Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 5.19.21

Sunburn Orange Tally (7)
Florida politics and Sunburn — perfect together.

U.S. Rep. Val Demings all but confirmed she’s running for U.S. Senate in 2022.

While Demings, an Orlando Democrat, is certainly a high-caliber candidate for voters eager to oust U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, but she’s not the only potential candidate looking for the Democratic nomination.

Another Central Florida congresswoman, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, has been positioning herself for a Senate run for months. Some have speculated that Murphy would back down if Demings entered the race, but that’s not so, according to a source familiar with Murphy’s decision-making.

Murphy, who represents Florida’s 7th Congressional District, does have some advantages to flex if she finds herself up against Demings. Namely, she’s already proved she can knock a longtime incumbent Republican out of office — and hang onto the same tough swing seat cycle after cycle.

Is Val Demings in it to win it against Marco Rubio?

A potential Murphy campaign would hammer the battle-tested narrative, noting that with the current 50-50 split in the U.S. Senate, it’s not time to nominate someone who hasn’t proved they can come out on top in a tough election.

Another separator, the source says, is Murphy’s Spanish language skills, which make her uniquely suited to push back on socialism charges and challenge Rubio in South Florida.

Murphy is also one of the most effective, bipartisan members of Congress, which could make her more appealing than Demings to General Election voters.

“Stephanie Murphy has never lost a race, despite representing one of the most competitive seats in the country,” Lauren Calmet, a spokesperson for Murphy, told Florida Politics. “She is an effective legislator, a proven fundraiser, and exactly the type of person who can beat Marco Rubio. Should she decide to run for the US Senate, she will win.”

In addition to Demings and Murphy, the Democratic primary could include former State Attorney Aramis Ayala and former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, both of whom also hail from Central Florida.

—”Val Demings gives Democrats hope against Marco Rubio” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics

___

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Prosperity & Economic Opportunity Solution Summit is happening May 26 in Sarasota.

The event will center on the 10 areas that the Florida Chamber Foundation’s research shows are the 10 root causes of generational poverty: jobs, education, housing, health, food, safety, child care, justice, transportation and agency-community voice.

Topics on the agenda include the fight for equality of opportunity, policy solutions that aid prosperity, the economic and business case for prosperity, tried and true promising practices across Florida’s business community and how Florida businesses can unite to create prosperity in their ZIP codes, among others.

Speakers will include Florida Department of Education Chancellor Henry Mack, CFO Jimmy Patronis, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Principal Adviser Brittany Birken, CareerSource Florida CEO Michelle Dennard, Department of Economic Opportunity Director Dane Eagle, Enterprise Florida President and CEO Jamal Sowell and Feeding Florida Executive Director Robin Safley.

The full agenda and registration information are available online.

 — SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

@RepBrianMast: I have been fined $500 by @SpeakerPelosi for following CDC guidance. This was never about science. It has always been about power.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@Fineout: So, in essence, the Seminole gambling empire gets to offer sports betting across the state; someone who wants to run a fantasy league with their friends and co-workers is still breaking the law. And the state is poised to create a new gambling commission to crack down on illegal gambling … so will they start going after fantasy leagues organized by co-workers, college students, friends and family?

— DAYS UNTIL —

‘A Quiet Place Part II’ rescheduled premiere — 9; ‘Tax Freedom Holiday’ begins — 9; Memorial Day — 12; Florida TaxWatch Spring Meeting and PLA Awards — 15; ‘Loki’ premieres on Disney+ — 23; Father’s Day — 32; F9 premieres in the U.S. — 37; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ rescheduled premiere — 44; 4th of July — 46; ‘Black Widow’ rescheduled premiere — 51; MLB All-Star Game — 55; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 65; second season of ‘Ted Lasso’ premieres on Apple+ — 65; The NBA Draft — 71; ‘Jungle Cruise’ premieres — 73; ‘The Suicide Squad’ premieres — 79; St. Petersburg Primary Election — 97; Disney’s ‘Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings’ premieres — 107; NFL regular season begins — 113; Broadway’s full-capacity reopening — 118; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres (rescheduled) — 128; ‘Dune’ premieres — 135; MLB regular season ends — 137; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres (rescheduled) — 143; World Series Game 1 — 160; Florida’s 20th Congressional District primary — 167; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 167; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 170; San Diego Comic-Con begins — 191; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 205; ‘Spider-Man Far From Home’ sequel premieres — 212; NFL season ends — 235; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 237; NFL playoffs begin — 241; Super Bowl LVI — 270; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 310; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 352; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 415; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 506; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 541.

