While the world mourns the passing of a rock god, lobbyist Screven Watson lost a friend.
News of Eddie Van Halen’s death at 65 stung for Watson, who spent his late teens running with the devil himself. Growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana, Watson came to know the guitar revolutionary through the family of Valerie Bertinelli, whose brothers went to his high school.
“We literally used Valerie and her stardom to get backstage when Van Halen came to town,” he said.
It became more than a one-time brush with fame. He and Bertonelli’s brothers befriended Eddie and Alex Van Halen and bassist Michael Anthony, all young guys with few friends their age but an appreciation for teenage hijinks. Watson, the same man who later served as Executive Director of the Florida Democratic Party through the 2000 recounts, followed the coolest rock band on earth each summer for the next four years.
Watson knew Van Halen from the rock festival Women and Children First era into the MTV heavy rotation “Jump” days. While lives diverged as Watson went to college at Southern Methodist University, he still connected with Eddie in that time, once watching the sunset from a hotel roof in Austin, Texas.
There were good times, like David Lee Roth slipping a 17-year-old Watson a Schlitz Malt Liquor by a hotel pool, or Watson and the Van Halen brothers tumbling a Volkswagen into a Taco Bell drive-thru at 2 a.m. just because rockstars could get away with it. There’s a Hilton Watson passes every time he visits Shreveport where he recalls a fire extinguisher fight that stripped wallpaper in the halls off the walls. ”We trashed some hotel rooms and their management wrote the checks,” Watson recalls with impish glee.
Watson hopes his old pal earns reverence among the plucking greats, along with Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, and maybe a select other few. “He was a scientist — maybe a mad scientist,” Watson recalls of the musician, who famously built his own guitars and tinkered with amps between shows.
But he’ll personally remember the shy bandleader, happy to let Roth steal the limelight while he crafted licks and revolutionized rock.
“People are going to talk about the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll,” Watson said. “I’m not going to say none of that was there, but this is a guy who took his craft seriously.”
“Eddie Van Halen, virtuoso of the rock guitar, dies at 65” via Jim Farber of The New York Times — Van Halen, whose razzle-dazzle guitar-playing made him the most influential guitarist of his generation and his band, Van Halen, one of the most popular rock acts of all time, died on Tuesday. He was 65. Van Halen’s son, Wolfgang, said in a statement that his father had “lost his long and arduous battle with cancer.” The statement did not say where he died. Van Halen structured his solos the way Macy’s choreographs its Independence Day fireworks shows: shooting off rockets of sound that seemed to explode in a shower of light and color. His outpouring of riffs, runs and solos were hyperactive and athletic, joyous and wry, making deeper or darker emotions feel irrelevant.
“In 1977, Ted Templeman went to check out an unknown band from Pasadena and changed rock history” via Ted Templeton as told to Greg Renoff of Los Angeles Magazine — In January 1977 I was working in my Burbank office at Warner Bros. Records when my secretary came in and said, “It’s Marshall Berle for you on line one. He says he has an unsigned band for you to see in Hollywood.” To be honest, I rarely bothered to take calls concerning unknown local bands. So I picked up his call. Then he said, “Ted, I’ve got a band for you. Their name is Van Halen.” So on February 2, I went down to the Starwood, on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. When Van Halen came onstage, it was like they were shot out of a cannon. Right out of the gate I was just knocked out by Ed Van Halen.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@RealDonaldTrump: If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY. I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?
—@MattGaetz: President [Donald] Trump won’t have to recover from COVID. COVID will have to recover from President Trump. #MAGA
—@ScottLincicome: We need a total and complete shutdown of Trump administration officials entering the rest of the country until our country’s voters can figure out what the hell is going on.
—@EWErickson: Talked to a friend who lost two relatives to COVID and she is so angry with the President. Then had the same conversation with a different person. I get the sense outside the Twitter bubble that it isn’t going over well.
—@Redistrict: At the moment, [Joe] Biden is teaching a master class on letting your opponent’s candidacy self-destruct.
—@PhillipAKlein: Fundamental point I keep coming back to: All Biden needs to do to win is do 1 point better than Clinton in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
Hmm @Overstock — since when is learning about the solar system just for boys?! Who wants to tell my daughter? (or #SallyRide, may she Rest In Peace) Gendered toys are ridiculous in general, but this is especially egregious #GirlsinSTEM #spaceisforeveryone #scienceforall 🪐💫☄️🚀 pic.twitter.com/ucdXfEGxM5
— Lauren Book (@Book4Senate) October 6, 2020
— Bradford Pearson (@BradfordPearson) October 6, 2020
— DAYS UNTIL —
Amazon’s annual Prime Day begins — 6; Apple announces new iPhone — 6; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 7; stone crab season starts — 8; second presidential debate (tentatively) scheduled in Miami — 8; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 9; NBA free agency (tentative) — 11; Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum — 13; HBO debuts 2000 presidential election doc ‘537 Votes’ — 14; third presidential debate (tentative) at Belmont — 15; “The Empty Man” premieres — 16; 2020 General Election — 27; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 34; The Masters begins — 36; NBA draft — 42; Pixar’s “Soul” premieres — 44; College basketball season slated to begin — 49; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 56; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 56; “Death on the Nile” premieres — 71; “Wonder Woman 1984” rescheduled premiere — 79; Greyhound racing ends in Florida — 85; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 123; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 136; “Black Widow” rescheduled premiere — 151; “No Time to Die” premieres (rescheduled) — 177; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 268; Disney’s “Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” premieres — 275; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 289; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 297; Disney’s “Eternals” premieres — 394; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 397; Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” premieres — 429; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 493; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 546; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 727.
— DEBATE NIGHT IN AMERICA —
“Kamala Harris and Mike Pence will be separated by plexiglass at VP debate” via Alexi McCammond of Axios — After several days of negotiations over safety precautions and logistics, Sen. Harris and Vice President Mike Pence will be separated by plexiglass at the VP debate on Wednesday, two sources familiar with the move confirmed to Axios. Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis has Democrats spooked about being anywhere near him or those in his orbit in the remaining days until the election, so they’re scrambling to make last-minute adjustments. The Commission on Presidential Debates approved the plexiglass on Monday, Politico first reported. There will also be plexiglass between the two candidates and moderator Susan Page of USA Today.
“Trump’s translator jumps into a critical 2020 clean-up” via Gabby Orr of Politico — Pence is entering his first and only debate against Sen. Harris with an unusual but fitting task: To clean up everything his boss said when the president appeared on the debate stage himself last week. With his serene grin, gentle Midwestern charm and unrivaled ability to soften President Trump’s words, Pence is seen by many White House allies as the Trump campaign’s last hope for a desperately needed reset following a streak of missteps by the man at the top of the ticket.
“‘Out of his mouth will come these wild Trumpisms’: Harris preps to take on Pence” via Christopher Cadelago of POLITICO — Vice presidential debates didn’t matter — until the President contracted a deadly virus and might be too sick to attend the next two of his own. After last week’s screamfest between Trump and Biden drowned out nearly all talk of policy, it’s now on Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Harris to illuminate Wednesday night how the two tickets differ on substance. Pence has considerable ground to make up after Trump’s widely panned bulldozer act last week, and Harris has the delicate task of taking on the President as he recovers from the coronavirus. Harris’ tone toward the laid-up President is expected to mirror Biden’s of late, according to aides and allies.
“Harris should boost the ratings of this year’s vice presidential debate” via Adam Epstein of Quartz — U.S. vice presidential debates are often an afterthought, sandwiched between the first and second presidential debates at a time when voters would rather hear directly from the main candidates. But this year’s event between Pence and Harris could be more momentous than normal. Since 1984, when Nielsen started tracking TV ratings for the vice-presidential debates, they’ve garnered modest audiences, relative to their presidential counterparts. After the first 2016 debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton reached a record 84 million viewers, the vice presidential debate between Pence and Tim Kaine was watched by fewer than half that (37 million). Ratings for the last two VP debates have dropped significantly.
“Why Harris has been so quiet as Joe Biden’s No. 2” via Christopher Cadelago of Politico — A couple years after being elected attorney general of California, Harris was sitting in San Francisco with a handful of aides when one speculated about her becoming president someday. The room fell silent, and the half-dozen staffers turned to see how she would react. “I would never want to be president,” Harris said, according to a person in the room, who recalled that she dismissed the highest office in the land as “a terrible job.” And then, with impeccable timing, Harris delivered the punchline. “Now,” she said, pausing briefly. “Vice president? That doesn’t sound so bad.”
Biden campaign drops bilingual ads ahead of debate — Biden’s campaign rolled four new ads highlighting VP nominee Harris’ record fighting for Dreamers, immigrants and women. The ads also highlight Biden’s faith and family values. The late includes two Florida ads. The first, “La Aliada,” is a Spanish language TV ad focused on Kamala Harris’ commitment to fighting for the Latino community. The second, “American Citizens,” is a digital ad centered around Joe Biden’s belief that “in America, there is no room for second-class citizens.”
