Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.2.20

Sunburn Orange Tally (8)
Good morning: Here's your first look at the issues behind today's Florida politics.

BREAKING OVERNIGHT — President Donald Trump and First Lady test positive for COVID-19” via Zeke Miller and Jill Colvin of The Associated Press — Trump and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, the President tweeted early Friday. Trump’s positive test comes just hours after the White House announced that senior aide Hope Hicks came down with the virus after traveling with the president several times this week. Trump was last seen by reporters returning to the White House on Thursday evening and looked to be in good health. Trump is 74 years old, putting him at a higher risk of serious complications from a virus that has now killed more than 200,000 people nationwide. Trump announced late Thursday that he and first lady Melania Trump were beginning a “quarantine process” after Hicks came down with the virus, though it wasn’t clear what that entailed. It can take days for an infection to be detectable by a test.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1311892190680014849?s=20

Trump aide Hicks tests positive for coronavirus infection” via Jennifer Jacobs and Jordan Fabian of Bloomberg — Hicks, one of Trump’s closest aides, has tested positive for coronavirus infection, according to people familiar with the matter. There was no indication that the President has contracted the virus, the people said. Hicks traveled with Trump aboard Air Force One to and from the presidential debate on Tuesday. Hicks is the latest person in Trump’s orbit to contract the virus, which has infected more than 7.2 million Americans and killed more than 200,000. Other senior staff have contracted COVID-19 and recovered including National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, but few spend as much time with the President as Hicks, whose service dates to his 2016 campaign.

Hope Hicks has also tested positive for coronavirus. Image via AP.

___

Jim Gilmore and Chris Hagan of Jacksonville’s Gilmore Hagan Partners are joining The Southern Group, one of Florida’s top lobbying firms.

The duo’s addition brings more than 40 years of trusted economic development, business development, and lobbying experience throughout the state to The Southern Group.

“For more than 20 years, The Southern Group has been at the tip of the spear of Florida government relations,” firm founder and chairman Paul Bradshaw said. “Our innovative approach to local and state lobbying has enabled us to become the Sunshine State’s largest influence firm. This momentum is something we are constantly looking to build upon, and the addition of the Gilmore Hagan team in Jacksonville does just that.”

Congratulations to Jim Gilmore and Chris Hagan, newest members of The Southern Group.

Gilmore has more than 30 years of experience and has generated over $1.5 billion in new investment in public and private projects. His efforts have spurred corporate relocations — generating high-paying jobs and raising property values — and provided millions in federal grant funds for transportation and infrastructure improvements and economic development.

Hagan has more than 10 years of experience in government relations and represents clients throughout Florida before municipal councils. He covers issues that range from multimillion-dollar economic development projects to local construction and development permitting. He also specializes in creative solutions for private clients in the fields of economic development and government relations to help them achieve their business goals and create new jobs.

“We are incredibly excited to join The Southern Group,” said Hagan, who will serve as the Jacksonville office’s managing partner. “The strength of their brand in the Southeastern US is matched only by the reputations of their individual professionals. We look forward to adding value to The Southern Group and its clients, and I know our new colleagues will offer the same to our existing clients.”

___

U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz is sending reinforcements to Florida’s slate of GOP congressional candidates.

On Friday, the freshman Congressman announced the launch of a new ad campaign to support mostly non-incumbent Republican candidates who will appear on the November ballot.

The “Florida Warriors” ad casts Waltz and a team of seven Florida conservatives as warriors for America who will serve the people and hold the line against the Democrats’ so-called “radical” and “socialist” agenda.

“The radical left is taking over the America we love — and I need backup to save it,” Waltz says in the ad. “Meet the Florida Warriors, some of Florida’s strongest servant voices, patriots running to defend our country, protect our values and provide the reinforcements Trump needs in Washington.

“If we want to stop socialism and keep Florida red, I need these Florida warriors with me in battle in Congress. Help us defeat Pelosi.”

The ad concludes with an invocation to visit FLWarriors.com, which features the slate of GOP candidates Waltz is looking to help secure election this fall. The site is a one-pager with a donation form for supporters to send money to the “WinRed” political committee.

With the exception of U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, none of the candidates’ Waltz is backing are incumbents.

The rest of the list: Kat Cammack in CD 3, Anna Paulina Luna in CD 13, Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin in CD 15, state Rep. Byron Donalds in CD 19, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez in CD 26, and Maria Elvira Salazar in CD 27.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

___

Crime survivors launch #HealTheVote justice reform effort” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A Florida organization, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, will rally survivors of violent crime to vote and reach out to elected officials involving improvements to the justice system. The rare bipartisan get-out-the-vote effort aims to put victims front and center with a movement around reform. Both Republican Senate President-Designate Wilton Simpson and Democratic Sen.-elect Shevrin Jones announced their involvement in the #HealTheVote Florida initiative. “If you’re not voting, you’re not giving yourself the opportunities you deserve,” said Simpson. Jones added: “Too often, the only political power we have is raising our voices through our votes, so we can’t waste any opportunity to do that.”

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@RealDonaldTrump: Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time?

@FiveThirtyEight: Since we launched our general election polling averages on June 18, Biden has never led by less than 6.6 points nationally. It’s been an exceptionally stable race.

Tweet, tweet:

@JenniferJJacobs: Hope Hicks, who traveled with Trump aboard Air Force One to and from the presidential debate on Tuesday, and to his Minnesota rally yesterday, has coronavirus, sources tell me.

@GregMitch: Doctor on CNN: everyone in close contact with Hicks over past week must be quarantined … will they? “Everyone” and they “should be at home.”

@Eric_Jotkoff: In a time when there is too little public grieving for the 200,000 Americans have died from COVID, appreciate @NicolleDWallace for ending her show each day honoring those who are no longer with us because of this pandemic and reminding us of the human face on this tragedy.

Tweet, tweet:

@HalseyBeshears: There are bars, that have been closed for months, in multiple counties, across the state that have been scolded recently. We are in phase 3 and they are allowed to go back to business. They have a right to work & open back up. If uncomfortable with them, please stay out of them.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 2; Ashley Moody’s 2020 Human Trafficking Summit — 4; first vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 5; Amazon’s annual Prime Day begins — 11; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 12; second presidential debate scheduled in Miami — 13; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 14; NBA free agency (tentative) — 16; Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum — 18; HBO debuts 2000 presidential election doc ‘537 Votes’ — 19; third presidential debate at Belmont — 20; “The Empty Man” premieres — 21; 2020 General Election — 32; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 39; The Masters begins — 41; NBA draft — 47; “No Time to Die” premieres — 49; Pixar’s “Soul” premieres — 49; College basketball season slated to begin — 54; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 61; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 61; “Death on the Nile” premieres — 76; “Wonder Woman 1984” rescheduled premiere — 84; Greyhound racing ends in Florida — 90; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 128; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 141; “Black Widow” rescheduled premiere — 156; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 273; Disney’s “Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” premieres — 280; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 294; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 302; Disney’s “Eternals” premieres — 399; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 402; Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” premieres — 434; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 498; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 551; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 732.

— 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. Some outlets offer a poll of polls, gauging how Trump or Biden are doing in select areas, then averaging the surveys 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 has Biden holding steady 51% compared to 43% 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 has increased to an 80 in 100 chance of winning compared to Trump, who slipped to a 20 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 30.8%, while Florida comes in second with 11.4%. Other states include Wisconsin (11.1%), Michigan (9.6%), Arizona (5.5%), Ohio (4.6%), North Carolina (4.7%) and North Carolina (4%).

In the latest survey of polling, Joe Biden is pulling slightly ahead. Image via AP.

PredictIt: As of Thursday, the PredictIt trading market has Biden jumped up to $0.63 a share, with Trump dropping to $0.41.

Real Clear Politics: As of Thursday, the RCP average of polling top battleground states gives Biden a lead over Trump 50.1% to 42.9%. The RCP average also has Biden averaging at +7.2 points ahead.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball: Biden is predicted to do better than Clinton in all 50 states with an average improvement in the margin of about seven percentage points. The only place where Trump is predicted to improve on his 2016 margin is the District of Columbia. Crucially, Biden is outperforming Clinton by a substantial margin in several key swing states, outperforming her by seven points in Arizona, seven points in Michigan, eight points in Minnesota, five points in North Carolina, six points in New Hampshire, five points in Pennsylvania, and seven points in Wisconsin.

The Economist: As of Thursday, their model predicts Biden is “very likely” to beat Trump in the Electoral College. The model is updated every day and combines state and national polls with economic indicators to predict a range of outcomes. The midpoint is the estimate of the electoral-college vote for each party on Election Day. According to The Economist, Biden’s chances of winning the electoral college around 7 in 8 or 88%; Trump’s chances are around 1 in 8 or 12%. They still give Biden a 98% chance (better than 19 in 20) of winning the most votes, with Trump at only 2%.

— PRESIDENTIAL —

Debate showed Trump hasn’t settled on main message against Joe Biden” via Michael C. Bender and Julie Bykowicz of The Wall Street Journal — Trump spent six months searching for a clear message that would erode his challenger’s lead in the polls. With less than five weeks left in the race, the incumbent still hasn’t found an answer. Trump’s debate performance on Tuesday against Democratic nominee Biden, GOP campaign strategists said, encapsulated his struggle to frame the race in the same consistent and persuasive way he did in 2016, as he spent the night ticking through multiple attacks he and his campaign have rotated through for most of the past year. The race this year has been defined by the stability of the polls. Despite a year of upheaval from the coronavirus pandemic, economic recession and racial unrest, Biden has maintained a consistent lead in public surveys. Fresh polls released in the coming days will indicate whether the first debate had any effect on that dynamic.

