times — A single infusion of an experimental drug markedly reduced levels of the coronavirus in newly infected patients and lowered the chances that they would need hospitalization, the drug’s maker announced on Wednesday. The drug is a monoclonal antibody, a manufactured copy of an antibody produced by a patient who recovered from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Many scientists hope that monoclonal antibodies will prove to be powerful treatments for COVID-19, but they are difficult and expensive to manufacture, and progress has been slow. The announcement was not accompanied by detailed data; independent scientists have not yet reviewed the results, nor have they been published in a peer-reviewed journal. The findings are the interim results of an ongoing trial.

An experimental drug seems to help COVID-19 patients, Eli Lilly claims.

First full at-home COVID-19 test” via Bryan Walsh of Axios — Gauss, a computer vision startup, and Cellex, a biotech company that works on diagnostics, are announcing the first rapid COVID-19 test that can be fully performed by people at home without involving a laboratory. Experts agree that the U.S. still needs far more widespread testing to help contain the coronavirus pandemic. An antigen test that could be performed and provide results rapidly at home could help reduce testing delays and allow people to quickly find out whether they need to isolate because of a COVID-19 infection. In the antigen test, which was developed by Cellex, a user will take a nasal swab to both nostrils, and then place the swab in a small vial filled with a buffer solution. Four droplets from the tube are placed on a rapid test cassette, and test lines will show up of varying intensity, based on whether and how much virus is in the sample.

— STATEWIDE —

Assignment editors — Agriculture CommissionerFried and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Levine Cava will host a roundtable discussion on agriculture and chronic hunger in South Florida, 10 a.m. — 11 a.m., Wolfe University Center, Florida International University, Biscayne Bay Campus, 3000 NE 151st Street, North Miami Beach. Open to all credentialed press, media should park and enter through Lot 1, and should RSVP to [email protected].

Good news for a good person — “Marshall Criser gets contract extension” via The News Service of Florida — The state university system’s Board of Governors approved a one-year contract extension for system Chancellor Criser. The board, meeting at the University of South Florida, backed extending Criser’s contract to Jan. 1, 2022. Board Chairman Kitson will negotiate on compensation issues. Criser, a former President of AT&T Florida, has served as chancellor since January.

Marshall Criser gets a one-year extension. Image via Florida Trend.

State, NRA square off over 2018 gun law” via Jim Saunders of The News Service of Florida — In a legal fight that started after the 2018 mass shooting at a Parkland high school, attorneys for the state and the National Rifle Association detailed dueling arguments about the constitutionality of a Florida law that prevents people under age 21 from buying guns. The two sides filed motions for summary judgment, with gun-control groups also submitting briefs in support of the law. After 17 people were killed in Parkland in 2018, the Legislature and then-Gov. Rick Scott approved a wide-ranging measure that includes the ban on gun purchases by people under 21. The NRA quickly challenged the ban and contended in its motion this month that the law violates Second Amendment and equal-protection rights.

Deloitte Medicaid contract heads to court — The $135 million Medicaid contract awarded to Deloitte has landed in administrative court. As reported by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, the development stems from an unresolved bid dispute between the Agency for Health Care Administration and Deloitte, as well as protests by IBM and Accenture, both of which also bid for the job. AHCA’s choice of Deloitte to build the state’s Medicaid data “warehouse” came after the state unemployment system, which was built by Deloitte, collapsed in the early days of the pandemic. DeSantis has criticized the contract and has said Deloitte should be blocked from future state contracts until the state gets to the bottom of the unemployment system’s issues.

FDOT paying out sick leave to disgraced former attorney — The Florida Department of Transportation is paying out 480 hours of sick leave to former top attorney Erik Fenniman, who resigned amid controversy three months ago. As reported by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, the department can choose to not pay out the sick leave but decided to allow Fenniman to collect. Fenniman resigned in June after an inspector general report revealed he had forged signatures of other FDOT attorneys and instituted new email policies designed to skirt public records laws.

