Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.25.20

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Good morning: Here's your first look at the issues behind today's Florida politics.

The shark fin ban championed by the late Rep. Kristin Jacobs goes into effect Oct. 1, and a group of ocean conservation advocates is planning to recognize her legacy with a mural.

Jacobs, who died of cancer in April, spent years advocating for the measure, which makes the import and export of shark fins. It’s no secret in the Legislature — the bill signed by the Governor earlier this month was designated the “Kristin Jacobs Ocean Conservation Act.”

In July, the team at Shark Allies launched a GoFundMe campaign to commission a mural in her honor.

A new mural will celebrate the life and work of Kristin Jacobs.

The fundraising goal was $4,000. As of Thursday evening, Shark Allies had raised more than double that thanks to a flood of contributions from around the state.

Among the donors were several of Jacobs’ colleagues in the Legislature. House members chipping in include Reps. Nick Duran, Shevrin Jones, Anika Omphroy and Toby Overdorf, who put forward the amendment naming the act after Jacobs. Among the Senators on the list were Lauren Book, Lizbeth Benacquisto, Jason Pizzo and Travis Hutson, who sponsored the companion bill.

The lobbying corps was also well represented, with Nick Iarossi of Capitol City Consulting, Taylor Biehl of Capitol Alliance Group, BillieAnn GayRon Greenstein, Tracy Mayernick of The Mayernick Group, Christian Minor, Kim McDougal of GrayRobinson, Diana PadgettShannon Shepp, and Heather Turnbull of Rubin Turnbull & Associated among the many lobbyists on the list.

What are the organizers going to do with the surplus?

“The Shark Allies team will now create a second installation commemorating the historic passing of this bill, in Florida’s sharkiest location,” organizer Laurel Irvine wrote Thursday evening. “Thank you to each and every one of our donors thus far, you are making this a reality.”

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Representing Florida’s 6th Congressional District isn’t Michael Waltz’ only job. The first-term Congressman is also a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army National Guard.

Waltz has served in the military for more than two decades and had a distinguished career.

Being a member of Congress is Lt. Col. Michael Waltz’s side gig.

The Florida native has completed multiple combat tours in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa. Before he became the first Green Beret elected to Congress, Waltz was also worked as the Director for Afghanistan policy at the Pentagon.

Today, Waltz will be promoted to the rank of Colonel in a ceremony officiated by U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, who was one of Waltz’s former classmates at the Virginia Military Institute.

The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. and will be streamed over Zoom. Those interested in watching can register online.

—”Michael Waltz: [Donald] Trump is delivering for America” via YouTube.

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Good news about a great person: Tara Reid makes partner at Strategos Group — Lobbyist Tara Reid is now a partner at Strategos Group. A longtime associate at the firm, Reid has moved up the ranks over the past five years. She now becomes the first woman to make partner from the firm’s internal ranks. “The election of Tara Reid as a Strategos Partner is not an honor bestowed, but rather a recognition earned through five years of focus, drive, and a continued willingness to learn,” Strategos managing partner Adam Giery said. “This nomination was personal, as I have grown to trust and rely on her leadership and guidance. Inviting her to the Partnership, a moment that transformed my life, is a career highlight.”

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@RealDonaldTrump: Florida looking good!

@SenateMajLdr: The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792.

@MarcoRubio: As we have done for over two centuries we will have a legitimate & fair election It may take longer than usual to know the outcome, but it will be a valid one And at noon on Jan 20, 2021, we will peacefully swear in the President

@AOC: I am voting early and in person. What’s your voting plan?

@RealStanVG: The campaign flags that say Trump 2020 No More Bullshit are so confusing. I can’t figure it out. He’s been President for nearly 4 years. What is it you want — Trump or No More Bullshit?

@RonnieWhittaker: I remember being ED of Republican Party of Florida when we were trying to clean up a mess left to us & scrutiny was relentless from outside. I mean relentless & we were earnestly working to uncover possible criminality. Shoes on the other foot now & I see lotsa shoulder shrugs.

@Conarck: Kinda crazy to think about the many COVID skeptics who went from claiming SARS-CoV-2 is a bioweapon developed by the Chinese government to advocating for mass infection in search of herd immunity.

— DAYS UNTIL —

First presidential debate in Indiana — 4; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 8; Ashley Moody’s 2020 Human Trafficking Summit — 11; first vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 13; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 19; second presidential debate scheduled in Miami — 21; NBA draft — 21; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 21; NBA free agency — 23; Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum — 25; HBO debuts 2000 presidential election doc ‘537 Votes’ — 26; third presidential debate at Belmont — 27; “The Empty Man” premieres — 28; 2020 General Election — 39; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 47; The Masters begins — 48; “No Time to Die” premieres — 56; Pixar’s “Soul” premieres — 56; College basketball season slated to begin — 61; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 68; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 68; “Death on the Nile” premieres — 83; “Wonder Woman 1984” rescheduled premiere — 91; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 135; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 148; “Black Widow” rescheduled premiere — 163; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 280; Disney’s “Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” premieres — 287; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 301; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 309; Disney’s “Eternals” premieres — 406; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 409; Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” premieres — 441; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 505; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 558; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 739.

— SALLY —

Northwest Florida gets ‘major disaster’ declaration. What does this mean for residents?” via Jim Little of the NWF Daily News — Trump has declared a major disaster exists in Florida from Hurricane Sally. However, the declaration from the White House contains no mention of assistance for individuals. The White House news release said Trump issued a major declaration on Wednesday, unlocking Federal Emergency Management Agency aid for local governments and nonprofits for emergency work and repair in Escambia County. Emergency Protective Measures are actions taken by a community before, during, and following a disaster to save lives, protect public health and safety, or eliminate immediate threat of significant damage to improved public and private property through cost-effective measures, according to FEMA.

Hurricane Sally is now officially a ‘major disaster.’ What does that mean, exactly? Image via WBTM.

3 Skanska barges still stuck under Pensacola Bay Bridge, repair timeline unknown” via Kevin Robinson of the Pensacola News Journal — At least seven spans of the Pensacola Bay Bridge will have to be partially or fully replaced due to damage from loose Skanska barges, but as of yet, there is no timeline for the repairs, according to the Florida Department of Transportation. Several barges owned by Skanska USA, the contractor leading a $400 million bridge replacement project, collided with the Pensacola Bay Bridge after coming unmoored during Hurricane Sally. In a news release Thursday, FDOT said assessments of the damage to the structure are still ongoing, but some of Skanska’s barges were still creating complications. “Three of the contractor’s barges remain on or under the structure, and the removal of those barges will have to be done with great caution,” the release said. “The contractor has prioritized the removal of the barges and will work closely with FDOT to ensure the least amount of additional damage possible to the bridge in this effort.”

Cotton fields, other crops in Okaloosa take severe hit from Sally” via Tony Judnich of the NWF Daily News — High winds combined with more than 20 inches of rain from Hurricane Sally delivered a severe beating to farms in north Okaloosa County, with this year’s cotton crop taking the hardest and most expensive hit. “Most of our cotton is lying on the ground right now,” Jennifer Bearden, the University of Florida/Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences Extension agriculture agent in Okaloosa County, said Wednesday. “We were about a month away from harvesting when the storm hit. We’re looking at about a 50% yield loss on our cotton.” That equates to about a $1 million loss, a number that could grow even higher, she said. Following the storm, Bearden has been able to survey nearly 2,200 acres of the 2,500-3,000 total acres of cotton in the county.

Pensacola oyster farmer says Skanska barge smashed through farm, ruined 800,000 oysters” via Kevin Robinson of the Pensacola News Journal — A Pensacola oyster farmer claims a rogue Skanska barge plowed through his farm, dragging almost 800,000 oysters to shore and causing him an estimated $500,000 in losses. During Hurricane Sally, 22 barges owned by the construction company Skanska USA came unmoored and scattered across Pensacola and Escambia bays. The vessels reportedly crashed into bridges, washed up in backyards and, in the case of Travis Gill, ran roughshod over his life’s investment. Gill, the owner of the DeLuna Oyster Co., launched his one-man business in 2017. He said he made a small investment at first to see if the farm was viable, and after building up a good reputation and solid clientele base decided to go “all-in and get a bunch of oysters.” Until recently, his plot in the waters just of Pensacola’s southeastern shore boasted about 65 floating oyster cages.

Replica of Christopher Columbus’s ship, Niña, barely avoided Pensacola Bay’s rocks in Sally” via Colin Warren-Hicks of the Pensacola News Journal — On his first voyage to the New World, Columbus encountered an ingenious people called the Tainos, who warned the explorer of dangerous windstorms that often brewed in their home waters of the Caribbean Sea. They believed the cyclones to be earthly manifestations of a wrathful god known as “Huracán,” and on his second voyage to the Americas, Columbus and his sailors were the first-ever Europeans to encounter such a storm — what is now, referred to in English as a “hurricane.” Columbus’ flagship, the Niña, survived the tropical storm of 1495 just as a modern-day replica of the Niña survived a near shipwreck when Hurricane Sally struck its mooring in Pensacola last week. The quick action of her crew is all that saved the ship from the rocks of Pensacola Bay.

Much like the actual Niña, the replica weathered a major storm. Image via the Pensacola News Journal.

Blue Angels announce Friday flyover to uplift community after Sally” via Jake Newby of the Pensacola News Journal — The U.S. Navy Blue Angels announced that the team will conduct a flyover throughout Pensacola on Friday to pay tribute to the resiliency of the community in the aftermath of Hurricane Sally. The flyover is scheduled for at 8 a.m. Friday. “I am very appreciative of the Blue Angels for this incredible show of support for the people of Pensacola as we begin the long recovery from Hurricane Sally,” Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said in a news release Thursday announcing the news. “This storm has impacted so many people in our community during a time when many of us were already facing challenging times, but I know we will recover. Pensacola is a strong, resilient community, and we will be even stronger once we get through this together.”

