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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.23.20

Coffee is for closers. So is Sunburn, your morning rundown of Florida politics.

A new survey shows concerns about Joe Biden’s prospects with Miami-Dade County Hispanics may be overstated.

The data comes courtesy of an internal poll from the Daniella Levine Cava county mayoral campaign. The survey polled her race as well as the presidential contest.

According to those results, Biden leads President Donald Trump by a 21-point margin in Miami-Dade County, 58%-37%. Among Hispanic voters, Biden leads by 10 percentage points.

Joe Biden’s pull with Florida Hispanic voters may be overstated. Image via AP.

That contrasts with results from a Miami Herald/Bendixen & Amandi International poll which showed Biden and Trump running almost even among Hispanics. That survey had Biden’s lead with that demographic at just 1 point, 47%-46%.

The Levine Cava survey should not be taken as gospel, however. Though Levine Cava is running in a nonpartisan race, she has staked out her lane as a progressive and has earned consistent support from the Miami-Dade Democratic Party.

While publicly-released internal campaign polls results can be accurate, campaigns always have an incentive to withhold internal polls with poor results and publicly release those favorable to their — or their party’s — respective bids.

The poll isn’t all good news for Biden. With a 21-point lead overall in the county, Biden still trails the pace set by former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016. Clinton won Miami-Dade by 30 points that year, though still lost the state overall.

Other polls do show Biden over-performing Clinton among white and elderly voters, which has allowed him to hold a slight edge in statewide surveys.

As for Levine Cava, the internal poll has her up 13 points in the race to become the next Miami-Dade County Mayor.

Levine Cava is competing against Esteban “Steve” Bovo in the contest to replace outgoing Mayor Carlos Giménez. The poll puts Levine Cava at 45% support, with Bovo earning 32%.

Change Research conducted the online survey, which ran from Sept. 14-17. It sampled 436 Miami-Dade County voters and has a margin of error of 4.7 percentage points.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@realDonaldTrump: I will be announcing my Supreme Court Nominee on Saturday, at the White House! Exact time TBA.

Tweet, tweet:

@GovRonDeSantis: As Americans, we have a right to peacefully assemble but engaging in mob violence will not be tolerated in the state of Florida. I look forward to working with the Legislature next session to sign a new proposal into law that protects our citizens and law enforcement officers.

@nikkifried: Thank you @MikeBloomberg! This will go a long ways to fighting voter suppression in Florida.

@BillGalvano: I’m very pleased to see that despite the fiscal and budgetary constraints fostered by COVID-19, our state remains strong and our economy robust as Florida‘s AAA bond ratings have once again been affirmed. FL’s fiscal health remains secure thanks to conservative fiscal leadership.

@FentriceForFL: Governor [Ron] DeSantis, you’ve got 99 problems, but protesters ain’t one.

Tweet, tweet:

@MaryEllenKlas: Never would have imagined that Florida’s court system would see this: $16 million injection of funds from Michael Bloomberg to pay the court fines and fees of nearly 32,000 Black and Hispanic Florida voters with felony convictions

@loriberman: Only in Florida do we have to crowdsource funds to restore constitutional rights.

@NWS: Because 2020, we now have Zombie Tropical Storms. Welcome back to the land of the living, Tropical Storm #Paulette

— DAYS UNTIL —

First presidential debate in Indiana — 6; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 10; Ashley Moody’s 2020 Human Trafficking Summit — 13; first vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 15; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 21; second presidential debate scheduled in Miami — 23; NBA draft — 23; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 23; NBA free agency — 25; Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum — 27; HBO debuts 2000 presidential election doc ‘537 Votes’ — 28; third presidential debate at Belmont — 29; 2020 General Election — 41; “Black Widow” premieres — 44; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 49; The Masters begins — 50; “No Time to Die” premieres — 58; Pixar’s “Soul” premieres — 58; College basketball season slated to begin — 63; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 70; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 70; “Wonder Woman 1984” rescheduled premiere — 93; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 137; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 150; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 282; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 303; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 311; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 411; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 507; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 560; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 741.

— SCOTUS WATCH —

Joe Biden’s moderation contrasts with Democratic rage as court fight looms” via Annie Linskey and Matt Viser of The Washington Post — Biden lamented the 200,000 U.S. deaths in the coronavirus pandemic, discussed the importance of unions, warned of the health risks posed by Trump’s rallies, and touted his roots in Scranton, Pennsylvania. But over nearly 30 minutes, speaking in a small industrial city in Wisconsin, he never mentioned the Supreme Court vacancy or the political earthquake that has followed the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It was the clearest sign yet of Biden’s belief that most voters are not animated by the divisive fight that is consuming many in Washington. His approach contrasts sharply with the bubbling anger among many Democrats over Republican tactics regarding the Supreme Court, a fury that began on the left but is seeping into the party’s mainstream.

Lindsey Graham pledges GOP will support Donald Trump’s nominee, despite not knowing who nominee is” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — Now that three key GOP senators, Mitt Romney, Charles E. Grassley and Cory Gardner, have said they will not object to their leaders pressing forward with a Supreme Court nominee, despite their party’s 2016 stance against doing so in a presidential election year, the direction this fight is headed seems pretty clear. But some Republicans are going quite a bit further than that. They’re effectively signing off on whomever the nominee is, despite there not actually being a nominee yet. Sen. Thom Tillis said as much this weekend in announcing his support. “There is a clear choice on the future of the Supreme Court between the well-qualified and conservative jurist President Trump will nominate and I will support, and the liberal activist Biden will nominate and Cal Cunningham will support, who will legislate radical, left-wing policies from the bench,” Tillis said.

Lindsey Graham is vowing to support Donald Trump’s SCOTUS pick.

Trump-world clashes over Amy Coney Barrett vs. Barbara Lagoa” via Alex Isenstadt and Marc Caputo of Politico — Donald Trump’s looming Supreme Court decision is dividing the president’s political orbit between the pragmatists and the purists. One camp is dominated by the GOP operative class overseeing the party’s electoral efforts. Lagoa would be an undeniable boon, they say: a Florida-based, Cuban-American jurist from a must-win state, who might also help the president in Hispanic-heavy Arizona and Nevada. The other, led by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, consists of religious and movement conservatives. They want a can’t-miss pick. The obvious choice to them is Barrett, an acolyte of former JusticeAntonin Scalia.

Gov. DeSantis not pressing White House about Barbara Lagoa SCOTUS bid” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Governor said he knows the President has a process, and that the White House knows how to reach him. “I haven’t spoken to the President or anyone at the White House about it, partially because I’ve appointed justices and there’s a process you go through,” DeSantis said. “As you have questions, you can pick up the phone, you can call, you can ask, and that’s what I’ve done when I’ve done it. Trying to do lobbying, I’m not sure that’s effective either way. So, I’ve not had discussions with them,” DeSantis added, before stressing that his lack of involvement is no reflection on Lagoa herself. “She’s done a great job.”