’NCIA’ goes to appeals court case” via The News Service of Florida — A Florida program that pays for medical care of children who suffer neurological injuries at birth has gone to a federal appeals court in a case involving questions about whether costs were inappropriately shifted to Medicaid. The Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association and the Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Plan filed an appeal at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas refused to dismiss the whistleblower case. The judge’s Sept. 8 ruling said Veronica Arven and the estate of Theodore Arven III filed the federal false-claims lawsuit last year on their behalf and on behalf of the federal government, which pays for a large portion of Medicaid.

Ethics Commission dismisses complaint against Byron Donalds” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Florida Commission on Ethics dismissed an ethics complaint against Rep. Donalds, a Naples Republican. The decision came after Donalds won the Republican nomination in Florida’s 19th Congressional District. In the midst of the contentious primary, former Collier County School Board member Kelly Lichter filed a complaint with the state accusing Donalds of lying about his arrest record when he applied for multiple appointments and licenses. But the Ethics Commission dismissed the complaint as legally insufficient. It was among 11 such complaints tossed on Wednesday based on jurisdictional questions and determinations as to whether the documents adequately alleged violations of Florida’s Code or Ethics or other laws.

The Florida Commission on Ethics dropped an investigation into Byron Donalds.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Health official on leave amid political interference furor” via Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of The Associated Press — A Trump health appointee is taking a leave of absence after allegations of political interference in the federal coronavirus response, followed by a personal video that warned of election violence and all but equated science with resistance. Michael Caputo has decided to take 60 days “to focus on his health and the well-being of his family,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement. Fiercely loyal to Trump, Caputo had been serving as the department’s top spokesman, a post that usually is not overtly political. He was installed by the White House in April during a period of tense relations with the President’s health secretary, Alex Azar.

After a bizarre conspiracy rant, Michael Caputo steps down for health reasons. Image via AP.

Republicans block attempt to pass TPS for Venezuelans weeks before Election Day” via Alex Daugherty and Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald — Republicans blocked a proposal Wednesday by Democrats in the U.S. Senate to fast-track a bill that would grant Venezuelans in the United States Temporary Protected Status, the latest attempt to appeal to Venezuelans in Florida seven weeks before Election Day. Two Democratic senators, Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Dick Durbin of Illinois, attempted to pass a bill that would have granted TPS to Venezuelans, allowing them to live and work legally in the U.S. for a limited time without threat of deportation, through a process in the Senate called unanimous consent. The move, which is essentially a voice vote, bypasses usual Senate procedure and provides a speedy way to pass legislation, but it fails if one senator opposes it. South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune blocked the bill’s passage on behalf of Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz gains support in bid for Appropriations gavel” via Jennifer Shutt of Roll Call — The endorsements phase of the campaign to become the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee began to heat up, with two Congressional Black Caucus members throwing their support behind Rep. Wasserman Schultz. Reps. Emanuel Cleaver II, a Missouri Democrat, and Alcee L. Hastings, a Florida Democrat, sent a “Dear Colleague” letter touting Wasserman Schultz as the best candidate for the job. The field vying to replace House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey also includes Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, each of whom have far more seniority on the spending panel than Wasserman Schultz.

Marco Rubio and Rick Scott push to keep Florida in daylight saving time year-round” via News Service of Florida — Florida’s U.S. senators are making a new push for year-round daylight saving time, this time tied to the coronavirus pandemic. Two years after backing a state legislative effort to put Florida on year-round daylight saving time, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Sen. Rick Scott introduced a bill to skip the change to standard time this fall across the country. The Republican senators said in a news release that the intent is to provide “one year of stability for families who are already dealing with enough change with virtual learning, work from home, and other disruptions the COVID-19 pandemic has placed into our daily lives.”

Florida men pitch daylight saving time pause” via Chris Cioffi of Roll Call —  Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott want to make sure there is plenty of time for wasting away again in Margaritaville in the sunlight this winter. If they get their way, revelers in Key West, where Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band conceived of the mythical Margaritaville, will get to nibble on sponge cake and watch the sun bake one more hour — hopefully in a socially distant manner in this age of coronavirus pandemic protocols. The pair introduced a bill that was placed on the Senate calendar Wednesday that would postpone clocks from “falling back” one hour until November of 2021.