— SCOTUS WATCH —

Ruth Bader Ginsburg eulogized as a ‘rock star’ and ‘fighter’ while mourners gather to say goodbye” via Robert Barnes, Jessica Contrera, Ann E. Marimow and Samantha Schmidt of The Washington Post — Chief Justice John Roberts eulogized Ginsburg as a “rock star” whose legal victories as a crusading lawyer for women’s rights and decisions over 27 years on the Supreme Court moved the nation closer to the goal of “equal justice under law.” “Among the words that describe Ruth: Tough. Brave. A fighter. A winner,” a red-eyed Roberts said during a ceremony in the Supreme Court’s Great Hall. “But also: Thoughtful. Careful. Compassionate. Honest.” Dozens of black-clad former clerks lined the steps of the marble building as Supreme Court police officers delivered Ginsburg’s coffin to the Great Hall, where justices traditionally have been remembered. The brief ceremony presented a snapshot of 2020 at the court. All eight justices wore masks. Justice Sonia Sotomayor added a clear plastic face shield; Justice Samuel Alito looked as if he had been skipping haircuts.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s colleagues on the Supreme Court described the late Justice as a ‘fighter’ and ‘rock star.’ Image via AP.

Judge’s faith becomes early flashpoint in Supreme Court fight” via Ben Schreckinger of POLITICO — Before Trump has even announced his Supreme Court pick, conservatives are fighting to make the conservative Christian views of one of the leading contenders, 7th Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett, off-limits in any potential confirmation hearing. Some critics of Barrett are invoking “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a dystopian feminist novel in which conservative Christians have stripped away women’s rights, as a symbol of their fear that her conservative religious beliefs could reshape American society. Supporters are raising claims of anti-Catholic bigotry, both in response to the critics and in anticipation what they say would be the onslaught to come if Barrett were nominated. “We will be watching this carefully,” said Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League, an anti-discrimination group. Citing alleged anti-Catholic bias, the group called for five high-profile Democratic Senators to recuse themselves if Barrett or the other leading contender, 11th Circuit Judge Barbara Lagoa, who is also Catholic, are nominated.

Barbara Lagoa would bring an atypical background to the Supreme Court” via Corinne Ramey and James V. Grimaldi of The Wall Street Journal — Lagoa, a Cuban-American who spent the bulk of her judicial career in Florida’s state courts, has emerged as a leading potential U.S. Supreme Court pick who could mobilize voters in a key battleground state. If nominated and confirmed, Judge Lagoa would bring an atypical background to the high court: The only child of Cuban exiles, she attended a public university and has limited experience in the federal court system. She spent more than a decade on an intermediate state appeals court, a brief stint on her state’s highest court, and has been on the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for less than a year. She would be the U.S. Supreme Court’s second Latina justice.

Lagoa helped give GOP key legal win. Should she have recused?” via Mary Ellen Klas and Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — Lagoa, the daughter of Cuban exiles in Miami who has rocketed onto the president’s shortlist for the U.S. Supreme Court, has earned a reputation as a conservative jurist with solid credentials who tends to side with business and government in her rulings and believes courts should stick to the plain meaning of the law. But perhaps the most divisive decision in her 15 years as a judge was voting as a new member of the federal appeals court in Atlanta, which recently handed the Republicans and Trump a political gift: Lagoa joined the majority in a 6-4 ruling to restrict the right of nearly 800,000 Florida felons who have completed their prison sentences.

Barbara Lagoa delivered a major ruling for the GOP, but some are raising the possibility that she should have recused herself. Image via AP.

How Lagoa’s fight for Elian Gonzalez shaped her legal career” via Gary Fineout of Politico — A bitter battle against the immigration policies of the U.S. government. Fear of undue influence from a communist regime. And a looming presidential election where Florida would be one of the most important states to decide the outcome. That was the scene Lagoa, an up-and-coming lawyer at a well-established private law firm, landed in two decades ago when she joined the 2000 fight to keep Gonzalez in Miami as the Cuban government pushed for him to be returned to his father in Cuba.

What Amy Coney Barrett actually said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — Barrett appears to be the odds-on favorite to become Trump’s Supreme Court pick this weekend. But some are citing comments she made in 2016 to suggest that she opposed filling the kind of vacancy she might soon fill. They aren’t looking closely enough at what she said. Barrett, who was then a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, spoke to CBSN in February 2016, shortly after Justice Antonin Scalia died. Republicans had just controversially declared that they would block whomever President Barack Obama nominated for the seat because it was a presidential election year. In the course of her answer, she noted that a Democratic president replacing arguably the court’s most conservative justice would shift the court significantly. Some argued that she was saying that such a thing was wrong or that she opposed such a thing in an election year. That’s a stance that would be at odds with what’s happening today, when she or any other Trump nominee would replace one of the court’s most liberal justices, Ginsburg, in this election year, and shift the court substantially to the right.

— 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 Thursday, the CNN average remains with Joe Biden still leading 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 Thursday, Biden is staying steady at a 77 in 100 chance of winning compared to Trump, who now has a 22 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 32.6%, while Florida comes in second with 11.6%. Other states include Wisconsin (9.5%), Michigan (8.3%), Arizona (6.4%), North Carolina (5%), Ohio (4.7%) and Nevada (2.8%).

In the latest survey of recent polling, Joe Biden is still clinging to his lead over Donald Trump.

PredictIt: As of Thursday, the PredictIt trading market has Biden dropping slightly to $0.57 a share, with Trump moving down to $0.45.

Real Clear Politics: As of Thursday, the RCP average of polling top battleground states gives Biden a lead over Trump 49.7% to 42.9%. The RCP model has Biden averaging at +6.8 points ahead.

The Economist: As of Thursday, their model still predicts Biden is 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 15%. They still give Biden a 97% chance (better than 19 in 20) of winning the most votes, with Trump at only 3%.

— PRESIDENTIAL —

Donald Trump campaigns in Jacksonville, calls for Joe Biden to release list of Supreme Court choices” via the Florida Times-Union — The President said during a campaign rally in Jacksonville on Thursday that he will announce a woman Saturday as his Supreme Court pick and he challenged Biden to release his own list of potential Supreme Court candidates. Trump said Biden doesn’t want to release a list because the names because he is beholden to “the left.” “If he puts an extremist into that position, he loses everything that’s like normal,” Trump said. “If he goes the other way, he loses the left.”

Trump says coronavirus ‘sounds like a beautiful place in Italy’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — In Jacksonville, the President delivered what was largely a familiar series of applause lines, but a relatively new one: “The people call it coronavirus. It sounds like a beautiful place in Italy,” the Trump quipped to some applause. He then reminded the thousands on hand that the virus that has killed 200,000 Americans was from “China,” and adding that Florida has done a great job fighting it. He gave Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry props, saying “we wanted to have our Republican National Convention right here in Jacksonville … but we got hit hard with the China virus.” DeSantis called Biden “China’s errand boy,” saying Biden would offer a “Weekend at Bernie’s presidency” controlled by the radical left.

Donald Trump arrives in Jacksonville for what the campaign billed as the ‘Great American Comeback’ rally. Image via News4Jax.

Election ‘Day’ begins in Florida with millions of ballots heading out to voter mailboxes” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Election Day is still more than five weeks away, but presidential voting in Florida is about to begin — in a big way. On Thursday alone, elections offices in Broward and Palm Beach counties will send out more than 635,000 vote-by-mail ballots, kicking off an unprecedented shift in when and how people vote. By the weekend, people will have their ballots and start voting, before candidates Trump and Biden meet for their first debate. And by the end of next week, ballots will be in the hands of or on their way to more than 4.7 million Florida voters.

As Trump exudes pandemic optimism, Democrats still see worry — and an advantage” via Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer of The Washington Post — Standing in front of thousands of unmasked supporters packed together on an airport tarmac here Saturday night, Trump gave his regularly rosy assessment of the coronavirus pandemic. “We’re rounding the turn,” Trump said to cheers. “We’re rounding the corner of the pandemic.” The president is betting his political future on convincing voters that a recent dip in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths signals a coming end to the national nightmare and is a reason to reassess his handling of the pandemic and vote for him. He is zigzagging the country for a series of packed events, sometimes indoors, always with a packed and mostly unmasked crowd, preaching that the situation is rapidly improving while largely ignoring a death toll that this week surpassed 200,000 Americans amid fears that the country could have a second wave as temperatures drop.

Republicans hope Supreme Court fight boosts Trump’s reelection bid, helps GOP hold Senate majority” via Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey and Paul Kane of The Washington Post — Republicans are shifting their campaign focus toward the looming Supreme Court fight over replacing the late Justice Ginsburg in hopes that it will inject a last-minute boost into Trump’s reelection bid and the battle for the Senate majority. But some in Trump’s orbit are questioning that strategy, privately fretting that the move to quickly confirm a conservative replacement for the liberal icon will backfire and energize the left in key battleground states. And behind the scenes, some Senate GOP advisers also acknowledge that this could spell bad news for at least two GOP incumbents, Susan Collins in Maine and Gardner in Colorado, fighting for their political lives in Democratic-leaning states, even as they predict it could bolster other vulnerable Senators.

Republicans try to ‘both sides’ Trump’s comments on peaceful transfer of power” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — Trump declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the 2020 election, ratcheting up previous rhetoric baselessly casting doubt on the legitimacy of what polls suggest is a likely defeat. In response, congressional Republicans have assured there will be a transfer of power, but they have mostly refused to rebuke Trump personally. And increasingly, they’ve suggested this is a “both sides” issue. In a series of tweets Thursday morning, Republicans from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to Sen. Marco Rubio to the third-ranking House Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney, promised a peaceful transfer of power and emphasized its importance in our constitutional republic. But in each of their statements, Trump was basically Voldemort. There was no suggestion that they were responding directly to Trump or that he actually said something wrong.

Donald Trump refuses to acknowledge there will be a ‘peaceful transition’ in 2021.