Donald Trump is still searching for a way to frame the main message against Joe Biden. Image via AP.

Trump pushes back on changes to upcoming presidential debates” via Alayna Treene of Axios — Trump suggested that he’ll resist any moves that could cut off candidates’ microphones in the next debate if he continues to talk over his opponent and the moderator. “Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time?” he tweeted. White House and campaign officials insist Trump is still committed to two remaining debates, despite the fallout from Tuesday, including poor reviews and discussions of new guardrails. Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh tells Axios they “will absolutely oppose” the Commission’s proposed changes, but offered no specifics.

Check’s in the mail? Trump doling out aid before election” via Aamer Madhani of The Associated Press — It’s almost as if he’s writing a personal check. In recent days, Trump has promised millions of Medicare recipients that — thanks to him — they’ll soon be getting an “incredible” $200 card in the mail to help them pay for prescriptions. He’s called himself “the best thing” that ever happened to Puerto Rico, while releasing long-stalled aid. Trump has also taken to showcasing the $28 billion he “gave” to farmers hard hit by the trade war with China. As Trump talks up heaps of federal aid flowing to key constituency groups in the lead-up to the November elections, he rarely mentions Congress’ role in the appropriation of those dollars.

Trump’s call for poll-watching volunteers sparks fear of chaos and violence on Election Day” via Amy Gardner, Joshua Partlow, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — Trump’s debate-stage call for volunteers to stand watch at voting locations has prompted an enthusiastic response from known neo-Nazis and right-wing activists, leading many state election and law enforcement officials to prepare for voter intimidation, arrests and even violence on Election Day. The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee for months have promised to recruit as many as 50,000 poll watchers to monitor voting locations on Election Day. The campaign’s “Army for Trump” website has contributed to that effort, urging supporters to join the “army of supporters fighting to reelect him in 2020.”

Florida Jewish Democrats bash Trump over Proud Boys comments” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Three members of Congress from South Florida are hammering the President over comments he made at Tuesday’s debate where he failed to clearly denounce White supremacists. Those three Representatives, all Jewish, spoke in part about how Trump‘s remarks impacted the Jewish community, which has faced a series of major violent attacks in recent years. Reps. Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz made the remarks on a Thursday virtual conference hosted by the Joe Biden presidential campaign. “He’s willing to embolden the forces of White supremacy,” Wasserman Schultz said of Trump. “We face a real and serious threat of domestic terrorism in this nation. We’ve seen it over and over and over again, and we’ve experienced it in the Jewish community in particular.”

Donald Trump’s debate comment about the Proud Boys is sending fear throughout Democrats and Jewish members of Congress. Image via AP.

Ivanka Trump visits Asian American campaign volunteers in Orlando” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Ivanka Trump thanked Asian American volunteers for her father’s presidential campaign at a stop in Orlando on Wednesday. The senior White House adviser also spoke to a group of about 60 people at the Citrus Club downtown. The visit came just two days before Trump’s scheduled campaign rally at the Orlando Sanford International Airport. “It’s your effort that’s going to help us over the finish line,” Trump told volunteers at the Asian Pacific Americans for Trump office on West Colonial Drive. “It’s the thousands of volunteers across this country just like yourselves, volunteering their time, their energy, or resources because they know what’s at stake in this election.”

‘Trump is so saturated’: Anti-Trump attack ads might actually be helping him, Democratic group finds” via Peter Hamby of Vanity Fair — For almost a year a group of tech-minded Democratic operatives has quietly been studying the latest Democratic ads, in hopes of creating a method of advertising that actually persuades voters. The outfit, called Fellow Americans, was launched without public fanfare in early 2020 to develop a data-driven testing model for campaign ad making, to prove which messages actually move the needle against Trump with important groups of voters. Over the spring and summer, as the coronavirus pandemic choked off the economy and racial unrest took hold across the country, one lesson became abundantly clear from its testing: Ads that directly attack Trump, using his voice, news clips, or even just his face, have the effect of turning off not only persuadable voters, but also the Democratic-base voters whom Biden needs in November.

Joe Biden breaks fundraising record again, buoyed by debate” via Tyler Pager and Bill Allison of Bloomberg —Biden’s campaign set another fundraising record in September, surpassing the unprecedented $364.5 million it raised in August, according to three people familiar with the matter. An exact number was not yet available, but the people said the campaign and the Democratic National Committee brought in more money in September than August, which was the biggest campaign fundraising month in the history of modern presidential politics. Democrats across the board saw a cash windfall last month after the death of JusticeRuth Bader Ginsburg as President Donald Trump moved to fill her seat on the Supreme Court before the Nov. 3 election.

After pandemic delay, Biden launching in-person canvassing” via Steve Peoples of The Associated Press — After months of avoiding direct contact with voters because of the pandemic, Biden’s campaign is about to launch door-to-door canvassing across several battleground states. The decision comes amid growing concern from Democratic officials on the ground in key states who fear that Biden has been giving a significant advantage to Trump and his Republican allies, who have been aggressively courting voters at their doorsteps for months. The reversal also reflects a sense of rising urgency as polls tighten just a month before Election Day. Biden’s campaign, which detailed the new effort to The Associated Press, insists that its existing phone and online voter outreach is effective. The new plans will build upon what’s already in place, not replace it.

Joe Biden is beginning to do what he does best, retail politics. Image via AP.

Assignment editors — Biden for President Florida will host a “Seal, Sign, Deliver” news conference with Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, Reps. Dotie Joseph and Javier Fernandez, and Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber to encourage voters to cast vote-by-mail ballots early for the Biden-Harris ticket, 10:45 a.m., the location provided upon RSVP. Media interested in attending should RSVP here no later than 9 a.m. Eastern time.

Biden puts Ohio in play” via Marc Caputo and Natasha Korecki of Politico — Buoyed by polls showing him leading President Trump, Biden’s campaign boosted its TV advertising budget to $4.1 million for this month, nearly quadruple what he spent last month and two-thirds of his total ad budget for the state. The day after the first debate with Trump in Cleveland, Biden made his first appearance in Ohio as the Democratic presidential nominee. A confluence of forces made Ohio competitive again in the eyes of Democrats, including conservatives in the state warring with Republican Gov. Mike DeWine for locking down the state during the pandemic. DeWine’s Republican predecessor, John Kasich, is backing Biden.

Poll shows Trump underperforming in bellwether Hillsborough County” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — If Hillsborough County is a bellwether for the state, it doesn’t look good for President Trump. A St. Pete Polls Survey conducted Tuesday, likely before voters were able to view the first presidential debate, which didn’t start until 9 p.m., showed Trump underperforming in the county compared to his results against Hillary Clinton in 2016. Trump registered just 42% support among all polled voters in the county compared to former Vice President Joe Biden’s 55%. In 2016, Clinton carried Hillsborough with just 52% of the vote. Perhaps more bad news for Trump, Hillsborough voters don’t appear to be breaking for third party candidates in the numbers seen four years ago.

Drudge Report, a Trump ally in 2016, stops boosting him for 2020” via Tiffany Hsu of The New York Times — Something has changed at Drudge Report, the influential site known for its tabloid-poetry headlines and conservative take on the news, and don’t think the President hasn’t noticed. Matt Drudge, a web pioneer who went live with his site in 1995, was seen as an important media champion of Trump’s 2016 campaign. “A large measure of why Trump is the nominee goes to Drudge,” Carl Bernstein said four years ago. And Mr. Trump has expressed his appreciation for the fedora-wearing web journalist, calling him “a great gentleman.” But nowadays, like CNN, The New York Times and many other outlets, Drudge Report is just one more purveyor of “fake news,” in the Trump view. For anyone who had not stopped by the site since it developed a reputation for lifting Trump and his brand of conservatism, the welcome page on Monday made for an arresting sight. At the top were images of stickers being sold by the Biden-Harris campaign that read, “I paid more income taxes than Donald Trump.”

— NEW ADS —

A TV ad tidal wave in Florida: Nearly $250M and counting” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida — Florida’s record-breaking campaign season continues to scale stunning new heights, with the presidential campaigns and their allies preparing to spend at least a quarter of a billion dollars on television ad time between now and Nov. 3. The ad barrage is a reminder of Florida’s outsized role in the presidential election. Trump, who narrowly won the state in 2016, is unlikely to win a second term in the White House if he loses his adopted home state. The jaw-dropping ad spending, which is $100 million more than what was spent four years ago in the battleground state, raises questions about the effectiveness of wall-to-wall television ads, especially when the vast majority of voters have already made up their minds. Florida is the undisputed leader in television advertising across the nation. Pennsylvania is second with $156.5 million in buys so far, and North Carolina is third with nearly $107 million.

Trump ad claims Biden has ‘submitted to the left-wing mob’ — Trump’s reelection campaign launched a television ad Thursday featuring police officers slamming Biden for his supposed “failure to support our men and women in blue.” One law enforcement officer in the ad claims “Joe Biden empowers these people. The more you empower them, the more crime they go to commit.” The Trump campaign said the ad will air on network cable and on local broadcast TV in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota as part of an eight-figure media buy.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Trump campaign ads bash Biden’s ‘far-left agenda’ — Trump’s reelection campaign is out with two new ads featuring testimonials from Americans who say they would be negatively affected by Biden’s so-called “radical left-wing policies” The first features a Black couple who condemn Biden’s “history of racist policies and mass incarceration.” The second features a Pennsylvania woman who works in the fracking industry and praises the Trump Administration and says her job would be eliminated if Biden’s “harsh regulatory agenda” comes to pass.