A new conservative Supreme Court justice could boost religious rights at the cost of LGBTQ protections” via Samantha Schmidt and Sarah Pulliam Bailey of The Washington Post — A conservative replacement for Ginsburg, who died on Friday, could provide a major boost to religious rights while threatening years of advancements for the LGBTQ community, legal experts and activists say. In cases spanning same-sex marriage rights to workplace protections, the Supreme Court has in recent years delivered landmark victories to gay and transgender Americans. But these watershed rulings have also left unresolved the polarizing conflict between those who want to safeguard religious rights and those who want to expand LGBTQ protections. Ginsburg not only played a critical role in voting in favor of LGBTQ rights but also voted to keep religious exemptions within narrow boundaries, said David B. Cruz, Newton Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. Her absence, and her replacement by a conservative justice, could help tip the scale toward curtailing LGBTQ rights.

— SALLY —

‘Up and running’: Gulf Power restores energy to all Northwest Florida customers after Hurricane Sally” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Power was restored late Monday to all Gulf Power customers impacted by Hurricane Sally in North Florida, the company announced. Hurricane Sally, which made landfall as a slow-moving Category 2 storm, left 285,000 customers without energy in the storm’s wake. The five-day recovery effort was driven by 7,000 workers operating out of 12 staging sites. It was also completed despite areas of flooding across the northwest portion of the Florida Panhandle. “I want to thank our community partners for their support in so many ways as we worked together to get our region back up and running,” said Gulf Power President Marlene Santos. Gulf Power also credited its sister company, Florida Power & Light Company, for providing mutual aid. In all, FPLC sent more than 1,800 employees and contractors to support the recovery effort.

Gulf Power has restored power to all its Panhandle customers. Image via AP.

Walton commissioners want quick action on hurricane debris” via Jim Thompson of Northwest Florida Daily News — Walton County commissioners want quick action on the removal of household debris resulting from the rain, flooding and other local impacts of Hurricane Sally. With a unanimous Tuesday vote, commissioners granted approval for County Administrator Larry Jones to work with Waste Management and AshBritt Environmental, the county’s disaster response and environmental services contractor, to get the pickup of those household debris on a fast track along with the county’s own public works personnel. Jones told commissioners at their Tuesday morning meeting that as floodwaters from the storm have receded, the county has been getting a number of calls from residents who need to dispose of large items that are now stacked in front yards around the county.

Escambia County has $183 million in damage so far as it recovers from Hurricane Sally” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Escambia County is continuing to recover from the effects of Hurricane Sally, which made landfall six days ago. Officials’ latest estimate is the county is close to $183 million in damage to city, county, school district and Emerald Coast Utilities Authority properties. The county is still waiting on the federal government to declare Hurricane Sally a major disaster for Florida and unlock financial assistance for individuals from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Escambia County Administrator Janice Gilley said Tuesday at a news conference she had spoken with Jared Moskowitz, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, about the declaration. “He did assure me that he feels extremely confident in us getting a major declaration this week,” Gilley said.

Escambia County Sheriff’s Office confirms woman’s body found near Innerarity Point” via the Pensacola News Journal — The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office found a woman’s body near Innerarity Point on Monday and is awaiting word from the medical examiner’s office on identification. Sheriff David Morgan told the News Journal that the body could very well be that of a kayaker reported missing following Hurricane Sally but the ECSO was waiting for confirmation. Agnieszka Sobierajska, 45, was last seen Sept. 16 kayaking in the 16000 block of Innerarity Point Road before she went missing. Morgan initially announced during a Tuesday news conference that two bodies had been found, but a spokeswoman later clarified that he misspoke and only one woman’s body has been recovered.

Skanska confirms 22 barges washed ashore during Sally, 12 onto private property” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Skanska, the company hired to build the new $430 million Pensacola Bay Bridge, confirmed to the News Journal on Tuesday that 22 of its barges broke loose and washed ashore during Hurricane Sally, crashing into private sea walls, bridges and docks. Company officials said they had 55 barges on the bridge construction project, and 12 of the 22 barges that ran aground during Hurricane Sally on Sept. 16 ended up on private property. Since then, the company has only issued general statements on the situation and largely refused to answer specific questions from the press and public.

Hurricane Sally pushed Skanska barges inland, many landing on private property. Image via the Pensacola News Journal.

— THE MODELS —

To get a reasonable 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 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 Monday, the CNN average is steady with Biden in the lead at 51% compared to 44% for Trump. The CNN Poll of Polls tracks the national average in the presidential race. They include the most recent national telephone surveys meeting 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.

FiveThirtyEight.com: As of Monday, public opinion shows that many think the winner of the 2020 election should appoint Ginsburg’s replacement. It’s unclear, at this point, what effect this will have on the presidential race — so don’t put too much stock in anyone’s takes. Bottom line: This is a big development and could shake up an otherwise stable race in unexpected ways. So far, Biden is staying steady at a 77 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 32.8%, while Florida comes in second with 13.9%. Other states include Wisconsin (9.5%), Arizona (6.6%), Michigan (6.6%), North Carolina (4.7%), Nevada (3.5%) and Minnesota (2.9%).

In polls of recent polling, Joe Biden is staying ahead.

PredictIt: As of Tuesday, the PredictIt trading market has Biden slightly up, at $0.59 a share, with Trump moving down slightly to $0.44.

Real Clear Politics: As of Tuesday, the RCP average of polling top battleground states gives Biden a lead over Trump 49.7% to 43.1%. The RCP average of polls has Biden on balance at +6.6 points. A single poll (Rasmussen) has Trump up by one point.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball: There are several nearly equally brutal congressional races to be decided and with them the partisan control of the House and Senate. My “Seats-in-Trouble” forecasting models based on the Cook Political Report’s handicapping of congressional contests in mid-August predicts Democrats to gain five seats, and with them, a majority status in the Senate. It also predicts Republicans to gain five seats in the House — but we should not be too surprised if the likely turbulence of the presidential contest in the remaining weeks reverberates into some of these congressional races as well. Do they make Maalox in red and blue?

The Economist: As of Tuesday, their model predicts Biden is very likely to beat 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 85%; Trump’s chances are around 1 in 7 or 14%. They still give Biden a 97% chance (better than 19 in 20) of winning the most votes, with Trump at only 3%.

— PRESIDENTIAL —

Bill Stepien: Trump travel, grassroots campaigning worth $48 million a week” via Mike Allen of Axios — A stark difference between the Trump and Biden campaigns is Trump-Mike Pence‘s aggressive continuation of traditional door-knocking amid the pandemic, while Biden emphasizes virtual techniques. And Trump travels more. Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien is now quantifying the difference, arguing in a new memo that candidate travel and the campaign’s ground game give the president an advantage at a time when the airwaves are saturated. The approaches reflect the candidates’ deliberate optical contrasts in their response to the virus. Trump holds packed rallies, while Biden sports a mask at events where taped circles separate attendees.