To view the ad, click on the image below:
— COVID 45 —
“Donald Trump’s doctor says the President ‘reports no symptoms’ after his first night back at the White House.” via Michael Crowley of The New York Times — Trump is reporting “no symptoms” of the coronavirus and doing “extremely well,” according to the White House physician, Dr. Sean Conley. In a brief, three-sentence memo released by the White House, Dr. Conley, whose credibility has been questioned by some medical experts after he admitted to giving a deliberately rosy description of the President’s condition during a news briefing over the weekend, said that Trump’s team of physicians visited him in the residence this morning and that, after a “restful first night at home,” Trump “reports no symptoms.” Separately, Pence’s physician also released an update on his condition, saying that Pence has “remained healthy, without any COVID-19 symptoms.” The physician, Dr. Jesse Schonau, said that Pence had been tested daily and had received negative results. “Vital signs and physical exam remain stable,” he said, “with an ambulatory oxygen saturation level of 95 to 97%.”
“When did Trump test negative for COVID-19? Officials won’t say.” via Henry J. Gomez and Kadia Goba of BuzzFeed News — Since Trump entered Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday, spokespeople and the President’s doctor have not answered questions about the date of the President’s last negative test for the coronavirus. “I don’t want to go backward,” Dr. Conley said Sunday when asked about the President’s last negative result. Trump appeared at last week’s presidential debate, which took place in Cleveland two days before he tested positive. Campaigns were required to present negative test results for everyone who entered the debate hall with the candidates, potentially the President’s last negative test.
“Contradictory and confusing White House statements offer an incomplete picture of Trump’s health” via Danielle Rindler, Leslie Shapiro and Kevin Uhrmacher of The Washington Post — Information about Trump’s condition has been incomplete, confusing and, at times, contradictory since early Friday morning when the commander in chief announced that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Trump’s medical team, led by White House physician Conley, has been criticized for painting a rosy portrait of Trump’s condition Saturday, without disclosing that the President had been given supplemental oxygen or put on a steroid that is usually reserved for severely ill coronavirus patients. Conley and his team have also refused to discuss the President’s lung scans, saying only that “there’s some expected findings, but nothing of any major clinical concern.”
“The President’s doctor is doing harm” via James Hamblin of The Atlantic — For the past several days, Trump has had COVID-19. It’s unclear for how many days, because the President’s physician, Conley, refuses to share that information. When asked again yesterday, Conley told reporters, “I don’t want to move backward.” On Monday, Conley told reporters that the President was to be discharged to the White House. “He’s back,” Conley said with a smile. To hear Conley tell it, Trump was also never gone. The story of his illness jumped from “nothing to see here” to “mission accomplished.” The President is declaring victory. “Don’t be afraid of COVID,” he tweeted earlier in the day. “Don’t let it dominate your life.” This is a dangerous narrative, and Trump’s doctor has helped to shape it.
“Il Donald” via Anne Applebaum of The Atlantic — For reasons that need no elucidation, I spent a few hours this morning watching Benito Mussolini. Il Duce was a short, balding, unattractive man. But he prepared himself carefully for public appearances. He also had a sense of what other kinds of imagery would attract attention. Most frequently, Mussolini had himself photographed on balconies. Many people who watched these performances at the time found them absurd, even laughable. The appeal of these things hasn’t disappeared or died out. An American President, suffering from an infectious disease, breathing hard, covered in orange pancake makeup, speaking from a balcony against the backdrop of our elegant White House and our beautiful Washington Monument — this is a scene that seems absurd, grotesque, and even frightening to many. But not to everyone.
“The President cares about his image. That’s pretty much it.” via Robin Givhan of The Washington Post — Trump walked out of the double brass doors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center wearing a disposable mask and surrounded by security. He paused for the cameras. He gave a thumbs-up for the benefit of the pictures. And he climbed aboard Marine One. And when he arrived at the White House, he walked up the steps, stood in front of four American flags. And removed his mask. He removed his mask in a show of what? Ego. Recklessness. Selfishness. He is still convalescing from COVID-19, a highly unpredictable and deadly disease. He remains contagious. But no matter. Image is Trump’s everything. Health — his, others’, yours — be damned.
“Trump’s fearlessness of coronavirus is powered by the type of health care only he gets” via Eugene Scott of The Washington Post — Trump is sending some discordant messages as he projects that he has turned the corner on his own coronavirus infection. He’s said he “learned a lot” about the disease and also advised Americans to not “be afraid.” All the while, he’s expressed gratitude for the medical professionals attending to him. “This is an incredible hospital — Walter Reed,” he said in a video tweeted Monday. “The work they do is just absolutely amazing. And I want to thank them all — the nurses, the doctors, everybody here.” Reflecting on his stint in the hospital, he added: “It’s been a very interesting journey. I learned a lot about COVID. I learned it by really going to school. This is the real school. This isn’t the ‘Let’s read the books’ school. And I get it, and I understand it, and it’s a very interesting thing, and I’m going to be letting you know about it.”
“The health of his political opponents has always been fair game for Trump” via JM Rieger of The Washington Post — On Monday, Trump left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he was being treated for a virus that he has downplayed more than 130 times and that has killed more than 200,000 Americans. The hospital stay follows years of Trump and his allies mocking his political opponents for their health issues — some of them exaggerated, others fabricated. Even before the 2016 presidential primaries, then-candidate Trump was speculating about Clinton’s health. Now, four years later, Trump and his allies have engaged in similar rhetoric about the health of Biden, even as they have been more sensitive about Trump’s health.
“‘Unjustifiable hysteria’: Republican recalcitrance about the virus persists even as GOP faces growing turmoil” via Robert Costa of The Washington Post — Widespread Republican recalcitrance about federal health guidelines showed few signs of waning on Monday, even as the party faces growing turmoil following Trump’s hospitalization and as more White House aides test positive for the novel coronavirus. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and at least two of her deputies have now contracted the virus, further derailing the functioning of a West Wing plunged into crisis and adding to a long list of top Republicans who have been infected. But many Republicans continue to dismiss calls for alarm — and for changes to the party’s message on the virus and its operations.
“Supporters mirror Trump’s rosy projection of virus infection” via Michelle L. Price and Farnoush Amiri of The Associated Press — As an infected Trump urged Americans not to fear the virus that has killed more than 1 million people worldwide, many of his supporters were already in sync with that message. In interviews with Republican voters at Trump events and campaign offices, very few saw the President’s illness as a cautionary tale. None said they would change their personal approach to masks or distancing, and many expressed confidence that the disease was less dangerous than advertised. In Ohio, a “Women for Trump” group gathered indoors — many maskless and not distanced — to pray for the President’s recovery. In Nevada, a Reno business owner dismissed the threat of the pandemic as “overplayed.” Nearby, another Trump backer shrugged off any second thoughts about having cheered at a Trump campaign event last week as part of a maskless crowd.
“Trump is reinforcing all of his coronavirus problems, all at once” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — When Trump came down with the novel coronavirus last week, CNN’s pollsters rushed to insert new questions into a survey. Among the new questions: Will Trump’s diagnosis change the way he confronts the virus? Americans said overwhelmingly that it would not. They made a very safe bet. Trump, meanwhile, is apparently going to keep gambling. Over the past few days, Trump has offered what amounts to a remarkable and dumbfounding double-down on his coronavirus messaging: downplaying it, having his doctors hide information, taking a joy ride that could endanger the people riding in the car with him, demonstrably removing his mask upon returning to the White House, and sending tweets urging people not to be “afraid” of the virus.
“‘Invincible’ Trump tells us to live with COVID-19. These people died trying.” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — After Trump got out of Vietnam with student deferments and a spurious claim of bone spurs, he proposed that those who did serve in Vietnam were “stupid” and “losers,” according to various accounts. He mocked their sacrifice by saying he was a “brave soldier” in his “personal Vietnam” avoiding sexually transmitted diseases. We’re seeing the same thinking now with COVID-19. After getting treated for his infection by a team of top-notch doctors using antidotes that are rationed or entirely unavailable to other Americans, Trump shared a description of himself as “an invincible hero” in contrast to all those wusses who are taking precautions against the virus.
“Stephen Miller tests positive for COVID-19” via Jacob Knutson of Axios — Miller has tested positive for the coronavirus, he confirmed in a statement on Tuesday. Miller’s diagnosis adds to the long and growing list of Trump administration officials who have contracted the virus as the White House scrambles to respond to the outbreak. Miller says he has been self-isolating and working remotely for the last five days, and tested negative for the virus every day through Monday. His wife, Pence‘s press secretary Katie Miller, tested positive for COVID-19 in May.
“Top U.S. military leaders, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are quarantining after being exposed to the virus.” via Helene Cooper of The New York Times — Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, along with several of the Pentagon’s most senior uniformed leaders, are quarantining after being exposed to the coronavirus, a Defense Department official said on Tuesday. The official said almost the entirety of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including Gen. James C. McConville, the Army chief of staff, are quarantining after Adm. Charles Ray, the vice commandant of the Coast Guard, tested positive for coronavirus. “We are aware that Vice Commandant Ray has tested positive for COVID-19 and that he was at the Pentagon last week for meetings with other senior military leaders,” Jonathan Hoffman, the Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement released by his office.