After the White House said Trump would accept the results of the election, he once again suggests it may be tainted.” via Michael Crowley of The New York Times — A day after Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power drew rebukes from Democrats, nervous distancing from Republicans and attempts at reassurance from the White House, Trump weighed in again Thursday and said that he was not sure the November election could be “honest” because mail-in ballots are “a whole big scam.” “We want to make sure that the election is honest and I’m not sure that it can be,” Trump told reporters before leaving the White House for North Carolina. Trump was responding to a reporter’s question about whether he would consider the November election results legitimate only if he wins. Instead of repeating his press secretary’s assurance earlier in the day that he would accept the results of a “free and fair” election, Trump instead launched into his latest complaint about mail-in ballots, which he has repeatedly asserted without evidence are likely to be tainted by widespread fraud, and suggested that the election will not, in fact, be fairly decided.

‘An election between Trump and democracy’: Bernie Sanders sounds alarm on President refusing defeat if he loses” via Joey Garrison of USA Today — Calling the November election a “struggle to preserve American democracy,” Sanders warned Americans on Thursday to prepare for a doomsday scenario in which Trump could try to declare victory prematurely by seeking to discredit absentee ballots counted after Election Day. Striking a somber and urgent tone, the Vermont Senator and former Democratic presidential candidate steered clear of his bread-and-butter progressive causes in a speech from an empty auditorium at George Washington University. He instead addressed a fundamental principle of a democracy. “What I am going to talk about is something that, in my wildest dreams, I never thought I would be discussing,” Sanders said, beginning his 30-minute speech. “And that is the need to make certain that the President of the United States, if he loses this election, will abide by the will of the voters and leave office peacefully.”

Trump faces challenges even in red states, poll shows, as women favor Biden” via Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin of The New York Times — Trump is on the defensive in three red states he carried in 2016, narrowly trailing Biden in Iowa and battling to stay ahead of him in Georgia and Texas, as Trump continues to face a wall of opposition from women that also endangers his Party’s control of the Senate, according to a poll. Trump’s vulnerability even in conservative-leaning states underscores just how precarious his political position is, less than six weeks before Election Day. While he and Biden are competing aggressively for traditional swing states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida, the poll suggests that Biden has assembled a coalition formidable enough to jeopardize Trump even in historically Republican parts of the South and Midwest.

—“Five things Biden and his allies should be worried about” via Thomas Edsall of The New York Times

Tweet, tweet:

Democrats’ mail voting pivot” via Alexi McCammond and Margaret Talev of Axios — Democrats spent the early months of the coronavirus pandemic urging their base to vote absentee. But as threats of U.S. Postal Service delays, Team Trump litigation and higher ballot rejection rates become clearer, many are pivoting to promote more in-person voting as well. Democrats are exponentially more likely to vote by mail than Republicans this year and if enough mail-in ballots are lost, rejected on a technicality or undercounted, it could change the outcome of the presidential election or other key races. In Colorado, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, who’s running against Sen. Cory Gardner, told Axios that he’s encouraging voters to physically take their mail-in ballots to a dropbox and to do so “early, really early.”

Trump’s team hunts for votes in person, while Biden’s works the phones” via Julie Bykowicz of The Wall Street Journal — Republican campaigners, wearing Trump T-shirts and face coverings, fanned out on a recent sunny afternoon across the suburban streets of Emmaus, Pennsylvania. At house after house, doors opened, and people stepped out — almost always without masks, but staying generally 6 feet apart. Joe Vichot, a Lehigh County Republican Party official, stood on a front porch with Bob and Annamae Letteer, who said they planned to vote in person for Trump. “But if you know somebody who doesn’t want to go or is concerned, make sure you give them a mail-in. You don’t want to lose the vote,” Mr. Vichot said. The couple nodded in agreement. Republicans have much of the country to themselves for such in-person interactions.

‘Biden has no ground game in Florida.’ Will Mike Bloomberg’s money change that?” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Progressive activists backing Biden in Florida made millions of phone calls, sent hundreds of thousands of text messages and written thousands of letters to convince voters to support the Democratic presidential nominee. But one thing they’re largely not doing — and growing increasingly worried about — is talking to voters face-to-face. With the number of coronavirus cases down from their July peak in Florida, the state’s largest left-leaning grassroots organizations and political field operations are making a last-minute push to get back in front of voters in a crucial battleground state where Trump’s campaign has been on the ground since June.

Will an influx of money from Michael Bloomberg in Florida take the place of a good ground game for Biden? She Image via AP.

‘Something’s in the water’: Florida Republicans see surge in voter registration” via Marc Caputo and Gary Fineout of POLITICO — Republicans have closed the traditional voter registration gap with Democrats to a historically small margin in Florida, triggering a wave of Democratic apprehension in the nation’s biggest swing state. Top Florida Democrats and longtime activists have increasingly groused in private that they feel pressure from Biden’s campaign to refrain from door-to-door canvassing or holding voter registration drives due to the potential spread of the coronavirus and fears of muddying his messaging on the pandemic. In the absence of such efforts, a concerted drive by Trump’s Florida campaign to register voters has helped cut the state’s long-standing Democratic advantage to fewer than 185,000 voters, a gap of just 1.3 percentage points.

Despite Trump’s actions against immigrants, these Latino voters want four more years” via Paulina Villegas of The Washington Post — The Latino support for Trump could be deemed counterintuitive considering he rose to power on an anti-immigration platform and inflammatory rhetoric. In the 2015 speech that launched his presidential campaign, Trump called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and drug dealers. In the years following his election, images of immigrant children in overcrowded detention centers dominated the news. The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected and killed people in the Latino community. Yet many of his Latino supporters in the Copper State, overwhelmingly of Mexican descent, point to Trump’s business-oriented policies, such as lowering taxes and lifting regulations, as more consequential actions that, they say, have benefited wages and employment levels in their communities. This, along with religious conservatism are the reasons they want to see him reelected.

Trump looks for ways to win over voters on health care after failing to deliver on promises” via Josh Dawsey and Yasmeen Abutaleb of The Washington Post — Trump is pushing advisers to deliver health care “wins” in the final weeks of the campaign, leading to a frenzied rollout of proposals as polls show the President’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and health care policy are two of the biggest vulnerabilities in his reelection bid. Trump is scheduled to deliver a speech Thursday in Charlotte, broadly outlining how he would approach health care policy in a second term, though the speech is likely to be light on details. Instead, Trump will tout the administration’s efforts to lower drug prices, address surprise medical bills and improve health care price transparency, according to two senior administration officials and an outside lobbyist familiar with the plans.

Nearly 500 former senior military, civilian leaders signal support for Biden” via Karen DeYoung of The Washington Post — Nearly 500 retired senior military officers, as well as former Cabinet secretaries, service chiefs and other officials, have signed an open letter in support of Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, saying that he has “the character, principles, wisdom and leadership necessary to address a world on fire.” The letter, published Thursday morning by National Security Leaders for Biden, is the latest in a series of calls for Trump’s defeat in the November election. “We are former public servants who have devoted our careers, and in many cases risked our lives, for the United States,” it says. “We are generals, admirals, senior noncommissioned officers, ambassadors and senior civilian national security leaders. We are Republicans and Democrats, and Independents. We love our country.”

‘No one owns this corner’: Trump, Biden supporters argue over use of Gardens intersection” via Jodie Wagner of the Palm Beach Post — A public street corner that borders two of northern Palm Beach County’s busiest roadways has become a tug-of-war between supporters of Trump and his 2020 Democratic rival, Biden. The northwest corner of PGA Boulevard and Military Trail is one of Palm Beach Gardens’ most visible, and since 2016 it has drawn hundreds of the president’s supporters for raucous Friday afternoon rallies at what they call “Trump corner.” Five weeks ago, Biden supporters began holding rallies of their own at the intersection, opting for Wednesday afternoons so as not to conflict with the Trump gatherings. “We didn’t want to rival Trump’s people,” said Eric Jablin, a former Mayor of Palm Beach Gardens.

Constitutional crisis over electors? Bob Poe says Florida’s been there, done that” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — In December 2000, Florida Democratic Party Chair Poe was ready to fly to D.C. at to try to formally submit names of Florida’s 25 Presidential Electors to vote for Al Gore in the Electoral College. That could have sparked a constitutional crisis, one that is emerging again this year, as a possibility for the 2020 election, Poe said. All of this was on Poe’s mind after reports that Trump‘s reelection campaign has been encouraging various state Republican parties and legislative leaders to submit lists of Electors loyal to Trump regardless of who wins the popular vote. “The law says that the Legislature is the one that makes the ultimate decision, and they could do whatever the hell they want,” Post said.

The possibility of using Republican electors in the place of a popular vote is nothing new for Florida, says Democrat Bob Poe.

‘Preposterous’: Joe Gruters says there’s no secret plan for Legislature to assign Florida electors” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — If Trump’s team wants the Florida Legislature to simply assign the state’s electoral votes, nobody told Gruters. That’s notable considering Gruters serves both as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, and holds a seat in the Florida Senate. “It’s idiotic and preposterous,” said Gruters, a Sarasota Republican. “Think about it. Nobody has discussed anything like that with me.” Gruters’ account somewhat undermines a report in The Atlantic claiming members of Trump’s campaign team have spoken with leaders in swing states with Republican-controlled legislatures about the subject. The piece suggests a strategy has been explored: Challenging vote totals and leaving legislatures to decide who electors vote for in the Electoral College.