— TOP STORY —

Florida Senate passes gambling agreement with Seminole Tribe” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press — Sports betting in Florida is a step closer to legalization after the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill approving a gambling agreement signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe. The bill that passed 38-1 would allow the Tribe to add roulette and craps to its casinos. In return, the state expects to receive an estimated $20 billion over the 30-year compact. The bill will now go to the House, which will vote on it Wednesday. The Legislature held a Special Session to consider the agreement a little more than two weeks after ending their annual 60-day Session. “I believe this is a good deal. I believe this is a great deal, actually,” said Sen. Travis Hutson.

Jeff Brandes was the Senate’s only ‘no’ vote for the proposed Seminole Compact. Image via AP.

— SPECIAL SESSION —

Who’s regulating Florida’s new gambling landscape?” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Alongside a sweeping expansion of gambling, Florida lawmakers are set to create a new state gaming commission and law enforcement arm to root out illegal gambling. Instead, the new agencies will focus on illegal card games, gambling halls, and pari-mutuels, with the Tribe continuing to have the right to police itself. Although the new commission will have a limited role, its mission is crucial to the state’s new agreement with the Seminole Tribe. That’s because the state’s failure to police illegal card games at pari-mutuels led to the tribe canceling its gaming agreement with the state in the first place. DeSantis will appoint the commission’s five members to four-year terms at a $136,000 annual salary.

So who is overseeing the new gambling expansion?

—”Senate OK’s state gaming commission proposal, removes cool off period for public officials” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

Fantasy sports bill dropped for Special Session” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Lawmakers have dropped paid fantasy sports regulations from their lineup for the gaming Special Session. The House and Senate weren’t able to settle disagreements on legislation (HB 9A/SB 16A) to regulate the lucrative online games, including minimum age requirements. Both the House and Senate versions had passed their first committees, but legislative leaders plan to postpone the measures Tuesday. Compounding the issue, lawmakers only had this week to settle disagreements. Even further, lawmakers planned to adjourn the Special Session on Wednesday. Lawmakers will be able to take up the measure next year, along with the Senate’s proposed bingo regulations that died Monday. 

House panel approves compact, contemplates viability of the agreement” via Haley Brown of Florida Politics — As the House considers the new gaming Compact, an important question has arisen: Does a provision in the agreement merely modernize gaming or illegally expand it? Online betting is not allowed under the Compact, but there are still some ways technology loosens the reins on betting locations, which is likely to face challenges. The “hub and spoke model” laid out in the Compact creates a scenario where the Tribe is the hub and pari-mutuels are the spokes. Servers sitting on the Tribe’s reservation would process sports bets placed at pari-mutuel facilities, which are not located on tribal land. It’s unclear if this will hold up to the various tests the Compact is likely to face.

Senate approves horse racing decoupling bill” via Florida Politics — The Senate approved a measure Tuesday that would allow racetracks and other gaming sites to host some other forms of gambling without running races, despite pushback from the House. The bill (SB 8A) enacting gaming regulations was the only measure to pass the Senate unanimously during the Special Session. However, the measure is pitting parts of the horse industry against each other. Under the proposal, gaming facilities with pari-mutuel permits could operate even if they don’t host the contests typically associated with those facilities. That would apply to Florida’s last remaining harness racing track, but not for thoroughbred racing, which proponents of the bill contend is still too big and too important an industry in Florida to risk losing.

House committee amends gambling bill to preserve standardbred horse business” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Florida’s standardbred horse breeding business was thrown a lifeline Tuesday when a House committee amended the gambling “decoupling” bill to require that Florida’s only harness racing track continue racing to keep its game room open. The amendment adopted Tuesday by the House Select Committee on Gaming diverges HB 7A from its Senate counterpart. It also changes direction from leadership’s effort to relieve all Florida’s pari-mutuels except thoroughbred horse racetracks from having to continue running races or jai alai matches. The amendment likely means a change of plans for Caesars Entertainment, owners of Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park. Caesars already had applied for a rezoning to eliminate the track if it is allowed to decouple the casino.

Lawmakers save Florida’s standardbred racing industry.