To watch the first ad, click on the image below:

To watch the second ad, click on the image below:

Biden launches trio of ads highlighting his faith — Biden for President launched three ads Thursday highlighting the former Vice President’s faith, values, and principles and how they have storied his life like other Americans. The ads will air on faith-based TV and radio programs and target faith-interested voters across digital platforms in battleground states, including Florida. An ad cut for Catholic TV features Biden speaking to Father Matt Malone., editor-in-chief of America, about lessons he learned from his father. An ad made for Christian TV narrates how Biden’s faith has carried him through dark times, such as when he lost family members. An ad made for Christian radio networks features a minute-long testimonial from one of Biden’s fellow parishioners.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Mike Bloomberg’s PAC hits Trump on health care — A new ad underwritten by Bloomberg’s Independence USA PAC slams Trump for his efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “Eight million Floridians with preexisting conditions can be denied coverage. Women can be charged more than men for the same coverage. And Floridians over 50 could pay an Age Tax of up to $4,000 a year,” the TV ad says. “Trump’s using the Supreme Court to undermine health care, even during a pandemic.” The ad is part of Bloomberg’s $100 million commitment to help Biden carry Florida. It will run on broadcast and cable statewide.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Republican Jewish Coalition puts $3.5 million into pro-Trump ad campaign — The Republican Jewish Coalition is running a pair of new TV ads backing Trump for reelection in Florida. The first is a faux infomercial with a host who says “Concerned Joe Biden isn’t liberal enough? This election only: a special offer! Elect Joe Biden, get all his far-left friends too.” … “This deal, the pitchman says, “like the liberals’ policies, is ****ing insane.” The second pitches Trump as “the only candidate who “has stood with the Jewish community.” RJC made a $3.5 million buy to put the ads on broadcast and cable TV in Florida starting Thursday.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

— 2020 — 

Facebook tightens political ad bans as U.S. election nears” via the Associated Press — With just over a month to go before Americans head en masse to the polls in an extraordinarily contentious election, Facebook is expanding restrictions on political advertising, including new bans on messages claiming widespread voter fraud. New prohibitions laid out in a blog post come days after President Donald Trump raised the prospect of mass fraud in the vote-by-mail process during a debate with Democratic rival Joe Biden. Banned ads “would include calling a method of voting inherently fraudulent or corrupt, or using isolated incidents of voter fraud to delegitimize the result of an election,” Rob Leathern, Facebook’s director of product management, tweeted. The changes apply to Facebook and Instagram and are effective immediately, he said.

Sports team owners listen to players, but support Republicans to the tune of millions of dollars” via Nancy Armour, and Tom Schad of NWF Daily News — USA TODAY Sports reviewed the political contributions of 183 owners from 161 teams across MLB, MLS, the NBA, the NFL, the NHL and the WNBA. The filings show that owners have collectively given at least $14.6 million to federal candidates during the 2019-20 election cycle so far — with nearly 86% of those funds going to Republican candidates and causes. Owners have directed more than $3.7 million to political action committees directly aligned with Trump, who has said he does not support the Black Lives Matter movement and does not believe that systemic racism exists. Other Republican candidates have echoed Trump’s positions or declined to contradict them. In contrast, owners have given a combined $1.35 million to Democratic candidates and causes during this election cycle, including roughly $334,000 to presidential nominee Biden.

Vote “No” on Amendment 1, 3 and 4, Florida ACLU says” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The ACLU of Florida released its 2020 ballot recommendations for the Florida General Election, urging Floridians to vote no on three of the proposed constitutional amendments. There are six amendments on Florida’s November ballot — two proposed by the Legislature and four by citizen initiative. The ACLU recommends voting “No” on Amendments 1, 3 and 4. The civil rights and liberties organization opposes those initiatives to ensure civil rights and civil liberties prevail in Florida, the ACLU of Florida wrote in a news release. “Florida voters will once again have an opportunity to amend our state constitution in November,” Florida ACLU executive director Micah Kubic said in a news release. “But three of the proposed initiatives on the ballot would taint our state’s constitution by undermining Floridians’ political power and access to democracy, enshrining xenophobia, and diluting voters’ power and impact. The integrity of our democracy depends on rejecting these provisions.”

Business coalition launches ‘Amendment 2 Hurts You’ campaign — Business groups have not been shy in opposing Amendment 2. Now, they’re launching an ad campaign highlighting how the amendment, which would gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026, could devastate small businesses. A video released by “Amendment 2 Hurts You” puts small-business owners and employees in front of the camera to explain the amendment’s possible impacts. The take-away: Bouncing back from the current economic crisis is already daunting but finding the cash to pay higher wages could make it impossible. The coalition, which includes AIF and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, is also highlighting studies that show the amendment could cost the state upward of 158,000 jobs and cost businesses another $7.3 billion a year.

Workers push to pass Amendment 2 for $15 minimum wage as Florida’s tourism industry fights it” via Caroline Glenn of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — While many of Florida’s workers and businesses are still badly bruised by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a heated battle over a 2020 constitutional amendment that would gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Workers unions in favor argue it would lift millions of low-wage employees out of poverty, particularly women and people of color stuck in lower-wage positions. Lobbying groups that represent some of the state’s largest corporations are pushing back just as hard, saying the amendment would kill jobs and force already struggling business owners to shut down permanently.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

First in Sunburn — Alan Cohn tops $1M raised in Q3Cohn, the Democratic nominee for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, raised $1,050,000 in the third quarter. The haul is a record for a candidate — Republican or Democrat — in the Tampa Bay area district, coming in half-again higher than the $601,000 raised by Kristen Carlson in the third quarter of 2018. Cohn’s campaign did not disclose how much cash it had on hand at the end of the quarter, though it reported about $589,000 raised and $130,000 banked through the end of July. Cohn faces Republican Scott Franklin, currently a Lakeland City Commissioner, in the November election. Franklin has not yet disclosed his Q3 numbers but he had raised $587,000 and had $104,000 in the bank heading into the primary.

Margaret Good raises $1.1 million in third quarter as she works to unseat Vern Buchanan” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Good reported another strong fundraising quarter in her campaign against U.S. Rep. Buchanan, hauling in $1.1 million to give her a total of $2.7 million for the race through the end of September. Good’s third-quarter fundraising is double what she collected in any other quarter, her campaign noted, and she has now raised more than Buchanan’s 2018 opponent. But she still is on track to be outspent by Buchanan, who collected more than $3 million through the end of July, including chipping in some of his own money. Buchanan’s campaign has not released third quarter fundraising numbers yet, saying the report is still being compiled.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell touts best-ever $2M fundraising quarter as she looks to hold CD 26 seat” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Democratic Rep. Mucarsel-Powell says she added more than $2 million in the third quarter alone. That’s a total her campaign says is the best fundraising quarter for any Florida congressional candidate in history. That claim appears to be true based on a review of fundraising numbers in Florida congressional races in the last several cycles. It’s certainly a personal best for Mucarsel-Powell, the incumbent in Florida’s 26th Congressional District. The Congresswoman set her previous personal record in the second quarter when she added nearly $837,000. Her newest total more than doubles that haul as she seeks to defend her seat against Republican candidate Carlos Giménez. “I am so proud of this historic milestone, which was powered by thousands of individual supporters,” Mucarsel-Powell said in a statement on the new fundraising numbers. “This campaign is about rebuilding our economy, expanding access to health care, and ensuring opportunity for every South Floridian, and that’s why we are building momentum every single day.” The October quarterly reports — which cover all financial activity through Sept. 30 — aren’t due for congressional candidates until Oct. 15. Mucarsel-Powell’s reports have not yet been officially filed with the Federal Election Commission for review.

Andrew Cuomo to keynote event for Palm Beach Democrats” via Bill Mahoney of POLITICO — Gov. Cuomo will be making one of his highest-profile political appearances of the year this weekend, and it’ll happen — virtually, at least — in Florida. Cuomo will be the keynote speaker at a remote fundraiser for the Palm Beach County Democratic Party Saturday. He’ll be joined at the digital dais by Rep. Val Demings, an Orlando Democrat, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, and fellow New York native Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee. Tickets range from $50 to $10,000. Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo asked Cuomo to participate.

— LEG. CAMPAIGNS —

Democrats’ ad seeks to tie Jason Brodeur to Proud Boys through alt-right Jacob Engels” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Democrats backing Patricia Sigman‘s campaign for the Florida Senate are launching a new digital commercial seeking to tie Brodeur to the Proud Boys through his association with the alt-right consultant and blogger Engels. The 15-second commercial “Calling Brodeur,” running on digital platforms including social media, mocks Brodeur’s own campaign commercials that showed him taking phone calls at all hours to help constituents. The spot does not name Engels, but says Brodeur paid a member of the “White supremacist group Proud Boys, $37,000.” The commercial is from the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which is working with the Democrats’ Senate Victory committee largely running Sigman’s campaign against Brodeur in Senate District 9. The district represents Seminole County and parts of southern Volusia County. The seat is opening because Republican Rep. David Simmons is term-limited.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Drake Buckman outraged after Fiona McFarland skips League of Women Voters debate” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Buckman expressed anger after McFarland skipped a League of Women Voters forum. “I was outraged that my opponent refused to appear at the nonpartisan League of Women Voters’ Candidate forum,” he said. “She has refused to discuss issues of critical importance with me and citizens of House District 72 deserve to hear from both of us. I believe my opponent is afraid to speak up because she supports the inept actions taken by our Governor, do-nothing [Ron] DeSantis.” But McFarland’s campaign dismissed the concern as quickly as the invitation, noting the candidates have already appeared in forums together. “Fiona willingly takes every opportunity to engage with voters, to include the over 16 candidate forums and interviews she’s participated in over the past several months and the two the candidates have scheduled next week,” said campaign spokesperson Maryann Grgic.

