Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.18.20

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Who's up, down, in and out — your morning tipsheet on Florida politics.

Sen. Lauren Book (along with Rep. Randy Fine) helped lead the charge on a bill to ensure Florida kids learn about the Holocaust in school.

The proposal earned broad bipartisan support after a Palm Beach County high school principal was terminated after entertaining Holocaust denialism as a valid point of view.

Six months later, a new survey shows Holocaust education may be needed more now than at any time in the post-WWII era.

The survey, commissioned by the Claims Conference, found more than three-fifths of young Americans don’t know that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust and nearly half of the respondents were unable to name a single concentration camp.

Lauren Book has been pushing for more education about the Holocaust in schools. The lack of knowledge is becoming a problem. Image via Colin Hackley.

As disconcerting as the national results are, Book noted that Florida’s are worse.

Nearly a third of Sunshine State millennials and zoomers believe the Holocaust’s death toll was fewer than 2 million, and half of them never heard of Auschwitz, the most infamous of Nazi Germany’s concentration camps.

Most disturbing of all, 13% of young Floridians believe the Jews caused the Holocaust.

Book, who is Jewish, said the findings proved Holocaust education is of urgent need in Florida schools.

“Younger Floridians’ lack of basic Holocaust knowledge underscores the need to ensure proper education in our school system,” Book said. “Ignoring the history of ethnic and racial persecution leaves us vulnerable to racism, anti-Semitism, revisionist history, and evils similar to those of the past.”

The legislation went into effect July 1, and the Commissioner of Education’s Task Force on Holocaust Education will provide an update on their work to the State Board of Education on Sept. 23.


The fallout from the Florida Democratic Party’s Paycheck Protection Program loan has been eating away at the party’s Senate chances, and it’s threatening to metastasize.

After using the scandal to thrash Democratic Senate candidates across the state, the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee is trying to pin some blame on Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

FRSCC was set to run a full-page ad in the Tallahassee Democrat this morning, but the paper’s lawyers nixed it at the last minute.

Here’s the ad the Tallahassee Democrat’s lawyers won’t let you see.

“Someone at the Florida Democratic Party lied on this application to get a $780,000 PPP loan that was meant to protect jobs,” the front side of the ad states.

The reverse features a close-up of Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat in Florida, and says the buck stops with her — going so far as to insinuate she runs the state party.

“As head of the Florida Democratic Party, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried should stop covering for whoever is responsible for looting a program intended to help the American people,” the mailer says before asking voters to call Fried and “ask her to release the loan application so that those who did this can be held responsible.”

Though the FRSCC ad remains on the cutting room floor, for now, it’s one of several released in the past month hitting Democrats over the PPP scandal.

While FDP has paid back the loan, it’s been mum on how managed to get the loan, leaving Republicans an opening to land body blow after body blow in competitive Senate races.


Rescheduled date for the French Open — 2; First presidential debate in Indiana — 11; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 15; Ashley Moody’s 2020 Human Trafficking Summit — 18; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 19; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 25; Second presidential debate scheduled in Miami — 27; NBA draft — 28; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 28; NBA free agency — 30; Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum — 32; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 345; 2020 General Election — 46; “Black Widow” premieres — 49; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 54; The Masters begins — 55; “No Time to Die” premieres — 63; Pixar’s “Soul” premieres — 63; College basketball season slated to begin — 68; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 75; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 75; “Wonder Woman 1984” rescheduled premiere — 98; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 142; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 155; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 287; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 308; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 316; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 416; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 512; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 565; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 746.


‘All hands on deck’: Gov. Ron DeSantis identifies power restoration, reconstruction as next priority” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Gov. DeSantis on Thursday identified power restoration and reconstruction as the next priority in the wake of Hurricane Sally. The shift from rescue to reconstruction comes after DeSantis spent most of Thursday assessing storm damage aboard a U.S. Coast Guard plane alongside state and local leaders. “Power is a major, major initiative and priority at this point,” he told reporters from a Pensacola airfield shortly after landing. The Governor said more than 7,000 linemen are working around the clock to service the roughly 250,000 Panhandle homes without power. Since Sally’s overnight departure, power has been restored to 40,000 of those homes.

DeSantis says ‘boots on the ground’ needed to assess damage” via Jim Turner of The News Service of Florida — After an aerial tour of the storm-drenched western Panhandle, DeSantis said he expects the impacts to be more severe than what he could see from above as much of the anticipated damage is from water. “I think you’re going to have to really just get boots on the ground to get the full impact of what happened,” DeSantis said. “Clearly, there were definitely still some areas where it was obvious that you had some major flooding. There are other areas which, from the bird’s eye view, I don’t think probably did full justice to the actual damage that we saw inside the homes.” Additional federal help is anticipated to arrive in the next couple of days, DeSantis said.

CFO Jimmy Patronis joined Gov. Ron DeSantis, First Lady Casey DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez, Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz, and Congressman Matt Gaetz on an aerial survey of Hurricane Sally damage. Image via the CFO Office.

Early Sally damage assessments show $29 million in damage to roads and public buildings” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — More than 24 hours after Hurricane Sally made landfall, nearly $29 million of damage has been assessed to public infrastructure in Escambia County and Pensacola, but that number is likely to grow. Officials from both Escambia County and the city of Pensacola have been out making initial assessments of damage to roads, bridges and public buildings. In just the first day, Escambia County has found at least $21 million in damage to public infrastructure, according to county spokeswoman Laura Coale.

Gulf Power: No estimate yet for when power will be back in Escambia, Santa Rosa” via Colin Warren-Hicks of the Pensacola News Journal — Hurricane Sally’s wrath throughout Northwest Florida was so intense that Gulf Power officials said they would not be able to give an estimate on when they will begin to make significant progress in restoring power until Friday.  “Our initial focus has been to restore power to what we call our critical infrastructure,” said Gulf Power President Marlene Santos at a 3 p.m. Thursday news conference. “So those are the hospitals, the emergency responders, the water pumps, those types of customers that need power in order for this community to, you know, come back again. So we’ve been doing that.”

Bay County cities report millions of gallons of sewage overflow after flooding” via Jacqueline Bostick of The Panama City News Herald — Local municipalities have reported millions of gallons of sanitary sewer overflows after Hurricane Sally unloaded continuous rains this week. The city of Lynn Haven reported 1.5 million gallons of overflow Wednesday, prompting the Florida Department of Health to issue an advisory. “DOH-Bay advises against swimming in Lynn Haven Bayou and Anderson Bayou until further notice,” the advisory stated. “The city of Lynn Haven will test the water and share results with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Bay County Health Department. Once levels are safe, the advisory will be lifted.”

Walton County assessing damage from ally” via Jim Thompson of the Northwest Florida Daily News — With skies clearing, but floodwaters remaining a problem, Walton County officials on Thursday began assessing how the heavy rains and winds from the edge of Hurricane Sally have impacted the county. As of Thursday morning, county emergency personnel with help from the National Guard, were crisscrossing the county looking for flooding, downed trees, debris and other problems, according to Louis Svehla, the county’s public information manager. Four National Guard personnel were in the county’s emergency operations center while another 24 Guard personnel were working in the field, Svehla said. Also assisting in the assessment was a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone) team from Florida State University’s Center for Disaster and Risk Policy.