New gaming deal would see Hollywood’s local fee share cut, with Davie benefiting” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Lawmakers landed on final numbers Tuesday for the share of local fees being sent to several South Florida cities under the new Gaming Compact legislation. Under current law, Hollywood receives 55% of the local government share from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, while Davie and Dania Beach receive 10% each. The remaining 25% goes to Broward County. On Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Lauren Book filed an amendment altering the share for Hollywood and Davie. Hollywood’s pot — which currently nets the city around $1 million per year — would drop from 55% to 42.5%. That chunk will go to Davie, raising its share from 10% to 22.5%. The numbers for Broward County and Dania Beach would remain unaffected.

Lauren Book says ‘hurt feelings’ are behind Gary Farmer’s criticism of her local gaming fee measure” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Sen. Farmer has “hurt feelings” and is trying to “play games,” as Senate Democratic Leader Book sees it. Farmer jabbed at Book for backing a measure reducing Hollywood’s share of local fees generated from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The city of Davie will now earn a higher share of the money generated from that facility. Book’s father, Ron Book, has been a longtime lobbyist for Davie and pushed for the increase. But Book’s district also overlaps with Davie, giving her plenty of incentive to back the increase as well. Book said Farmer’s remarks are a byproduct of Senate Democrats removing him as Leader last month and electing her.

Tweet, tweet:

Gaming expansion critics pack Capitol Courtyard” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Dozens packed into the Capitol Courtyard Tuesday to make one final stand against the state’s effort to broaden gambling in partnership with the Seminole Tribe. The new 30-year deal has drawn staunch opposition from religious groups, who argue gambling threatens the economy, erodes culture, and compromises Christian spiritual morality. Florida Family Action President John Stemberger led the rally. FFA is the “legislative arm” of the Florida Family Policy Council, a socially conservative organization that champions pro-life and pro-family positions. “It makes no sense whatsoever,” Stemberger said. “We do not want to be the destination casino state. We want to be what we are right now, the beautiful family-friendly theme park state. People come here to enjoy nature and enjoy families.”

Jackie Toledo calls on Seminole Tribe to combat human trafficking amid Compact negotiations” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — As the Legislature continues to mull over the Seminole Compact, a 30-year agreement governing gaming in the state, Rep. Toledo is calling on the Seminole Tribe of Florida to help combat human trafficking in its facilities and report data to the state. In a letter addressed to Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming, Toledo asks for any available data related to human trafficking on tribal lands and in the Tribe’s gaming facilities, as well as the procedures for how cases are prevented and handled. The Tampa Republican sent the letter in the midst of this year’s Special Session, in which lawmakers are considering expanding the state’s gaming laws. Toledo expressed concern that easing gaming policies may increase tourism and lead to more human trafficking.

Special Session sked:

The House meets for a floor Session to consider the proposed Seminole Compact and other gambling issues, 10:30 a.m., House Chamber.

— DATELINE TALLY —

Elections law hit with another challenge” via Jim Saunders of News Service of Florida — Alleging discrimination against Black and Latino voters, a coalition of groups has filed a federal lawsuit challenging a new Florida elections law that includes additional restrictions on voting by mail. The lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee is at least the third challenge to the law, which was passed last month by the Legislature and signed by DeSantis during an appearance on Fox News. But the lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of the groups Florida Rising Together, Faith in Florida, UnidosUS, the Equal Ground Education Fund, the Hispanic Federation and Poder Latinx, contends that the changes dealing with issues such as voting by mail could curtail voting by Black and Latino residents.

Florida lawmaker prevails in legal case over Twitter, Facebook blocking” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A constituent blocked from Rep. Chuck Clemons’ social media dropped his lawsuit against the lawmaker. Gainesville resident Peter Attwood filed a motion Saturday to voluntarily dismiss his case. “Plaintiff, a private citizen represented by pro bono counsel, has decided that the potential benefits of continuing this litigation are outweighed by the costs, including to the taxpayers funding Mr. Clemons’ defense,” the motion reads. A federal trial was set for June 7, following a June decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejecting Clemons’ argument he should be shielded from litigation. Judge Mark Walker on Monday canceled the upcoming trial and stayed any pretrial deadlines. He still ordered Clemons’ attorneys to respond to Attwood’s motion to dismiss by Monday at the latest.

A lawsuit against Chuck Clemons over his social media account is going away. Image via Colin Hackley.