Maureen Porras says she’ll be a ‘fighter’ in new HD 105 ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Porras is out with a new ad supporting her bid against Republican David Borrero in House District 105. The ad is titled, “Fighter.” The 30-second spot will run in Miami-Dade County. HD 105 spans parts of Miami-Dade, Broward and Collier counties. A Spanish version of the ad will also air in Miami-Dade. “Maureen Porras is the fighter South Florida needs,” the ad’s narrator begins. “In the state House, she’ll use her experience as an attorney to put people first in Tallahassee, not special interests. Maureen Porras will fight for affordable health care, invest in our teachers and schools, and ensure our small local businesses get back on their feet. We need to change the status quo in Tallahassee. Vote for Maureen Porras for Florida House District 105: a voice for all South Florida families.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

— DOWN BALLOT —

Did the Florida Democratic Party illegally funnel thousands to Sarasota Co. Commission candidate?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Sarasota Republicans say state Democrats illegally funneled thousands to a Democrat running for Sarasota County Commission. Republican Party of Sarasota acting chair Jack Brill, in a letter to the Sarasota County Attorney, accused state and county Democrats of illegally directing hundreds into the campaign accounts for three local candidates: Mark Pienkos, Cory Hutchinson and Alice White. Most notably, the letter notes Pienkos, who is challenging incumbent County Commissioner Mike Moran in District 1, received $6,000 from the Florida Democratic Party in September, along with a $500 check from the Sarasota Democratic Executive Committee. Financial records show he accepted two checks from the state party in September, one for $2,500 and another for $3,500. A review of total contributions shows since he launched his campaign, Pienkos collected $1,500 from the county DEC. But Brill said the county charter forbids donations greater than $200.

Did the Democratic Party funnel thousands into Mark Pienkos’ Sarasota Commission race? Image via Facebook.

First on #FlaPol — “Survey shows Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony cruising to reelection” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new poll is putting Tony well on the path to reelection this November. Tony’s campaign commissioned the Frederick Polls survey. It shows Tony receiving 52% of the vote, more than double his opponent, Wayne Clark‘s 20% share. The remaining 28% of voters are undecided. Even if every single one of those voters broke toward Clark, a near impossibility in the heavily Democratic county, Tony would still lead Clark by 4 percentage points. Nonparty affiliated candidate Charles Whatley and write-in candidate Fuad Kiuhan have also qualified but were not listed in the poll. The survey sampled 448 likely General Election voters from Sept. 21-23. It has a margin of error of 4.8 percentage points. Publicly-released internal polls should be taken with a dose of skepticism. Though the findings could be accurate, campaigns have an incentive to withhold internal polls showing poor results for their candidate and only release favorable polls to the public.

Orange ballot question: Voters have choice on Split Oak Forest” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Supporters of a charter amendment on Orange County ballots next month say that could change if voters don’t approve the measure, which they describe as an extra layer of protection for the publicly owned, conservation area. They worry that a planned toll road will be followed by development anticipated from the largest nearby landowners, the Tavistock Development Company, which built Lake Nona, and the Suburban Land Reserve, the development arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The proposed amendment, identified on the ballot as Question 2, is titled “Protecting Split Oak Forest …” But opponents say the measure is unnecessary and a last-ditch effort to stop a freeway that would connect Osceola Parkway to State Road 417, a sorely needed link which would barely intrude on the 1,689-acre forest which is jointly owned by Orange and Osceola counties.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Florida adds more than 100 COVID-19 deaths again and 2,628 cases” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — Florida’s Department of Health on Thursday confirmed 2,628 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s known total to 709,144. Also, 127 resident deaths were announced, bringing the resident death toll to 14,444. Four new nonresident deaths were also announced Thursday, bringing the nonresident toll to 175. The cumulative total of resident deaths might be slightly off because of a discrepancy that occurred Wednesday between the state’s coronavirus report and the state’s COVID-19 dashboard. The Florida Department of Health did not immediately respond to the Miami Herald’s request for clarification on whether the discrepancy was corrected Thursday.

 “Nikki Fried unveils joint effort to increase farmworker COVID-19 testing” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Fried announced a new joint effort to provide COVID-19 testing to farmworkers ahead of the Fall harvest. The plan will provide free testing to employers, farmworkers and their families in several of Florida’s top agriculture counties. The testing sites will be available for appointments and walk-in services. A mobile testing sight may also be available for groups in certain counties. The initial participating counties include Miami-Dade and Hillsborough County. Test results may take up to 36 hours to generate.

Florida farmworkers are particularly susceptible to COVID-19. Image via AP.

Florida teachers demand transparency amid pandemic” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A new message from the Florida Education Association slams Education Commissioner Corcoran for an alleged lack of transparency. A 30-second commercial features Floridians of all ages staring into video conference cameras to express alarm at a spike in COVID-19 cases. “We are public school educators, parents and students,” an alternating chorus of individuals states. “Those at the top need to end the chaos and stop playing politics with our kids’ health. We want transparency, flexibility, stability and safety in our schools — and no cuts to education.” The FEA spot will appear on television in the Tampa and Orlando areas for two weeks. It also is being shared on social media and has been released in both English and Spanish.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Prison visitation returns with modified rules — The Florida Department of Corrections expects to resume allowing visitors at state prisons, the first time since March. Corrections Secretary Mark Inch announced the move on video: “Starting Oct. 2, we will be resuming visitation at institutions where it is safe and appropriate to do so. Visitation will look much different from before. Safety measures will be in place, and interactions with your loved ones will be modified. We understand how important in-person visitation is for maintaining family bonds but also want to minimize the risk to our incarcerated population. I am confident we can move forward safely with a careful approach.” For the new rules and regulations visit fdc.myflorida.com.

Government leaders explore technology’s role in a COVID-19 Florida and beyond” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — State government leaders highlighted the roles technology and innovation play Wednesday at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has elevated the need for an interconnected Florida. The state has more than 100,000 contractors and state employees across various departments and agencies, many of whom were forced to work from home at some point during the pandemic. With that many workers and overlapping agency tasks, legislative, policy and agency leaders said Wednesday that technology can soften the workload and eliminate redundancies in services and data management. Recovering from the state unemployment system’s failures earlier this year became an early topic of the conversation between The Southern Group’s Rachel Cone and leaders in the process. Chris Spencer, DeSantis‘ policy and budget director, said the state successfully used automation to assist Reemployment Assistance office staff by working through basic tasks. “It’s not replacing people,” Spencer said.

Local leaders tell Ron DeSantis they’ve imposed $2 million in coronavirus fines” via Gray Rohrer of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Only a handful of local governments have issued fines to people or businesses related to their coronavirus orders, according to reports requested by DeSantis. Not all cities and counties responded, but out of the ones that did and issued fines, just two account for the vast majority of the $1.9 million in penalties. Miami-Dade County and Naples account for more than 85% of the fines, due to a variety of reasons, including disobeying mask ordinances, staying out past curfew and parking by the beaches when they were closed. Miami-Dade County issued 1,882 citations totaling $760,600 and another 215 citations totaling $109,650 were issued by the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department, comprising 45% of the $1,940,162 in fines tallied by DeSantis’ office.

— CORONA LOCAL —

COVID-19 didn’t kill Rita Thomas at 95, isolation did” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times — Thomas was a victim of COVID-19, but she never had the disease. The vivacious and outgoing 95-year-old, who lived independently until last year and celebrated her most recent birthday in February with friends at a Pasco County diner, willed herself to die two weeks ago because she could no longer handle the pandemic-imposed isolation. “She said to me: ‘Linda. I’ve had a good life. I am ready to die. I don’t want to live this way anymore. I stopped eating,’ ” her daughter Linda Gardner said, recalling the conversation she had with her mother just a month ago. Three weeks later, her mother was hospitalized for complications from malnutrition. There is little data about the mental health effects of the extended lockdown at long-term care facilities in the United States, but medical experts have long known that prolonged isolation contributes to memory loss and other cognitive problems for older adults.

Miami schools jolt toward a shaky reopening. Are they ready to prevent COVID spread?” via Ben Conarck and Colleen Wright of the Miami Herald — Before DeSantis pressed the state into the third and final phase of its reopening plan last week, public health experts were cautiously optimistic that Miami-Dade County, the hardest-hit in all of Florida, could begin to reopen its schools without risking another jump in new COVID-19 cases. But the Governor’s executive order rushed a new current into what were relatively calm seas for virus transmission in South Florida, undercutting local face mask mandates and business restrictions, and rendering the outlook for Miami’s autumn more uncertain. Weakened mask orders and the reopening of bars and restaurants at full capacity flustered Miami-Dade County officials who have been trying to push transmission of the virus down to a lower baseline ahead of the fall.

Face covers required for Miami-Dade students when in-person classes start” — Students begin returning to classrooms in Miami-Dade County schools on Monday and as they do they’ll be required to wear masks district officials said Thursday. The school district said on Twitter that face coverings are required for all students who will be doing in-person learning, and that individual schools would be providing masks to students who don’t have them. Miami-Dade classrooms will reopen Oct. 5.

Tweet, tweet:

‘A hell of a fight’: Broward Schools accepts earlier reopening after state agrees to it” via Jimena Tavel of the Miami Herald — After the Education Commissioner pushed them to reopen classrooms earlier than they had planned or risk losing millions in funding, Broward County School Board members shaved a few days off the initial reopening date, pushing it up to Oct. 9, from Oct. 14. During a more than five-hour emergency meeting Thursday, the board voted unanimously to welcome back students in a staggered start, from Friday, Oct. 9 to Thursday, Oct. 15. According to recent surveys, about a third of students have indicated they would return to in-person learning and about a third of teachers have indicated they will seek unpaid leave or ADA accommodations to work from home.