Assignment editors — Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will visit Tallahassee for two events where he will make a major announcement concerning the development of a business incubator for commercializing new technologies at Innovation Park, 1 p.m. Eastern. Announcement and media availability, Leon County Research and Development Authority — Collins Building, 2051 East Paul Dirac Drive, Tallahassee; then, he will attend a facility visit, Danfoss Turbocor Compressors, 1769 East Paul Dirac Drive., Tallahassee.

— LOCAL NOTES —

Bartow police officer resigns, admits to directing anti-gay slur at citizen” via Suzie Schottelkotte of The Lakeland Ledger — A Bartow police officer has resigned after admitting in an internal investigation that he directed a derogatory slur toward a citizen while assisting a call for service. Interim Chief Bryan Dorman stated in his findings that he would have fired Officer Timothy Daughtry had he not resigned Sept. 9. While responding to a call at the George Harris Youth Shelter, Daughtry lost his composure during a shouting match with Tyron Smith, the shelter’s program manager, according to the report. Shelter administrators had called for help regarding a 12-year-old boy, with a history of unruly behavior in the shelter, who had pulled the facility’s fire alarm when there was no fire, which is a first-degree misdemeanor. Smith said he wanted the child arrested and Daughtry said that might be excessive, which led to the argument, according to the report.

Utility shut-off issue fuels personal attacks at Lake Worth Beach meeting” via Jorge Milian of The Palm Beach Post — Utility disconnections — a subject that sparked a March 19 spat-gone-viral between Lake Worth Beach Mayor Pam Triolo and Commissioner Omari Hardy and resulted in “untold negative publicity” for the city — was again the source of a bitter dispute on Tuesday night. During a rehash of the March 19 meeting, Triolo accused Hardy of “atrocious” behavior and said he lacked a “soul.” Triolo blames Hardy for social media fallout that she says wrecked her personal business and included “40,000 to 60,000 death threats and hate mail.” Hardy contends that Triolo could have called a special meeting before March 19 that would have avoided disconnections, “but you failed to act.”

A shouting match led to bad blood between the City of Lake Worth Beach Mayor Pam Triolo and Commissioner Omari Hardy.

FDNY: Man who spoke at Naples 9/11 memorial event fabricated experiences” via Jake Allen of the Naples Daily News — A featured speaker at a 9/11 memorial event lied about his involvement in recovery efforts at Ground Zero, according to the New York City Fire Department, who say it’s a case of stolen valor, a person claiming to have been there in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. But Maurice Keshner, who is originally from New York City, stands by his story. He told a crowd of about 40 people at a Freedom Park ceremony in Naples that he was a “commander” with the FDNY at Ground Zero for two months following the attacks.

— SMOLDERING — 

How the Black vote became a monolith” via Theodore Johnson of The New York Times Magazine — An enduring unity at the ballot box is not confirmation that Black voters hold the same views on every issue, but rather that they hold the same view on the one most consequential issue: racial equality. The existence of the Black electoral monolith is evidence of a critical defect in the American practice of democracy. That defect is the space our two-party system makes for racial intolerance and the appetite our electoral politics has for the exploitation of racial polarization — to which the electoral solidarity of Black voters is an immune response. These characterizations belie a more ominous reality: Black Americans are the first to detect when the air is foul, signaling the danger that lies ahead.

Miami police oversight panel: Sergeant had no reason to handcuff Black doctor outside his home” via Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — A Miami police sergeant violated multiple policies when he handcuffed a Black doctor in front of his Flagami home earlier this year during an investigation into illegal dumping in the neighborhood, according to a civilian panel tasked with police oversight. Miami’s Civilian Investigative Panel, an appointed board that passes its findings to the city’s police chief, determined that Sgt. Mario Menegazzo was discourteous to Dr. Armen Henderson during their early April encounter and that three of the sergeant’s actions, including not wearing a face mask during the coronavirus pandemic, amounted to the improper procedure.