West Pensacola residents left to pick up the pieces in Sally’s aftermath” via Jake Newby of the Pensacola News Journal — Residents at Warrington’s Forest Creek Apartments know that even a mild storm could — and has — resulted in several feet of standing water and extensive property damage. So when a storm the magnitude of Hurricane Sally barreled through Pensacola, the renters at the flood-prone apartments on Patton Drive knew it would be a life-changing affair. “In 2015, I lost everything and now I’m about to lose everything again,” said 55-year-old Karen Robinson, who said she’s experienced at least four floods at the Forest Creek complex since 2012. Robinson stayed at a relative’s house Tuesday, just ahead of Sally’s landfall. When she returned Wednesday, she came home to chest-high waters outside of her front door.

A distressing rescue and a shocked community. Perdido Key stunned by Sally’s strength” via Kirsten Fiscus of the Pensacola News Journal — In five years aboard the Tropical Hideaway Too, Jerry Ash has ridden out some bad storms before, but Hurricane Sally was different. Anchored at the Perdido Key RV Resort and Marina, Ash and his compatriots in their similarly tied up sailboats, hunkered down for the night before the winds picked up. None of them were expecting it to get as bad as it did Wednesday. “I’ve been through some bad ones before, but I know better,” Ash said about riding through a hurricane on the boat. “No one thought it would be like this.” The man stuck on the pillar under the Theo Baars Bridge certainly wasn’t expecting it either.

CFO Jimmy Patronis surveys the damage to the Florida Panhandle from Hurricane Sally. Image via the CFO Office.

Rescuers save people trapped in flooded homes along Blackwater River as waters rise” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — Hundreds of people were still stuck in their flooded homes Thursday, the day after Hurricane Sally lashed the Florida Panhandle and sent local rivers into major flood stage. Some people were hellbent on staying in their homes even as the floodwaters rose, while others were in desperate need of rescue. Reid and Jodi Walker stood on the porch of their home on the Blackwater River in East Milton, waving down a water rescue team that was boating by on the street in front of their house. The couple was stranded in their home on stilts as the floodwater rose, two of hundreds of people who needed rescue throughout Wednesday and Thursday after Hurricane Sally lashed the Florida Panhandle.

Districts throughout Panhandle to keep schools closed Friday after Sally’s flooding” via Ryan Daily of WFSU — A number of western Panhandle counties will keep schools closed Friday after Hurricane Sally caused catastrophic flooding throughout the region. That includes the state’s furthest-west counties of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton. Gadsden County, further east, in the Big Bend, faced significant flooding and will keep schools closed Friday as well. After the flooding of local roads caused by Hurricane Sally, Bay County Schools will be closed for students and teachers for the remainder of this week. Bill Husfelt, the district’s superintendent, says buildings and facilities fared well during the storm, but not everyone is able to move about on the roads. “The structural problems we were dealing with are still part of the hurricane from two years ago. It’s still leaking where it leaked because of the hurricane, and a little bit like that,” Husfelt said.

Destin’s charter boats ride out Sally in harbor” via Tina Harbuck of The Destin Log — Some untied and pulled off extra ropes, others unloaded hurricane anchors and chains, while some sat and waited for the power to come back on. Either way, Destin charter boat captains and deckhands were thankful they survived Hurricane Sally mostly unscathed. “We lucked out,” said Capt. Scott Robson of the charter boat Phoenix at HarborWalk Marina. Usually, when a hurricane threatens in the Gulf of Mexico, Destin’s charter fleet takes cover in Choctawhatchee Bay or the bayous, or even over in Freeport or up the Intracoastal Waterway. But with the initial track for Sally not a threat, captains decided to leave their boats in their slips along the Destin harbor.

Citizens likely to avoid major impact from storm” via The News Service of Florida — Hurricane Sally, which caused heavy flooding and other damage in Northwest Florida, likely will not have a major financial impact on the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp., officials said. The insurer has about 3,500 policies that were within the hurricane’s wind field. Jay Adams, chief of claims for Citizens, said about 1,000 of the policies are for mobile homes, most of which are older and could have sustained “significant” damage. “Our goal will be to get this adjusted as quickly as possible,” Adams said during a conference call of the Citizens Market Accountability Advisory Committee.

Heart after the hurricane … except for Skanska” via Andy Marlette of the Pensacola News Journal — If Hurricane Sally taught me one thing, it’s don’t bet on the forecasts. If Hurricane Sally taught me two things, it’s how to change a poopy baby diaper by candlelight. Such are the abundance of life lessons learned in the days following Hurricane Sally’s romp through Pensacola. This is a tough town full of hurricane-hardened folks. Some are even descendants of the colonial settlers who learned the hard way about the joys of hurricane season while they were still unpacking their toiletries over yonder in East Pensacola Heights in 1559. But props to all you storm-season baby-raisers out there.

Tweet, tweet:



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 President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe 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: As of Sept. 13, the CNN average gives Biden the lead at 51% compared to 43% for Trump. The CNN Poll of Polls tracks the national average in the race for president. They include the most recent national telephone polls which meet CNN’s standards for reporting and which measure the views of registered or likely voters. The poll of polls does not have a margin of sampling error. As of Thursday, Biden has stayed steady with a 76 in 100 chance of winning compared to Trump, who has a 23 in 100 shot. FiveThirtyEight also ranked individual states by the likelihood of delivering a decisive vote for the winning candidate in the Electoral College: Pennsylvania leads with 33.2%, while Florida comes in second with 13.8 %. Other states include Wisconsin (9%), Arizona (6.3%), Michigan (6.2%), North Carolina (5.1 %), Nevada (3.7%) and Minnesota (3.4%).

Polling averages show Joe Biden holds a slight lead over Donald Trump.

PredictIt: As of Thursday, the PredictIt trading market has Biden in the lead, at $0.59 a share, with Trump moving up slightly to $0.45.

Real Clear Politics: As of Thursday, the RCP average of polling top battleground states gives Biden a 49% likelihood of winning, with Trump getting 43.2%. Nearly every poll used in the RCP model has Biden up from anywhere between 2 and 12 points.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball: Trump has proved a hundred times that his base will stick with him through thick and thin, and so will other Republicans and GOP-leaning independents in this highly partisan and polarized era. Is Trump more than a few points shy of the 46% he received in 2016? If he is not, an effective get-out-the-vote effort targeting Trump supporters who weren’t registered or didn’t vote four years ago could do the trick. On the other hand, as we have argued for months, the lack of prominent third-party candidates this time means Trump will need more than the 46% he garnered before.

The Economist: As of Thursday, their model thinks Biden is very likely to be Trump in the Electoral College. The model is updated every day and combines state and national polls with economic indicators to predict a range of outcomes. The midpoint is the estimate of the electoral-college vote for each party on Election Day. According to The Economist, Biden’s chances of winning the electoral college around 6 in 7 or 86%; Trump’s chances are around 1 in 7 or 14%. They also give Biden a 97% chance of winning the most votes.