Brightline shut down commuter service for months. When will the trains run again?” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The trains are in the barn. The downtown stations are deserted. And the management of Brightline, South Florida’s idled high-speed rail service, is still deciding when to restore service amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Brightline, the regional train line that conjured up new possibilities for South Florida transportation, economic development and even entertainment, remains on the sidelines after the pandemic suppressed tourism, diminished business travel and shrank consumer pocketbooks. Brightline suspended service on March 25. With no one knowing when the pandemic might ease, management indefinitely laid off 262 Brightline employees, including train engineers, attendants, maintenance people and corporate office workers. Brightline’s operations are not subsidized by the three counties it serves — unlike Tri-Rail, the venerable 30-year-old commuter line that carries everyday workers and other travelers at considerably lower fares.

When will Brightline start up again? Image via Brightline.

Carnival picks PortMiami for November cruise restart after CDC no-sail order shortened” via Taylor Dolven of the Miami Herald — Carnival Cruise Line has zeroed in on Miami as one of two ports to restart U.S. cruises after a monthslong hiatus due to COVID-19. Following the White House’s intervention Tuesday to block the U.S. Disease Control and Prevention from banning cruises until February 2021 as the agency had planned, the current cruise ban is set to expire on Oct. 31. On Thursday, Carnival canceled all cruises for November and December except for those that will leave from PortMiami and Port Canaveral, which are on track to restart Nov. 1. Competitors Royal Caribbean Group, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and MSC Cruises continue to sell cruises from Miami for November. Disney Cruise Line and Virgin Voyages are selling cruises for December.

UM President says university is slowing spread of COVID-19” via LobbyTools — After peaking with more than 40 cases after the Labor Day holiday, new daily cases of COVID infection at the University of Miami are now in the single digits, university President Julio Frenk said. Frenk, who is a global public health expert, said in a video message at “halftime” of the semester, that the virus is as dangerous as ever but students have done well at keeping transmission low. “Together, we are slowing the spread,” Frenk said. “Contact tracing tells us that there has been no transmission of the virus in classrooms thus far.” Frenk warned, however, that an easing of local restrictions in Miami-Dade County this week, coupled with flu season, means a spike in cases is likely to come soon and said students must continue to respond to efforts on campus to slow the spread, including an ongoing 11 p.m. curfew, masks, and social distancing.

— MORE LOCAL —

Amid Disney layoffs, Central Florida counties turn to assistance programs” via Ryan Gillespie, Martin E. Comas, and Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County will reopen its CARES Act crisis assistance program next week, just days after Disney, the region’s largest employer, announced it would be laying off about 7,000 of its employees here. When the relief program initially launched earlier this year, nearly 30,000 households received $1,000 payments to help cover rent, utility bills, prescriptions and food. And additional aid is needed, officials said, as more Disney layoffs are possible following negotiations between the company and unions representing many of its workers. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said the news, delivered to both he and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings in phone calls, was sobering, and a reminder that more federal relief dollars are needed to help residents.

The Lightning encouraged a socially distant Stanley Cup parade. Photos tell a different story.” via Des Bieler of The Washington Post — The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup after two months inside playing environments in Toronto and Edmonton that were carefully controlled and successfully prevented infiltration by the novel coronavirus. Days later, they staged a raucous celebration with fans in Tampa and what appeared to be little regard for social distancing. Lightning players were photographed letting several fans drink directly from the Stanley Cup during Wednesday’s celebration, a boat parade up the Hillsborough River and a rally at Raymond James Stadium. Reports from the event indicated that many who turned out were clustered together while also not wearing masks.

The Tampa Bay Lightning celebratory parade was not the socially distant event promised. Image via Twitter.

Collier County schools to allow more football fans; Lee schools staying at 25% capacity” via Adam Fisher of the Naples Daily News — Beginning Friday, Collier County Public Schools will expand the number of fans allowed to attend its high school football games. Players and cheerleaders from visiting teams will be allowed to have two members from their households in the stands. Crowds at the games could nearly double — in their first two weeks of games CCPS schools allowed two tickets for just the home team’s players, cheerleaders and band. Bands from visiting schools still will not travel to road games. The Collier school district also will allow some students to attend football games if there is room without going overcapacity.

After pressure, Sarasota County eases COVID-19 relief requirements again” via Timothy Fanning of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — After numerous stumbles and heavy criticism from area nonprofits and businesses, Sarasota County is again adjusting the process to apply for federal coronavirus relief funding with a goal of distributing more money faster. But the progress comes after significant pushback from residents, and, on Thursday, from County Commissioner Charles Hines, who blasted the county’s sluggish and complicated application process that had led to so many complaints. Sarasota County was one of the last of Florida’s 55 counties with populations below 500,000 to begin distributing funding. The argument early on about the county’s complex process and slow pace was the county would protect itself if a business misspent the money and to learn from other local governments’ mistakes. “It seems just the opposite,” said Hines, a local business and commercial attorney, of the county’s strategy. “I feel like today, we are creating the wheel. I don’t understand that.”

Assignment editors — Rep. Randy Fine will hold a free food-distribution event in partnership with Farm Share, 9 a.m., Fine’s district office, 2539 Palm Bay Road N.E., Palm Bay.

— CORONA NATION —

Study finds ‘single largest driver’ of coronavirus misinformation: Trump” via Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Noah Weiland of The New York Times — Of the flood of misinformation, conspiracy theories and falsehoods seeding the internet on the coronavirus, one common thread stands out: Trump. That is the conclusion of researchers at Cornell University who analyzed 38 million articles about the pandemic in English-language media around the world. Mentions of Trump made up nearly 38% of the overall “misinformation conversation,” making the President the largest driver of the “infodemic” — falsehoods involving the pandemic. The study, to be released Thursday, is the first comprehensive examination of coronavirus misinformation in traditional and online media. “The biggest surprise was that the President of the United States was the single largest driver of misinformation around COVID,” said Sarah Evanega, the director of the Cornell Alliance for Science and the study’s lead author.

The biggest source of COVID-19 misinformation: Donald Trump. Image via AP.

Not a ‘good look’: White House fight over masks signaled COVID-19 plans running awry” via Vivian Salama of CNN Politics — The first masks arrived on the White House grounds in February by special order of the National Security Council, mobilizing early on to address the emerging threat of the coming coronavirus. Job One in their emergency response was to take personal precautions, preparing for the critical work at hand, multiple officials tell CNN. But word that some NSC staffers were being told to wear masks quickly made its way back to the West Wing and it wasn’t long before a sharp dictum came down. “If you have the whole West Wing running around wearing masks, it wasn’t a good look,” one administration official recalled of the directive that came down from senior staff and lawyers. The West Wing wanted to “portray confidence and make the public believe there was absolutely nothing to worry about,” the official said, revealing the image-conscious reason for the opposition to masks for the first time.

Trump could get his vaccine before Election Day” via Sam Frazeli of Bloomberg — When we think of the word “vaccine,” we usually think of it in the singular, but there are really two types — active and passive. When it comes to COVID-19, the latter type may arrive quicker than you think. Active vaccines are the kind we’re all familiar with — the shots we get to inoculate us against polio, flu, etc. — and these are the type that are being developed as a safeguard against coronavirus by drugmakers including AstraZeneca PLC, Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. They work by pushing the immune system, without causing an infection, to create antibodies in response to a virus or bacteria, which then helps prepare the body to successfully fend off a potential future infection.

The face mask ‘is almost as much of a symbol as a MAGA hat’” via Elena Schneider of POLITICO — Political campaigns pack as many symbols as they can into 30-second TV ads to drive home candidates’ messages, from waving flags to smiling seniors to bustling small businesses. This year, there’s a new one on the list: masks. President Donald Trump’s reluctance to embrace masks during the coronavirus pandemic has turned them into a political object despite his own administration’s public health advice. But masks are still in heavy rotation in COVID-related TV ads for both parties in suburbs around the country, according to a POLITICO review of more than 400 political ads that aired in September and were collected by Advertising Analytics.

Why hospitals can’t handle COVID-19 surges: They’re flying blind” via Melanie Evans and Alexandra Berzon of The Wall Street Journal — During a pandemic, hospitals and local, state and federal agencies rely on a range of real-time metrics to respond to emergencies quickly. They need to know how many beds are available at each facility, whether hospitals need more nurses and the available number of ventilators and other critical supplies. That way, patients can get transferred quickly and medicine distributed to those in most need. The U.S. has tried — and failed — over the past 15 years to build a system to share such information in a crisis. When the pandemic started, nothing like it existed. Data gaps meant patients couldn’t be moved to another facility quickly for treatment. Lawmakers and federal officials have warned for years that up-to-the-minute hospital data would be essential in emergencies. More than $100 million for the technology was cited in legislation but never formally appropriated.

Amazon says more than 19,000 workers got COVID-19” via Annie Palmer of CNBC — Amazon on Thursday released comprehensive data into the spread of the coronavirus among its employees, disclosing for the first time that between March 1 and Sept. 19, it counted 19,816 presumed or confirmed COVID-19 cases across its roughly 1.37 million Amazon and Whole Foods Market front-line employees across the U.S. The total does not include Amazon’s network of third-party delivery drivers, which handle a portion of last-mile deliveries. It’s unclear how many contracted drivers make up Amazon’s third-party delivery network, but the company previously said it has added nearly 85,000 jobs across the U.S., Canada, UK, Spain, and Germany.

Thousands of Amazon workers have contracted COVID-19. Image via AP.