—”Judge extends Wisconsin absentee cutoff 6 days post-election” via Scott Bauer and Todd Richmond of The Associated Press

—“Top Philadelphia elections official warns of ‘electoral chaos’ over ‘naked ballots’” via Zak Hudak of CBS News

Rank-and-file union members snub Biden for Trump” via Holly Otterbein and Megan Cassella of POLITICO — Biden has pitched himself to voters as a “union man,” a son of Scranton, Pennsylvania, who respects the dignity of work and will defend organized labor if he wins the White House. To rank-and-file members in some unions, especially the building trades, it doesn’t matter. They’re still firmly in Trump’s camp. Labor leaders have worked for months to sell their members on Biden, hoping to avoid a repeat of 2016 when Trump outperformed among union members and won the White House. But despite a bevy of national union endorsements for Biden and years of what leaders call attacks on organized labor from the Trump administration, local officials in critical battleground states said support for Trump remains solid.

Supporters of Donald Trump greet Democratic candidate Joe Biden as the arrives at a union training center in Hermantown, Minnesota. Image via AP.

Biden doesn’t have a problem with Hispanics — he has one with Hispanic men” via Syra Ortiz-Blanes and Alex Roarty of the Miami Herald — As Democrats are nervous that Biden is faring poorly with Hispanic voters, especially among Cuban Americans, veteran pollsters and Latino experts say the Democratic nominee’s problems are disproportionately concentrated among Hispanic men — a group of voters who don’t consider themselves to be strongly supportive of Trump but are willing to overlook potential flaws for economic reasons. The gender gap is an often overlooked nuance they say should shape both campaigns’ understanding of the Hispanic vote entering the final weeks of the race, and one that could ultimately swing the outcome between Biden and Trump in Florida and other critical battleground states.

Trump registered his trademark in Cuba in 2008 to build hotels, casinos and golf courses” via Nora Gámez Torres of the Miami Herald — Despite earlier promises in Miami that he would not do business in Cuba until the island was “free,” Trump applied in 2008 to register his Trump trademark in the Caribbean nation for a variety of commercial activities, including investing in real estate, hotels, casinos and golf courses. A search of the Cuban Industrial Property Office database shows that Trump hired a Cuban lawyer, Leticia Laura Bermúdez Benítez, to submit the application in October 2008. The address listed was that of the Trump Organization. As is common in Cuba, where red tape is rampant, the trademark was not approved until much later, until March 2010. It expired in 2018, well into Trump’s presidency.

The fight for Florida’s Latino voters: Biden courts Puerto Ricans as Trump rallies Cubans” via Francisco Alvarado of The Guardian — Every Saturday for several months, Abel Iraola has kept track of the boisterous crowd of Trump supporters that gathers near an exit ramp of the Palmetto Expressway in Hialeah, the city with the highest concentration of Republican Cuban Americans in Florida. A 28-year-old Democrat, Iraola lives two blocks away from the spot where the impromptu gathering gives him a sense of what his party’s presidential nominee, Biden, is up against in the race to win Florida’s Latino vote. “He and everyone in the Democratic Party should be concerned about turning out more Hispanic voters than Trump until the final results come in,” Iraola said. “We shouldn’t have to be worrying about the Hispanic vote in Florida.” Yet recent polls show Biden has lost ground among Florida’s Latino voters compared to his predecessors Barack Obama and Clinton, both of whom outperformed their Republican rivals among this key voting bloc in the last three presidential elections.

Equality Florida issues first federal endorsement for Biden” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Equality Florida Action endorsed Biden for President, along with running mate Kamala Harris. This marks the first time Florida’s leading LGBTQ advocacy group issued support for any candidate for federal office. “Our endorsement of a Biden-Harris ticket is a testament to the grave stakes of this election,” said Nadine Smith, Equality Florida’s executive director. She made clear the organization sees an extension of Trump’s tenure and Pence’s influence on policies regarding LGBTQ rights. must be stopped. Pence has outwardly supported private schools with policies prohibiting the acceptance of LGBTQ students, and his influence was reported on Trump administration legal positions like fighting workplace protections.

Mike Bloomberg raising millions to help Florida felons vote” via Brendan Farrington of Florida Politics — Just days after DeSantis won a court victory to keep felons from voting until they’ve paid off fines, restitution and court fees, Bloomberg has stepped in to help them pay off the debts. Bloomberg is part of an effort that raised more than $20 million dollars to help felons who have completed their prison sentences vote in the presidential election. That’s in addition to the $100 million he has pledged to help Biden win Florida, a crucial state with 29 electoral college votes that Trump hopes will keep him in the White House. A federal appellate court ruled on Sept. 11 that in addition to serving their sentences, Florida felons must pay all fines, restitution and legal fees before they can regain their right to vote.

— NEW ADS —

Democrats’ ads say Trump failed Puerto Rico” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — National Democrats have released a pair of new digital advertisements in Central Florida to remind how Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico three years ago and to declare that “President Trump has failed Puerto Rico.” The Democratic National Committee spots feature footage of the storm, the damage, and Trump tossing paper towels into a crowd during his Oct. 3, 2017, visit to the island. The Facebook ad will run in the Orlando and Kissimmee areas, the center of Florida’s Puerto Rican community. A 15-second silent video for Facebook features those scenes and headlines from various news reports. They include a Washington Post story quoting Trump complaining that the commonwealth’s storm relief was costing the government too much money, and a report as recent as Sunday, when NBC News reported little progress had been made toward storm recovery, three years after the storm.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

— 2020 — 

Florida Democratic Party struggling to account for its operating money” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — How much money does the Florida Democratic Party have in the bank for staff payroll, federal campaigns, and other expenses that are reported to federal authorities? It’s clear that the federal version of the Florida Democratic Party has lived hand-to-mouth all year. It entered September with far less cash than its monthly expenses, and far less money than the Republicans have in their accounts reported to federal authorities. Republican Party of Florida is reporting coming out of August with more than $8 million in the bank, at least 10 times more federally-reportable money on hand than the Democrats. But it’s unclear exactly how much money the Democrats do have. All year long the Florida Democratic Party’s federal entity has struggled to account for its internal finances, at least to the satisfaction of the Federal Election Commission.

Is the mail getting slower? Our tracker says yes” via Emily Badger, Quoctrung Bui and Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times — Unusual mail delays have persisted into September, according to data on about 54,000 pieces a day of first-class mail tracked in a continuing project by The Upshot. Delivery of the mail began to slow in July, with the start of new policies aimed at making the Postal Service more efficient. But after apparent improvements in late August, the share of first-class mail, like letters and postcards, arriving late rose again in the first two weeks of September. In the most recent data, mail delays are about as bad as they have been at any point this year. The slowdown has been noticeable on a national scale: to companies that send thousands of pieces of mail daily; to software firms that track that mail; and to the Postal Service itself, which has shared data about the delays with Congress.