“Trump’s return means more anxiety for White House reporters” via The Associated Press — Trump’s return to the White House to recover from the coronavirus seems certain to raise the already heightened anxiety level of the journalists assigned to follow him. Three reporters have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days while covering a White House described as lax, at best, in following basic safety advice like wearing masks. Discomfort only increased Monday with news that press secretary McEnany had tested positive. The image of Trump standing on a balcony and removing his mask after a helicopter dropped him off Monday evening, then turning to enter the White House maskless, could hardly be reassuring to people who work there. After McEnany’s announcement Monday, Fox News chief White House correspondent John Roberts spent part of his afternoon waiting outside an urgent care center for his own test. He had attended McEnany’s briefing last Thursday. She didn’t wear a mask, and neither did one of her assistants who later tested positive, and Roberts sat near both of them. He tested negative.
“Facebook and Twitter take action against misleading Trump post” via Maria Arias of Axios — Facebook removed a post from Trump in which he falsely claimed that COVID-19 is less deadly “in most populations” than the flu. Twitter labeled the tweet for violating its rules about “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information,” but left it up because it may be “in the public’s interest.” Facebook has been criticized for not removing posts that violate community guidelines in a timely manner, yet the company sprung to action when Trump posted misinformation about the virus that “could contribute to imminent physical harm.” Twitter took action about 30 minutes later. A Facebook spokesperson told Axios: “We remove incorrect information about the severity of COVID-19 and have now removed this post.”
— 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 Tuesday, the CNN average has Biden moving up a single point to 53% compared to a steady 42% 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 Tuesday, Biden has moved up to an 82 in 100 chance of winning compared to Trump, who slipped to a 17 in 100 shot. One model still has no Electoral College victory, bringing the election to the House. FiveThirtyEight also ranked individual states by the likelihood of delivering a decisive vote for the winning candidate in the Electoral College: Pennsylvania leads with 27.4%, while Wisconsin moves to second with 14.7%. Florida dropped to third with 13.7% Other states include Michigan (8.7 %), Arizona (5.5%), Minnesota (4.5%), North Carolina (4.4%) and Nevada (3.2%).
PredictIt: As of Tuesday, the PredictIt trading market has Biden jumping to $0.67 a share, with Trump dropping to $0.36.
Real Clear Politics: As of Tuesday, the RCP average of polling top battleground states widens Biden’s lead over Trump 51.2% to 42.2%. The RCP average also has Biden averaging at +9 points ahead.
Sabato’s Crystal Ball: It’s easy to think of the Trump electorate as immovable, and much of his backing is rock solid, but not every single one of his 2016 supporters was 100% behind him. In the midst of 2020s bad environment — a pandemic and a rocked economy — it would make sense that any incumbent President would struggle to add new voters and retain everyone from his last election. Biden also may simply be a better fit for these voters than Clinton was, and the electorate is not static from cycle to cycle.
The Economist: As of Tuesday, their model predicts Biden is “very likely” to beat Trump in the Electoral College. The model is updated every day and combines state and national polls with economic indicators to predict a range of outcomes. The midpoint is the estimate of the electoral-college vote for each party on Election Day. According to The Economist, Biden’s chances of winning the electoral college has remained steady at 9 in 10 versus Trump with 1 in 10. They still give Biden a 99% chance (better than 19 in 20) of winning the most votes, with Trump at only 2% (less than 1 in 20).
— PRESIDENTIAL —
“Biden says no debate if Trump still has virus” via The Associated Press — Biden says he and Trump “shouldn’t have a debate” as long as the President remains positive for the coronavirus. Biden said Tuesday that he’s “looking forward to being able to debate him” but said, “we’re going to have to follow very strict guidelines.” He says he doesn’t know Trump’s status since the President returned to the White House after being hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for three days after a COVID-19 diagnosis. Biden told reporters while boarding his plane back to Delaware in Hagerstown, Maryland: “I think if he still has COVID, then we shouldn’t have a debate.” The next debate is scheduled for Oct. 15, with a third debate slated for Oct. 22.
“7 key facts about Biden’s big lead over Trump” via Aaron Blake of The Washing — The first two high-quality, big-name national polls since last week’s presidential debate show Democratic nominee Biden leading Trump by 14 points (NBC News/Wall Street Journal) and by 16 points (CNN). Each poll shows a double-digit shift in the margins from the 2016 election toward the Democrats. And yet, for very understandable reasons, Democrats are taking nothing for granted. The lessons of 2016 and the unpredictability of the first COVID-19 election have left them virtually incapable of believing the race is won until it’s actually won. At the same time, it’s worth putting things in perspective. Here are the facts.
“In big states, tiny counties, Trump attacking voting rules” via Nicholas Riccardi, Jonathan Drew and Scott Bauer of The Associated Press — When Trump’s campaign took issue with a new rule on processing some votes in North Carolina, it didn’t just complain to the Board of Elections and file a lawsuit. It wrote to some of the state’s 100 local election offices with extraordinary guidance: Ignore that rule. “The NC Republican Party advises you to not follow the procedures,” Trump campaign operative Heather Ford wrote in an email to county officials last week. The email urging defiance was a small glimpse at the unusually aggressive, hyperlocal legal strategy the Trump campaign is activating as voting begins. Through threatening letters, lawsuits, viral videos and presidential misinformation, the campaign and its GOP allies are going to new lengths to contest election procedures.
“Countering Trump, U.S. officials defend integrity of election” via Eric Tucker of The Associated Press — Four weeks ahead of Election Day, senior national security officials provided fresh assurances about the integrity of the elections in a video message Tuesday, putting them at odds with Trump’s efforts to discredit the vote. “I’m here to tell you that my confidence in the security of your vote has never been higher,” Chris Krebs, the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, said in the video message. “That’s because of an all-of-nation, unprecedented election security effort over the last several years.” The video appeared to be aimed at soothing the jangled nerves of voters ahead of an election made unique by an expected surge in mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic. Though Trump was not mentioned during the nine-minute video, the message from the speakers served as a tacit counter to his repeated efforts, including in last week’s presidential debate, to allege widespread fraud in the mail ballot process and to preemptively cast doubt in the legitimacy of the election.
“Jill Biden fires up Women for Biden event in Boca Raton” via Wendy Rhodes and Antonio Fins of The Palm Beach Post — Drawing an analogy between healing a “broken family” and unifying a nation, Jill Biden stumped through South Florida on Monday. The wife of former Vice President Biden started the day in Miami, then finished at a Women for Biden rally in Boca Raton. She accompanied her husband at stops in Little Haiti and Little Havana before the Democratic nominee appeared at a televised town hall at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami. Jill Biden talked about how she entered the Biden family after the tragic auto accident that killed the then-U.S. Senator’s wife and daughter. “How do heal a broken family?” she asked. “It’s the same way you heal a nation — with love, understanding and small acts of kindness.”
Assignment editors — Sen. Lauren Book will take part in an ‘Adopt Florida’ phone bank event supporting the Biden campaign and hosted by ‘Jewish Women for Joe’s Young Women’s Circle,’ 7 p.m. register at mobilize.us/2020victory/.
“Mike Bloomberg gives $500K to Orlando-based Hispanic voter outreach group” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — An Orlando-based, Hispanic-voter outreach group is getting $500,000 from Michael Bloomberg, as part of his $100 million commitment to help Biden win Florida in the Nov. 3 election. Votar Es Poder PAC, a corporate affiliation to Poder Latinx, is getting the cash infusion to expand Poder Latinx’s efforts to reach Hispanic voters and to encourage them to vote. Poder Latinx claims to already have conducted 2.5 million phone and text conversations with voters and to have registered 33,200 Hispanic Florida voters. By Election Day the group says it hopes to have made 5 million voter contacts. The group also intends to canvass. “With Florida voters across the state already receiving their ballots — and with Florida potentially playing a decisive role in the election — direct voter outreach in support of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is crucial right now,” Bloomberg stated in a news release. “The last debate made the stakes of this election abundantly clear — and presented Floridians with a choice between a leader who wants to bring the American people together and a President who wants to tear us apart. I’m supporting Votar Es Poder PAC’s efforts to help get this country back on track by turning out the vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in Central Florida.”
— NEW ADS —
Biden campaign launches ad campaign aimed at Black voters — Biden for President released three new ads focusing on Black voters and their support for VP nominee Harris ahead of the vice presidential debate Thursday. One of the ads, “Mirrors,” emphasizes the historic nature of Harris nomination to serve as VP — she is the first Black woman to be nominated for U.S. Vice President by a major party. In addition to airing nationally on digital, Mirrors will run on TV and radio in Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
To view the ad, click on the image below:
Project Yellowstone puts $2M into digital ad campaign — This week Project Yellowstone launched a new digital ad campaign in battleground states including Florida. The $2 million campaign is aimed at informing minority communities of their options in voting early or by mail. Included in the campaign is a Spanish-language ad directed at Florida’s Puerto Rican community. Project Yellowstone was founded to create voter awareness and information campaigns in states across the country to ensure that voters in states with “no-fault” absentee balloting are aware of the opportunity to vote by mail and how they go about requesting a ballot for the November election.