Amid a virus uptick, NYC reaches a major milestone becoming the first major U.S. city to reopen all its public schools for in-person learning.” via The New York Times — A day after indoor dining returned, New York City reached another major milestone in its recovery as a one-time center of the coronavirus pandemic: It has reopened all its public schools. The city’s final phase of reopening classrooms Thursday was also a hopeful sign for the country’s unsteady effort to resume in-person instruction. Not long after sunrise, middle and high school principals welcomed students back into their buildings for the first time since March, following elementary school children who had started earlier this week. About half a million students, from 3-year-olds in pre-K programs to high school seniors, have now returned to school in New York City, which has by far the nation’s largest school system.

— CORONA ECONOMICS — 

New layoffs add to worries over U.S. economic slowdown” via Nelson D. Schwartz and Gillian Friedman of The New York Times — The American economy is being buffeted by a fresh round of corporate layoffs, signaling new anxiety about the course of the coronavirus pandemic and uncertainty about further legislative relief. Companies including Disney, the insurance giant Allstate and two major airlines announced plans to fire or furlough more than 60,000 workers in recent days, and more cuts are expected without a new federal aid package to stimulate the economy. With the election a month away, an agreement has proved elusive. Last-ditch negotiations between the White House and congressional Democrats were continuing Thursday, and Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, did not rule out an agreement with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Democrats are pushing a $2.2 trillion proposal, while the White House has floated a $1.6 trillion plan.

More layoffs are fueling concerns about a slowdown of the U.S. economy. Image via AP.

First-time unemployment claims drop in Florida” via Jim Turner of The News Service of Florida — First-time unemployment claims in Florida dropped nearly 25% last week, as bars and craft breweries served drinks again and DeSantis moved forward with the third phase of his coronavirus economic-recovery efforts. However, tourism, travel and retail companies continue to advise the state they are shedding workers. The U.S. Department of Labor estimated Florida had 29,360 first-time unemployment claims during the week that ended Sept. 26, down from 39,028 the prior week. DeSantis added that while tourism has been “OK” in some parts of the state, “there’s other parts that it’s lagging.”

American Airlines will lay off 2,000 in South Florida after new COVID-19 aid fails to arrive” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — American Airlines’ mass layoff of 19,000 workers includes 2,000 people who work at airports in South Florida, a spokeswoman confirmed Thursday. The airline followed through on a long-standing pledge to drastically cut payroll after Congress failed to agree on a fresh round of financial assistance for an airline industry laid low by massive business losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. After the pandemic struck down the economy in mid-March, industry passenger traffic plunged by up to 85% at one point, and it is still off by 70% versus 2019, according to Airlines for America, an industry trade group.

Millions of Americans risk losing power and water as massive, unpaid utility bills pile up” via Tony Romm of The Washington Post — The worst economic crisis in more than a generation has thrust potentially millions of Americans across the country into a similar, sudden peril: Cash-strapped, and in some cases still unemployed, they have fallen far behind on their electricity, water and gas bills, staring down the prospect of potential utility shut-offs and fast-growing debts they may never be able to repay. At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, many states acted quickly to ensure their residents would not lose their power or other utilities if their jobs or wages were slashed. Now, however, only 21 states and the District of Columbia still have such disconnection bans in place. That leaves roughly 179 million Americans at risk of losing service even as the economy continues sputtering, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, which is tracking the moratoria.

PSC staff opposes disconnection moratorium” via The News Service of Florida — The Florida Public Service Commission should reject a proposal that seeks at least a 90-day moratorium on election-service disconnections because it is “neither necessary nor the best course of action at this time,” commission staff members recommended. The commission is scheduled Tuesday to take up a proposal filed on behalf of the League of United Latin American Citizens of Florida and two utility customers to use an emergency rule-making process to impose the moratorium. But Florida Power & Light, Gulf Power, Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric Co. filed documents at the commission objecting to the moratorium and pointing to numerous steps, such as payment plans, that they have taken to help customers avoid disconnections.

Americans might never come back to the office, and Twitter is leading the charge.” via Elizabeth Dwoskin of The Washington Post — Corporate America has long been defined by physical offices. But in a few short weeks, the pandemic upended that as thousands of companies mandated their employees work from home. What many thought would be a temporary workaround is now a mass experiment with no end in sight, as many companies await a vaccine or other developments to ensure workers’ safety. Twitter, the first major U.S. company to make a public announcement in May about its permanent work-from-home plans, has a big head start in identifying the pitfalls and advantages of work from home. Twitter’s decision to allow its 5,200 primarily San Francisco-based employees to decide where they want to work has major implications for everything from its real estate and salaries to workplace culture writ large. The company could potentially usher in a new model for attracting and retaining talent based on worker-centric values of flexibility, autonomy and satisfaction.

— MORE CORONA — 

This overlooked variable is the key to the pandemic” via Zeynep Tufekci of The Atlantic — There’s something strange about this coronavirus pandemic. Even after months of extensive research by the global scientific community, many questions remain open. I’ve heard many explanations for these widely differing trajectories over the past nine months, weather, elderly populations, vitamin D, prior immunity, herd immunity — but none of them explains the timing or the scale of these drastic variations. Unfortunately, averages aren’t always useful for understanding the distribution of a phenomenon, especially if it has widely varying behavior. There are COVID-19 incidents in which a single person likely infected 80% or more of the people in the room in just a few hours. But, at other times, COVID-19 can be surprisingly much less contagious.

Moderna CEO says its vaccine won’t be ready for general public until spring” via Paulina Firozi of The Washington Post — Moderna’s chief executive said its COVID-19 vaccine is not expected to be available for widespread use until the spring. Stéphane Bancel told the Financial Times during a pharmaceutical and biotechnology conference that the company would not be ready to apply for emergency use authorization for its potential vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration until Nov. 25 at the earliest, the Financial Times reported Wednesday. “November 25 is the time we will have enough safety data to be able to put into an EUA … file that we would send to the FDA — assuming that the safety data is good, i.e. a vaccine is deemed to be safe,” Bancel said, according to the report.

Biotech company Moderna CEO says the COVID-19 vaccine won’t be ready until at least spring 2021. Image via UPI.

No mask, no custody. COVID-19 is a new factor in family law.” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Melanie Joseph wants to see her son, but Broward Circuit Judge Dale Cohen won’t let her — not because she was physically or psychologically abusive, but, in his words, because she’s an “anti-mask person” who had the “audacity” to brag about it on Facebook. Joseph’s 14-year-old son has asthma, an underlying condition that could put him at increased risk of danger if he contracts COVID-19 during this pandemic, filings in the case show. The Broward case is one example of how judges in family court cases now are considering the health risks of COVID-19 on top of already juggling the competing and often incompatible interests of feuding ex-spouses, single parents and reluctant child-support payers.

— STATEWIDE —

Judge tosses out reptile law” via The News Service of Florida — Florida lawmakers violated the state Constitution when they passed a measure this year that would largely prevent the possession, breeding and sale of certain types of nonnative reptiles, a circuit judge has ruled. Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper said the Constitution gives the power to approve such regulations to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “The 2020 amendment (by the Legislature) regulates wild animal life — it prescribes the manner and purposes for which certain captive nonnative species may be possessed and used — and contradicts the commission’s regulations … authorizing and regulating the manner and purposes for which those same species may be used,” Cooper wrote in a 12-page decision last month.

USF will cut more than $36 million — including president’s salary — in direction from state board” via Lauren Coffey of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The University of South Florida will cut $36.7 million from its state budget, in a new directive given to the dozen state universities across Florida. The State University System directed all 12 state universities — including USF and Lakeland-based Florida Polytechnic — to cut 8.5% of their recurring general revenue and lottery funds allocated from the state, according to an email from USF President Steve Currall that was sent to staff, faculty and students. While the university is still weighing how to whittle down the budget the entire 8.5 percent, Currall announced he would take a 15% pay cut. He currently makes $575,000, resulting in a cut of $86,250. Other members of the university’s leadership team will have their pay cut between 6 to 10 percent, effective Oct. 2.

USF President Steven Currall is asked to take a pay cut. Image via WUSF.

What Casey DeSantis is readingPhysician boards revamp mental health questions” via Christine Sexton of The News Service of Florida — Instead of applicants having to answer six broad questions about mental health and substance abuse, the Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine agreed to ask just two: Has the applicant been treated for or had a recurrence of a diagnosed physical or mental disorder that impaired or impairs the ability to practice? And has the applicant been treated for or had a recurrence of a diagnosed alcohol or drug abuse disorder that impaired or impairs the ability to practice? Additionally, the boards agreed to include in the application a statement that makes clear licensure candidates don’t have to disclose whether they have sought counseling to assist with stress, mild anxiety, situational depression, family or marital issues.

DeSantis appoints three judges to circuit courts, one to Pinellas County Court” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis made four judicial appointments Thursday, tapping three circuit-level judges and one to the Pinellas County Court. Two of those appointments, Steve Berlin and Julie Sercus, fill vacancies on the 6th Circuit Court while Thomas Rebull takes a new role on the 11th Circuit Court. The Governor also appointed Joseph Lawhorne to the Pinellas County Court. Berlin is currently a Judge for Pinellas County Court and previously served as a Lieutenant Colonel for the United States Army JAG Corps. He received his bachelor’s degree from the United States Military Academy and his law degree from the University of Florida. The St. Petersburg resident fills the vacancy created after Judge Thomas Minkoff resigned.