Senate Republicans renounce Donald Trump’s claim that election results ‘may never be’ determined” via Andrew Desiderio and Marianne Levine of POLITICO — Senate Republicans forcefully rejected Trump’s suggestion that the 2020 election results might not be accurately determined, but largely declined to address previous bipartisan conclusions that such rhetoric aids foreign adversaries. Trump, who has frequently made comments that undermine confidence in the electoral process and once suggested delaying the election, tweeted on Thursday morning that the “result may never be accurately determined, which is what some want.” The president’s assertions have been based on unsubstantiated claims about mail-in voting, which is expected to be widespread this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. intelligence officials have also warned that foreign actors, including the Russian government, have amplified similar claims in order to instill doubt in the process.

Poll: Trump faces deep pessimism as election nears” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Less than seven weeks before Election Day, most Americans are deeply pessimistic about the direction of the country and skeptical of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Roughly 7 in 10 Americans think the nation is on the wrong track, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. It’s an assessment that poses a challenge for Trump as he urges voters to stay the course and reward him with four more years in office instead of handing the reins of government to Democrat Biden. Trump’s argument to voters hinges in part on persuading Americans that the pandemic, which has killed nearly 200,000 people in the U.S., is receding. Yet just 39% of Americans approve of how Trump is handling the outbreak. “Clearly it has been mishandled,” said Don Smith of Kannapolis, North Carolina. Smith, an independent who plans to vote for Biden in November, said he’s been particularly troubled by what he sees as Trump’s efforts to sideline public health experts and scientists.

Donald Trump faces a pessimistic electorate.

’It’s gonna be Florida times 10.’ Legal insiders envision nightmare scenarios that might eclipse the 2000 election fiasco as Joe Biden and Trump battle over votes in November” via Robin Bravender, Darren Samuelsohn, and Dave Levinthal of Business Insider — Insider interviewed 15 election law experts and veteran political operatives who were involved in the Florida recount battle about the worst-case scenarios they’re predicting for this fall. Some are already having election nightmares. “It’s gonna be Florida times 10,” said Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections at the watchdog group Common Cause. Trump and she Biden both have high-powered lawyers working preemptively to secure their side a legal edge heading into November and to stand ready to fight the election’s outcome in court if things don’t go their way.

Trump and his campaign try to allay concerns about trailing Biden in television ads” via Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — Trump spent last weekend complaining privately about Biden’s dominance in television advertising, according to three people familiar with the comments, only to tweet upon his return to Washington from a campaign swing that the “fake news” was exaggerating the disparity. The zigzagging messages reflected a desire by Trump and his campaign to move beyond growing Republican concern about his relatively scant advertising budget and doubts about whether he now has enough money in the bank to close the race in a strong position. “We have much more money than we had at the same time in 2016,” Trump tweeted this week. “Also spending on other, and different, elements of the campaign.”

Cash-strapped Trump campaign awaits a bailout from big donors” via Alex Isenstadt — Republican Party megadonors are racing to bail out President Trump’s cash-strapped reelection campaign, with a newly formed super PAC pouring a further $25 million into battleground states. Preserve America is set to begin running a trio of TV commercials savaging Democrat Joe Biden as Republicans express growing alarm over the president’s absence from the airwaves. Trump — who went dark for part of August and has since cancelled advertising in key states — is being outspent more than 2-to-1 by Biden this week, according to the media tracking firm Advertising Analytics.

Trump campaign plots winning maps without Florida (but insists they won’t be needed)” via Francesca Chambers and David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Trump’s campaign a year ago envisioned an election scenario where the incumbent President expanded the boundaries of modern electoral politics by winning every state he won four years ago and adding half a dozen others. Their ideal election now a distant dream, Trump’s advisers in the final weeks of the campaign, mapped out more dire possibilities. One scenario has Trump losing Florida and Arizona but still receiving 270 electoral votes, the minimum needed to win. The other shows Trump losing North Carolina and Florida and receiving 272 electoral votes.

Biden’s weakness with Black and Latino men creates an opening for Donald Trump” via Politico — It was a huddle to marshal the faithful, featuring dozens of Black luminaries, from hip hop mogul Jay-Z to radio personality Charlamagne tha God to civil rights attorney Ben Crump. Vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris presided over the virtual meeting, which grappled with a nagging question for Biden’s campaign: How to woo more Black men? Last week’s call was the second in as many weeks focusing on Biden’s appeals to Black male voters. The mood, Crump said, was upbeat. But callers were frank about their concerns, urging Biden to deliver a positive message, so “it’s not just about anti-Trump but what we’re going to do on our side.”

Voting begins in Florida as military families, overseas residents cast ballots by fax” via the Miami Herald — Voting is quietly underway in the Florida presidential election. The race between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden won’t be decided until Nov. 3, and millions of mail ballots won’t be sent to in-state addresses until next week. But by Thursday, dozens of military families living away from home and Florida residents living overseas had already cast their ballots. At least 81 UOCAVA ballots — an acronym referring to the 1986 Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act — have been returned, according to the Florida Division of Elections. Of the votes received, 42 were cast by Democrats, 29 by Republicans.

Florida takes another election-eve hurricane hit. How Trump responds will matter.” via David Smiley and Alex Daugherty of the Tampa Bay Times — On the eve of the 2018 elections, Trump took the stage at a Pensacola rally and marveled at the damage wrought to Florida’s Forgotten Coast only weeks earlier by Category 5 Hurricane Michael. “That wasn’t a hurricane. That was like a 50-mile wide tornado,” Trump said, noting how the storm had wiped homes in coastal towns clean off their foundations. “Nobody’s ever seen anything like that. But you are great people and we are with you 1,000%.” Two years later, as protracted Michael recovery efforts continue in a deep-red region of the president’s home state, Trump has another chance to prove that he will be there for the storm-weary people of the Florida Panhandle.

Trump-Biden race may hinge on how Pinellas County swings on COVID-19” via Margo Snipe and Phil Galewitz of the Tampa Bay Times — Betty Jones voted for President Trump in 2016, but the lifelong Republican has her doubts she will do it again this year. The federal response to the coronavirus pandemic that has killed about 200,000 Americans and forced older adults to restrict their activities has her contemplating a leadership change. “(It) makes me unsure,” said Jones, 78, of Largo. Before COVID-19, she said, she would have definitely voted for Trump. Polls show many people will have the pandemic and its public health and economic consequences on their minds when they cast their votes.

Ivanka Trump visits Tampa, continuing campaign focus on Florida” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — The Donald Trump presidential campaign continued its intense focus on Florida with a visit by the presidential daughter to two iconic Ybor City spots, the Columbia Restaurant and La Segunda bakery. At La Segunda, Trump talked to fourth-generation family owners Copeland and Stephanie More, then pushed up the sleeve of her dress and learned how to roll out a loaf of the bakery’s famous Cuban bread under the tutelage of baker Tony Ali. At Columbia, she held what was called a “fireside chat,” but without a fire, with former Florida Attorney General and now Trump adviser Pam Bondi, along with an audience of about 50 invited guests.