— NEW ADS —

Joe Biden ad highlights veteran support — Biden released a new ad in Florida featuring an Army veteran who lost his legs in the line of duty. “I gave two legs for this country. I got friends that never came back home. The guys who had their caskets draped with our nation’s colors — those are the real heroes. And you mean to tell me you call them ‘suckers,’ ‘losers?’ With all due respect, I think you missed it on this one,” retired Master Sergeant Cedric King says, referring to Trump’s comments on soldiers. “We need someone in the White House who understands what it means to serve. I know Joe Biden understands the sacrifices that troops make and that’s the guy that I want leading this country.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

New ad bashes Trump’s coronavirus response, praises Biden’s ‘steady, strong’ leadership — Priorities USA Action, the Latino Victory Fund, the American Federation of Teachers, and Mike Bloomberg joined forces to launch a new ad targeting Hispanic voters in Florida. The Spanish-language ad, “Los Olvidados,” has multiple versions, each geared toward the segments of Florida’s diverse Hispanic community. But they all have the same goal: contrasting “Trump’s failure to grasp the severity of the coronavirus crisis — causing the deaths of over 200,000 Americans — with Joe Biden’s steady, strong leadership.” The ad is running as part of Priorities USA Action and the American Federation of Teachers’ previously announced a $1.9 million ad buy in Miami. It will also air as part of the Priorities USA and Latino Victory Fund’s $6 million Spanish-language ad buy funded by Bloomberg.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

—“Trump features steel plant that laid off hundreds in new ad about ‘the best’ economy” via Cameron Joseph of Vice News


— 2020 — 

Are Florida Republicans obsessed with pedophilia in the age of QAnon?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Florida’s Attorney General calls on Netflix to drop a foreign film because it could feed the appetite of pedophiles. A Congressman makes the case for his reelection on legislation to ban sex dolls modeled after children. Another wants to terminate pensions for federal employees should they get convicted of molesting minors. To read Florida’s headlines in the lead-up to a contentious presidential election, pedophilia stands as one of society’s most urgent challenges in 2020. Voices like Ashley Moody, Vern Buchanan and Ross Spano increasingly target kid touchers — perhaps the easiest political boogeyman to hate in the history of democracy, and not necessarily wrongly so. That may seem entirely unnoteworthy, but the timing becomes suspect considering another simultaneous political phenomenon.

John Morgan calls Florida minimum wage a ‘slave wage,’ doubles down on $15 pay initiative” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Morgan went on the offensive Thursday in support of Amendment 2, an initiative which would incrementally raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026. The ballot initiative from Florida For A Fair Wage has been a top priority for the influential attorney and will be proposed to voters Nov. 3. On Thursday, it was the subject of a USA Today live discussion between supporters and opponents. Morgan was joined by Ben Pollara, a senior adviser for the campaign to pass the amendment. Together, the pair pressed against oppositional talking points and fired warning shots to businesses big and small. “You gotta up your game and do a better job if you want to be competitive,” Morgan said during the online forum. “I would tell small businesses you have a lot more to worry about — Amazon and Walmart and Target — than you do raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour.”

Business groups back ballot measure to undercut future constitutional amendments” via Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel — Some of Florida’s biggest business-lobbying groups are lining up behind a controversial measure on the November ballot that would make it harder to amend the Florida Constitution. The Florida Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the measure, which is being sponsored by a secretive nonprofit called “Keep Our Constitution Clean” and would require any future proposed constitutional amendments be approved in two separate, statewide referendums. So has the Florida Farm Bureau. Earlier this month, a think tank led in part by executives from Florida Power & Light and Publix Supermarkets, released a “voter guide” recommending a “yes” vote on the amendment, which will be Amendment 4 on this year’s ballot.

In CD 7, Leo Valentin launches Spanish-language ad declaring he’s ‘one of us’” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Dr. Valentin, a Republican congressional candidate, is launching a new Spanish-language television spot slamming Democratic Rep Stephanie Murphy, and concluding that Valentin “is one of us.” The commercial is the first from Valentin for his Nov. 3 General Election contest against Murphy for Florida’s 7th Congressional District. It’s not the first spot in which Valentin contrasts himself with Murphy, however. He used that strategy to win the Republican primary in August. The 30-second “Nuestro Dr. Leo Valentín” will be running on Orlando television and digital platforms. The spot opens with unflattering images of Murphy as text as a narrator criticizes her for sending jobs to China, an apparent reference to her husband’s sporting goods business.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

No protesters arrested in Pinellas, Anna Paulina Luna takes to Twitter with outrage” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — A video has been circulating across social media platforms showcasing a confrontation between several protesters and a couple at a restaurant in St. Petersburg and candidate Luna for Florida’s 13th Congressional District has been quick to share it, despite a night of overall peaceful protests. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and the St. Petersburg Police Department made no arrests between Wednesday and Thursday involving the protesters. The protests in Pinellas County Wednesday night followed a Kentucky grand jury’s decision in the Breonna Taylor case that did not yield any criminal charges. “This is my home and district … a ‘protester’ calls the woman an ‘ugly a** white woman’ after harassing this couple at dinner … NOT peaceful protest. This is harassment and not who we are as a nation. I condemn this as well as the racial commentary,” Luna tweeted along with the video of the incident.

Ad stresses Vern Buchanan effectiveness, bipartisan record” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A 30-second ad from Rep. Buchanan’s reelection campaign stresses the seven-term incumbent’s effectiveness passing legislation. The new spot, entitled “Few Can Match,” began airing on broadcast in Florida’s 16th Congressional District on Thursday. The ad shows pictures of three Presidents, Trump, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, signing legislation. It notes the Longboat Key Republican has introduced 22 pieces of legislation that eventually became law. “It’s a record of accomplishment few can match,” a narrator states. It’s a quick summary of the same foundation message unrolled by the Buchanan campaign in a nearly four-minute mini-documentary earlier this month.

— LEG. CAMPAIGNS —

FRSCC launches site on Florida Democrats’ PPP loan — Florida Republican’s state Senate campaign arm has launched a website detailing the timeline surrounding the Florida Democratic Party’s application, acceptance, and the eventual return, of a Paycheck Protection Program loan. The Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee website relies on reporting from several news sources, questions statements made by party officials, and makes the case that the FDP has tried to cover up how it was granted the loan since PPP rules don’t allow political parties to receive funds. View the website here.

José Javier Rodríguez, Ileana Garcia trade barbs over alleged ‘scare tactics’ in SD 37 race” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Sen. Rodríguez is defending himself in a new ad against what he calls “lies” and “scare tactics” from his Republican opponent, Garcia. On Thursday, Garcia was doing the same after a negative mailer went out criticizing her policy positions. Garcia was a late entrant to the race, filing for the seat on June 1 after earning support from Senate GOP leadership. The two have sparred throughout the campaign though, particularly on the issue of socialism. Both candidates are of Cuban descent. Non-party affiliated Alex Rodriguez is also seeking the Senate District 37 seat. The new mailer accuses Garcia of supporting the caging of immigrant children and backing the arming of teachers trained under the state’s Guardian program, among other issues. “He sent out a flyer with some pretty pathetic things,” Garcia told Florida Politics. “Like caging kids, arming librarians, and said I did not address common sense solutions? I’ve never been in office.”

>>>Rodriguez released a new 30-second ad addressing the ‘lies’ his opponent has spread. To watch the video, click on the image below:

Chris Latvala brings in $44K, largest haul of campaign following COVID-19 battle” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Latvala reported his highest fundraising period in his most recent campaign finance disclosure in the race for House District 67. For the period spanning Sept. 5 through Sept. 18, Latvala raised $44,650, growing his total contributions to $195,185. Latvala was in the hospital battling COVID-19 during most of the fundraising period, first admitted Aug. 29 through Sept. 1 and then returning Sept. 4 through Sept. 13. He has now recovered, after what he called “the hardest thing I have ever faced in my life.” Because Latvala was unable to campaign or fundraise during most of the latest reporting period, Latvala’s numbers are particularly impressive and show he has a network of support to help him through this reelection campaign. Latvala faces Democratic opponent Dawn Douglas, who has not yet filed a report for the most recent period, which is due by Friday evening. Although Douglas saw her highest numbers last period, her finances struggle to compete with Latvala’s.

— DOWN BALLOT —

In Miami-Dade Mayor debate, candidates brag about supporting police and their budgets” via Joey Flechas and Doug Hanks of the Miami Herald — Both candidates for Miami-Dade Mayor pledged to keep police spending intact in a race where “defund the police” has become an attack line. Candidates Esteban “Steve” Bovo Jr. and Daniella Levine Cava both sit on the Miami-Dade County Commission, and earlier this month they voted for the $9 billion 2021 budget one of them will inherit in November. It increases the county’s police budget by about 1% to $782 million and continues allocating to police and jails about 45 cents of every dollar of property taxes and other general funds that Miami-Dade collects from businesses and residents. Miami-Dade’s police unions endorsed Bovo, who has represented the Hialeah-area District 13 on the commission since 2011.

Daniella Levine Cava says she is supporting the police. So is her opponent. Image via the Miami Democratic Party.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Florida coronavirus cases tick up in September, stalling progress” via Langston Taylor of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida’s coronavirus cases have risen again, if only slightly, and it’s not just an issue of college students. For the first time since early July, statewide numbers of new cases of the virus have increased throughout September, albeit a small uptick, nowhere near as sharp as the early summer. And current COVID-19 hospitalizations, one of the most timely ways to measure the spread in how many people are sick, are no longer dropping sharply but have instead flattened out. In a few large counties, the count is going back up again. From all indications, far fewer people are infected with the virus right now than during the spring and summer. But it’s possible the state’s steady progress has hit a bump in the road. The weekly average in new cases dropped a bit Thursday but remains higher than it was two weeks ago.

2,541 more Florida coronavirus infections push total cases past 693,000” via Tiffini Theisen of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida added 2,541 coronavirus cases Thursday to push the statewide total to 693,040 infected. With 177 new virus fatalities reported statewide, 13,795 Florida residents are now dead. Each report includes deaths from several previous days, as it can take two weeks or more for fatalities to be logged. The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus topped 200,000 on 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. The number of dead is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 67 days. And it is still climbing.