Personnel note: Jeannie Garner named executive director at Florida League of Cities” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Garner is now the executive director at the Florida League of Cities, the association announced Thursday. Garner succeeds Michael Sittig, who is retiring after 25 years leading the League. The transition is effective immediately. “I’m honored to lead an organization I’ve proudly been a part of for more than two decades,” Garner said. “This is my ultimate dream job, and it’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly. Our team remains focused on our mission of supporting and enhancing Florida’s 411 cities, towns and villages and helping to strengthen Home Rule.” The groundwork for this transition was laid several years ago with the League’s Board of Directors unanimously appointing Garner as executive director-designate on Sept. 22, 2018. Before that, Garner served as deputy executive director.

— D.C. MATTERS —

U.S. House passes new pandemic relief bill, but talks lag on a bipartisan deal” via Ariana Figueroa of Florida Phoenix — The U.S. House on Thursday night narrowly passed a slimmed-down $2.2 trillion Democratic coronavirus relief bill that retains hundreds of billions in aid for states and local governments, boosts unemployment benefits and extends another round of $1,200 checks for each taxpayer. But the package, passed on a 214-207 vote, with 18 Democrats splitting from their party, is certain to die in the Senate unless an agreement is struck with Republicans and the White House on the cost. That deal remained out of hand Thursday night despite talks off and on this week between House Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin. “We’re hopeful that we can reach agreement, because the needs of the American people are so great, but there has to be a recognition that it takes money to do that and it takes the right language to make sure it is done right,” Pelosi said at a news conference earlier in the day.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is touting the approval of a $2.2 trillion Democratic plan for fresh relief from the coronavirus pandemic. Image via Reuters.

Internal document shows Trump officials were told to make comments sympathetic to Kyle Rittenhouse” via Julia Ainsley of NBC News — Federal law enforcement officials were directed to make public comments sympathetic to Rittenhouse, the teenager charged with fatally shooting two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, according to internal Department of Homeland Security talking points. In preparing Homeland Security officials for questions about Rittenhouse from the media, the document suggests that they note that he “took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners.” Another set of talking points distributed to Homeland Security officials said the media were incorrectly labeling the group Patriot Prayer as racists after clashes erupted between the group and protesters in Portland, Oregon. It is unclear whether any of the talking points originated at the White House or within Homeland Security’s own press office.

— LOCAL NOTES —

Glenn Straub case exposes ‘unparalleled access’ for friend of state attorney” via Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post — For years, Wellington developer Straub has counted Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg among his stable of powerful friends. But as Straub defends himself in a criminal case, he is blaming Aronberg for improperly launching the investigation that led to the charges because of Aronberg’s friendship with Straub’s former girlfriend, Jessica Nicodemo. As the case proceeds, it threatens to expose the “unparalleled access” to the State Attorney’s Office that Aronberg gave Nicodemo because of her close ties with Aronberg and his ex-wife. Among the allegations Straub’s attorneys made in court Wednesday were text messages about the case between Aronberg and Nicodemo and phone records indicating the state attorney spent hours talking with Nicodemo late into the night.

Developer Glenn Straub counted Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg among his friends, until Aronberg launched an investigation.

Santa Rosa gets FEMA declaration for full public assistance to cover Hurricane Sally damage” via Pensacola News Journal staff reports — More than two weeks after Hurricane Sally made landfall, Santa Rosa County has finally been awarded full public assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. DeSantis announced in a tweet Thursday that “FEMA has approved full public assistance for Santa Rosa County, providing federal funding for debris removal, emergency protective measures and permanent infrastructure.” The declaration does not include FEMA funding for individual assistance. Trump declared a major disaster in Florida from Hurricane Sally a week after the Sept. 16 hurricane. The declaration at that time, however, only provided that Santa Rosa was eligible for compensation for “emergency protective measures” taken before, during and after the storm.

Pensacola Bay Bridge repairs are expected to take six months” via Kevin Robinson of the Pensacola News Journal — Repairs to the Pensacola Bay Bridge are expected to take six months, the Florida Department of Transportation announced Thursday. Once repairs are complete, all four lanes of the bridge will be open with no load restrictions and at the same condition as expected for new construction, FDOT said in a news release. The bridge was damaged in mid-September when construction barges owned by Skanska USA broke loose during Hurricane Sally and crashed into the structure. The bridge has been closed for more than two weeks, and currently, drivers are being detoured to the Garcon Point Bridge, which is adding anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes to their daily commutes. The forced detour is also having a huge financial impact on Gulf Breeze businesses that rely on daily thru-traffic.

As the biggest sewage spill in Fort Myers history becomes a political talking point, state promises action ‘quickly as possible’” via Amy Bennett Williams of the Fort Myers News-Press — Six months after the biggest sewage spill in Fort Myers history, the event has sparked opinion pieces and drawn heat at political debates, yet the state hasn’t taken action against the City of Fort Myers. It’s coming, though. “Staff are working as quickly as possible to ensure adequate enforcement is taken for this, and all of the wastewater incidents in our region,’ spokeswoman Alexandra Kuchta wrote in an email.

Holocaust experience museum announced for Orlando” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A major new, interactive museum of the Holocaust and humanity will rise in downtown Orlando, under a partnership announced Thursday between the Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida and a foundation established by Steven Spielberg. The Holocaust Museum for Hope & Humanity is envisioned as a major educational and cultural attraction that could both draw on the city’s 75 million annual visitors and provide a new attraction for the City Beautiful: a powerful, historical and contemporary, educational immersion. The Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida, which currently has a smaller-scale version of the concept in Maitland, announced it is partnering with the USC Shoah Foundation — The Institute for Visual History and Education to go global in the effort.

Biketoberfest to go on as planned in Volusia County” via Loren Korn of ClickOrlando.com — Biketoberfest will go on as planned in Volusia County. The county council agreed on Tuesday, it will issue permits to non-city businesses participating in the event, without restrictions. County leaders will recommend safety guidelines, but will not enforce or fine establishments after DeSantis moved Florida to phase three of the reopening plan. Business owners can use permits for outdoor vendors, live events, and entertainment. “Our back up, mask up, wash up campaign would be continuing. I think it would be maybe more important given that you may have higher capacities,” Volusia County Manager George Recktenwald said.

— SMOLDERING — 

Ahead of election, growing number of U.S. Jews consider leaving” via Ben Sales of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — By 11:42 a.m. on the morning after Trump refused to condemn White supremacists during the presidential debate, Heather Segal had received four inquiries from Americans interested in moving to Canada. Two of them were Jewish. Segal, an immigration lawyer in Toronto, knows there’s always a spike in inquiries during U.S. election years. In 2016, she said, she received a couple dozen inquiries, total, from Americans looking to move to Canada. This year, she gets six or seven inquiries every day. And most of them, she said, are from Jews. “In my life, I have never seen what I’m seeing,” said Segal, who is herself Jewish. She said she hears the same fears from one Jewish American after another.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Proud Boys controversy: ‘Plain and simple, I think Trump is a racist’” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — U.S. Rep. Wasserman Schultz, the prominent South Florida Democrat, said Thursday that Trump is a racist and his racism is clearly “embedded within him.” Wasserman Schultz made her comments during a video news conference held by the three Jewish members of Congress from Florida. They joined to condemn Trump for his reluctance to denounce white supremacism — something they said he embraces — and his signal of support to the violent, far-right Proud Boys organization to “stand back and stand by.”

Debbie Wasserman Schultz has a simple explanation for the Proud Boys controversy: Donald Trump’s a racist.

Emotions run hot about protests during St. Petersburg’s City Council meeting” via Josh Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times — Discussions of the ongoing protests for racial equality during Thursday’s City Council meeting drew out strong emotions from all those who participated, including from public comments, council members and the Mayor. The meeting was the first time the council met as a body and accepted public comment since Saturday, when a group of counter-protesters waving American flags and wearing “Defend Police” t-shirts followed and confronted the St. Pete Peace Protest march. The march, save for a few incidents, has proceeded peacefully through city streets for more than four months, beginning after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

Conservative hoaxers face charges over false voter robocalls” via Ryan J. Foley of The Associated Press — Two notorious conservative operatives were charged Thursday with felonies in connection with false robocalls that aimed to dissuade residents in Detroit and other U.S. cities from voting by mail, Michigan’s attorney general announced. Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman each face four felony counts in Detroit, including conspiring to intimidate voters in violation of election law and using a computer to commit crimes, Attorney General Dana Nessel said. The calls falsely warned residents in majority-Black Detroit and urban areas in at least four other states that voting by mail in the Nov. 3 election could subject people to arrest, debt collection and forced vaccination, Nessel said.

Police departments seeing modest cuts, but not ‘defunding’” via Geoff Mulvihill of the Associated Press — The racial justice protests following the death of George Floyd earlier this year prompted calls to “defund the police” in cities across the country, a priority for activists that has now become a central point in the presidential contest. A review by The Associated Press finds that while local governments have trimmed police budgets over the past four months, the cuts have been mostly modest. They have been driven as much by shrinking government revenue related to the coronavirus pandemic as from the calls to rethink public safety. Advocates want to overhaul a policing system that has repeatedly been linked to brutality against Black people, including the death of Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May.

— TOP OPINION —

Nikki Fried: Panhandle Sally needs help now, not later” for the Pensacola News Journal — As the Category 2 storm dumped up to thirty inches of rain across the region along with 105-mph winds, it became clear that not only homes and businesses would be imperiled, but also hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland. Helping people recover in the immediate aftermath of major disasters like hurricanes is exactly what the federal government is supposed to do, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal partners. But this time might be different. For the first time in modern U.S. history, it appears that federal help for individuals might not be coming. It’s completely inexplicable. Until the Governor properly requests the disaster aid from the USDA, it will be slow in coming, if at all.