John Rutherford touts bipartisanship in new TV ad — Republican U.S. Rep. Rutherford is out with a new TV pitching himself as a bipartisan leader as he runs for reelection in Florida’s 4th Congressional District. The ad says Rutherford “works across the aisle to deliver results for us. Recognized as one of the most bipartisan members of Congress, he puts people over politics to find real solutions, like fighting to safely and responsibly reopen our economy and keeping taxes low to support job creators and families.” Ad buy listings shows the Rutherford campaign has bought broadcast time in the Jacksonville market to run the ad from Tuesday through Sunday. Rutherford faces Democratic nominee Donna Deegan in November.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Ponzi schemes, office rentals, party ties draw scrutiny on Margaret Good campaign” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A new attack ad on Good questions her law firm’s client list. A state party ad supporting her raised eyebrows for noting a history of voting against the party. And critics want to know why Good’s campaign rents office space from a property she owns. It’s all more scrutiny on the Sarasota Democrat’s effort to deny Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan an eighth term representing Florida’s 16th Congressional District. The most pointed attack comes from Buchanan’s campaign, who put up a negative ad slamming the Sarasota attorney professionally. “Margaret Good has a secret. She doesn’t want you to know that she works for a white-collar law firm that defends scam artists and con men,” a narrator explains. “Dozens of ordinary people in Sarasota were defrauded out of their retirement and education savings in a Ponzi scheme.” Newspaper clippings in the ad reference a case against Sarasota advertising executive Gary Todd Smith. The campaign said the firm Good works for, Eastmoore, Crauwels & DuBose, defended the convicted schemer.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Happening today — Candidates for Florida’s 19th Congressional District — Republican Byron Donalds and Democrat Cindy Banyai – will appear at a virtual meeting of the Tiger Bay Club of Southwest Florida, noon. Registration at zoom.us/webinar/register.

DCCC, NRCC release dueling ads alleging corruption in Carlos Giménez-Debbie Mucarsel-Powell race” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — National Democratic and Republican organizations are releasing dueling ads in the race for Florida’s 26th Congressional District, accusing each candidate of dealing in corruption. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a new ad Tuesday targeting Giménez, the current Miami-Dade County Mayor. He’s seeking to unseat Democratic Rep. Mucarsel-Powell in CD 26. The DCCC ad largely runs allegations from a Mucarsel-Powell campaign ad that ran last month. That ad was eventually updated due to misstatements within it, at least one of which the new DCCC spot repeats. “For ‘Corrupt Carlos’ Giménez, taking care of the family means shady deals and government contracts,” the ad’s narrator begins. “While he was Mayor, ‘Corrupt Carlos” administration gave millions to businesses with ties to his family. His family even managed the company that built the fatal FIU bridge. And after the accident, ‘Corrupt Carlos’ tried to push a new multimillion-dollar construction contract to their firm. Getting rich at our expense: For ‘Corrupt Carlos’ Giménez, it’s a family affair.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Donna Shalala says she ‘won’t rest’ during COVID-19 response efforts in new congressional ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Democratic Rep. Shalala is touting her work advocating for COVID-19 relief measures in a new campaign ad released Tuesday. Florida’s 27th Congressional District, which Shalala represents, is located in the eastern part of Miami-Dade County. It spans Coral Gables, South Miami and Miami Beach. Miami-Dade County has served as the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Florida, accounting for nearly one-quarter of all confirmed cases in the state. “My focus is on keeping our community safe and getting our economy back on track,” Shalala begins in the new 30-second ad. “I helped pass relief bills that expanded unemployment and guaranteed financial assistance to small businesses here in Miami-Dade. Our office worked hard to help constituents navigate the broken state unemployment process. I won’t rest until our community is safe and our economy is back on track.” The spot will run on both English and Spanish TV stations. Shalala is defending her seat against Republican candidate Maria Elvira Salazar.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Maskless voters won’t be kept away from polls on Nov. 3, election officials say” via Lisa J. Huriash and Andrew Boryga of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — After touting the safety of voting sites, Broward election officials now say they won’t stop people from voting if they don’t wear masks. The statement from the Broward elections supervisor stunned legal experts who say permitting maskless voting would clearly conflict with COVID-19 court rulings that already have upheld mask laws. The Broward County Supervisor of Elections told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that it cannot turn away anti-maskers who are eligible to vote in the Nov. 3 presidential election: They have a right to vote under federal law. And elections officials argue that outweighs any local law on masks.

— LEG. CAMPAIGNS —

Wait, what? Loranne Ausley says she would accept campaign cash from anyone” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Ausley doesn’t care who gives her campaign money, according to an answer she gave during an SD 3 candidate forum Tuesday. Forum moderator Jim Rosica, Tallahassee Democrat News Director, posed the question. “Is there any interest group or org that you will not accept a campaign contribution from?” Ausley answered simply, “No.” Given a chance to clarify when Rosica asked, “You’ll take money from anybody,” Ausley affirmed with, “yes.” Her statements are particularly odd considering Ausley has been under attack from her opponent, Republican Marva Preston, over a PPP loan the Florida Democratic Party initially accepted. Preston’s campaign launched a TV ad blasting Ausley for accepting PPP funds. Ausley rejected the claim and called on Preston to pull the attack ads.

Say what? Loranne Ausley seems to suggest she would take campaign donations from anyone.

Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky wins HD 96 seat after opponent withdraws” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Hunschofsky is the new Representative-elect in House District 96 after her opponent, write-in candidate Muhammad Amin, withdrew from the contest. “It’s official! Today I received word from the Division of Elections that my opponent has withdrawn,” Hunschofsky wrote on Twitter late Monday night. “I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve as your State Representative and cannot wait to be sworn in to continue my service to you and our community.” The Division of Elections website now lists Hunschofsky as “unopposed” and has removed Amin as an active candidate. Amin had mounted only a nominal challenge to Hunschofsky. Amin did not appear to be actively raising money while Hunschofsky, who ran as a Democrat, had collected more than $120,000 in total.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

DeSantis defends agencies’ response to coronavirus” via Jim Turner of The News Service of Florida — DeSantis said Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Attorney General Ashley Moody have been able to get information from agencies when needed during the “difficult times.” “I know Jimmy and Ashley … they meet with whoever they want to meet with, and they obviously have been able to do that,” DeSantis told reporters. DeSantis said most of the agencies that have been at the front of the response to the pandemic — such as the Department of Economic Opportunity, which oversees the state’s unemployment system, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Department of Health and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation — have leaders that fall under the Governor’s control.

Ron DeSantis sticks up for his agencies and their coronavirus response. Image via Colin Hackley.

DeSantis backs liability protections amid coronavirus pandemic” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Saying that fear of lawsuits is holding back the economy, DeSantis on Tuesday said he supports placing limits on coronavirus-related litigation and is willing to consider such a bill during a potential special legislative session in November. The comments marked the first time DeSantis has publicly supported limiting lawsuits for Florida businesses that are grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. DeSantis said the Legislature could consider a bill to give liability protection to “run-of-the-mill businesses” during a session that also could involve his controversial plan to crack down on disorderly protesters. DeSantis unveiled the plan about protesters Monday and suggested Tuesday that a special session could be held when lawmakers return to Tallahassee for a Nov. 17 post-election organization session. “There is a lot of concern about liability,” DeSantis said. “I believe it holds the economy back.”