Ron DeSantis: State to preempt local governments on restaurant restrictions” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis says Florida will prohibit local governments from shutting down or placing additional hurdles on restaurants as the state prepares to move forward with the reopening process. DeSantis told reporters that the Department of Business and Professional Regulation has the authority to prevent cities and counties from shuttering businesses. “We license the restaurants, so it’s a DBPR thing,” the Governor said. “We believe that we would be able to ensure, based on our licensure ability, their ability to operate.” Restaurants “need certainty” and “we can’t have these businesses dying,” he added, also noting that Florida is “the most open large state in the country by far.” Under current DBPR measures, interior dining rooms or restaurants can open at 50% capacity while outdoor seating is also available. However, those limits could be changing.

Ron DeSantis is threatening to take away local control regarding restaurant closures. Image via AP.

‘That’s what college kids do.’ DeSantis wants protections for partying students” via Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida — DeSantis suggested that Florida could create a “bill of rights” to protect college students who face expulsion for attending parties under the strict COVID-19 guidelines schools are attempting to enforce. Calling the policies “incredibly draconian” at a public health event, the Republican Governor said the state is exploring its options for students without going into much detail. The idea comes as school leaders in Florida and beyond threaten stiff penalties for breaking social distancing rules in an effort to keep coronavirus transmission low and campuses open throughout the full semester. School leaders last month, at the dawn of the fall semester, came down hard on students and Greek organizations that gathered in large groups, defying school health guidelines. Fraternities were suspended, students were sent home from their dorms, all in an attempt to curb COVID-19 outbreaks that could cause colleges to close wholesale.

Losing your hair can be another consequence of the pandemic” via Pam Belluck of The New York Times — Doctors say they too are seeing many more patients with hair loss, a phenomenon they believe is indeed related to the coronavirus pandemic, affecting both people who had the virus and those who never became sick. In normal times, some people shed noticeable amounts of hair after a profoundly stressful experience such as an illness, major surgery or emotional trauma. Now, doctors say, many patients recovering from COVID-19 are experiencing hair loss, not from the virus itself, but from the physiological stress of fighting it off. Many people who never contracted the virus are also losing hair, because of emotional stress from job loss, financial strain, deaths of family members or other devastating developments stemming from the pandemic.

— CORONA LOCAL —

South Florida ICE detainees required to go attend court regardless of whether they have COVID” via Monique O. Madan of the Miami Herald — Immigration detainees in South Florida are being required to attend court hearings with other migrants even if they have COVID-19, two sources with the Department of Justice confirmed Wednesday. The news that detainees who have the coronavirus are being taken out of medical isolation to attend court hearings was revealed Wednesday morning during a Miami immigration court hearing at the Krome detention center in West Miami-Dade. Across South Florida, because of the pandemic, some detainees are appearing in person before a judge and others via video.

School district’s COVID-19 dashboard wrong on Day 1” via Sonja Isger of the Palm Beach Post — In a rush to publish an online dashboard that noted every case of COVID-19 within the Palm Beach County School District on the first day of in-person learning, the information posted was wrong, district officials said Wednesday. Eight of the 19 positive cases reported among employees were miscounted. They involved conflicting tests, unconfirmed tests, or people who were no longer sick or not on the property when campuses opened Sept. 16, the district’s risk and benefits manager, Don Noel, said after the correction to the dashboard was made.

A lawyer tried to shut down PBC public school campuses. It didn’t go great.” via Andrew Marra of the Palm Beach Post — The court hearing started with an audacious goal: shutting down Palm Beach County’s public school campuses to the more than 55,000 students attending in person each day. It ended, instead, with a skeptical judge explaining basic legal principles Wednesday to the attorney hoping to do the closing. On paper, Boca Raton attorney Barry Silver represented eight school district educators who argued, in a lawsuit filed last week, that requiring them to teach on campus during a pandemic was so dangerous to their health it was illegal. It turned out at least one teacher named in the lawsuit had been included without his consent. Of the others, just one showed up for a virtual hearing Wednesday.

Attorney Barry Silver tried to close Palm Beach County schools. It did not go as planned.

— MORE LOCAL —

Nassau County votes in favor of ending mask mandate” via News 4 Jax — During a special meeting, Nassau County commissioners voted Wednesday evening in favor of ending its mask mandate, according to a county spokesperson. Sabrina Robertson, with the County Manager’s Office, said the board voted 3-2 to end the mandate, which is effective at noon Thursday. Masks will still be required at all county facilities. Robertson said residents are still strongly encouraged to wear masks when unable to socially distance and that businesses can still implement their own mask mandates. An executive order outlining the new guidelines will be issued Thursday.

Collier schools not releasing student, employee quarantine numbers” via Rachel Fradette of Naples Daily News — Collier County’s School District is not releasing how many students and employees have had to quarantine due to close contact with more than 60 positive COVID-19 cases reported at school sites so far this year. Forty-four Collier students and 19 employees have tested positive since the first day of school on Aug. 31, according to the district’s dashboard as of 4 p.m. Wednesday. Two weeks into the school year, after previously stating no plans to share COVID-19 case data, the district announced the tracking dashboard on Sept. 11 with 27 positive cases tracked. In an email, district spokesman Chad Oliver stated the dashboard focuses on positive cases as a true indicator of the illness. “To focus on quarantine numbers could lead to a series of inferences about COVID-19 positivity that may not be the case,” Oliver wrote.

Pensacola mask ordinance remains; council unanimously rejects Mayor’s repeal proposal” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Wearing a mask in public indoor spaces is still required in the city of Pensacola after the City Council on Thursday unanimously rejected Mayor Grover Robinson‘s proposal to end the mask mandate. Robinson put forward a proposal to repeal an emergency ordinance that mandated wearing a mask in public indoor spaces in the city.  The mayor argued that with the daily hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients below 50, it was time to repeal the ordinance.

Families to sue Lee County school district over face mask policy” via Pamela McCabe of the Fort Myers News-Press — Four local families banded together to sue the Lee County school district over its requirement for students to wear face masks while at school. The lawsuit says the policy violates Florida’s Constitution on several counts. This includes stepping on the rights of parents to make decisions for their children and their health, as well as forcing those who cannot wear masks into virtual learning, which is “separate and unequal” to the learning that happens in brick-and-mortar classrooms. The 51-page document was filed in the Lee County courthouse Friday.

Florida A&M University to students: Spring break probably canceled. FSU may follow” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — Spring break may not be included on the spring academic calendar, Florida A&M University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maurice Edington told trustees Thursday. Edington said FAMU administrators have been working internally on the spring calendar and their decision could come this week, Edington said during the Board of Trustees meeting. He said FAMU is working on aligning its calendar with Florida State University because of the partnership at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. “We are finalizing our plans internally (and) hopefully meeting by tomorrow, but it looks like there will be no spring break at our campus,” Edington said. “I just want to share that with you while we work to finalize that decision.”

FSU to Seminoles football fans in the stands: Get tested and put on a mask or leave” via Jim Henry of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida State football fans not wearing a mask during home games will be asked to put on a mask or leave the event, according to the university’s updated, stricter policies released Thursday. Additionally, FSU students planning to attend home football games for the remainder of the season must test negative for COVID-19 during the week before games, FSU Athletics Director David Coburn said in the release. Mandates also include that students who do not get tested during the available periods will not be eligible for a football ticket. Students, allotted 4,000 tickets for each home game this season, must also sit in their assigned seats at home games. The updated policy goes into effect immediately ahead of FSU’s Oct. 3 contest against Jacksonville State.

— CORONA NATION —

Coronavirus cases rise in 22 states” via Sam Baker of Axios — There isn’t one big event or sudden occurrence that explains this increase. We simply have never done a very good job containing the virus, despite losing 200,000 lives in just the past six months, and this is what that persistent failure looks like. The U.S. is now averaging roughly 43,000 new cases per day, a 16% increase from a week ago. The biggest increases are largely concentrated in the West and Midwest, though Maine and New Jersey also saw their new infections tick up over the past week. Testing was up by almost 22% over the same period. The U.S. is now conducting about 860,000 coronavirus tests per day. There’s every reason to believe the next several months will be a particularly high-risk period. Colder weather will cause people to move indoors, where the virus spreads more easily. People will travel and see friends and family over the holidays. Mask adherence is already only so-so. And flu season will set in at the same time.

Massive genetic study shows coronavirus mutating and potentially evolving amid rapid U.S. spread” via Chris Mooney, Joel Achenbach and Joe Fox of The Washington Post — Scientists in Houston released a study of more than 5,000 genetic sequences of the coronavirus that reveals the virus’s continual accumulation of mutations, one of which may have made it more contagious. The new report, however, did not find that these mutations have made the virus deadlier or changed clinical outcomes. All viruses accumulate genetic mutations, and most are insignificant, scientists say. Coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2 are relatively stable, as viruses go, because they have a proofreading mechanism as they replicate. But every mutation is a roll of the dice, and with the transmission so widespread in the United States, which continues to see tens of thousands of new, confirmed infections daily, the virus has had abundant opportunities to change, potentially with troublesome consequences, said study author James Musser of Houston Methodist Hospital.

Buchanan asks for Medicare coverage of COVID-19 vaccine” via Carlos Munoz of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The Congressman is asking Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to ensure all senior enrolled in Medicare receive a coronavirus vaccine free. In March, Congress enacted the CARES Act that states the forthcoming vaccine would be free-for-all Americans, including seniors. Although Medicare doesn’t typically cover drugs approved under emergency-use designation (which includes the COVID-19 vaccine.) Buchanan urged Azar to intervene and provide coverage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80% of deaths associated with COVID-19 have been adults 65 and older.

Virus cases surged in young adults. The elderly were hit next.” via Roni Caryn Rabin of The New York Times — As millennials mingled in bars and restaurants over the summer, and students returned to college campuses, coronavirus infections surged among young adults. From June through August, the incidence of the virus was highest among adults ages 20 to 29, according to research published on Wednesday by the C.D.C. Young adults accounted for more than 20% of all confirmed cases. But the infections didn’t stop with them, the researchers found: Young adults may have also seeded waves of new infections among the middle-aged, and then in older Americans. The new data show that outbreaks linked to parties, bars, dormitories and other crowded venues are hazardous not just to the 20-somethings who are present, but to more vulnerable Americans with who they are likely to come into contact.