— OPINIONS —

A debate that can’t be ignored” via The New York Times editorial board — All Americans, whatever their political inclinations, should make time to watch Tuesday night’s presidential debate, and every minute of the two forthcoming debates. Trump’s performance on the debate stage was a national disgrace. His refusal to condemn White supremacists, or to pledge that he will accept the results of the election, betrayed the people who entrusted him with the highest office in the land. Every American has a responsibility to look and listen and take the full measure of the man. Ignorance can no longer be a tenable excuse. Conservatives in pursuit of long-cherished policy goals can no longer avoid the reality that Trump is vandalizing the principles and integrity of our democracy. It’s a tired frame, but consider how Americans would judge a foreign election where the incumbent President scorned the democratic process as a fraud and called on an armed, violent, White supremacist group to “stand by” to engage with his political rivals.

Trump is not the man he used to be” via Tim Alberta of POLITICO — Trump believes, to his core, that a single event in 2016 clinched him the presidency. It wasn’t the FBI reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton. It wasn’t the WikiLeaks dump of hacked DNC emails. It wasn’t the published list of potential Supreme Court nominees, or the selection of Mike Pence, or Clinton’s comment about “deplorables.” To Trump, the pivotal moment of the campaign was the second presidential debate. On the second Sunday in October, the Republican nominee arrived in St. Louis a dead man walking. Just 48 hours earlier, The Washington Post had publicized an old recording on which Trump boasted about grabbing women by the genitals. A number of leading Republicans publicly renounced his candidacy. But the reality TV star wasn’t going to walk away — not from such high drama, not from such huge ratings. In an interview several years later, Trump told me that he viewed the debate as an experiment in “who likes pressure.”

— TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Florida’s Department of Health reports 131 new fatalities from COVID-19. Four of the victims were from out of state, the rest were Florida residents.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— Trump will be at the Orlando Sanford International Airport for another Make America Great Again campaign rally. Florida GOP Chair Joe Gruters says Florida is a must-win state for Donald Trump. You’ll hear more from Sen. Gruters.

— Democrats are still grumbling over Trump’s behavior during the first presidential debate, and Jewish members of Florida’s congressional delegation are infuriated over his refusal to denounce White supremacy after being asked directly.

— With the election little more than a month away, progressive groups say they’ll make every effort to make sure people get the chance to vote.

— Congressman Darren Soto has a bone to pick with FEMA. He wants them to explain why billions of dollars appropriated by Congress three years ago to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria has yet to arrive.

— And it’s not just FEMA. Private insurance companies are also stiffing their policyholders in Puerto Rico to the tune of $1.6 billion.

— And finally, a Florida man went to jail over milk, while a Florida Woman was arrested after asking a deputy if he wanted to smoke pot with her.

To listen, click on the image below:

— LISTEN UP —

Battleground Florida with Christopher Heath: Peter Schorsch returns in his first appearance on the podcast since the state went into a lockdown over COVID-19. He discusses what Florida got right and what Florida is getting wrong as well as why much of the blame targeted at the Governor is misdirected. They also discuss the presidential debate such (as it was).

Dishonorable Mention: Rep. Chris Latvala, activist Becca Tieder, Ernest Hooper and communications expert Dr. Karla Mastracchio discuss politics and culture. The hosts discuss the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the subsequent debates of bringing another Supreme Court justice nomination to the Senate before the presidential election. They also debate if we are truly a divided nation and Bloomberg assisting in paying former felons’ fines so they can vote in the election and if it should be allowed.

Inside Florida Politics from GateHouse Florida: DeSantis unveiled new legislation aimed at addressing concerns about looting and property destruction in the wake of racial justice protests. Journalists Antonio Fins, John Kennedy and Zac Anderson discuss the Governor’s efforts to sync up with Trump’s law and order message.

podcastED: Stand Up for Students President Doug Tuthill talks with Archdiocese of Miami Catholic Virtual School principal Rebeca Bautista and coordinator of special programs Marcey Ayers. The online school is the only Catholic virtual school in the country run by an Archdiocese — a Catholic version of the well-known Florida Virtual School, which provides a robust curriculum to public, private, charter and home-school families and school districts nationwide.

him 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.

The New Abnormal from host Rick Wilson and Molly Jong-Fast: Former Republican operative Stuart Stevens joins him Jong-Fast and Wilson for a special episode on the night of the utterly chaotic first presidential debate. Trump’s amped-up ranting reminded everyone that he’s “a guy that you just would not want in your face for another four years,” Stevens concluded. “Trump just came across as a total a*****e.” It was a night when the moderator, Fox News’ Chris Wallace, was unable to keep control. Stevens suggested giving the moderators the right to cut off the microphones of unruly candidates. “I think the moderators ought to have the rights to shock collars,” Wilson said.

The Yard Sign with host Jonathan Torres: Anibal Cabrera, Joe Wicker, and Torres talk Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s Tax Day, the presidential debate and pro sports in 2020.

WEEKEND TV

Battleground Florida with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): Ten lowlights from the debate; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

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 Penny Hain, Sumter County Democratic executive committeewoman; Adam Goodman, a fellow with the Edward R. Murrow Sr. School at Tufts University; Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and the University of South Florida Distinguished Professor Emerita and ABC Action News Political Analyst Dr. Susan MacManus.

Political Connections Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A fact check of the first presidential debate; a discussion on important election deadlines and interviews with Florida’s 13th Congressional District candidates Rep. Charlie Crist and Anna Paulina Luna.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Host Ybeth Bruzual will speak with House District 26 candidates Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff and Patrick Henry.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon talks with attorney Sean Pittman, lobbyist Ron Book and Leon County Commissioner Jimbo Jackson.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Guests include Sen. Rick Scott, Biden campaign surrogate Chris King, and K9s Warriors CEO Rory Diamond.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Guests include Miami-Dade mayoral candidates Esteban “Steve” Bovo and Daniella Levine Cava; Kathryn DePalo-Gould, Florida international University Professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations; Sean Foreman, Barry University Professor in the Department of History and Political Science.

— ALOE —

SNL is back this weekend with Jim Carrey as Biden, Chris Rock as host and a whole lot of restrictions. Here’s what to expect.” via Sonia Rao of The Washington Post — Political debates are like catnip to “Saturday Night Live,” which will return this weekend — just in time for Carrey to spoof Biden’s performance in Tuesday night’s debate. That’ll be Carrey from Studio 8H, not Carrey from wherever it is he normally lives, as the sketch comedy show will return to 30 Rockefeller Plaza for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic started. “We’ll do it live!!!” Lorne Michaels presumably yelled as he outlined the plan to get Colin Jost and Michael Che in the same room again. Season 46 is set to feature the entire cast from last season (including honorary member Alec Baldwin as Trump) plus three newbies. Everyone in 8H will have to abide by special COVID-19 protocols, from crew members to the live studio audience that, yes, will be present once again.

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end” via Craig Pittman for National Geographic — Derby Lane is the oldest continuously operating greyhound racetrack in the United States, but it’s headed on its last stretch. Two years ago, Florida had more greyhound tracks than any other state — 11 out of 17 nationwide. Now it’s down to three, with about 1,700 dogs still racing. In 2018, Florida’s voters approved Amendment 13, to ban betting on greyhounds as of December 31, 2020. Once Florida’s tracks are gone, so too is the whole industry. The industry tried to adapt, winning legislative approval in 1997 to add poker rooms and simulcasting. Now poker rooms are packed with younger customers; simulcasting has its fans too. Those will go on after dog racing ends. It wasn’t enough to save Florida’s racetracks.

The end of an era: Days are numbered for greyhound racing at Derby Lane. Image via Facebook.

Walt Disney World crowds are historically low, but ride wait times grow, expert says” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — Gone are those days in July when it was just you and Cinderella Castle at Disney World and hardly anybody else. The parks felt eerily empty when turnstiles began turning again in July after shutting down because of the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly three months later, the parks are more crowded since the initial reopening, but attendance is still at a historical low, said Len Testa, an expert on lines at theme parks. “You’re never going to see crowds this low again,” said Testa, who runs a website and app called Touring Plans that closely follows ride wait times to help people plan their vacations. On a recent weekend at Magic Kingdom, daily attendance was similar to a special ticketed event, like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween, with about 19,000 people a day at the park instead of the typical 60,000, he said. And Hollywood Studios is attracting about 11,000 customers, or about a third of normal, he said.

For the first time, Disney will allow Halloween costumes in Magic Kingdom” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times — Although Walt Disney World has canceled its after-hours Halloween party at the Magic Kingdom, the official parks blog has announced that for the first time ever, guests will be allowed to wear Halloween costumes during regular park hours Sept. 15-Oct. 31, an activity typically reserved only for party nights. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party would typically already be underway at the Magic Kingdom. The popular separate-ticket event was held after the park closed. It allowed both adults and kids to wear costumes, visit trick-or-treat stations around the park, see themed parades and fireworks, and find indulgent treats like a Not So Poison Apple Cupcake made of spice cake and cinnamon candy.

Pandemic boredom prompts Halloween décor spree online, on Instacart and in stores” via Sara DiNatale of the Tampa Bay Times — COVID-19 has pushed retailers to build up their digital, pickup and delivery systems to meet increased demand in contactless shopping. Now pop-up seasonal store, Spirit Halloween, is partnering with Instacart to deliver its items like the app does groceries. That National Retail Federation’s annual Halloween spending survey taken in early September found that shoppers plan to spend about 4% more on Halloween décor than they did last year. The retail federation estimates Halloween spending will reach $8.05 billion this year, which is down from $8.78 billion the year before. The dip is expected because fewer people plan to celebrate due to the virus. But those who are celebrating are spending, on average, $92.12. That’s almost $6 more than last year.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Special birthday wishes to Jennings Lawton DePriest, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, and Bob Lotane click on the image below:

___

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]
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704