Does Trump own the ocean?” via Christopher Spata and Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — On a recent Friday afternoon, Shawn Feeley cruised sun-sparkled Clearwater Harbor alone in his Yamaha center console, a wind-worn Trump flag flapping overhead. When he goes home to Palm Harbor, Feeley always leaves it flying prominently in the driveway. It’s been there for two years. Trumptillas, or Trump-themed flotillas, have cruised the nation’s waterways in force for months, earning wide attention. But it’s not just the organized parades. There’s a sense in Tampa Bay that Trump owns the ocean. Boats with Trump flags are A Thing. Boat flags for former Vice President Biden, say those who spend a lot of time on the water, not so much.

Assignment editors Mercedes Schlapp, Trump 2020 Senior Adviser for Strategic Communications, will attend the Bay of Pigs Brigade 2506 Association’s endorsement presentation as part of the Women for Trump Bus Tour, and will accept the Association’s endorsement on Trump’s behalf, 9:45 a.m. Eastern time, Bay of Pigs Museum, 806 SW 13th Ave., Miami.

Does Biden need a higher gear? Some Democrats think so” via Sydney Ember, Katie Glueck and Thomas Kaplan of The New York Times — In July, as the coronavirus pandemic raged, Biden made one trip to a battleground state. In August, he again visited just one swing state. And on the second weekend in September, less than eight weeks before Election Day, Biden’s only activity was going to church near his Delaware home. Biden’s restraint has spilled over into his campaign operation, which was late to appoint top leaders in key states and embraced a far more cautious approach to in-person engagement than Trump, and even some other Democratic candidates. While the Trump campaign claims it is knocking on a million doors a week, the Biden team is relying heavily on TV ads and contacting voters largely through phone calls, text messaging programs and other digital outreach. Biden has begun to accelerate the pace of his travel, and this week is one of the busiest he has had in months.

Does Joe Biden need to kick it up a notch? Image via AP.

Michael Bloomberg makes initial ad buy in Florida, targets Trump’s pandemic response” via Alex Roarty of McClatchy DC — Aides to the Democratic billionaire said Bloomberg will spend $5.4 million on a weeklong TV ad campaign in Florida, part of his pledge to help Biden win the all-important presidential battleground state. The ads will begin airing this weekend on broadcast TV in all 10 of the state’s media markets, aides said. The aides expect the former Mayor of New York City will announce new campaigns in the state each week, from now until Election Day.

Here are the ads:



Betsy DeVos’ former top aide joins anti-Trump group” via Daniel Lippman and Michael Stratford of POLITICO — Josh Venable, the former chief of staff to Education Secretary Devos, has joined another former Trump administration official’s group opposing the president. Venable is lending his name as an adviser to the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform, a group former Department of Homeland Security official Miles Taylor launched on Thursday of current and former Trump administration officials and other Republican leaders who want to see Trump defeated in November. Taylor, who was chief of staff at DHS, and Elizabeth Neumann, another former senior Trump DHS official, started the group, which includes 26 Republicans, including Anthony Scaramucci, who served briefly as White House communications director.


New ad slams Biden for ‘coddling China’ — Another fresh ad from Trump’s reelection campaign highlights a business owner claiming the President’s policies helped his company prosper and denouncing Biden for “coddling China” and alleging he used public office for personal financial gain. “We started with 20 employees and under President Trump, we’ve exploded to over 250. I credit President Trump for every one of those jobs,” a business owner identified only as “Chad” says. He then says Joe Biden “hasn’t done anything but cozy up to the Chinese,” “ship our jobs overseas” and “enrich our own family.” Chad’s closer: “Our future’s brighter thanks to President Trump.” The ad will air in Florida and other battleground states, Trump’s campaign said.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:


Trump campaign ad says Joe Biden will sink economy — Trump’s reelection campaign is hitting Biden on the economy in a new ad set to air in Florida and other battleground states. The ad, “Economic Roundtable,” features Americans expounding on their fears that a Biden presidency would lead to higher taxes and fewer jobs. “The only barrier between us and socialism is President Trump,” one voter says. A news release announcing the ad throws another punch, saying that as Vice President, “Biden oversaw the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression and today proposes to raise taxes by $4 trillion, killing the economic comeback underway.” The campaign said the ad will be backed by an eight-figure media buy.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:


— 2020 — 

Florida’s direct mail voter outreach is too little, too late, critics say” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — With less than three weeks to go before the books are closed on who can vote Nov. 3, the Florida Division of Elections is just now mailing postcards to nearly 2.24 million Floridians who are potentially eligible but not registered. Secretary of State Laurel Lee touted it as an “unprecedented outreach” that was a sign of commitment from Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature to expand voter participation. “This bipartisan effort is focused on enhancing the voices of all of Florida’s citizens by providing accurate and timely information about voter registration and voting options in Florida,” Lee said in a news release last Friday.

More than 35,000 mail-in ballots were rejected in Florida primary” via Marc Caputo and Gary Fineout of POLITICO — The rejections, which accounted for about 1.5% of the total vote, came as the battleground state prepares for what could be record voter turnout in the too-close-to-call November presidential election. Nearly 66% of the rejected absentee ballots were disqualified because they arrived after Florida’s 7 p.m. Election Day deadline. The rest didn’t meet signature match requirements used by county election supervisors to verify voters’ identities, the analysis from the University of Florida political science professor Dan Smith showed. “This could be a huge problem in November,” Smith said. “We could exceed 100,000 vote-by-mail ballots that don’t count.”

Internal poll: Scott Franklin, Alan Cohn are in a dead heat in CD 15 — The race for Florida’s 15th Congressional District could go either way, according to a new poll from GQR. The survey of 400 likely voters found Republican Scott Franklin leading Democratic nominee Alan Cohn 49%-42%. However, Franklin’s seven-point advantage evaporated after voters were presented with “balanced positive profiles” of the candidates. After the exposition dump, voters favor Cohn 48%-47%. GQR postulates the gap stems from Franklin’s heavy spending during the Republican primary, which saw him defeat U.S. Rep. Ross Spano in a tight race. GQR also asked voters who they favored at the top of the ticket and found Biden and Trump tied with 48% support each.

Scott Franklin and Alan Cohn are in a virtual dead heat.

Sarasota Republicans demand Margaret Good return donations from child porn defense attorneys” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Republican Party of Sarasota slammed Democrat Good over campaign donations from attorneys with dubious clientele. Now, they want her to return any money that can be traced to those defending child pornography. “In light of reports that congressional candidate Margaret Good has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from defenders of child pornography, the Republican Party of Sarasota County is calling on Rep. Good to immediately return the dirty money,” reads a statement from Jack Brill, acting chair for the RPOS. The call comes after Florida Politics reported on attorneys who had a history of defending people facing child porn charges and who donated to Good’s campaign.


Jason Brodeur and his wife claimed homestead exemptions on two homes” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — GOP candidate Brodeur and his wife, Christina Daly Brodeur, each claimed a separate homestead exemption on their homes during the first years of their marriage from 2016 to 2018, taking advantage of a provision that the head of the state property appraisers organization said should only apply to separated or estranged couples. Brodeur and his attorney said their interpretation of state law was that married couples can take separate exemptions as long as their finances are also completely separate. Seminole Property Appraiser David Johnson, whose office approved the dual exemption for Brodeur’s former Sanford home, agrees with that interpretation.