— CORONA ECONOMICS — 

New jobless claims level off, but cuts keep hitting hotels, theme parks” via Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times — The long tail of economic stabilization remains relatively flat as the number of Americans filing new unemployment claims last week stayed about the same as the week before. About 870,000 new claims were filed for the week ending Sept. 19, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That’s a slight uptick from the previous week, and it hews close to the average for the last month. The new number reflects adjustments for normal seasonal employment, a change in methodology the Department of Labor implemented a month ago. Without the seasonal adjustments, unemployment claims rose to 824,542, an increase of more than 28,000 from the previous week. Overall, Americans filed more than 26 million claims for all types of unemployment insurance for the week ending Sept. 5, the most recent week for which those statistics are unavailable. The rate of unemployment for the nation’s workforce of more than 160 million was 8.4% in August, a drop of more than 42% from April.

As jobless claims level off, hotels and theme parks in Central Florida continue COVID-19 layoffs.

Airline workers in Orlando, elsewhere worry about jobs as CARES Act deadline nears” via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel — The initial $32 billion in payroll support that airlines received from the CARES Act prohibit job cuts until after September. Airline CEOs and union leaders have been lobbying Congress and the White House for further airline payroll support. United Airlines, meanwhile, warned Florida officials this summer that it would cut nearly 500 workers at Orlando’s airport in early October. “We believe air travel will remain at historic lows until at least through the beginning of 2021,” said Robert Martinez Jr., president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. “That’s why we are calling on Congress to provide airline workers … another round of relief that we so desperately need.” While pushing for federal help, airlines are attempting to get revenues back on track. Delta has been holding public events at its major cities in the U.S., conveying a commitment to regaining travelers’ confidence.

Darden Restaurants reduces corporate staff as sales remain down during pandemic” via Austin Fuller of the Orlando Sentinel — Darden Restaurants revealed it has cut 11% of its corporate workforce at its Orlando headquarters and in other leadership positions as the owner of Olive Garden continues to endure slower sales during the coronavirus pandemic. The company, which also owns LongHorn Steakhouse and other chains, said that same-restaurant sales were down 29% for the quarter ending Aug. 30 compared with the same quarter last year, but reported net earnings of $37 million from continuing operations. At the same time, Darden has brought back thousands of its furloughed hourly employees in the past few months. Darden shared details on the early retirement incentive program and corporate restructuring that led to the smaller corporate workforce on an earnings call.

— MORE CORONA — 

Lockdown Lite is Europe’s new strategy for fighting COVID-19” via Naomi Kresge, Rachel Chang and Jason Gale of Bloomberg — Fresh off a summer of relative freedom after harsh lockdowns at the beginning of the pandemic, Europe is trying a new strategy to halt the coronavirus’ next surge: Lockdown Lite. Unlike the blanket stay-at-home orders that characterized responses to COVID-19’s first wave, a partial lockdown isn’t designed to stop transmission completely. Instead, the idea is to home in on hot spots — certain neighborhoods, nightclubs or private parties, for example — while leaving large parts of the economy open for business. With death rates running at only a small fraction of the levels last spring despite surging infections in France, Spain, the U.K. and other countries, governments want to avoid draconian measures that caused their worst recessions in memory.

Customers wearing protective masks observe social distancing measures while waiting in line at a coffee shop in Melbourne.

Beyond COVID, Regent Seven Seas world cruise sets booking record for 2023” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — Regent Seven Seas reported some good news amid the continuing shutdown from the coronavirus pandemic: a record booking day for its planned 2023 world cruise. Booking opened Wednesday for the cruise dubbed Beyond the Horizon, which aims to be the longest world cruise offered by the line since 2011, visiting six continents, 42 countries and 72 ports on a 143-night cruise leaving Jan. 7, 2023 from Miami. “Our world cruises are always highly anticipated, and I am delighted with the response to our latest global voyage, especially considering the unprecedented public health challenges we are currently navigating,” stated line President and CEO Jason Montague. The line, the luxury brand of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings LTD, is currently not sailing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but like all cruise lines, hopes to return to cruising following strict health guidelines, including required negative tests taken within five days to 24 hours ahead of embarkation when sailing from the U.S.

— STATEWIDE —

Annette Taddeo bill requires state to notify ex-felons of outstanding fines and fees” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Democratic Sen. Taddeo wants the state to shoulder the burden of informing ex-felons seeking to reclaim their right to vote about any outstanding financial obligations. The Republican Legislature approved a law last Session requiring ex-felons to pay all fines, fees and restitution before their voting rights are restored under Amendment 4. Some groups have challenged the law. That challenge is moving through the court system, but the most recent federal appellate court ruling upheld Republicans’ legislation. While Democrats have opposed the law on principle dubbing the measure a “poll tax” there are practical concerns as well. Tracking whether payments have been made isn’t as easy as it sounds. There is no one central location housing that information. Local counties typically record whether financial obligations have been met, but those challenging the GOP law argue the databases are not updated.

Annette Taddeo is filing a new bill that would inform ex-felons how much they owe in fines and restitution.

Supreme Court rules against Parkland victims’ families in case against school district” via Rafael Olmeda and Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Broward County School Board won’t be forced to pay more than $300,000 to the families and victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the Florida Supreme Court ruled. The Supreme Court’s ruling came after it weighed whether government agencies should recognize a mass shooting as more than one devastating tragedy. The attorneys for Stoneman Douglas families and victims said the gunshots in the Parkland mass shooting were separate instances: The Parkland school shooter killed 17 people and wounded 17 more on Feb. 14, 2018. And many people at the school were traumatized by hearing the gunshots and fleeing for their lives, not knowing for sure whether they were running to or from danger. The families’ attorneys argued that each plaintiff filing a claim against the school board should be able to receive $200,000.

’AOB’ fight goes to Supreme Court” via The News Service of Florida — A constitutional dispute about the use of the insurance practice known as “assignment of benefits” has gone to the Florida Supreme Court. Anchor Property and Casualty Insurance Co. wants the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling by a panel of the 5th District Court of Appeal in a case stemming from a home damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Homeowner Wayne Parker filed a damage claim with Anchor, his insurer, and then entered into an assignment of benefits agreement with Speed Dry, Inc. Under the agreement, Speed Dry would do repair work, handle claim negotiations and receive direct payment from the insurer, according to last month’s appeals-court ruling. But Anchor refused to pay Speed Dry, leading to a lawsuit.

New technology may help in the fight against blue-green algae” via Karl Schneider of Naples Daily News — A new tool will soon be deployed in Florida in an attempt to eliminate blue-green algae in freshwater systems. Florida Gulf Coast University’s Everglades Wetland Research Park in Naples received a $1 million grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to introduce buoys equipped with sonic technology meant to kill harmful cyanobacteria. “An ultrasonic wave goes through the water and disturbs algal cells, especially some of the blue-green algae,” said Bill Mitsch, director of the research park. “(The algae) thereby loses its ability to stay in the water column and drops to the bottom of the lake.”

Taskforce navigates Florida panther protection during toll road meeting” via Karl Schneider of Naples Daily News — Car collisions are the deadliest reported threat for the endangered Florida panther, and the public rallied behind the state animal during a task force meeting Wednesday for the southern section of a proposed statewide toll road system. Of the 18 recorded panther deaths this year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website says 15 were caused by car collisions and one by a train. The task force met to work on a draft report for its portion of the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance. The final report is due to the state in mid-November. M-CORES has three task forces, each assigned to its own section of the overall toll road system. The proposed sections of the toll roads are the Suncoast Connector, the Northern Turnpike Connector and the Southwest-Central Connector, which would run from Collier County to Polk County.

‘You’ve got an extra $120 million’: David Tepper ditches Florida, moves back to New Jersey” via Matt Friedman of POLITICO — Billionaire hedge fund manager Tepper, whose 2015 move to Florida caused a substantial hit to New Jersey’s annual tax revenue, is once again a New Jerseyan, according to one of the state’s top elected officials. During a debate Thursday in the New Jersey Senate over a bill that would increase the tax rate on residents with incomes of more than $1 million, Republican Sen. Joe Pennacchio used Tepper’s decision to domicile in Florida as an example of how the wealthy would flee New Jersey because of the higher tax rate. Senate President Steve Sweeney interrupted to say Tepper, who had lived in Livingston before the Florida move, had moved back. “Just so you know, Senator, he called me and told me. He said, ‘You’ve got an extra $120 million coming from me,’ so use someone else as an example,” Sweeney said, adding that Tepper returned “last January.”

Billionaire David Tepper left New Jersey for Florida’s low tax environment. He’s going back.

Webinar to discuss raising capital in cannabis industry — Alliant Insurance Services is hosting a webinar on how cannabis businesses can raise capital amid the downturn in company valuations that began in 2019 and were made worse by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The event will tackle several options, ranging from self-funding and family loans to crowdfunding and venture capital. Alliant National Cannabis Practice Leader Greg Winter is set to host the webinar, with participants including Jacob Levin of Advanced Flower Capital, Matt Hawkins of Entourage Effect Capital, Michael Schwamm of Duane Morris LLP, Ruth Epstein of BGP Advisors, Scott Greiper of Viridian Capital Advisors and Tony Cappell of Chicago Atlantic. It begins at 2 p.m. Participants must register online.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Full appeals court to take up ex-Congresswoman’s case” via Jim Saunders of The News Service of Florida — In a partial victory for former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, a full federal appeals court agreed Thursday to take up her challenge to a conviction on fraud and tax charges in a charity scam. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a decision by a three-judge panel that upheld the Jacksonville Democrat’s conviction and agreed to rehear the case as a full court, a move known as holding an “en banc” hearing. The three-judge panel was sharply divided in January on whether the conviction should be withheld. Chief Judge William Pryor wrote a scathing dissent to the 2-1 decision, and Brown’s attorneys subsequently asked the full court to take up the case.