To view the ad, click on the image below:
Priorities USA, Color of Change release new ads targeted at Black voters — Color of Change PAC and Priorities USA Action are teaming up to launch a pair of digital ads bashing Trump for his “failed leadership” and praising Biden’s “steady leadership on the issues that matter most to Black Americans.” The ads will run on digital platforms in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as part of Priorities USA’s previously announced $3.4 million persuasion program targeting Black voters in key battleground states. “Whether he’s downplaying the pandemic, attacking our health care or doubling down on systemic racism, one thing is clear: Donald Trump has failed America — and Black voters are paying the highest price of all,” said Jenn Stowe, Deputy Executive Director of Priorities USA.
To view the ad, click on the image below:
— VOTERS ARE VOTING —
— 2020 —
Happening today — The Florida Legislative Black Caucus is hosting a virtual town-hall to discuss proposed constitutional amendments on the November ballot, 7:30 p.m. register at us02web.zoom.us. Call-in number: 1-929-205-6099. Meeting ID: 83326747782. Passcode: 782239.
“Fearing delivery delays of mail ballots, Florida health care union sues Postal Service” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — The union representing Florida health care workers filed a lawsuit against Postmaster General Louis DeJoy asking a court to order him to reverse actions that it claims will delay the delivery of vote-by-mail ballots and disenfranchise Florida voters. The lawsuit, by 1199SEIU, the Florida chapter of the United Healthcare Workers, was filed in federal district court in Miami. It asks the court to order the U.S. Postal Service to disclose information about whether it is complying with its obligations under the law and following recent court orders issued in other states. For example, the union wants the agency to show that it is processing ballots whether or not the mail has the correct postage, as the courts have required.
“Links to Proud Boys emerges as issue in Florida congressional, legislative races” via John Haughey of The Center Square — Fringe groups, normally background noise in election campaigns, are front and center in several Florida congressional and legislative races, with candidates denying or defending links to the Proud Boys. Proud Boys, self-described “Western chauvinists” who deny being a White supremacy group, was founded in 2016 by Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes. The all-male group has confronted anti-fascists in Portland, Oregon.; Charlottesville, Virginia.; and New York City where, in 2018, members assaulted protesters. Two are now serving prison sentences as a result. Proud Boys gained ambient prominence after Trump, when asked to denounce White supremacy during his Sept. 29 debate with Biden, called on Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”
“Neal Dunn takes on ‘liberal extremists’ in his first ad of the 2020 cycle” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — With less than a month until Election Day, Rep. Dunn has released his first ad of the 2020 cycle, which puts “liberal extremists” in his crosshairs. The Panama City Republican, who served 11 years in the Army, highlights his military service in the ad before taking on the left-wing and leaning into his party’s law and order messaging. “We can’t let socialists erase our history, defund our police and destroy our economy,” Dunn says. “Now, more than ever, we must stand up for the bedrock principles and institutions that have made America the greatest country in the world.” As the Representative speaks, the ad rolls footage of a defaced statue of George Washington from Baltimore and rioters tearing down statues. Subsequent clips show demonstrations calling to “defund the police” and looters raiding a shop. The $140,000 ad campaign, which hit the airwaves Monday, will run for three weeks until Oct. 25. Of the total spend, Dunn has already spent $36,050 in the Panama City media market and $7,044 in the Tallahassee media market.
“Stephanie Murphy launches TV ad calling for national healing” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Rep. Murphy has launched the first TV ad of her 2020 General Election campaign declaring “we need less partisanship and more patriotism.” Murphy’s 30-second spot “Undivided” touches on several points within the theme of bipartisanship and unity that could be offered to defuse hits from her Republican opponent in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, Leo Valentin. Chip Harris, Murphy’s deputy campaign manager, said the ad is on cable in Orlando and is the first installment of a much larger six-figure persuasion campaign that will ultimately include multiple platforms throughout the Orlando area in both English and Spanish. The campaign said the ad would begin running Tuesday and would run through the Nov. 3 election.
To view the ad, click on the image below:
“Florida Dems blast Scott Franklin for not wearing a mask, a trend with Trump COVID-19 positive” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The Florida Democratic Party is going after Franklin, a candidate for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, over campaign events this weekend in which he was indoors in proximity to voters without wearing a mask. With Trump recovering from COVID-19 at the White House after a positive diagnosis last week, the criticism is indicative of a renewed campaign strategy for Democrats that attempts to paint conservatives as dismissive of the virus’ effects and complacent in employing preventive measures. Photos posted to Franklin’s campaign Facebook page show Franklin shoulder to shoulder with Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, in two separate photos, as well as in very proximity to others in a Plant City restaurant.
“‘You’re the boss’: Charlie Crist joins local Hispanic leaders to discuss voting, health care” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Crist joined Pinellas County leaders to discuss voting, health and wealth among the local Hispanic community. “Voting is the most powerful tool we have to create change in our country, our state, and our communities,” Crist said kicking-off the discussion. “It is the most important responsibility we have as citizens — a responsibility we have to our neighbors, our friends, our children and grandchildren.” The event is part of the Hispanic Outreach Center and Intercultural Advocacy Institute’s Hispanic Heritage Month Lunch and Learn Series to inform viewers of the challenges the Hispanic community faces in regard to voting and health care. Crist urged members of the community to make a voting plan and to consider voting by mail or voting early this election cycle. Voting guides are available in English and Spanish.
“Margaret Good pollsters say she’s in striking distance, though Vern Buchanan’s team disagrees” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Democrat Good’s campaign released a poll showing her within 6 percentage points of incumbent GOP Rep. Buchanan. A memo from Global Strategy Group shows Buchanan as the choice of 49% of voters with Good at 43%. With the incumbent under 50%, that leaves a real, albeit narrow, path to ousting the seven-term Congressman. But the Buchanan camp responded to the leaked poll with a release of its own internal polling. That shows the incumbent leading with 53% to Good’s 37%. That wide and insurmountable lead was measured by Data Targeting. The Buchanan poll was conducted from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, and reports a 4.9% margin of error. The Good survey was taken between Sept. 24 and 27, with a margin of error of 4.4%. Neither camp released full crosstabs on the race.
To view the ad, click on the image below:
“‘I’m mayor first’: In Miami-Dade, walking a line between Trump and constituents” via Matt Dixon of Politico — Carlos Giménez is facing one of 2020’s toughest political balancing acts. The Republican mayor of Miami-Dade County is a Trump-endorsed congressional candidate in a nationally watched swing seat. He’s also the elected leader of the urban heart of South Florida, a coronavirus hot spot that’s home to 2.7 million people, more than 87 percent of them Black or Hispanic. So when it comes to public health, Giménez the mayor sometimes disagrees with President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, like-minded allies eager to restart the pandemic-battered economy.
“A political consultant once fired by Carlos Giménez has a new client: Carlos Giménez” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Eight years ago, Al Lorenzo’s political consulting career was upended by Miami-Dade Mayor Giménez. Lorenzo, a veteran political consultant who earned millions from high-profile clients ranging from Barack Obama to Marco Rubio, was fired by Gimenez’s mayoral campaign in 2012 after he failed to disclose that one of his subcontractors had a lengthy criminal record, including a two-year stint in prison for forging postage stamps. “Since day one, our campaign has held itself to a higher standard,” Gimenez’s 2012 campaign said in a statement. “Consistent with these standards, we have decided to sever ties with Quantum Results effective immediately.” But Quantum Results has resurfaced in recent months in Miami’s two high-profile congressional races.
NRDC ad slams Giménez’s record on climate change — NRDC Action Votes launched a $250,000 digital ad campaign slamming Republican Giménez for his climate change record in the race for Florida’s 26th Congressional District. The campaign also includes an ad praising Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell for working with Democrats and Republicans to secure funding for resilient infrastructure. “The people of South Florida are seeing firsthand the impact of climate change, but Carlos Gimenez is putting the interests of his corporate donors before that of residents in this district,” said Jossie Steinberg, director of NRDC Action Votes. “The choice in this race is clear, which is why we made it a top priority to support Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.”
To view the ad, click on the image below:
To view the ad, click on the image below:
“Facebook bans QAnon across all its platforms” via Axios — Facebook announced on Tuesday it would ban all accounts, pages, and groups representing the fringe conspiracy theory QAnon from its platforms. Facebook previously banned or restricted hundreds of groups, pages and Instagram accounts that “demonstrated significant risks to public safety” due to their ties to QAnon, but the latest update goes even further — removing all accounts “even if they contain no violent content.” The move comes as Facebook, long accused of bending over backward to accommodate the right, looks to take action against harmful rhetoric coming from conservative groups and figures. Just this morning, Facebook took swifter action than Twitter against a post from Trump falsely claiming COVID-19 is less deadly than the flu.