Jason Brodeur and his wife claim homestead exemptions on two homes.

Bipartisan group of mayors backs José Javier Rodríguez reelection to SD 37” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Several city mayors inside Miami-Dade County say they’re backing Democratic Sen. Rodríguez in his Senate District 37 reelection bid. That group of mayors includes Republicans such as Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Palmetto Bay Mayor Karyn Cunningham. “Sen. Rodríguez has always prioritized our constituents here in Miami during his time in public service,” Suarez said Thursday. “I’m proud to endorse the reelection of Jose Javier Rodriguez and look forward to continuing working with him to look out for Miami’s residents in the Florida Senate.” Sen. Rodríguez won the SD 37 seat in 2016 by just over 3 percentage points to succeed GOP Sen. Miguel Diaz De la Portilla. The district spans portions of Miami-Dade County including Coral Gables, Key Biscayne, and Palmetto Bay.


Testing data question resolved” via The News Service of Florida — State versus federal? Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew gave Florida long-term care officials the answer when she said that after negotiations with the federal government, nursing homes should rely on state data. Federal rules require nursing homes to conduct tests based on weekly coronavirus infection levels in the counties where they are located. Under a Sept. 2 interim federal rule, nursing homes in counties with positivity rates greater than 10% are required to test staff members twice a week; facilities located in counties with positivity rates between 5% and 10% are required to test weekly; facilities located in counties with lower than 5% positivity rates are required to test monthly.

Mary Mayhew puts to rest whether state or federal rules take precedence in COVID-19 testing for nursing homes. Image via WUSF.

After coronavirus cases soared, prison chief says state response was ‘effective’” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — Florida Corrections Secretary Mark Inch said the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic was “effective,” even after the virus sickened roughly 20% of inmates and killed 120 in prisons. Inch, who recently recovered from his own battle with COVID-19, downplayed initial fears that the virus would spread “like wildfire” inside prisons during the outset of the pandemic. “It probably would have if we had done nothing, but that’s not actually what happened,” Inch said during a Sept. 10 interview with The Florida Channel, which aired Monday. Inch’s remarks, made to the state-funded news outlet after declining to interview with the Miami Herald, did not jibe with the description of chaotic conditions that leaked out early on in the pandemic.


‘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 news conference at UTD’s new Miami Springs headquarters Thursday to share similar concerns before returning to the classroom, particularly about cleanliness and social distance protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic. Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said he would like to have schools reopen to in-person learning on Oct. 5. He said he plans to recommend that date and present a reopening plan to School Board members Sept. 22.

Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie would like schools to reopen Oct. 5.

In Sarasota County schools, stress over COVID-19 desk shields that cost almost $700,000” via Ryan McKinnon of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The week before schools reopened in Sarasota County, district officials showcased one of the COVID-19 safety measures they had put in place: New tri-fold desk shields for students to sit behind. In back-to-school preparations, the shields sat neatly on desks with books stacked behind them, an additional layer of protection to ease parents’ minds as their children returned to school. The shields look like large menu holders and are made of soft and transparent plastic. However, once those classrooms were filled with students, the dividers frequently got knocked off the desks. Then the state nixed the district’s cleaning protocol, and the district has had to spend more money on clips to hold the shields in place. Like nearly everything related to COVID-19 and reopening schools, the desk shields have become an expensive experiment, with district officials learning as they go.


State bars new patients from small Homestead ALF citing COVID infections, other issues” via the News Service of Florida — Saying the facility failed to ensure the safety, health and welfare of its residents, state regulators issued an emergency moratorium barring a Homestead assisted living facility from accepting new residents or readmitting old ones. According to the emergency order filed by the Agency for Health Care Administration, Llina’s ALF, LLC, in Homestead failed to provide its staff members with competent isolation and contagion training during the COVID-19 pandemic, and, as a result, “has not provided residents with qualified staff to meet their needs.” According to the order, a staff member at the six-bed facility tested positive for COVID-19 on July 9.

A Homestead ALF is banned from accepting new patients due to COVID-19 infections.

West Palm strip club fined $7,000 for violating county COVID-19 orders” via Mike Diamond of The Palm Beach Post — The county’s crackdown on businesses violating COVID-19 emergency orders continued Wednesday with an adult strip club in West Palm Beach fined $7,000 for allowing patrons to party late into the night last month. The owner of Playhouse 2 agreed to pay the fine Tuesday night rather than contest the violations before Magistrate Richard Gendler. The $7,000 fine is the highest fine imposed as a result of citations issued by Palm Beach County’s compliance team, which includes code enforcement officers, sheriff’s deputies, city police officers, fire rescue personnel and county staff members. The team found more than 100 patrons crowded into the strip bar on Aug. 4. Very few were wearing facial coverings. Pictures show them on top of one another. Bars and strip clubs are prohibited from even operating in Palm Beach County.


COVID-19 may surge in Hillsborough, Southwest Florida, thermometer data indicates” via Langston Taylor of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough County and Southwest Florida could be on the verge of another rise in cases of the novel coronavirus, warns a company that tracks fevers to spot early signs of spreading disease. Kinsa Health relies on more than one million internet-connected thermometers across the country to try to detect outbreaks before people can get tested or go to the doctor. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the company’s data has shown spikes in certain regions two or three weeks before a similar jump in confirmed cases. More Hillsborough residents have reported fevers than expected for this time of year, according to the company. That spells the potential for a resurgence of the virus, or an abnormal flu outbreak, soon.

Kinsa Bluetooth enabled thermometers are helping to predict possible COVID-19 hotspots.

Two Hillsborough commissioners seek to relax face mask order” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Two Hillsborough County commissioners want to consider revoking the county’s face mask rule that’s been in place since June. Commissioner Sandy Murman and Stacy White said they want to schedule that discussion for Oct. 1 in light of data showing a declining rate of positive test results for the coronavirus in the county. “Our first meeting in October I think we should have a serious discussion about the mask mandate. And if our numbers do continue to go down, I’ve always said, I wouldn’t do it until positivity rate (reached) 5 percent and we’re still not there yet, but hopefully we will be in October,” Murman told other commissioners Thursday afternoon.

Pinellas Commission opts to not schedule vote on whether to repeal mask ordinance” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — While renewing the weekly state of emergency on Thursday amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Pinellas County Commission did not schedule a vote on whether to repeal the ordinance requiring masks in most indoor public places. Commissioners last week said they would review updated infection data at Thursday’s meeting and decide whether to advertise a future vote on the mask mandate, a step required to repeal the ordinance. With heads of local hospitals scheduled to address the board on Oct. 1, and the mayors of St. Petersburg and Tampa urging the county stay the course, commissioners said they were not ready to take the step of discussing a repeal. Commissioners have been inundated over the past few weeks by residents for and against the mask requirement, which was enacted June 23.