— CORONA LOCAL —

Broward school officials: We’re ready for October reopening” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward schools are ready to reopen to students, administrators said Tuesday. But many employees still disagree. The School Board was meeting Tuesday night to decide whether to accept a proposal from Superintendent Robert Runcie to open schools Oct. 5 for elementary, K-8 and special needs schools and Oct. 12 for middle and high schools. Students have been learning at home since late March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday night, board members appeared to be leaning toward an opening in October, but they hadn’t reached a decision on specific dates. Broward and Miami-Dade are the only Florida school districts yet to open.

Robert Runcie insists Broward schools are ready to reopen Oct. 5.

Miami School Board votes for later soft school opening Oct. 14, full opening Oct. 21” via Colleen Wright of the Miami Herald — At the end of what may be a record-breaking 29-hour special meeting that began Monday, the Miami-Dade County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to push back the gradual start of in-person classes until Oct. 14, more than a week later than first proposed. The board is following the staggered reopening of schools that Superintendent Alberto Carvalho recommended Monday, but with later dates to make sure schools are ready and teachers and staff are protected from the spread of coronavirus. A soft opening of schools is expected for students in pre-K, kindergarten and first grade and students with special needs on Oct. 14. All elementary school students, plus students in sixth, ninth and 10th can return the next day.

Fourth-largest U.S. school district to allow students back in classrooms” via The New York Times — Students in Miami-Dade County, the biggest school system in Florida, will be able to choose to return to their classrooms next month under a plan approved by the school board on Tuesday after a marathon two-day meeting. Students would attend classes five days a week, but families who prefer virtual learning could stick with that option. About half of the district’s families chose remote learning when selecting an option this summer. The reopening would make Miami-Dade, with 350,000 students, by far the largest district in the country to have students in their classrooms full-time.

Relaxing Palm Beach County rules may be ‘lesser of two evils,’ official says” via Jane Musgrave of The Palm Beach Post — Concerned that pub-starved young people are leaving restaurants drunk and driving to private parties, a Palm Beach County commissioner said Tuesday it could be time to further relax restrictions designed to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus. “You’ve got to pick the lesser of two evils,” Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said, joining at least one other commissioner who has pushed to ease rules that are hurting workers and business owners. “The thought of groups of young people driving out to Loxahatchee drunk scares me as much as COVID does.” While it appeared that McKinlay was advocating the reopening of bars, she said later that she only wanted to allow restaurants to remain open past midnight, possibly until 2 a.m.

Off-campus partying spreads COVID-19 among college students in Palm Beach County” via Wells Dusenbury of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — One day after Palm Beach County officially reopened schools for in-person instruction, Dr. Alina Alonso, Palm Beach County’s Health Department Director, voiced concerns over the growing number of cases in the 15-24 age range. Alonso, however, said she doesn’t expect a large surge among kids in elementary or middle schools, but rather older students — specifically high school seniors and college students — who “venture out to start doing the things that we tell them not to do.” … “Universities — that’s where we’re seeing our large number of positivity,” Alonso said Tuesday during a briefing at the Palm Beach County commissioners meeting. “Not on campus, but when they go off-campus.

Hundreds of PBC teachers are staying home. Schools can’t find enough subs.” via Andrew Marra of The Palm Beach Post — With hundreds of teachers declining to return to campus, Palm Beach County public schools are struggling with a glut of unstaffed classrooms in the first days of in-person classes. Nearly 900 school district teachers — roughly 1 of every 13 — chose to stay home Tuesday, using sick leave or other personal time, the district said. The absences are a modest decline from the 944 who did not show for work Monday when campuses reopened. Unable to find enough substitutes, many principals are resorting to asking teachers to supervise two classes at once or sending other employees to monitor rooms. When a class monitor can’t be found, some teacher-less students are being directed to wait in overflow rooms until their next class.

Photos show a mass of students at Boca Raton High. School Board member calls it a ‘misstep.’” via Austen Erblat and Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It didn’t take long for pictures to surface online showing an alarming moment at Boca Raton High School: students packed tight, shoulder to shoulder, with no hint of social distancing. The pictures, posted on Snapchat on Monday reignited questions about returning to school as COVID-19 cases continue to grow. Now, Palm Beach County School Board member Karen Brill is offering an explanation for the crowd of students. The students were huddled under an awning to avoid heavy rain, Brill said. She also said the district didn’t expect so many students to return in person. Some 1,700 went back to Boca Raton High, about 55% of the school’s 3,100 students. Only one-third of students returned overall in the district.

Students crowded at Boca Raton High School, under a covered outside hallway this week. Image via Snapchat.

Four more students positive at Newsome High as Hillsborough Schools reports highest daily COVID-19 numbers” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The Hillsborough County School District reported its highest daily case numbers since the start of the in-person school year on Aug. 31. On Monday, the district saw 24 new cases, including 19 students and five staff members. This report surpasses the previous record in the district of 17 new daily cases, which was reached twice, once on Sept. 9 and again last Tuesday. Four of Monday’s student cases were from Newsome High School, which continues to report the most student cases in a single school across the county. With the latest figures, the district has reported 205 cases since the start of the school year, including 151 students and 54 staff members.

No fans at Super Bowl 55? Anything is possible” via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times — The Tampa Bay Bucs have started this season with no fans in the stands at Raymond James Stadium. Is it possible Super Bowl 55, slated for Feb. 7, will be fan-less as well, or at least not played before a full-capacity crowd? The NFL certainly is looking at contingency plans if the current coronavirus pandemic hasn’t subsided by early next year. “Well, we certainly have to prepare for that,” said Jonathan Barker, head of live events and production for the NFL. “Our hope is going to be to fill this stadium with fans. That’s our hope. But the smart thing to do is to prepare just in case. If we find ourselves on Feb. 7 where we’re in a different scenario, we’re going to just make sure we’re ready for that.” The Bucs, who played without fans in this past Sunday’s home opener against the Panthers and will do the same Oct. 4 against the Chargers, have said they hope to begin admitting some fans by Oct. 18′s home game against the Packers.

— CORONA NATION —

‘Unfathomable’: U.S. death toll from coronavirus hits 200,000” via Carla K. Johnson of The Associated Press — The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus topped 200,000 Tuesday, by far the highest in the world, hitting the once-unimaginable threshold six weeks before an election that is certain to be a referendum in part on Trump’s handling of the crisis. “It is completely unfathomable that we’ve reached this point,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins University public health researcher, eight months after the scourge first reached the world’s richest nation, with its state-of-the-art laboratories, top-flight scientists and stockpiles of medical supplies. The number of dead is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 67 days. It is roughly equal to the population of Salt Lake City or Huntsville, Alabama. And it is still climbing. Deaths are running at close to 770 a day on average, and a widely cited model from the University of Washington predicts the U.S. toll will double to 400,000 by the end of the year as schools and colleges reopen and cold weather sets in.

Health care workers line up for free personal protective equipment in front of a mural by artist Romero Britto at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Image via AP.