— LEG. CAMPAIGNS —
“Poll: Democrat Patrick Henry holds slight edge over Republican Elizabeth Fetterhoff in HD 26 grudge match” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Former Rep. Henry may well be on his way back to Tallahassee. A new St. Pete Polls survey, commissioned by Florida Politics, shows the Daytona Beach Democrat beating Republican Rep. Fetterhoff. About 48% of voters in House District 26 plan to vote for Henry, while around 46% want to stick with the incumbent. But neither candidate has won over a majority of voters, and the 2-percentage-point margin between them falls well within a 4.8% margin of error. It all goes to show, this grudge match remains one of the hottest races of the election cycle and a contest still too close to call. That’s likely a shock to no one when the matchup between the same two candidates came down to a 61-vote margin after a recount in 2018. While the poll gives cautious hope to Henry, Democrats in the region overall will likely celebrate signs Biden leads in the district with 51% of the vote to Trump’s 45%. That’s in a jurisdiction where Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton by 2 percentage points in 2016, the pollster said.
“Scott Plakon launches 2 TV ads in HD 29 focusing on accomplishments” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Rep. Plakon has launched two TV commercials supporting his reelection campaign for House District 29, both offering testimonials from his family. In one commercial, his wife Rachel Plakon discusses his legislative efforts to provide more protection for stalking victims, help for single mothers, and to eliminate a criminal statute of limitations law to make it easier to prosecute pedophiles. In the other, his daughter Jeanne Plakon Zamith, a trauma nurse, discusses his efforts to provide more support for women fighting breast and ovarian cancer and to lead new efforts to support people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, which took her mother, his first wife, Susie Plakon, in 2018. Plakon, a publisher from Lake Mary, is battling Democratic challenger Tracey Kagan, a criminal defense lawyer from Longwood, in the Nov. 3 election for HD 29. The election is a rematch of their 2018 contest, which Plakon won 51% to 49%.
To view the ad, click on the image below:
To view the ad, click on the image below:
“‘F*ck the Patriarchy’: PAC attacks Anna Eskamani over her statements, tweets” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A new political committee website is using Democratic Rep. Eskamani‘s record, statements, tweets, and photographs to suggest a portrait of someone who is wildly radical and unacceptable for House District 47, where she’s seeking reelection. Eskamani is responding by charging the site is an “offensive, transphobic, dog-whistle” effort “littered with lies.” Her Republican opponent Jeremy Sisson said the site “looks pretty straightforward to me.” The site AnnasGottaGo.com, run by the Central Florida Leadership Fund political action committee, often makes points that Eskamani has proudly embraced, but puts them in contexts to outrage strong conservatives, such as her support for abortion rights, which the site lays out with a headline, “If abortion is murder, then…;” or her strong advocacy for gun law reform, which the site notes has drawn an F-rating from the NRA.
— DOWN BALLOT —
“Seminole Republican mailer includes ad from anti-Islamic group” via Martin Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Prominent members of Seminole County’s Republican Party raised concerns Tuesday after a 16-page mailer paid for by the party arrived at thousands of homes this week, featuring an ad for The United West, designated a far-right, anti-Islamic group. The ad on page 4 of the publication directly under an endorsement for Florida Senate candidate Jason Brodeur features The United West’s logo and reads, “My faith votes. United. We Stand,” and gives the nonprofit organization’s web address. The mailer, designed to appear as a newspaper called the “Seminole County Gazette,” features endorsements of 12 Republicans running for the Florida Legislature, Seminole Commission and sheriff. It was paid for by the Seminole County Republican Executive Committee and lists its “publisher” as Linda Trocine, chairwoman of the county party.
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“Ron DeSantis splits rapid-result tests among young and old” via Jane Musgrave of The Palm Beach Post — Thousands of rapid-result coronavirus testing kits will soon be en route to retirement communities, nursing homes and schools in Palm Beach County and throughout the state, DeSantis said at a news conference Tuesday. With boxes of the 15-minute tests stacked on a table in front of him, DeSantis said he plans to send 180,000 of the credit-card-sized tests to retirement communities, 100,000 to long-term care facilities and 60,000 to school districts. The remaining 60,000 of the 400,000 tests Florida will receive in its first weekly shipment from the federal government will be spread among the 60 state-run coronavirus testing centers.
“Long-term care deaths top 6,000” via The News Service of Florida — A Florida Department of Health report showed 6,001 long-term care deaths attributed to COVID-19, after an increase of 12 from Monday. A separate Department of Health report shows that almost all of the deaths involved residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, with about 70 involving staff members. Long-term care deaths make up about 40% of the 14,767 deaths of Florida residents from the pandemic. Miami-Dade County leads the state with 809 long-term care deaths, but 19 counties have had at least 100 deaths. Palm Beach County has had 611, Pinellas County has had 537, and Broward County has had 413, according to the Department of Health.
— CORONA LOCAL —
“Thousands of students and teachers return to Miami classrooms as COVID concerns linger” via Colleen Wright, Monique Madan, David Goodhue and Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — More than 22,000 students across the nation’s fourth-largest school district returned to classrooms Monday morning for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic upended life in the spring. Students in pre-K, kindergarten and first grade, as well as students with disabilities on a modified curriculum, were part of the first wave in the district’s staggered reopening plan. Another 40,000 students, including all elementary students plus sixth, ninth and 10th-graders, are expected to return Wednesday. The students donned colorful face masks. Typical first-day gifts for teachers were accompanied by hallmarks of the new COVID reality: disinfectant wipes. Parents kept social distance as they said goodbye to their little ones outside schools. Teachers and administrators outfitted in protective gear greeted families.
“CBD business crashed, but Miami exec still got a PPP loan and bought $1M jet, lawsuit says” via Ben Wieder of the Miami Herald — A Miami businessman’s organic hemp company was approved for a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan valued between $150,000 and $350,000 months after the business had already shut it down, according to a lawsuit filed last Friday by investors in the company. What’s more, the investors allege that the business owner, Patrick Horsman, purchased a private plane for more than $1 million after the business had crashed and burned — and after he had applied for the loan from the program designed to help struggling small businesses keep employees on the payroll. The lawsuit alleges that Horsman laid off all of Integrated CBD’s employees no later than February 2020 but still applied for and received the PPP loan in late April.
“Broward wants to separate voters without masks. But that still won’t happen.” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Pressure mounted for Broward County’s elections boss to do more to keep voters safe from COVID-19 at the polls. Broward Supervisor of Elections Peter Antonacci is among many election officials across Florida who won’t require people to wear masks on Election Day. Elections supervisors say they cannot turn away maskless voters because no one can be deprived of their right to vote. Federal law overrules local mask laws, they say. But that’s not good enough for Broward County commissioners. Commissioners encouraged the county’s elections office to separate maskless voters from the others, a request the office rejected. Creating a separate area for people without masks would send the wrong message, an elections spokesman responded.
“After a makeover last year, Edna Runner Tutorial Center near Jupiter adjusts for COVID-19” via Sam Howard of The Palm Beach Post — 2020 was always going to be an important year for the Edna W. Runner Tutorial Center in Limestone Creek. The after-school center planned to welcome children back to its expanded and revamped facility on Church Street this spring. But when the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered Palm Beach County public schools to in-person classes, the Runner Center put its plans on hold. When Palm Beach County public schools started online classes in August, the center opened its doors to about 50 students for reliable Internet and teacher supervision. And just last month, the facility finally reverted to its typical role as an after-school tutoring center for income-qualified children in the Jupiter area.
“FSU President John Thrasher and wife isolating at home after positive COVID-19 tests” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — Thrasher and his wife Jean have tested positive for COVID-19, the university announced Tuesday. Thrasher learned of his result at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday after taking what’s called a PCR test, which tests for genetic material from the virus, earlier in the day. Jean Thrasher learned of her positive diagnosis late Monday night after a recent stay in the hospital and a local rehabilitation facility for an unrelated condition. The Thrashers are isolating at home and monitoring themselves for symptoms. Both are feeling well at this time, and the President is working from home, the university’s announcement said. Thrasher tweeted at 4:45 p.m.: “I wanted to share with the FSU family that First Lady Jean Thrasher and I have tested positive for COVID-19. I’m working from home as we both isolate. We are feeling well at this time and truly appreciate everyone’s support and well wishes!”
— CORONA NATION —
“Anthony Fauci: There could be 300,000 to 400,000 Covid deaths unless precautions taken” via Matthew Choi of Politico — Fauci offered a grim image of the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking at a virtual event hosted by American University, the White House coronavirus specialist said: “If we don’t do what we need to in the fall and winter, we could have 300,000-400,000 Covid-19 deaths,” according to excerpts tweeted by the school. More than 200,000 people have died from the disease in the United States, and over 7 million have been diagnosed with it. A University of Washington study found in August that as many as 300,000 people could die of the disease by Dec. 1.