Corrine Brown is getting yet another day in court.

Florida Republican cooperating with campaign finance probe” via The Associated Press The U.S. Justice Department is investigating former Florida Congresswoman accused of spending at least $50,000 in campaign money on vacations and restaurant and luxury hotel bills. The federal department’s Public Integrity Section is looking into the expenditures by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican who retired after three decades representing the Miami area in Congress. They include a 2017 trip to Walt Disney World with her children and grandchildren, rooms at a Ritz-Carlton resort, and a New Year’s Eve meal at a high-end seafood restaurant.

— LOCAL NOTES —

El Nuevo Herald managing editor resigns” via Nora Gámez Torres of the Miami Herald — Nancy San Martín, the managing editor of el Nuevo Herald, resigned on Thursday, according to the vice president of news for McClatchy, the parent company that also publishes the Miami Herald. San Martín leaves “after years of powerful, award-winning work for this newsroom and the community it serves,” Kristin Roberts said in an email sent to the newsrooms of both newspapers on Thursday. “There will be a moment soon for the team to wish her well and to thank her for her dedication and commitment.” The resignation comes two weeks after a reader flagged racist and anti-Semitic content published in LIBRE, a paid, independent supplement sold by the advertising team and printed and distributed to el Nuevo Herald subscribers.

Nancy San Martin is leaving el Nuevo Herald. Image via the Miami Herald.

City issues construction permit for $41 million Amazon fulfillment center” via Karen Brune Mathis of Jax Daily Record — The city issued a permit Sept. 23 for construction of the Amazon.com fulfillment center in North Jacksonville at a cost of almost $41.2 million. Evans General Contractors of Savannah is the contractor for the 1,011,900-square-foot warehouse on about 52 acres in Imeson Park at northeast North Main Street and Zoo Parkway. Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. announced Sept. 2 that it will open the 500-job Jacksonville fulfillment center in fall 2021 to pick, pack and ship small items, including apparel, accessories and footwear. “The expansion of Amazon’s footprint in Jacksonville illustrates increased confidence in our economy and reputation as a center for logistics in the southeastern United States,” Mayor Lenny Curry said in a news release Sept. 2.

Crestview High School bulldog pack apologizes for Instagram post referencing ‘Trail of Tears’” via Savannah Evanoff of the NWF Daily News — Crestview High School’s Bulldog Pack, a group that promotes school spirit while developing leadership skills, is facing criticism after posting a photo on Instagram before the football team’s Friday night game against the Choctawhatchee High School Indians. The photo depicts two students holding up a poster that reads, “Hey Indians get ready to live in a Trail of Tears.” The caption read, “Fun times and clever minds in Bulldog Pack.” Some comments expressed anger over the reference to the Trail of Tears, in which 3,500 Native Americans died while being forced to give up their lands east of the Mississippi and to migrate on foot to what is now Oklahoma. Dexter Day, the principal of Crestview High School, said via email that he addressed the post.

Prosecutors drop charges against Patriots owner Robert Kraft after cops bungled sex sting” via Marc Freeman of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida prosecutors on Thursday dropped all criminal charges against New England Patriots owner Kraft, ending a flawed case that began with a police prostitution sting using secret video cameras at a Palm Beach County massage parlor early last year. State Attorney Dave Aronberg, angry and defiant in a Zoom session with reporters, said he had no choice but to stop the prosecution after an appellate court last month ruled videos of Kraft and 24 other men charged must be thrown out because the cops used an unlawful warrant. While declaring that the Jupiter Police Department “did the right thing in pursuing the investigation,” Aronberg also said he had no regrets about the failed effort to obtain convictions. Aronberg also took shots at Kraft’s immense wealth, citing the billionaire businessman’s ability to afford top criminal defense lawyers, unlike poorer defendants.

‘Verbal altercation’ lands at least one Lynn Haven corruption suspect in hot water” via Tom McLaughlin of the NWF Daily News — The sentencing date for the five original defendants in a still-expanding Bay County corruption case uncovered following Hurricane Michael has been pushed back to Dec. 14. But one of those defendants, Erosion Control Specialist owner David Mitchelle White, has been notified that if he’s not on his best behavior he could be awaiting sentencing day behind bars, or even be sentenced early. Former Lynn Haven City Attorney Adam Albritton, who is also accused of federal crimes, could face revocation of his release agreement as well. White received a stern warning from U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle early in September following an Aug. 27 “verbal altercation” with Albritton. Albritton is facing more than 60 criminal charges for his role in the same criminal enterprise for which White is to be sentenced. Among the charges he faces include claims he was taking thousands of dollars in kickbacks from White in exchange for creating fraudulent contracts through which ECS could profit mightily.

Pembroke Park Mayor used the town’s resources for personal gain, inspector general says” via Austen Erblat of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Pembroke Park Mayor Ashira Mohammed engaged in ethical misconduct by repeatedly misusing her access to town resources for personal matters — most recently to promote her campaign for state representative on the town’s Facebook page, Broward County’s inspector general concluded in a report released Thursday. A paid member of the mayor’s campaign for state House posted from Mohammed’s Facebook account to the town’s Facebook page to influence votes and sway the Aug. 18, 2020, Primary Election in her favor, violating a state law that prohibits officials from interfering with elections, the inspector general concluded. The law, Florida’s “Little Hatch Act,” forbids officials from using their official authority to interfere with an election.

Pembroke Park Mayor Ashira Mohammed (center) is accused of using public funds for personal gain.

 Tampa Electric CEO plans to step down” via The News Service of Florida — Nancy Tower, president and chief executive officer of Tampa Electric Co., will retire in mid-2021, the utility’s parent company, Emera Inc., announced. Tower was named president and CEO in 2017 after serving as Emera’s chief corporate development officer. She joined Emera in 1997, according to the Tampa Electric website. The announcement said a “rigorous recruitment process” to find a successor will start this fall. “Nancy has had an impressive career at Emera, and she has been a key part of Emera’s growth story,” Scott Balfour, president and chief executive officer of Emera, said in a prepared statement.

— SMOLDERING — 

Tammy Duckworth introduces bill to ban federal law enforcement from wearing camouflage” via Steve Beynon of Stars and Stripes — Sen. Duckworth introduced a bill Wednesday that would ban the use of camouflage uniforms by federal law enforcement following criticism during the summer that federal agents assigned to control racial protests looked like National Guard troops. “The Trump administration’s decision to deploy federal law enforcement officers outfitted in camouflage uniforms in response to those protesting the death of George Floyd and other Black Americans blurred the lines between military service members and law enforcement officers while causing even more fear and division,” Duckworth said in a statement. The Clear Visual Distinction Between Military and Law Enforcement Act would essentially outlaw camouflage for federal police. The measure does not apply to the military, including National Guard and military police troops supporting law enforcement during protests. There is an exception for federal agents who might need to wear camouflage to blend into their surroundings to conduct an operation.

Tammy Duckworth files “The Clear Visual Distinction between Military and Law Enforcement Act,” a bill banning domestic law enforcement from wearing camouflage. Image via AP.

Lawsuit claims Facebook groups led to fatal shootings in Kenosha” via Angelica Sanchez of Fox 13 — The lawsuit alleges Facebook failed to take down a “group and event page” that encouraged violence during nights of protests and unrest in Kenosha. Four people are behind a federal lawsuit against Facebook, accused shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, and a former Kenosha alderman. Facebook reportedly received hundreds of complaints over certain pages — and did not take them down until the fatal shooting. The federal lawsuit is seeking an injunction that could force the social media platform to prohibit violent rhetoric, militias, and hate groups from the site. “Right-wing Militia groups need to stop operating,” said Jennifer Sirrine, attorney for 21st Century Law, co-counsel for the plaintiffs. “Take down these pages that promote and incite violence.”

Demonstrators vs. diners: St. Petersburg encounter goes viral” via The Tampa Bay Times — Hours after a grand jury decided not to charge any police officers in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, protesters took their chants and frustrations to downtown Wednesday night. Then they marched to restaurant row on Beach Drive NE. There, a tense scene between demonstrators and diners went viral. Protesters descended on two people at Parkshore Grill, sitting at their table, exchanging harsh words and gestures and refusing to leave. A protester later tweeted a photo of the diners giving them a thumbs-down — and the time-honored one-finger salute.

There are always two sides to every story.

— TOP OPINION —

Chris Corr: ‘Rigor Gap’ could leave Florida’s students less prepared for future workplace” via Florida Politics — A gulf between what schools ask of students and what the state requires in standardized testing is the “Rigor Gap” — the gaping chasm between students doing enough to satisfy classroom expectations but falling perilously short on related final exams. Many students and their parents get a false sense of security about how well Florida’s youth are learning. As a Florida Council of 100 study shows, the Rigor Gap is leaving students less prepared for success at the postsecondary level or in the workplace. It is vital to Florida students, colleges, and employers that when students graduate high school, they have mastered the standards that educators and experts have set as being key to success in college and the workplace.

— OPINIONS —

Florida’s cities aren’t burning down, Governor” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — DeSantis must have plenty of time on his hands. How else do you explain, with Florida gripped in a pandemic, the tourist economy reeling and key parts of the state still half-shuttered, him parachuting into Polk County to declare open season on “disorderly assemblies?” Is Florida burning? Have the laws against rioting been repealed? Or is this exactly what it seems, the Republican governor doing a solid for his patron by indulging in a taxpayer-subsidized political stunt for Trump? DeSantis and two of the state’s top Republican leaders rubbed shoulders with law enforcement Monday to announce a crackdown on violent protests. Speaking at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, DeSantis called for a law in the 2021 legislative session that would hand felony penalties to protesters who block traffic without a permit and to those who gather in small groups at events that result in injuries or property damage.