Is Halloween canceled? As parents and attractions gear up to celebrate, CDC stresses caution” via Erin Jensen of the USA Today — Will Americans ghost Halloween this year? The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health made headlines earlier this month after it prohibited Halloween activities, like trick-or-treating, and later revised its guidelines to say celebrations are permitted but are not recommended. Though some amusement parks and cities have modified their seasonal celebrations, L.A. County’s short-lived ban appears to be the first attempt from a major municipality to pause trick-or-treating due to the pandemic. But as the Halloween season approaches, people across the country may be asking themselves “should we stay, or should we go?” In a year that’s been terrifying in its own real-life ways, some parents want to let their kids celebrate while cities are hoping to continue with holiday traditions to boost residents’ spirits. Yet medical experts caution that the threat of coronavirus still looms. At the end of August, members of Congress asked the CDC to provide direction on the safety of Halloween activities in a letter to director Dr. Robert Redfield.

COVID-19 testing is hampered by shortages of critical ingredient” via Dan Frosch of The Wall Street Journal — Supply shortages are forcing health systems across the country to limit who gets tested for COVID-19, hindering efforts to ramp up testing as flu season approaches. The latest testing problems largely stem from a shortage of reagents, the chemicals used to process the tests, medical officials said. Some hospitals and other testing operations that spent months bolstering their capacity are now reverting to restricting COVID-19 tests to the most essential patients, as they did in the spring. Mark Steadham, president and chief executive of Morris Hospital and Healthcare Centers, about 55 miles from Chicago, said his facility could now conduct about a third of the testing it was doing this summer. That’s because in recent weeks, it has only been getting a third of its previous weekly allocation of 20 Abbott rapid-testing kits due to the reagent shortage. Each kit runs 24 tests.

CDC advisory panel to delay vote on initial COVID-19 vaccine rollout” via Peter Loftus of The Wall Street Journal — A federal vaccine advisory committee will put off a vote on recommending who should get the initially limited doses of any COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. until the committee members learn more about the vaccines that could become available first. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of external medical experts that advises the CDC., was initially expected to vote at a meeting Tuesday on a plan to give priority to initial doses of any COVID-19 vaccine that passes muster in clinical trials. The ACIP may wait until government officials authorize a specific vaccine or vaccines for use before voting on how to give priority to initial doses, one of the people familiar with the matter said. Some information, like how effective a vaccine is, may not become available for several weeks. Typically, the committee votes only on recommendations for the use of vaccines after they have been cleared by regulators. The next scheduled committee meeting is in late October.

A CDC advisory panel is holding off a decision on prioritizing a vaccine, if and when it comes. Image via Bloomberg/Wall Street Journal.

Rising coronavirus case numbers in many states spur warning of autumn surge” via Joel Achenbach and Karin Brulliard of The Wall Street Journal — Progress in slowing the march of the novel coronavirus has stalled in much of the United States, and the pathogen is spreading at dangerous rates in many states as autumn arrives and colder weather, traditionally congenial to viruses, begins to settle across the nation, public health data shows. Organizations that track the virus, have logged recent increases in case numbers and test positivity rates, worrisome trends as the United States surpassed the grim milestone of 200,000 deaths. Hospitalizations and deaths remain lower nationally than at their midsummer peak, but those numbers always lag several weeks behind trends in new infections. Twenty-seven states and Puerto Rico have shown an increase in the seven-day average of new confirmed cases since the final week of August. Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Utah set record highs Monday for seven-day averages.

Reopening colleges likely fueled COVID-19 significantly, study finds” via Melissa Korn and Brianna Abbott of The Wall Street Journal — Colleges and universities that reopened for face-to-face instruction might have caused tens of thousands of additional cases of COVID-19 in recent weeks, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Indiana University, the University of Washington and Davidson College. The researchers estimated that an extra 3,200 cases a day occurred in the U.S. that likely wouldn’t have happened had schools kept classes online. The team behind the report, slated to be posted online Tuesday on the preprint server medRxiv, included professors of epidemiology, health economics and higher education. The manuscript has yet to be peer-reviewed.

— CORONA ECONOMICS — 

Florida breaks 4 million pandemic-related jobless filings” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — Florida unemployment claims related to coronavirus broke a dubious threshold in the past week, exceeding the 4 million mark, according to Department of Economic Opportunity data released Tuesday. While the new threshold is bleak, the number of increased weekly jobless filings connected to the pandemic continued a slowing trend for most of the past two months. There were about 60,000 new claims in the past week for a total of just more than 4 million unemployment claims since the pandemic gripped the state in March. That weekly increase is about the same amount as the previous week. That was the lowest weekly count since the pandemic began and continued a trend that saw decreasing new weekly claims under 100,000 throughout most of the late summer.

Poll: Dim view of economy stable as election nears” via Josh Boak and Emily Swanson of The Associated Press — According to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 60% of Americans describe the national economy as poor and 40% deem it good. That’s a rebound in confidence from low points in April and May when just 29% called the economy good as the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the country. About 4 in 10 Americans — 43% — say they expect the economy to improve in the next year, about the same as in July. But just 28% said they expect things to get even worse, a slight improvement from the 35% who said so in July and a significant improvement from May when 40% expected things to continue getting worse.

With the election only weeks away, Americans have soured on the economy. Image via Getty.

Grand Chicago hotel in foreclosure, a symbol of COVID-19’s toll on hospitality industry” via Peter Grant of The Wall Street Journal — The Palmer House Hilton has been one of Chicago’s grandest hotels for more than a century. Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde were guests. Frank Sinatra serenaded diners at its supper club. Over the past 15 years, the owner spent $173 million to overhaul the hotel, modernizing most of the 1,641 rooms. But today, the property faces a bank foreclosure and has become one of the most potent symbols of the troubled hospitality industry during COVID-19. Wells Fargo Bank said in court papers last month that the hotel’s owner, real estate investor Thor Equities, was in default on its $333.2 million first mortgage, making the property one of the first major foreclosure actions during the pandemic.

— MORE CORONA — 

Pentagon used taxpayer money meant for masks and swabs to make jet engine parts and body armor” via Aaron Gregg and Yeganeh Torbati of The Washington Post — A $1 billion fund Congress gave the Pentagon in March to build up the country’s supplies of medical equipment has instead been mostly funneled to defense contractors and used to make things such as jet engine parts, body armor and dress uniforms. The change illustrates how one taxpayer-backed effort to battle the novel coronavirus, which has killed about 200,000 Americans, was instead diverted toward patching up long-standing perceived gaps in military supplies. The Cares Act, which Congress passed earlier this year, gave the Pentagon money to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.” But a few weeks later, the Defense Department began reshaping how it would award the money in a way that represented a major departure from Congress’ intent.