Miami police determined that a sergeant had no justification for handcuffing a Black doctor for helping test the homeless for coronavirus.

Day of Unity to highlight Lakeland’s next steps toward racial equality” via Sara-Meghan Walsh of The Lakeland Ledger — A collaboration of Lakeland’s faith-based groups will bring residents together Saturday to take the next step in addressing the city’s racial inequalities. Bishop Joel Brown, of Faith Celebration Church, has been working to organize a Day of Unity from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Lake Mirror Amphitheater. The event aims to recognize Black Lives Matter while also emphasizing love and unity within the community. “After the George Floyd protests, I was asking the Lord what I should do as a Black man in town and with a Black ministry in town,” the pastor said. “What came out of it was a Day of Unity.” Brown said he recognizes the importance of the protests happening nationwide, including two held this June in Lakeland. However, the pastor felt the need for a forum to have deeper conversations that weren’t as political or divisive in nature.

Hillsborough Commission says racism is public health crisis” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough County commissioners declared racism a public health crisis, but not before their only Black member, Chairman Les Miller Jr., delivered his own message on past and present race relations. Miller, speaking last before the commission voted on the resolution from Commissioner Pat Kemp, talked for eight minutes about the racism he faced personally in Tampa, including growing up in a food desert that likely contributed to long-term medical concerns. “I am the only one. Because of the color m my skin, I’ve faced racism — all kinds of deplorable acts because of the color of my skin,” Miller said.

‘If I have to, I’m going to run over them’: In 911 calls, South Tampa driver complains about protesters” via Ray Roa of Creative Loafing Tampa Bay — A driver involved in a Tuesday night auto collision told dispatchers she needed police to come deal with a protest group that was blocking traffic on Howard Avenue in South Tampa, adding that, “I need the police here now to move these cars, because if I have to, I’m going to run over them.” In the calls, the driver told dispatchers that she was trying to get home from her job as a pharmacist. The driver also told dispatchers that she was surrounded by protesters who were yelling obscenities, hitting the other cars with their fists, taking her picture and surrounding the car. She also said protesters might not be happy with the “blue lives matter” magnet on her car.

— TOP OPINION —

I never considered voting for Trump in 2016. I may be forced to vote for him this year.” via Danielle Pletka of The Washington Post — I don’t need a bumper sticker or a lawn sign to convey my distaste for Trump — his odious tweets, his chronic mendacity and general crudeness. Over the past four years, like an oil slick that besmirches all it touches, Trump himself has managed to obscure his administration’s more-substantive accomplishments, such as focusing the world’s attention on China’s threat to global security and brokering a new era of Middle East peace. But I fear the leftward lurch of the Democratic Party even more.

— OPINIONS —

The key difference between the COVID-19 risks at protests and Trump rallies” via Leana S. Wen of The Washington Post — Whenever public health experts warn about the dangers of Trump’s large political rallies, we are accused of hypocrisy: How come we condone Black Lives Matters protests but call out these rallies as potential superspreader events? I understand where the criticism comes from. Both events can bring together many thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people. There’s limited physical distancing, with individuals often packed shoulder to shoulder for prolonged periods. But there is one key difference between social justice protests and Trump rallies: Those attending BLM protests by and large grasp the danger and are motivated to reduce their risk, while a large share of those attending Trump rallies deny that there is a danger at all.

The Governor who fights — everyone” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — When DeSantis is annoyed, or uncomfortable, or simply finished listening to someone else speak, he purses his lips and narrows his already deep-set eyes — almost as if he’s squinting into sunlight — and he becomes visibly anxious. He nods his head. His eyes dart around the room. He looks down at whatever paper is in front of him or at whoever else might be in the room. In Florida’s long pandemic summer, these were often the foreshocks that signaled an imminent DeSantian quake. Sometimes DeSantis’ rants are an impressively lengthy and detailed list of grievances. It’s hard not to hear about DeSantis’ peculiar ways — namely, his tendency to turn one-time alliances into blood feuds, even at his own detriment.