“U.S. medical supply chains failed, and COVID-19 deaths followed” via Juliet Linderman and Martha Mendoza of The Associated Press — Medical supply chains that span oceans and continents are the fragile lifelines between raw materials and manufacturers overseas, and health care workers on COVID-19 front lines in the U.S. As link after link broke, the system fell apart. This catastrophic collapse was one of the country’s most consequential failures to control the virus. And it wasn’t unexpected: For decades, politicians and corporate officials ignored warnings about the risks associated with America’s overdependence on foreign manufacturing, and a lack of adequate preparation at home. Now, with more than 210,000 Americans dead and the President himself infected with the virus, the U.S. grieves the consequences. And nurses are still being told to reuse masks designed to be thrown away after each patient.
“The F.D.A. releases stricter guidelines for vaccine developers after a holdup at the White House.” via Carl Zimmer and Noah Weiland of The New York Times — The Food and Drug Administration released updated, stricter guidelines on Tuesday for coronavirus vaccine developers, a step that was blocked for two weeks by top White House officials. The guidelines make it highly unlikely that a vaccine could be authorized by Election Day. The move, which was cleared by the Office of Management and Budget, appeared to be an abrupt reversal a day after The New York Times reported that White House officials, including Mark Meadows, the chief of staff, were blocking the guidelines. The new guidelines recommend gathering extra data about the safety of vaccines in the final stage of clinical trials, a step that would take more time.
“Trump says he is pulling the plug on stimulus talks.” via The New York Times — Trump abruptly ended talks with Democrats on an economic stimulus bill, sending the stock market sliding and dealing a final blow to an intensive set of on-again-off-again negotiations to deliver additional pandemic aid to struggling Americans before the November elections. Trump announced that he was pulling the plug on the effort in a series of afternoon tweets in which he accused Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California of “not negotiating in good faith” and urged Senate Republicans to focus solely on confirming his nominee to the Supreme Court in the coming weeks. Instead, Trump said that he had instructed Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, to stop negotiating, sending the S&P 500 down as much as 1% in the immediate aftermath of his tweet. It had been up more than half a percent in the moments before. The index closed down 1.40% for the day.
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“Unemployment surges in Florida after September dip” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — Following several weeks trending downward, the number of unemployment claims in Florida in the past week saw a notable jump, according to Florida Department of Economic Opportunity data released this week. There have been a total of 4.155 million jobless claims filed with the state since the coronavirus outbreak gripped the state in March. That’s up by 87,000 from the previous week. It’s the biggest surge in new weekly jobless claims since the summer. The latest increase is up 21,000 over the 66,000 new claims filed in the last full week of September. The previous month’s weekly increases usually hovered around 60,000 new filings each week and showed signs of a slowdown in jobless claims caused by the pandemic. Before September, it was not unusual to see unemployment claims jump by more than 100,000 in one week during summer months. During the peak of the pandemic, those weekly figures surged to as many as 500,000 jobless claims on a weekly basis as Florida businesses instituted layoffs, furloughs and even outright closures due to the spread of the disease.
“Regulators reject bid to halt electricity disconnections” via Jim Saunders of The News Service of Florida — The Florida Public Service Commission sided with utilities, which argued they have made widespread efforts, such as using payment plans, to help avoid shutting off customers’ power. The proposal, filed by the League of United Latin American Citizens of Florida and two utility customers, sought an emergency rule-making process that would have led to halting many disconnections for at least 90 days. Commissioner Donald Polmann said regulators are not suggesting that electricity should be cut off and pointed to programs that utilities have in place. Florida Power & Light, Gulf Power, Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric Co. — along with the Public Service Commission’s staff — opposed the proposal.
“PPP money abounded — but some got it faster than others” via Yuka Hayashi, Anthony DeBarros and Amara Omeokwe of The Wall Street Journal — Six months after launching the biggest small business aid initiative in history, Congress is working to extend the Paycheck Protection Program, but with new measures to ensure the most vulnerable of businesses have a better shot at funding. The PPP initiative delivered more than 5 million loans totaling $525 billion, but was dogged by complaints from many borrowers and small-business groups that it favored sophisticated companies with strong ties to lenders, which issued the loans, over those with weaker financial roots, including many in minority neighborhoods. That disparity played out in how fast companies were able to get loans in the first critical weeks following the program’s April 3 launch, according to a Wall Street Journal review of lending data in the nation’s capital.
— MORE CORONA —
“Election, pandemic is one-two punch in retail’s most crucial season” via Jordyn Holman of Bloomberg — American shoppers, distracted and fearful as 2020 enters the final quarter, could still throw analysts expecting a record holiday a curveball in the kind of rip-the-rug-out revelation that’s become this year’s signature play. Despite early projections of a knockout holiday, the busiest shopping time of the year may be marred by Americans too concerned to spend freely as an unprecedented election season and the continued pandemic land a one-two punch. “This year we have these two forces in our way, interfering with our holiday,” said John Gerzema, chief executive officer of Harris Poll. Throw in the virus-related recession, and “you have this once-in-a-lifetime confluence of three events: the pandemic, the economic effect and the instability of the election that’s now just casting a pall over people’s holiday planning.”
“Royal Caribbean cancels cruises until December, likely to start with ‘test cruises’” via Taylor Dolven of the Miami Herald — Royal Caribbean Group won’t resume U.S. cruises until at least December, the company announced Tuesday. Cruises on its four brands — Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara, and Silversea — are canceled through Nov. 30 worldwide except for cruises from Hong Kong, which are on sale for November. The cruise industry first shut down passenger operations in mid-March amid outbreaks of COVID-19 on several cruise ships. Last week the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended its cruise ban until Oct. 31. The CDC had planned to ban U.S. cruises until February 2021, but the White House overruled the agency.
— STATEWIDE —
“Wilton Simpson announces Tampa General contract for Session COVID-19 plan” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — In an update to Senators on the chambers’ COVID-19 precautions for the upcoming Legislative Session, Simpson said Tampa General Hospital is developing a safety plan in collaboration with Senate staff. That plan will encompass all Senate areas, including offices, the Senate Chamber, committee rooms and other public areas, according to the incoming Senate leader. In collaboration with TGH, he hopes to give Senators, staff and visitors confidence in their safety measures. “We are actively seeking expert advice, we will make informed decisions, and we will work together to implement the best approach on how to keep everyone safe,” Simpson said. His staff has been working with the Department of Health, universities and hospitals to explore their options. At the President-Designate’s request, outgoing Senate President Bill Galvano authorized a contract with TGH.
What Chris Sprowls is reading — “Legislator to trustees: You’re flunking consolidation” via Nancy McCann of Crows Nest St. Pete — Perturbed at the way the USF administration and trustees are handling consolidation, Pinellas County legislators intend to intervene again. State Sen. Jeff Brandes warned Monday that the Legislature may take action to replace some members of the 13-member Board of Trustees and amend the law to ensure that the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses are protected. In an interview with The Crow’s Nest, Brandes criticized the university’s leadership for violating the spirit of laws already on the books and said changes must come at the top. “I would say we’re reviewing the entire structure of the current board (of trustees) to ensure it best reflects the community values and the leadership on that board (that is) needed to sustain the university,” he said. Similar criticism came from Ed Montanari, the chair of the St. Petersburg City Council, who said recent declines in freshman enrollment in St. Petersburg are “frightening” and a directive to change the campus’ name is “insulting.”
“Equality Florida, Step Up for Students team up to provide LGBTQ awareness training” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — LGBTQ rights organization Equality Florida has joined forces with Step Up For Students to provide LGBTQ awareness training at private schools. Equality Florida currently offers the training at public schools and would bring the same curricula to private schools that accept Florida Tax Credit Scholarship and Family Empowerment Scholarship students. Step Up For Students, the organization that administers most of those scholarships, has raised $1 million privately to seed the endeavor. That money is aimed at providing four years of ongoing training services for private school administrators and teachers, provided by Equality Florida’s Safe Schools team and coordinated by Step Up’s staff. “This is an exciting opportunity for us,” Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith said. “Any time we can step inside any school to offer help to students, we want to be there. The bottom line is that every student should feel safe, no matter whether the school is public or private.”
“Mary Mayhew replacement a question mark” via The News Service of Florida — DeSantis’ administration has not said who is replacing Mayhew at the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration, which oversees $30 billion in spending. The Governor’s Office and AHCA had not answered questions about leadership at the agency. Mayhew announced last month that she was leaving the agency post to become president and CEO of the Florida Hospital Association. Mayhew took the reins at the hospital association on Monday. Though her work most recently has been in the public sector, Mayhew for 11 years served as a president at the Maine Hospital Association.
Happening today — Four cases are in front of the Florida Supreme Court, including a dispute about the state’s role in implementing the 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. Florigrown, a Tampa-based firm denied a medical-marijuana license, is challenging the constitutionality of the 2017 law to carry out the constitutional amendment. Hearings are by videoconference because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 9 a.m. floridasupremecourt.org/Oral-Arguments.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Trump administration says it will further tighten rules for foreign workers using H-1B visas” via Nick Miroff of The Washington Post — Trump administration officials said Tuesday they will make further restrictions to the H-1B visa program that businesses use to hire foreign workers for specialized occupations, a move that U.S. technology companies have fiercely opposed. The changes will make U.S. companies pay higher salaries to the workers, tighten hiring rules that determine their eligibility and increase regulation by the Labor Department and the Department of Homeland Security. The agencies have not published a copy of the new regulations, leaving hundreds of thousands of engineers, doctors and other skilled professionals mostly guessing about the scope of their impact, even as Trump administration officials described the measures in superlative terms.