Osceola awaits $50 million in CARES relief from Florida; chairwoman calls delay ‘truly unacceptable’” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel —  Osceola County officials called on Gov. Ron DeSantis to quickly release more pandemic relief dollars to their county, where the unemployment rate is higher than anywhere else in the state, food pantry shelves need to be restocked and families need help with the rent. So far the county, home to a portion of the sprawling Walt Disney World property and an economy in free fall since the coronavirus shut down much of the travel market, has received just a quarter of its portion of the federal CARES Act — about $16.4 million in June.

Clay County Sheriff’s Office sergeant dies in ‘line of duty, COVID-19-related’” via The Florida Times-Union — The death of a Clay County sergeant is being treated as COVID-19-related and in the line of duty, according to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. Sgt. Eric Twisdale was serving as the supervisor of the Crime Scene Unit at the time of his death, according to a statement from the Sheriff’s Office. “He will be missed by all of us,” the agency said. Sheriff Michelle Cook called him “A great deputy and an even better man,” while the Florida Sheriff’s Association stated it was saddened to report that the Sheriff’s Office said goodbye to a great sergeant.


Ten days: After an early coronavirus warning, Trump is distracted as he downplays threat” via Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Yasmeen Abutaleb of The Washington Post — In explaining why he repeatedly misled the American public about the early dangers posed by the novel coronavirus, Trump has argued that he did not want to engender panic — and suggested that his actions showed he took the looming pandemic seriously. But a detailed review of the 10-day period from late January, when Trump was first warned about the scale of the threat, and early February — when he acknowledged to author Bob Woodward the extent of the danger the virus posed — reveals a President who took relatively few serious measures to ready the nation for its arrival.

Donald Trump insists he did not want to start a panic over coronavirus. Image via AP.

CDC testing guidance was published against scientists’ objections” via Apoorva Mandavilli of The New York Times — A heavily criticized recommendation from the CDC last month about who should be tested for the coronavirus was not written by CDC scientists and was posted to the agency’s website despite their serious objections, according to several people familiar with the matter as well as internal documents obtained by The New York Times. The guidance said it was not necessary to test people without symptoms of Covid-19 even if they had been exposed to the virus. But officials told The Times this week that the health department did the rewriting itself and then “dropped” it into the CDC’s public website, flouting the agency’s strict scientific review process.

NYC school delay sows doubt on Mayor’s bid for in-person classes” via Danielle Moran, Cristin Flanagan and Stacie Sherman of Bloomberg — Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision Thursday to further delay in-person learning raised questions about whether New York will join other large school districts in reverting to all-remote learning, for at least the start of the year. Four days before New York City schools were to reopen for in-person instruction, the Mayor delayed classes for elementary schoolers until Sept. 29 and for middle- and high school students until Oct. 1. Learning will begin remotely Sept. 21 for all but prekindergarten pupils and those with severe developmental disabilities. “We’re giving schools more staff, more time and more support,” Education Chancellor Richard Carranza said at a press briefing Thursday.


Six months, and a grim milestone: 26th-straight week of record-level unemployment claims” via Eli Rosenberg of The Washington Post — Another 860,000 people applied for unemployment insurance claims last week — the 26th-straight week that unemployment claims remained above a pre-pandemic record dating to the 1960s. And 659,000 people had claims processed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the program for self-employed and gig workers, a drop of about 200,000 after those numbers had risen for weeks. The total number of people claiming unemployment insurance went up by about 100,000, to 29.7 million, as of Aug. 29, the most recent week available for this statistic. The number of new unemployment claims has come down gradually over the last few months, but claims remain above the historical levels from before the pandemic, a sign of the continued economic headwinds the country is facing.


Europe begins to lock down again as a WHO official warns of a ‘very serious’ resurgence.” via The New York Times — The World Health Organization on Thursday warned of a “very serious” resurgence of the coronavirus across Europe but said that transmission could be contained by local rather than national measures. “We have a very serious situation unfolding before us,” Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, told reporters. “Weekly cases have now exceeded those reported when the pandemic first peaked in Europe in March.” The number of virus cases has increased by more than 10 percent in the past two weeks in over half the countries of Europe, Dr. Kluge said. He noted that in seven countries the number of cases has doubled. “Although these numbers reflect more comprehensive testing, they also show alarming rates of transmission,” he said. The region has recorded at least 220,000 deaths from the virus.

World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge says Europe is in for a substantial resurgence in COVID-19.

United expanding air service” via Timothy O’Hara of Florida Keys News — Key West International Airport is beginning to see some signs of recovery, as United Airlines plans to not only soon resume daily service to Chicago and Newark, New Jersey but also will start weekend and daily service to Washington, D.C.

Growing number of airlines offer ‘flights to nowhere’ as international travel remains stalled” via Antonia Noori Farzan and Adam Taylor of The Washington Post — With international travel in much of the world still disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, some airlines are resorting to “flights to nowhere” that target passengers who long for air travel — and some are willing to shell out plenty of money for the tickets. Qantas, among the latest to advertise a flight that departs and arrives at the same airport, told Reuters that the trip sold out less than 10 minutes after going on sale on Thursday. “It’s probably the fastest-selling flight in Qantas history,” a spokeswoman for the airline said. The Australian carrier is following other Asian airlines that have offered similar options. Such flights have already taken place in Taiwan and Japan.



No consequences after Florida officers admit to sexually abusing inmates, lawsuit says” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times — Within a month of arriving in federal prison, Lauren Reynolds says she was targeted by an officer. He told her he’d protect her if she gave him what he wanted. He wanted sex. After the first time Officer Daniel Kuilan forced himself on Reynolds, she said he told her not to tell anyone or she’d be in trouble and sent to another facility with fewer work and education privileges, according to a lawsuit filed in December in federal court by Reynolds and 14 other female inmates. Reynolds said she was raped by Kuilan for six months — every Wednesday at a warehouse before her work shift began.

Dane Eagle moves from fiscal watchdog to funding advocate” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Eagle has officially moved out of the House Majority Office and into the Department of Economic Opportunity this week. The Cape Coral Republican knows he’s taking the Executive Director post at a time of extreme scrutiny upon the agency. When the coronavirus pandemic sparked an instant recession, a beleaguered DEO-run unemployment system crumbled under a record number of claims. Failure to rapidly address problems led to the sidelining of former Executive Director Ken Lawson in April and ultimately his resignation last month. As Eagle seizes the reins, he doesn’t want to be measured against his predecessor, but he does plan to bring change. Information must flow quickly and freely, something that hasn’t always happened. “I don’t want to compare and contrast leadership, but one thing I saw that was apparent, we need to expand our communications,” Eagle said.

As he moves to the DEO, Dane Eagle is looking to expand communications. 

Grandmother of slain Jordan Belliveau sues child welfare agencies that ‘failed’ her grandson” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Jessica Belliveau, the grandmother of Belliveau, is suing two social services agencies over her grandson’s death. Belliveau died from head trauma inflicted by his biological mother in September 2018. Child welfare workers missed several opportunities to protect the child whose death officials believe could have been avoided. The lawsuit names Eckerd Youth Alternatives and Directions for Living. Eckerd provides child welfare services in Pinellas and Pasco counties under the Florida Department of Children and Families. Directions for Living works on child welfare services under a contract with Eckerd. The lawsuit also names Belliveau’s mother, Charisse Stinson, is also named in the lawsuit. She’s currently in Pinellas County Jail under charges related to her son’s murder. Jessica Belliveau claims in the lawsuit that her grandson might still be alive today had it not been for several missed signs and critical errors within Directions for Living.