Bill could stop Palm Beach County’s plan to boost electric vehicle chargers” via Hannah Morse of The Palm Beach Post — To prepare for the future and supercharge interest in electric vehicles, or EVs, Palm Beach County has spent more than a year exploring ways to boost the availability of EV charging stations. But with the swipe of a pen stroke, DeSantis could undo all that work. That’s because a bill on his desk, HB 839, in part bans local governments from requiring EV charging stations at a “fuel retailer” like a gas station. The bill also would prevent local governments from prohibiting the development or redevelopment of a gas station.

— STATEWIDE —

Matt Gaetz, Ashley Moody spread election conspiracy. FDLE spends 706 hours proving it false.” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Last fall, Moody and Gaetz floated a conspiracy theory that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was trying to buy Democratic votes in Florida illegally. Both floated their theories on Fox News. Both also wanted criminal investigations. The FDLE spent a whopping 706 hours contacting more than 100 people over six months and concluded everything Moody and Gaetz had alleged or implied was bogus. The FDLE determined the group never pressured anyone to vote for Joe Biden or any other candidate, saying: “No evidence was developed to indicate that the FRRC directed any individual to vote for a specific political party as a condition of paying outstanding fees.”

After more than 700 hours of investigations, the FDLE finds accusations against Michael Bloomberg are bogus. Image via AP.

Academics vie for FSU presidency” via Ryan Dailey of News Service of Florida — FSU students, faculty and staff are getting a turn this week to ask questions of three finalists to become the school’s president, as the field has been narrowed to candidates who hold top posts at other universities. The finalists who emerged from nine candidates interviewed by the university’s Presidential Search Advisory Committee are Richard McCullough, vice provost for research at Harvard University; Robert Blouin, executive vice chancellor and provost of the University of North Carolina; and Giovanni Piedimonte, vice president for research at Tulane University. The first of three daylong forums began Tuesday with McCullough, who took questions from faculty, staff and students in one-hour sessions. Blouin will take part in forums with the university groups Wednesday and Piedimonte on Thursday.

FSU president search: Three men with three varied visions for Florida State’s future” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — Each of the three candidates to lead FSU sees a university that has made dramatic progress in the past seven years, including breaking into the Top 20 of public universities in the country. Interviews with faculty, staff, students and community leaders begin Tuesday and continue through Thursday, when the search committee will move forward with recommending them to the Board of Trustees for their own review. McCullough is first up Tuesday. McCullough said those are lofty goals, but it will take leadership to increase funding in research, attract top-tier professors, and to maintain the university’s record on student success.

Halt and review FSU presidential search, BOG member says” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Board of Governors member Alan Levine is no longer “concerned” that an accrediting body may have influenced the FSU presidential search. He’s convinced. And he wants the job search put on hold until it’s cleared up. Levine says a letter from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges — the association that accredits FSU — steered the committee away from advancing Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s candidacy. “At this point, I firmly believe the process either needs to be halted, and the board discuss how to proceed, or I will be unable to vote for any of the current candidates due to the integrity of the process being undermined by SACSCOC,” Levine said.

Leftist control of higher ed exposed as Ron DeSantis education official blocked from FSU search” via Penny Starr of Breitbart — Conservatives are expressing outrage over the elimination of Corcoran’s removal from a list of individuals nominated to become the next president of Florida State University, with officials in charge of the process citing threats to the school accreditation if his consideration moved forward. The FSU Search Committee refused to move Corcoran’s name forward and instead are pushing three other candidates — two of whom are associated with controversies on other campuses. One allegedly supports controversial Critical Race Theory, and another has ties to a Harvard University official who is set to stand trial for receiving illegal research funding from the Chinese Communist Party.

Richard Corcoran is out of the running at FSU, which is pissing off conservatives. Image via Colin Hackley.

DeSantis announces two judicial appointments” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — DeSantis on Tuesday made two judicial appointments to the First Circuit Court and the Marion County Court. DeSantis appointed Clifton Drake of Crestview to the First Circuit Court and Lori Cotton of Ocala to the Marion County Court. Drake has served as an assistant state attorney in the First Judicial Circuit since 2010, specializing as a felony divisions prosecutor for four years and felony special prosecutor for six. Cotton has served as an assistant state in the Fifth Judicial Circuit since 2001, where she worked as a training director for seven years.