“Trump’s top federal prosecutors are overwhelmingly White men” via Jake Bleiberg, Aaron Morrison and Jim Mustian of The Associated Press — The nation’s top federal prosecutors have become less diverse under Trump than under his three predecessors, leaving White men overwhelmingly in charge at a time of national demonstrations over racial inequality and the fairness of the criminal justice system. The Associated Press analyzed government data from nearly three decades and found that a persistent lack of diversity in the ranks of U.S. attorneys has reached a nadir in the Trump administration. Eighty-five percent of his Senate-confirmed U.S. attorneys are White men, according to AP’s analysis, compared with 58% in Democratic President Obama’s eight years, 73% during Republican George W. Bush’s two terms, and at most 63% under Democrat Bill Clinton.
“Marco Rubio likens Senate to essential workers in push for SCOTUS confirmation” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Rubio said his colleagues were essential workers and had work to do, including getting a ninth person on the U.S. Supreme Court with no delay. Rubio on Tuesday’s edition of Fox and Friends blasted Democratic calls to slow down the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation process due to COVID-19 positive Senators. “We have a job to do — an essential job for the country — because we can’t pass laws and we can’t confirm Supreme Court nominees if the Senate doesn’t meet,” Rubio said on the conservative talk network’s morning showcase. Rubio took specific issue with words from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer castigating Republicans for “contemplating marching COVID-stricken members to the U.S. Senate” to “rush through” the vote.
“Awaiting appeal outcome, ex-U. S. Rep. Corrine Brown free from prison system supervision” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — Former U.S. Rep. Brown left Jacksonville’s federal court Tuesday free to wait at home for a decision on an appeal of her 2017 fraud and tax-crime conviction. How that helps her is a puzzle, though, since she had been sent home from prison months ago to serve the balance of a five-year prison sentence away from some potential exposure to the coronavirus pandemic. “These motions aren’t filed all that often,” U.S. Magistrate James Klindt told prosecutors and Brown’s attorneys at the start of a hearing on Brown’s request for “release” pending the appeal’s outcome. The judge granted Brown’s request, but only after pointing out that doing so would keep the 12-term congresswoman from earning credit toward completing her prison sentence at home. By foregoing that credit, Klindt added, it’s possible Brown could end up later with a prison sentence she still has to serve, maybe back in custody if the pandemic is brought under control.
— LOCAL NOTES —
“Pensacola declares state of emergency for Hurricane Delta” via Pensacola News Journal staff reports — Mayor Grover Robinson has issued a Declaration of State of Emergency 20-05, declaring a local state of emergency in the city of Pensacola due to Hurricane Delta. The declaration came just after 5 p.m. Tuesday and followed a similar declaration by Escambia County officials earlier that morning. Hurricane Delta’s winds continue to strengthen as it moves toward the northeastern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. The Category 4 hurricane has maximum sustained winds near 145 mph. The 5 p.m. Tuesday forecast moved Pensacola out of the forecast cone, but the area is still expected to be impacted by high winds, potential storm surge and rain. Because the hurricane is coming on the heels of Hurricane Sally, some residents are particularly vulnerable due to damage their homes have already sustained.
“Bay County approves borrowing additional $50 million for Hurricane Michael repairs” via Tony Mixon of The Panama City News-Herald — Bay County commissioners on Tuesday approved a $50 million bond with Truist Bank for Hurricane Michael recovery. The money will help the county continue its repair work while Federal Emergency Management Agency funds make their way here. With the new bond, the county has borrowed $300 million for recovery expenses since Michael devastated the area two years ago. The $50 million will be used for several projects, including building new fire stations in Hiland Park, Southport and Panama City’s west end station on Michigan Avenue. Currently, there are temporary structures at those locations. The county’s debt committee recently chose the bond with Truist Bank as its best option. Truist offered more money and an interest rate that matched the lowest of the other two bids at 1.06% interest rate.
“Broward fine-tunes plan to create police review board” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward’s new police oversight committee won’t investigate specific complaints against cops, but it will track problem-prone officers and weigh in on policies. County commissioners this month are expected to sign off on creating the Broward Police and Criminal Justice Review Board. The idea for the panel came as a response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The board will have 23 voting members. On Tuesday, officials agreed to add two voting members from law enforcement, including the sheriff or his designee, and a member of the Broward County Chiefs of Police Association. That will offset two members from Black Lives Matter and the Dream Defenders. “It’s kind of balanced that way,” said Vice Mayor Steve Geller.
“Policy gives prosecutors leeway to drop resisting-arrest charges. Orange sheriff ‘extremely concerned’” via Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s office will seek to reduce the number of people prosecuted for resisting an officer without violence, citing data that shows Black people are disproportionately arrested on such charges. The charge was among those applied to some protesters who were arrested during recent demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism, which Ayala said prompted her to reconsider her agency’s policies. A new policy Ayala unveiled Tuesday gives prosecutors more discretion to drop cases of resisting an officer without violence, in which there are no aggravating circumstances or other criminal charges filed. In a statement, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said he was “surprised to be informed of this policy change through the media,” adding that Ayala did not confer with him or, as far as he’s aware, other law enforcement leaders before making the policy change.
“School Board demands psychiatric records from Parkland parents” via Megan O’Matz and Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Their sons and daughters died in the Stoneman Douglas massacre. They sued the Broward School Board, the sheriff and others for the loss of their children. Now parents and other victims are being asked to turn over their psychiatric records to prove they suffered mental anguish over the tragedy. The demand, contained in documents filed in lawsuits blaming the Broward school district for failing to identify and stop the threat posed by gunman Nikolas Cruz, has families of the victims enraged. In formal court responses, School Board member Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter is one of those killed, called the demand “harassing, burdensome” and an invasion of privacy. Alhadeff was elected to the School Board after her daughter’s death.
“City of Jacksonville wants to give Shad Khan interest-free $65 million loan for Lot J” via Christopher Hong of The Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville taxpayers will give Khan $65.5 million through an unusually structured loan that would charge no interest, take up to 50 years to repay and significantly lessen Khan’s tax burden, according to the proposed deal he’s reached with City Hall to build a mixed-use development on Lot J next to TIAA Bank Field that was announced Monday. Under the novel arrangement, the city will provide an upfront payment of $65.5 million to the billionaire’s development team. Instead of repaying the loan over a fixed schedule, the developers would make an upfront deposit of $13.1 million into a trust account, where the city expects it to grow in value over decades. The city would collect the money when the account’s value reaches $65.5 million or 50 years, whichever happens first. Counting the loan, Lenny Curry has proposed committing as much as $233.3 million in public subsidies to the project, including as much as $205 million in hard cash.
“Florida man arrested for threatening census taker with gun” via The Associated Press — A Florida man was arrested for using an assault-style weapon to threaten a census taker who had come to his house for the nationwide count of every U.S. resident. Michael Cooper was arrested after threatening census taker Johnny Swinney, according to a police report. Neighbors told deputies that Swinney’s U.S. Census Bureau badge was clearly identifiable when he approached Cooper sitting on the porch of his home and the census taker identified himself as a federal worker, according to an incident report. Cooper yelled at Swinney to leave, went into his home and returned with an assault-style weapon. He loaded the chamber and Swinney returned to his vehicle, where his wife was. His wife, Nicole, told deputies that she saw Cooper pointing his weapon at her husband’s back as he walked away from the house. Once in the vehicle, they heard a shot fired in an unknown direction, according to the incident report. Cooper told deputies that Swinney was trespassing and that he didn’t see an identification badge. He said he shot a round into the ground because he didn’t want to leave it in the chamber.
— TOP OPINION —
“The pandemic upended the present. But it’s given us a chance to remake the future.” via Fareed Zakaria of The Washington Post — The world that is being ushered in as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic is new and scary. The health crisis has accelerated a number of forces that were already gathering steam. It is a dangerous moment. But it is also in times like these that we can shape and alter such trends. To complete the story of our future, we must add in human agency. People can choose which direction they want to push themselves, their societies, and their world. In fact, we have more leeway now. In most eras, history proceeds along a set path, and change is difficult. But the novel coronavirus has upended society.
— OPINIONS —
“4 funny feelings about 2020” via Tim Alberta of POLITICO — There’s no question that Trump is losing; that former Vice President Biden holds the high ground. Still, if the 2016 election taught us anything, it’s that election forecasts aren’t worth the paper (or web space) they’re printed on — especially forecasts relating to Trump. The man has defied gravity too many times, escaped too many near-death political experiences for anyone to feel confident in prophesying his demise. We are at a stage of the race, however, when reporters should feel confident unloading their notebook and sharing their hunches and strongly held suspicions. What follows are not ironclad assertions of realities to come; with Trump fighting COVID-19, the economy slowly unraveling and the political climate growing more volatile by the minute, there is no telling what might yet happen to upend the race.