New law will shrink Medicaid waiting list” via The News Service of Florida — Nearly 60,000 poor, disabled and elderly residents are on a waiting list for placement in Florida’s Medicaid managed long-term care program. But the number of people on the list will be drastically reduced in the coming months. The Legislature this year passed a law to ensure that the list only includes the names of residents who are most at risk of nursing home placement and that people with “low priority” scores will not go on the list. Of the 59,259 people on the list, only about 1,562 are considered in the high-risk category, according to Rebecca Roberts, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Elder Affairs.

Major Florida rooftop solar incentive won’t change yet” via Malena Carollo of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida’s primary incentive for installing rooftop solar panels won’t be in for major changes for at least a year. The Florida Public Service Commission held a workshop Thursday to understand the current landscape of a program that credits customers for extra renewable energy they produce. Regulators were flooded with more than 16,000 emails as of the workshop, many of which were form letters, urging the commission not to alter the program. “That’s not what we’re doing here today,” Commissioner Julie Brown said. The workshop was meant to be informational, as “the commission has not had a chance to look at our rule since it was passed in 2009.”

Florida changing rules to allow philosophy majors to teach social sciences in public schools” via Hannah Phillips of WUFT — Florida is changing its state rules to allow philosophy majors, for decades the targets of ruthless jokes about the usefulness of their college degrees, to teach social sciences in public schools. Philosophy majors have included Supreme Court Justice David Souter and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. The change is long overdue, said experts in the field. They describe misconceptions by critics who fail to understand that philosophy majors consider questions more broadly and creatively. “They imagine people sitting on mountains and uttering cryptic sayings or something,” said Gene Witmer, undergraduate coordinator for philosophy students at the University of Florida.


House Whip James Clyburn calls William Barr’s slavery comment the most ‘God-awful thing I’ve ever heard’” via William Cummings of USA Today — House Majority Whip Clyburn reacted sharply to Attorney General Barr‘s comment that evoked slavery while decrying government overreach with coronavirus restrictions, calling it “the most ridiculous, tone-deaf, God-awful thing I’ve ever heard.” Clyburn, the highest-ranking African American member of Congress, told CNN Thursday it was “incredible” the “chief law enforcement officer in this country would equate human bondage to expert advice to save lives. Slavery was not about saving lives, it was about devaluing lives.” Barr’s remark came during a Wednesday question and answer session at Hillsdale College after Barr delivered an address. That speech sparked its own reaction when Barr defended his personal involvement in recent high-profile criminal cases by likening some federal prosecutors to “headhunters.”

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn calls William Barr’s slavery comments ‘ridiculous, tone-deaf and God-awful.’


Superintendent Alberto Carvalho’s nonprofit investigated over donation for teachers” via Colleen Wright of the Miami Herald — Superintendent Carvalho’s nonprofit foundation is under investigation by the Office of the Inspector General for Miami-Dade County Public Schools regarding a solicited donation from K12, the company that provided the district with an online platform that bombed and was ultimately scrapped during a tumultuous first two weeks of virtual schooling. Inspector General Mary Cagle, who works on the third floor of the school district’s downtown headquarters, notified School Board members of the investigation in a memo late Wednesday. Cagle is looking into a $1.57 million donation made to the Foundation for New Education Initiatives, a nonprofit created at the beginning of Carvalho’s tenure as superintendent in 2008. Carvalho chairs the nonprofit.

Alberto Carvalho is under the microscope over questionable donations for teachers.

Miami Herald editor blames ‘internal failures’ after publishing an anti-Semitic, racist insert” via Jaclyn Peiser of The Washington Post — Subscribers to el Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-language sister publication of the Miami Herald, opened their papers on Friday to find a paid insert called “LIBRE.” In a column headlined, “American Jews and Israeli Jews” in the insert, an author claimed American Jews support “thieves and arsonists” and equated Black Lives Matter protesters with Nazis. “What kind of people are these Jews? They’re always talking about the Holocaust, but have they already forgotten Kristallnacht, when Nazi thugs rampaged through Jewish shops all over Germany? So do the BLM and antifa, only the Nazis didn’t steal; they only destroyed,” author Roberto Luque Escalona wrote. After an onslaught of backlash, the Herald apologized this week and promised to never again run the insert, which the paper’s editors now say had actually included anti-Semitic and racist articles for months.

Jacksonville’s sports and entertainment chief suspended due to misconduct investigation” via Christopher Hong of The Florida Times-Union — The chief of the city’s sports and entertainment department was suspended this week due to an inspector general’s investigation into workplace misconduct. Mayor Lenny Curry‘s office notified Ryan Ali on Wednesday that he was the subject of an active investigation and was on paid administrative leave. The letter didn’t provide any additional details about why he is being investigated. Curry hired Ali last July to be the manager of the department, which coordinates major city-sponsored events, like the Jacksonville Jazz Festival and the Florida-Georgia football game. A few months later, Curry appointed him to lead the department, a position that paid an annual salary of $115,000. Before coming to City Hall, Ali worked for Baptist Health between 2017 and 2019 and the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville between 2014 and 2017.

Ethics Commission finds probable cause against Fort Myers Police Chief” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Accusations that Fort Myers Police Chief Derrick Diggs misused city credits cards warrant further investigation, according to the Florida Ethics Commission. State officials found probable cause to believe Diggs “misused his position or official resources by using his City purchasing card to purchase meals, boots, and satellite radio for himself or others, contrary to purchasing card policy,” reads a release from the Commission. That comes after Fort Myers City Council candidate Anthony Thomas submitted a complaint to the state. According to the Fort Myers News-Press, Thomas accused the police chief in writing of “extravagant dining outings” including the purchase of alcohol, all done on the city dime. Thomas said he raised the issue at City Council hearings but was unsatisfied with inaction on the part of city officials. Diggs maintains he did nothing wrong. Through a department spokesperson, the chief welcomed further scrutiny.


Federal officials stockpiled munitions, sought ‘heat ray’ device before clearing Lafayette Square, whistleblower says” via Marissa J. Lang of The Washington Post — Hours before law enforcement forcibly cleared protesters from Lafayette Square in early June amid protests over the police killing of George Floyd, federal officials began to stockpile ammunition and seek devices that could emit deafening sounds and make anyone within range feel like their skin is on fire, according to an Army National Guard major who was there. D.C. National Guard Maj. Adam D. DeMarco told lawmakers that defense officials were searching for crowd control technology deemed too unpredictable to use in war zones and had authorized the transfer of about 7,000 rounds of ammunition to the D.C. Armory as protests against police use of force and racial injustice roiled Washington. In sworn testimony, shared this week with The Washington Post, DeMarco provided his account as part of an ongoing investigation into law enforcement and military officers’ use of force against D.C. protesters.