Airlines plead for mandatory virus tests to prop up demand” via Christopher Jasper of Bloomberg — Universal coronavirus tests for departing passengers offer the only realistic hope of reviving demand for flights in the absence of a vaccine, the International Air Transport Association said. The 100% adoption of rapid antigen tests, which should be available next month, would remove any need for quarantines that are currently “killing” the market, IATA chief Alexandre de Juniac said on a media call Tuesday. While the call for testing isn’t new, the outlook has turned increasingly grim for airlines taking stock of a disappointing summer with rising infection rates and restrictions dashing hopes for a recovery. To date, the industry’s many calls for a unified approach to air travel have been hampered by individual countries loath to surrender health policy responsibilities to outsiders.

Airlines are trying to convince a frightened public that measures like mandatory face masks and hospital-grade air filters make sitting in a plane safer than many other indoor settings; it isn’t working. Image via AP.

Sidewalks, streets and parks provided a respite from coronavirus closures. But winter is coming.” via Emily Davies of The Washington Post — Peer into a backyard in Columbia Heights and a quartet plays. Walk down the waterfront on the Wharf and a masked instructor stretches into downward-facing dog. Dine on 17th Street NW and massage chairs sprawl across turf grass. This was summer in the District, disease and desolation punctured by pockets of joyful commerce, spread across sidewalks, street corners and public parks. Over the past few months, warm weather and entrepreneurial spirit have transformed many of D.C.’s public spaces into pandemic-sanctioned gathering spots. More than 550 restaurants have spread onto bike paths and parking lanes forming “Streateries” and “parklets”; and dozens of retailers and boutique fitness studios have moved their services outdoors in an effort to keep the businesses alive. Before winter bears down, small-business owners and customers alike are determined to take advantage of the final temperate days as vital sources of revenue and relief. But looming over the city is a pervasive fear of winter, which threatens to clear the streets and send residents, wary of the health risks of socializing indoors, back to the confines of their homes.

— STATEWIDE —

‘We will not go down without a fight’: Democratic leaders rail against DeSantis’ protest bill” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Florida Democratic leaders railed against DeSantis’ controversial bill proposal to crack down on police protests. “Let’s be extremely clear about something — this is a blatant overreach from the Governor and Republicans who are actively undermining the Constitution,” Rep. Shevrin Jones said about the proposed legislation during a virtual meeting Tuesday. “We will not go down without a fight.” The Democratic leaders criticized the pace DeSantis is moving on the bill. The Governor suggested Tuesday that lawmakers could put the bill on an expedited path to pass by November, despite not calling a Special Session in response to the crises the state has faced since March, Democrats were quick to point out.

Democrats are pushing back on Ron DeSantis’ proposal to strengthen penalties for violent protests. Image via AP.

DeSantis issues $255M in federal COVID-19 relief to 55 Florida counties; $700M still unallocated” via John Haughey of Florida Trend — Florida will disperse $255 million in a second round of federal Coronavirus Relief Fund allocations across 55 of the state’s 67 counties, DeSantis’ office announced. Congress approved $150 billion for state and local governments when it adopted the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Florida received about $8.33 billion from the CARES Act for government assistance. Under the bill, 55 percent was reserved for the state and 45 percent reserved for direct payments to municipalities. Of the $3.75 billion earmarked for counties and cities, more than $2.47 billion was distributed in direct payments from the U.S. Treasury to the 12 urban Florida counties with populations greater than 500,000 people. The remaining $1.28 billion has been in state coffers since March, minus $574 million dispersed in two allocations.

Cabinet approves six conservation deals” via The News Service of Florida — DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet approved spending more than $9 million to protect 5,200 acres across five counties from future development. The deals will establish conservation easements on five agricultural properties totaling 3,367 acres. Such easements restrict future development while allowing landowners to continue using property for such things as agriculture. A sixth land deal, for 1,901 acres in Marion County owned by Florida Power & Light, will use $3.05 million from the Florida Forever conservation program. The FPL land, comprised of 25 noncontiguous parcels along the Ocklawaha River, is listed in a staff report as providing habitat for such things as Florida black bears and scrub jays.

Happening today — The state Board of Executive Clemency — Gov. DeSantis and members of the Florida Cabinet — will meet, 8 a.m., Cabinet meeting room.

Regulators weigh insurance rate hikes” via The News Service of Florida — State regulators delved into potential large increases in property-insurance rates for customers of First Community Insurance Co. The Office of Insurance Regulation held a public hearing on a proposal that would lead to an average 24.5% rate increase statewide, though actual increases would vary, depending on factors such as locations of properties and types of policies. For example, the company is seeking an overall 25.4% increase for homeowner “multi-peril” policies, an overall 25.9% increase for condominium-unit policies and an overall 0.3% increase for tenant policies, according to information presented during the hearing.

Citizens Board of Governors: Carlos Beruff in, José Félix Díaz out” via Insurance Journal — Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-run insurer of last resort, announced two recent changes to its board of governors. Joining the board in August was Beruff, a Manatee County business owner. Beruff was appointed by Senate President Bill Galvano and replaces Blake Capps for a three-year term that ends July 31, 2023. The board also was informed of the resignation of Diaz, a former Florida House of Representative member who was appointed to Citizens Board of Governors in July 2020 by House Speaker José Oliva. Citizens said the timing to serve on the board did not work out for former Diaz “due to other business interests.”

Carlos Beruff is in for the Citizens Insurance Board of Governors.

Happening today — The Citizens Property Insurance Board of Governors meet, 9 a.m. Call-in: 1-786-635-1003. Code: 95637927111.

Popular California marijuana company gets Florida license, prepared to open in 2021” via Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — A California-based cannabis company known for its celebrity partnerships, colorful marketing and crowd-drawing interiors is headed to Florida. COOKIES, headed up by Bay-area rapper Gilbert Anthony Milan Jr., or “Berner,” has acquired one of Florida’s 22 coveted medical marijuana treatment center licenses and plans to begin business in 2021. The license was purchased from Port Richey license holder Tree King-Tree Farm Inc., which has not dispensed any medical marijuana since it acquired its license in May 2019. The transfer was finalized Friday, according to the state’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use. A COOKIES spokeswoman declined to disclose details of the deal, including the value of the purchase. In July 2019, Michigan company Green Peak Innovations announced it had signed an agreement to purchase Tree King-Tree Farm Inc.’s license for $48 million. A spokesman for GPI did not return a request for comment.

Happening today — The State Board of Education meets, 9 a.m., Florida Holocaust Museum, 55 Fifth St. South, St. Petersburg.

— D.C. MATTERS —

The White House blames voters for the messes Trump made” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — Trump has blamed just about everybody but himself for the country’s multiplying woes: China, the World Health Organization, Democrats, his predecessor, his opponent, governors, mayors, the press, scientists, antifa and his own appointees. So it was perhaps inevitable that we would arrive at this point: Trump’s White House is now blaming the voters. In the White House driveway Tuesday morning, Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was asked about the spontaneous surge in contributions to Democrats since Republicans announced, 80 minutes after the first report of Justice Ginsburg’s death, that they would ram through a replacement. He called it “very sad” and concluded: “But that just shows you, at this particular time in history, we have a very divisive electorate.”

Donald Trump’s mess? Blame it on voters. Image via Getty.