Unconstitutional fixes for nonexistent problems” via Naples Daily News editorial board — Let’s not mince words. The anti-protest plan Ron DeSantis presented Monday is unconstitutional as hell — a direct blow to the principles of free expression upon which this nation was founded. It’s clearly meant to intimidate people engaged in peaceful protest, and strike a false law-and-order stance in an election year. If enacted as written, it carries a big price tag for local governments. And as the cherry on top, it seems to encourage people to ram their cars into crowds of protesters. And all this, the Governor says, is necessary because he wants to stop “rioting and looting.” Do you remember all the rioting and looting we saw here in Southwest Florida? Neither do we. That’s because it never happened. In fact, protests across Florida have been, with very few exceptions, orderly and often focused on reconciliation.

Pinellas school officials are in denial about simultaneous teaching” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Pinellas County’s top school officials don’t want to hear the unvarnished truth about the difficulties of teaching kids sitting in classrooms and those tuning in from home at the same time. They made that clear in recent days by refusing a request to survey teachers on simultaneous teaching, waving aside an opportunity to gather information about an important issue that has a profound impact on how much kids are learning. There is a logical conclusion: District officials are scared of what teachers will say. They fear having to respond to a torrent of complaints and to fix a system that isn’t working, at least for many teachers. Instead, they’ve buried their heads in the sand. We all know how well that turns out. In reaction to the pandemic, Pinellas offered the choice of attending classes at school or online. Many teachers have students in class and online at the same time, instead of separate classes for each. The idea is to keep classrooms partially full, which helps with social distancing during the pandemic. But the results have been less than ideal.

— SUNRISE —

DeSantis says he’s going to start overriding restrictions imposed by local governments to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— The Governor made that announcement after hosting a Zoom conference with three academics who — by the most amazing coincidence — all agree with him

Trump brings his reelection campaign to Florida with a rally in Jacksonville

 — And finally, a Florida Man is suing McDonald’s for more than a million dollars, claiming he broke a tooth after biting a bone in a Chicken McNugget.

To listen, click on the image below:

— WEEKEND TV —

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

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable featuring Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd; Micah Kubic, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida; Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards and Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee correspondent Kirby Wilson.

Political Connections Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A preview of the first presidential debate; reaction to DeSantis’ bill targeting violent protests; and conversations with Florida’s 15th Congressional District candidates Scott Franklin and Alan Cohn.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Host Ybeth Bruzual will interview candidates Keith Truenow and Crissy Stile, both running for House District 31, about unemployment, educations and initiatives they will pursue if elected.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon talks with Monique Van Pelt of Second Harvest and pollster Steve Vancore.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Rep. Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat; Rick Mullaney of the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute, and policy adviser John Allen Newman.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Rep. Ted Deutch, Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie; Maria Elvira Salazar, a Republican candidate for Florida’s 27th Congressional District and Mark Alonso, president and CEO of the United Way of Miami-Dade.

— LISTEN UP — 

Battleground Florida with Christopher Heath: Jacob Perry is a former campaign consultant who passed on running two different presidential campaigns this cycle. He currently publishes the email newsletter, Monticello. In this episode we’ll talk about running congressional races in Florida, what D.C. doesn’t get about the Sunshine State, filling the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, and the worst campaign promise you could make.

Dishonorable Mention: Rep. Latvala, activist Becca Tieder, Ernest Hooper and communications expert Dr. Karla Mastracchio discuss politics and culture. La Follette returns to the podcast to talk about his bout with COVID-19, asking why this virus is so politicized. The hosts also discussed free speech in the media, and if there should be consequences for speech. As we are getting closer to #ElectionDay2020 the hosts ask how they plan on voting this year. What are good unbiased resources to learn about local and state candidates?

Fluent in Floridian: New Yorker turned Floridian; Council for Educational Change Executive Director Dr. Elaine Liftin got her start as a singer on Broadway. While attending Hunter College, she became intrigued by the challenge of education and, upon graduating, began her teaching career in South Florida. Liftin has dedicated her career to education advocacy and believes “if every child can get a quality education, every child can succeed.”

podcastED: Stand Up for Students President Doug Tuthill talks with Gina Riley, clinical professor of adolescent special education at Hunter College, about “learning through living.” Author of “Unschooling: Exploring Learning Beyond the Classroom,” Riley has direct experience with the topic, having been a 20-year-old self-determined mother who raised her son using this discipline.

Tallahassee Business Podcast from the Tallahassee Chamber presented by 223 Agency: Sue Dick talks with JH Leale, one of the founders of Tallahassee Foodies, a community made up of residents focused on “Celebrating Local Flavor.” Leale explains that the group was originally created by his wife, Jennifer, to connect with some work friends who loved to discuss and try local restaurants, but it quickly became a popular resource for the entire community. Now with over 48,000 highly engaged members and a well-known name in the community, Tallahassee Foodies is leading a charge to help local restaurants recover from COVID-19 that they call the “Tallahassee Restaurant Blitz.”

The New Abnormal from host Rick Wilson and Molly Jong-Fast: You know our politics are beyond f****d up when the showrunner of Veep says he can’t compete with real-life Washington. “I mean, we did a Supreme Court episode. And as sort of horrible and tragic as our Veep worldview was, we have lapped it, maybe even double lapped it,” David Mandel tells Jong-Fast and Wilson. “I shake my whatever to Mitch McConnell. He really has outdone himself, the best comedy writer of our generation … And he’s literally about to punch the country in the penis. I mean, I’m sorry. There’s no other way of saying it. It’s literally a dick punch.” (To which Wilson quips, “that would be so on-brand for 2020.”) 

The Yard Sign with host Jonathan Torres: Anibal Cabrera, Christian Leon and Torres talk with special guest Mike Perotti about Ginsburg, a SCOTUS replacement, and The Law Enforcement Protection Act.

— ALOE —

Americans load up on candy, trick or treat — or not” via Dee-Ann Durbin of The Associated Press — Americans may not know if trick or treating will happen this year because of the pandemic, but they’re buying a lot of Halloween candy while they wait to find out. U.S. sales of Halloween candy were up 13% over last year in the month ending Sept. 6, according to data from market research firm IRI and the National Confectioners Association. That’s a bigger jump than the usual single-digit increases. Sales of Halloween chocolate alone are up 25%. Earlier Halloween displays at some chains, like dollar stores, Meijer and ShopRite, likely helped boost sales. But Americans may also be in a mood to celebrate after months of pandemic anxiety. Cassandra Ambrosius, who lives in central Wisconsin, was surprised to see bags of Halloween candy at the grocery in early September; her husband snapped one up. She expects to buy more bags as Halloween gets closer because she thinks people in her neighborhood will figure out how to trick or treat safely.

Despite a lower-key Halloween, candy is still flying off the shelves. Image via AP.

Amazon launches new Alexa-enabled hardware” via Ina Fried of Axios — Amazon debuted a range of new Ring, Fire TV and Echo hardware on Thursday, including more environmentally sustainable versions of its audio and video gear. Among the products introduced are a cloud gaming service, a home monitoring drone and new spherical designs for its Echo and Echo dot smart speakers. Amazon, like rivals Google and Apple, typically gives its consumer hardware a launch ahead of the holidays. Apple has already introduced new iPads, while Google has scheduled a Sept. 30 event, where it is expected to debut new audio and video gear, alongside updated Pixel phones. Amazon also played up improved privacy controls and the work it is doing to lessen the environmental impact of its new products.

Amazon’s new Ring security camera will fly around your home” via Matt Day and Edward Ludlow of Bloomberg — Amazon.com Inc. has built a camera on a small drone designed to fly around the house and investigate suspicious activity. The Ring Always Home Cam moves autonomously and is equipped with an indoor camera, giving users multiple viewpoints of their homes. The drone can take a path around the home that’s predetermined by the user and only records when in flight, not when docked, the company said. The device will be available in 2021 for $250, the company said during a livestream event on Thursday. Ring, based in southern California, makes internet-connected doorbells and home cameras. Since Amazon’s acquisition of the startup in early 2018, it has seen sales surge. Ring has also been beset by privacy concerns, from hacks of its products due to weak passwords, to reports of employees sharing unencrypted user videos. On Thursday, Ring said it would enable end-to-end encryption for user videos.

No UM students. No FSU coach. Few fans. But plenty of electricity in dramatic rivalry” via Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald — It’s among college football’s fiercest rivalries, and despite this strange, unpredictable year, it will continue for its 65th installment in prime-time on national television. The No. 12 Miami Hurricanes (2-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) face the unranked Florida State Seminoles (0-1, 0-1) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (ABC) at Hard Rock Stadium. And no matter how different it seems because of the COVID-19 pandemic — a 13,000 attendance limit, no FSU head coach (more on that later), no UM students, no marching bands, and no alcohol at an event which usually spurs its share of inebriated, supercharged fans — of one thing you can be sure: four-quarters of heart-and-soul drama.

Disney: Polynesian Village Resort creating new South Seas look” via Pete Reinwald of Bay News 9 — Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort plans an array of tropical South Seas changes, including what it trumpets as “beautifully redone” guest rooms and a bold new entryway, in time for its scheduled reopening in the summer of 2021. Walt Disney World Resort Portfolio Executive Zach Riddley wrote in the Disney Parks blog that visitors’ arrival experience “is about to take on a whole new look.” It will happen in time for the resort’s 50-year anniversary, he wrote. The new entry will feature a thatch-style, open-truss roof and a facade that will complement the colors of the resort’s longhouses, multiroom structures that carry names from islands in the South Pacific. Changes to the entry area also will include chandeliers that get their inspiration from fishing nets, glass boats, and bamboo. “The new chandeliers will match the existing grand chandelier in the resort lobby, artfully bridging interior and exterior spaces,” Riddley added.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, Christina Johnson of On 3 Public Relations, Travis Mitchell of Data Targeting, Tara Reid of Strategos Public Affairs, and Pinellas state Republican committeewoman Nancy Riley.

___

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.



#FlaPol

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, Jason Delgado, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.

Email: [email protected]
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