GOP attack ad on Florida Senate candidates is a real whopper” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat — What Florida Republicans are doing in three state Senate races might not exactly be lying — at least, not by the sorry standards we’ve come to accept in campaigns — but it will do until a real lie comes along. The GOP Senate campaign committee has sent out thousands of mailers, and run some TV spots, claiming that Democratic nominees in three key races have received money from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. True, Democrats handed Republicans a heavy cudgel to whack them with. The party’s building fund got about $780,000 in PPP money early this year. Even accepting the absurd premise, the GOP piece leaves out a few facts — like how the Democrats returned the money, once they’d extracted maximum embarrassment and political damage from the transaction.

— TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Gov. DeSantis is keeping an eye on the floods created by Hurricane Sally.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— The Governor is in Pensacola today to check out the damage, including that missing chunk of the highway from the 3-mile bridge over Pensacola Bay.

— Florida’s list of casualties from COVID-19 increase by 154. That pushes the statewide death toll to 13, 100.

— Former Attorney General Pam Bondi is touring the state on behalf of Trump, trash-talking Biden on corruption and nepotism. She’ll be joined in Tampa today by Ivanka Trump, so she might not want to mention nepotism. And maybe steer clear of touchy subjects (like Trump’s response to COVID-19).

— The latest polls show Trump and Biden are pretty much tied in Florida. POLITICO’s Marc Caputo is covering the Biden campaign; he says the COVID crisis is helping the Democratic nominee by limiting his public appearances.

— Caputo’s interview is the first one in months that wasn’t done over the phone. He actually stopped by the studio.

— And finally, a Florida Woman who took part in an anti-mask protest at Target in South Florida.

To listen, click on the image below:

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Trick-or-what? Pandemic Halloween is a mixed bag all-around” via Lianne Italie of The Associated Press — Roving grown-ups tossing candy at kids waiting on lawns. Drive-thru Halloween haunts. Yard parties instead of block parties and parades. Wider paths through corn mazes. The family holiday so many look forward to each year is going to look different in the pandemic as parents and the people who provide Halloween fun navigate a myriad restrictions and safety concerns. Some were looking extra-forward to Halloween this year because it falls on a Saturday, with a monthly blue moon to boot. Decisions are outstanding in many areas on whether to allow kids to go door to door or car trunk to car trunk in parking lots in search of candy, with Los Angeles first banning trick-or-treating, then downgrading its prohibition to a recommendation.

Halloween is going to look very different this year. Image via AP.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are Tampa Bay Times reporter Charlie Frago, J.T. Foley, former St. Petersburg City Council Charlie Gerdes, Ashby Green, Tallahassee Democrat reporter Jeff Schweers, and INFLUENCE Magazine contributor Mary Beth Tyson.

___

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

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


One comment

  • The Swampfox

    September 18, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    Why would the president leave out the blue state, when talking about the Chinese Virus? Simple: to show how the governors of those states have failed terribly. Take Cuomo of NYS. 11,000.00 deaths mostly caused by him directing infected persons to go back into the nursing homes when the should have been quarantined away from the most vulnerable! The president had the USS comfort dockside, there were temporary hospitals set up in one of the parks in NYC. ALL,I REPEAT ALL were mostly vacant when these facilities could have been used for the sick. Instead Gov. Cuomo created a pandemic of his own!

    NEXT Barack Obama didn’t need to say Red States don’t count. The death of many Serbs and Americans are at is doorstep with his ignorant shrugging of the H9R9 viruses. Lets not forget Benghazi while HRC and Obama’s cult of liberal ate popcorn while watching Americas die in real time!!! HRC Hillary Clinton first missed that 3am phone call! Secondly she couldn’t decide what uniforms the military should wear so as not to offend our enemies. That’s the difference between a great president like DJT and a flunky like Barack “Hussein” Obama!!

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