— LOCAL NOTES —

Delray Beach Utilities Department target of county inspector general investigation” via Mike Diamond of The Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach County Inspector General John Carey has joined forces with the state Department of Health in an investigation of Delray Beach’s Utilities Department. The health department launched its investigation July 1 after it received allegations that city officials covered up problems in its reclaimed water program. A number of people on the barrier island drank and showered with partially treated sewage water that got into their drinking water pipes through cross-connections. The then-director of the Utilities Department told the state that no one got sick when, in fact, several people did. The incident occurred in December 2018. The state recently told the city it is also investigating why its storage tanks were not cleaned every five years as required.

— SMOLDERING — 

Trump mocks reporters who were roughed up by police during protests” via Brett Samuels of The Hill — Trump on Tuesday mocked journalists who were hit with rubber bullets and assailed by police while covering protests against racial injustice this summer. The President, during a rally in Pennsylvania, recounted watching the demonstrations play out as he lamented that law enforcement had not been allowed to go in and break up the protests. But he was more gleeful when describing how MSNBC’s Ali Velshi was hit in the knee with a rubber bullet, though he misidentified the reporter and the object that struck him. “Remember that beautiful sight? The street was a mess,” Trump said, describing Minneapolis. “That idiot reporter from CNN got hit on the knee with a can of tear gas, right? And he went down. ‘I’ve been hit. I’ve been hit.’”

Donald Trump called it a ‘beautiful thing’ that MSNBC journalist Ali Velshi was struck by a rubber bullet during a George Floyd protest in Minnesota.

Florida activists push back against proposed increased punishment for protesters” via Travis Gibson of News4Jax — A day after DeSantis rolled out a legislative package to crack down on protesters by creating a host of new crimes, a group of Florida civil-rights activists came out strong against the proposed laws. Representatives from the Tallahassee Community Action Committee, Southern Poverty Law Center Florida, and a St. Augustine pastor who is known for leading peaceful protests and others were among those who spoke out during a virtual news conference against what they called “draconian rhetoric” that DeSantis is using in his proposed legislation. “We believe that this proposed policy is being used to distract the media and organizers from focusing on the real problem: Gov. DeSantis’s failures as a Governor,” the group of activists wrote in a news release.

Stonewall Jackson renamed Roberto Clemente middle school” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — The Orange County School Board voted to drop the name of the Confederate general from the east Orlando school. The middle school — opened 55 years ago as a Whites-only school but now with a majority Hispanic student population — was the only campus in Central Florida still named for a Confederate general. The board voted unanimously to adopt the Clemente name for the school. “Definitely aye!” said school board member Kat Gordon as she cast her vote. “This is history in the making.”

— TOP OPINION —

Yes, airborne transmission is happening. The CDC needs to set the record straight.” via Joseph G. Allen and Linsey C. Marr of The Washington Post — There’s something odd going on at the CDC. For a moment, it seemed that the agency had finally waked up to an important fact: The novel coronavirus is airborne. On Friday, the CDC updated its website with guidance on “how COVID-19 spreads.” For the first time, they mentioned aerosols, the tiny particles that can stay airborne for hours and travel beyond 6 feet. Per the guidance, the virus travels “through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols, produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks or breathes. These particles can be inhaled into the nose, mouth, airways, and lungs and cause infection.” It ended with this kicker: “This is thought to be the main way the virus spreads.” But on Monday, the CDC removed this information from its website, bizarrely explaining that it “does not reflect our current state of knowledge.”

— OPINIONS —

What impact will Amendment 2 really have?” via the Port Charlotte Sun editorial board — Florida Amendment 2, $15 Minimum Wage Initiative could have a negative impact on the state’s economy even though many low-wage workers are pleading for help. We can’t imagine anyone making less than $15 an hour won’t vote Nov. 3 for Amendment 2. If a 60% majority of those voting approve the amendment, the state’s minimum wage of $8.46 an hour will increase by $1 a year until reaching $15 an hour in 2026. There are plenty of people pulling for this amendment to pass. But, at the same time, business owners are screaming that it will have a negative impact and will not be the cure-all for poverty its sponsors hope for. It’s difficult not to feel empathy for so many Florida workers who are dealing with high rents and a lack of benefits while trying to make ends meet. But employers, especially those in the restaurant business. make a good case for this amendment being a bad idea.

— TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Gov. DeSantis is doubling down on his bill targeting Black Lives Matter protesters. The Governor says he would like the Legislature to approve it during a Special Session after the November election.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— He may have Republican support, but Democrats in the legislature say Florida’s protests have been peaceful and the Governor is trying to create a crisis to distract from everything else going wrong on his watch.

— And the protesters targeted by the governor accuse him to trying to score political points with a proposal that he … as a lawyer … knows is unconstitutional.

— The protesters say they wish DeSantis cared as much about COVID-19 victims as he does about their demonstrations.

— The Governor and Cabinet hold their first in-person meeting since the start of the pandemic. It was not on their agenda, but it did come up. After hearing some countries are imposing new restrictions because of a second wave of COVID-19, the Governor said that won’t happen here.

— There have now been more than 200,000 COVID-19 fatalities nationwide, with Florida helping to break that barrier. The Department of Health reported 99 more deaths Tuesday; Florida’s toll is now 13, 579

— And finally, a Florida Man who was nearly done in by a gator, because of a crock.

To listen, click on the image below:

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Disney: 8 in 10 resort guests say safety protocols are ‘just right’” via Robert Guaderrama of FOX 35 Orlando — Walt Disney World says it’s getting positive reviews from guests, despite all the safety protocols in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Temperature checks, masks, social distancing and hand sanitizer are just some of the measures the Mouse House has taken to keep guests healthy. In a recent Disney World survey, 8 out of 10 guests said the protocols are “just right,” according to Disney. “They also shared that they are grateful for the health and safety measures we’ve put in place across our resort,” said Paula Verkuylen, with Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. Disney also says guests are happy they are able to enjoy more of the attractions because of the capacity limits.

Most Walt Disney World Resort guests say they feel safety protocols are ‘just right.’ Image via Disney.

Universal brings back 2 new haunted houses, trick-or-treating in the park as Halloween offerings” via WTSP — Following the success of two new haunted houses it tested last weekend, Universal Orlando announced the houses will return as seasonal offerings. Starting Sept. 26 and 27, then daily from Oct. 3 through Nov. 1, park guests can visit Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives and Revenge of the Tooth Fairy at the Universal Studios Florida park. The two houses were originally pop-up experiences so the theme park could gauge the demand following the cancellation of Halloween Horror Nights. They’re designed to be HHN-level scary, so they’re not recommended for kids under 13. Universal will continue its family-friendly Halloween events, including letting guests wear costumes and offering trick-or-treating for those 12 and under at Islands of Adventure.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy belated birthday to the next state Senator from Northeast Florida, Jennifer Bradley. Celebrating today are U.S. Rep. Al LawsonNicole Hagerty of HCA, John FoxJeff FrederickLisa Greer, Hillsborough Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez, and Kimberly Diaz Scott.

___

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

Written By

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

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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.
Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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