“Couldn’t register to vote Monday? DeSantis did the right thing on Tuesday” via the Miami Herald editorial board — DeSantis went a long way to quell conspiracy theories that Monday’s untimely sputtering of the state’s online voter registration website was a vote-suppression ploy. After cries of foul play from Democratic officials, the Governor announced midday on Tuesday that he would extend the voter registration deadline to 7 p.m. There is still some suspicion as to what happened Monday. The Florida Department of State is working with federal law enforcement officials to look at whether there were any “deliberate acts against the voting process.” Let’s see what they uncover, but DeSantis did the best he could to even the playing field, in the event that there was fraud, or just the work of another faulty state website.
“Should Florida’s minimum wage be raised to $15?” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Raising the state minimum wage to $15 an hour sounds appealing. The hefty bump would increase the income of hundreds of thousands of Floridians. More people would earn a living wage, enough to pay for food, shelter, and other necessities, easing the fear of having to decide between keeping the electricity on or buying prescription medicines. What’s not to like? Well, quite a bit, when you peel back the layers. The minimum wage debate is often cast as moral champions against unfeeling capitalists. But it’s far more complicated. There’s no glossing over that a $15 minimum wage creates winners, but it always creates losers. Raising the base wage by so much so quickly will increase costs for businesses. In turn, prices will rise, shifting some burden onto regular Floridians. The ones struggling to make ends meet will feel more of the pinch. So will unskilled workers who lose their jobs when businesses cut expenses to make up for the higher cost of wages.
“Amendment 2 would hit Florida businesses just as they’re struggling to come back” via the Naples Daily News editorial board — There are ideas whose time has come. And then there’s Amendment 2. The proposed change to Florida’s constitution on the Nov. 3 ballot would gradually raise the minimum wage in the state from the current $8.56 to $15 an hour by 2026. The first jump, to $10 an hour, would take effect in September of 2021. With Florida businesses reeling from the effects of COVID-19 related shutdowns and a public still wary about venturing out, we simply can’t endorse imposing higher costs on them now. It may take years for businesses, especially those in the tourism and hospitality sectors, to return to normalcy, if they ever do. Raising the cost of anything they require to operate, including labor, means they are likely to purchase less of it. That translates to fewer jobs, especially for those on the bottom of the employment ladder hoping to gain that first rung on the way up.
“Restaurant worker: Why I’m voting ‘no’ on Amendment 2 to raise Florida’s minimum wage” via Heather Parsons for Florida Today — Being part of the hospitality industry is a family tradition. My mother was a server in the restaurant industry and raised five kids on her own. I’ve been a server and bartender for more than 20 years. But if Florida passes Ballot Amendment 2, the $15-an hour mandatory minimum wage, the family tradition could come to an end. As a bartender, I am able to work hard so that I can make good money. When I was a single mom, this job afforded me the flexibility to raise my kids, but also pay my bills. Amendment 2 would change all of that. This ballot amendment would gradually hike Florida’s minimum wage up to $15 per hour by 2026. Businesses would be required to pay everyone the mandatory minimum wage, including part-time and full-time workers, students and 20-year restaurant veterans like me. There’s no way small businesses like the seafood restaurant where I work can afford to pay all employees with varying levels of experience a minimum of $15 an hour.
“House Democrats want to force you to pay for abortion” via Rick Scott for The National Review — Last week, Congress passed a spending bill to keep the government open. One previously bipartisan hallmark has come under scrutiny: a frightening reflection of the leftward shift of today’s Democratic Party on the issue of abortion. Liberal Democrats in the House, with the support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have signaled that they no longer will include the Hyde Amendment in funding packages starting next year. Support for taxpayer-funded abortion has become a litmus test among Democrats of one’s adherence to the party’s new radical orthodoxy on the issue. It is no longer enough for Democrats such as Pelosi to support a woman’s “right to choose.”
“Florida’s ‘toll roads to nowhere’ could have devastating environment impact. Now’s the time to stop it.” via Frank Cerabino for The Palm Beach Post — You may have heard of Florida’s sudden plan to build what are widely called “toll roads to nowhere.” If not, you ought to know about it, because if they happen, you’ll be paying for it as a Florida taxpayer, to the tune of about $1 billion over the next 10 years. The project would slice through some of Florida’s most environmentally pristine lands. M-CORES was packaged into a bill that was slipped last year through the state Legislature without the customary multiple committee hearings. The road project isn’t just to put new toll roads through these rural areas, but also to make them ripe for development by installing sewer and broadband service along the routes.
“Tax breaks for ‘high-crime’ theme parks and deli counters at Publix? Oh, Florida” via Scott Maxwell for the Orlando Sentinel — About two decades ago, Florida lawmakers said they wanted to offer incentives to businesses that would invest in urban, high-crime neighborhoods. What a nice, noble idea. Except that’s not quite how it played out. While the plan was pitched as a way to encourage companies to invest in neglected communities, Universal Orlando and its hotel partners have gotten half of all the $35 million in statewide incentives … for investing in multimillion-dollar rides and four-star resorts on its own property. And you’d have a hard time arguing that Islands of Adventure is a “high crime” neighborhood … unless maybe you consider it criminal to charge $14.99 for a souvenir soda cup.
— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —
Florida’s emergency operations center is tracking Hurricane Delta as it heads for the Gulf of Mexico.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— DeSantis visits The Villages to announce the state will be distributing more than 400,000 new rapid COVID-19 test kits per week for the near future. First in line are nursing homes and adult living centers.
— The Florida Department of Health confirmed 2,251 additional cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and 59 more fatalities.
— With just seven hours before the deadline, the state’s voter registration website crashed. So, the Governor extended the deadline for another seven hours Tuesday to make up for the lost time. The extension expires at midnight.
— The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration visits Tallahassee to announce they’ve busted a drug ring that was flooding North Florida with meth made in Mexico. The Franklin County Sheriff says it’s nothing like “Breaking Bad.”
— A deep dive into the Public Service Commission’s decision to deny a request for a 90-day moratorium on utility disconnections during the pandemic.
— And finally, a Florida Man lost his job as a school principal after telling a parent he gave equal time to Holocaust deniers because didn’t “know for sure” it actually happened. So, you can only guess who might be getting his job back.
To listen, click on the image below:
— ALOE —
—“Let’s all stare at these exclusive photos from HBO Max’s West Wing reunion special” via Patrick Gomez of AVClub.com
“Airbnb is canceling one-night Halloween bookings to prevent house parties” via Shannon McMahon of The Washington Post — Airbnb took a stance against large gatherings this summer by banning parties at its rental properties globally. Now the company is moving one step further in North America by implementing a ban on one-night bookings on Halloween that could foster large gatherings. The vacation rentals platform announced on Friday that it will not allow reservations on Oct. 30 or 31 for any of its “entire home” listings in the United States and Canada. Airbnb will cancel any existing one-night reservations that fall into that category, reimbursing both guests and property hosts. Entire-home listings differ from private-room and shared-room Airbnb listings, which only offer a portion of a house or building that is usually occupied by the host. The move is part of an effort to curb parties during the global coronavirus pandemic, the company said.
“St. Petersburg makes ‘Condé Nast Traveler’ list of America’s best cities” via Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times — For the first time, St. Petersburg was named one of the Top 10 large cities to visit in the Condé Nast Traveler 2020 Reader’s Choice Awards, unveiled Tuesday. A record 715,000 Condé Nast Traveler readers voted in the 33rd annual awards, among the longest-running and best-known in the travel world. The poll, conducted online, takes into consideration categories including hotels, restaurants, attractions and value. The magazine called the city “perfect for a weekend getaway,” highlighting the white-sand beaches and dolphin-spotting possibilities near the Don CeSar hotel and Fort De Soto Park, as well as downtown attractions including the Salvador Dalí Museum, “dozens of street murals” and the new St. Pete Pier. Visit St. Pete/Clearwater President and Chief Executive Steve Hayes called the Condé Nast Traveler awards “the best of the best of travel,” saying the honor “gives us, as a destination, something to hang our hat on.”
“Why the ‘Free Britney’ saga feels so familiar” via Spencer Kornhaber of The Atlantic — Someday, with luck, Britney Spears will write a “good, mysterious book.” At least, that’s what she said in the closing moments of Britney: For the Record, a 2008 MTV special that capped off a few years of highly publicized turmoils for Spears. In January 2008, the then-26-year-old Spears was committed to a hospital psychiatric ward against her will, and her father, Jamie, obtained temporary legal control of her affairs. By the time of For the Record’s November broadcast, the conservatorship had become permanent. It was a shockingly quiet end to what had been a raucous story. Yet signs of trouble have become visible in the past two years, beginning with Spears abruptly canceling a second Las Vegas residency.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Belated wishes to Joe Follick. Celebrating today are Mark Logan, Randy Osborne, the always kind, always thoughtful Jon Peck of Sachs Media Group, and Tom Philpot.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.