Trump shattered his promise to ‘drain the swamp.’ The self-dealing would be epic in a second term.” via The Washington Post editorial board — “Drain the swamp” was a signature promise of Trump’s first campaign: He would uproot corruption from the capital and install a government that served ordinary Americans, not the special interests. That pledge has not merely gone unmet, like most of his campaign promises. It has been shattered by a President and an administration unprecedented and unapologetic in their mingling of public and private interests. In an unfettered second term, the self-dealing would be epic. Trump promised to completely isolate himself from his businesses. “I may never see these places again,” he famously said during a rally in August 2016. “Because I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go play golf.” The reality, as Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, points out, has proved to be “quite the opposite,’’ with his businesses “a constant presence in his presidency.”

Lee Hinkle: keep politics out of moving military families” via Florida Politics — Our federal government recently contracted to move military families worldwide through a new single point of accountability. This can produce real efficiencies and improve the move experience, and it’s vital to America’s security — to efficiently relocate 400,000 military families annually is key to our military’s readiness. It also maintains a nimble, well-functioning defense posture. The U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) called the system ‘fundamentally flawed.’ This old system struggled with timely delivery and strained to meet demand during peak seasons. Communication with families has been inadequate. But TRANSCOM boldly decided to consolidate the management of household goods relocations to create a unified system and improve service and accountability. Members of Congress should let the process continue, without political interference.



Florida’s begun adding up the cost of Hurricane Sally. Gov. Ron DeSantis was in Pensacola to check out the damage.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— DeSantis says no storm-related fatalities have been reported yet, but there plenty from the pandemic. The Florida Department of Health reports another 147 fatalities from COVID-19. The death toll has reached 13,247. Florida also added 3,255 coronavirus cases Thursday, pushing the statewide total to almost 675,000.

— First Daughter Ivanka Trump travels to Florida for a fireside chat with her buddy Pam Bondi … who knows how to ask the tough questions. 

— Democrats in Washington are trying to get the Senate to pass another COVID-19 compensation package called the HEROES Act and they gave a Florida congresswoman the chance to pile on.

— On Sunrise in-depth, we will hear from some professional do-gooders who want to make it easier for you vote during the COVID crisis.

— And finally, a Florida Woman with a glorious name … no ifs, ands or … well, you will hear soon enough.

To listen, click on the image below:


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

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable featuring Marissa Levine, professor of Public Health and Family Medicine at the Morsani College of Medicine/ USF-Tampa; Eduardo Gamarra, professor of Political Science for Florida International University; Tampa Bay Times political editor Steve Contorno and Ashley Lowery, president and CEO of the Homeless Empowerment Program.

Political Connections Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: Ivanka Trump campaign stops in Tampa; and interviews with T.J. Ducklo, Biden campaign’s national press secretary, and Hogan Gidley, Trump campaign’s national press secretary.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Host Ybeth Bruzual will speak with Florida’s 15th Congressional District candidates Scott Franklin and Alan Cohn about coronavirus repose and relief, education, initiatives they will each pursue if elected, and why voters wanted change from incumbent Ross Spano’s and his reelection bid loss.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon talks with pollster Steve Vancore; Sean Boyle of the Children’s Services Council St. Lucie County and Jon Sjostrom, Chief Judge of the 2nd Circuit Court.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Trump for President campaign adviser Lara Trump; Agriculture Commissioner Fried and former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Broward Teachers Union (BTU) President Anna Fusco; United Teachers of Dade (UTD) President Karla Hernandez-Mats; Carla Spalding, a Republican candidate for Florida’s 23rd Congressional District and former Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.


Battleground Florida with Christopher Heath: Kevin Cate, the founder of media production company CATECOMM, has been involved in several Democratic campaigns in Florida. He knows firsthand what an influx of money can do to a race and where campaigns must go to win. They talk 2020 and the one Florida county he says he’ll be watching on election night to know if Biden is winning the state.

podcastED: Stand Up for Students President Doug Tuthill speaks with East Carolina University’s Kevin Currie-Knight, a teaching assistant professor and leading thinker on “unschooling,” or self-directed learning. Tuthill and Currie-Knight discuss the public education marketplace and the dichotomy between choice opponents’ growing concern about monopolies from companies such as Google and Amazon while ignoring the lack of innovation that occurs in public education, a monopoly of its own capturing 90% of America’s students.

REGULATED from hosts Christian Bax and Tony Glover: Jarrett Dieterle (@JarretDieterle) talks weird alcohol laws, policy shifts during the pandemic and his new book, Give Me Liberty and Give Me a Drink! The book is a rollicking, recipe-packed tour of America’s most insane and laughable booze laws.

Tallahassee Business Podcast from the Tallahassee Chamber presented by 223 Agency: Jay Smith, vice president of Ajax Building Company joins Chamber President, Sue Dick for a candid conversation on the construction industry, talent needs, and upcoming projects. Smith shares the history of Ajax and a variety of projects they are working on in the community, including the upcoming Tallahassee Police Department project.

The New Abnormal from host Rick Wilson and Molly Jong-Fast: Dems say that the Russians hacked into our political system to help Trump win. Trump and associates blame former President Barack Obama for the interference. But the truth is, both sides have it wrong. Filmmaker Alex Gibney (known for documentary films like “Enron and “Taxi to the Dark Side”) has been immersed in the world of foreign hacking, troll farms, and most importantly, what happened in 2016 for his upcoming docuseries “Agents of Chaos.” “It wasn’t a ‘flip votes in order to give Trump the election’” kind of thing. It was all about Hillary Clinton. (“It’s that kind of ruthless delegitimizing of the rule of law and democracy that I think is ultimately the larger agenda here, both for [Vladimir] Putin and for Trump.)

The Yard Sign with host Jonathan Torres: Hosts Anibal Cabrera, Joe Wicker, Chris VerKuilen, and Torres discuss police ambushes, Bloomberg’s millions, Middle East peace in Florida reopening.


— ALOE —

‘The Batman’ resumes UK production after positive COVID case” via Lindsey Bahr of The Associated Press — The U.K. production of “The Batman” is starting up again after being shut down earlier this month when an individual tested positive for COVID-19. A spokesperson for Warner Bros. said Thursday that filming had resumed after a hiatus for quarantine precautions. The studio has not identified the person who had the virus. Robert Pattinson stars in the film from director Matt Reeves which had been on hiatus for almost six months because of the coronavirus pandemic. The positive case came just three days after “The Batman” had initially resumed shooting. “The Batman” was originally supposed to hit theaters in June 2021 but was pushed back to October 2021 because of the delays.

‘The Batman’ starring Robert Pattinson, is starting up again after being shut down earlier this month when an individual tested positive for COVID-19.


Best wishes to Anthony Close, publisher of the essential St. Pete Rising, former Rep. Bob Cortes, former Secretary of State Ken DetznerReggie Garcia, Jack Harris, top GOP consultant Steve Marin, Jennifer Mikosky, Corinne Mixon of Rutledge Ecenia, Jeff Sadosky, Mark Skoneki of the Orlando Sentinel. 


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.


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, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Daniel Figueroa, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Mike Wright, and Tristan Wood.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
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