Surge of New Yorkers relocating to Florida, new numbers show” via Matt Papaycik of WPTV —According to new data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 33,565 New York residents got Florida driver’s licenses between September of last year and March of this year. That’s a 32% increase from the same period the year before. The picture-perfect views, waking up to palm trees and Florida’s loose restrictions during the pandemic are just a few reasons Nicole Rascionato decided to move to Palm Beach County from New York. “I feel free here compared to back at home where that’s not happening, at least not yet,” Rascionato said.

— 2022 —

Rick Scott continues to plead with Donald Trump to stay out of Senate primaries” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Scott made the comments on Fox News Radio’s “Brian Kilmeade Show.” “What I’ve suggested to him is to let the citizens of that state pick their primary winner,” Scott said. “And then help those that win that he believes in.” “And so, but, you know, he believes in things that I believe in,” Scott said. “That’s what I think the candidates are that we’re going to get, and I look forward to him supporting the candidates that he likes,” Scott said. But whether Trump is next door or 1,000 miles away, Scott functions as if the heat is still on regardless, with the former President at odds with many establishment lions of the Senate.

Rick Scott urges Donald Trump to stay out of Republican Senate primaries. Image via AP.

Mark Busch running for Stephanie Murphy’s congressional seat” via Florida Daily — Earlier this month, Casselberry Vice-Mayor Busch launched his bid for the Republican nomination to run for the congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Murphy. Murphy is expected to challenge U.S. Sen. Rubio next year though she has not officially entered the race. “Our group of supporters represents the heart of America from various cultural, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds,” said Busch. “The one thing we all share in common is the love for our country and, most importantly, freedom. A big thank you to everyone who came out and those who donated that evening and in advance to support our cause.

SD 4 hopefuls split on Seminole Compact” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Rep. Clay Yarborough, who represents House District 12, will be a no vote on the Compact. He was expected to be at the Rally for Florida’s Future, an anti-Compact event at the Florida Capitol, but could not attend. But he “continues to oppose the Compact in its current form.” Yarborough’s opposition is not surprising; his base historically has been the religious right. Rep. Jason Fischer, the Mandarin Republican who represents House District 16 in the southern part of the county, enthusiastically supports the accord. The third state Representative seeking the Senate seat, Rep. Cord Byrd of House District 11, has yet to respond to an inquiry about his stance on the Compact.

Candidates emerge for Alex Andrade, Kevin Chambliss seats” via The News Service of Florida — On opposite ends of the state, candidates have opened campaign accounts to run in districts held by Rep. Andrade and Rep. Chambliss. Republican Greg Litton, a former major league baseball player, opened an account Monday to run in 2022 in what is now House District 2 in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, according to the state Division of Elections website and a news release from Litton’s campaign. Andrade and Democrat Andy Romagnano also have opened accounts for the race. Meanwhile, in South Florida, Democrat Johnny Gonzalo Farias opened an account in what is now Miami-Dade County’s House District 117. Chambliss also has opened an account for the race. District boundaries will change before the 2022 elections because of the once-a-decade reapportionment process.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

GOP resistance may be slowing Florida vaccine campaign. ‘We have to take this seriously’” via Lautaro Grinspan and Ben Conarck of the Miami Herald — Even as vaccines became increasingly available over the course of the year, Republican resistance remained high. Last month, polls found that nearly half of Republican respondents would avoid getting vaccinated if possible. Vaccine enthusiasm rose among Republicans from March to April, but that group continues to be the most resistant, with 1 in 5 saying they will “definitely not” get vaccinated. By contrast, just 13% of independents and 4% of Democrats expressed similar levels of opposition to the vaccine. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that partisan vaccine hesitancy extends to the health care industry, with 40% of front-line Republican health care workers indicating they are not confident in the safety and efficacy of coronavirus vaccines (compared to 28% of Democrats).

COVID-19 rule-breakers begin seeing their court cases dropped in Florida” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — People who violated mask mandates and other COVID-19-related restrictions are starting to have their criminal charges dropped this week, just days after DeSantis promised to pardon anyone who faced fines and jail time. Broward State Attorney Harold Pryor said he’s asking judges to vacate sentences against anyone accused of violating executive orders designed to stop the spread of COVID-19. Nearly 150 Broward residents were cited for violations between March and November 2020. Prosecutors declined to press charges in more than a third of those cases, and later dismissed charges in others. As DeSantis recently promised to pardon anyone in Florida, he said the health guidelines should never have been enforced by giving people criminal records.

Florida mask mandate violators are seeing their cases dropped. Image via AP.

Health care industry gets pass on ‘passports’” via Christine Sexton of Florida Politics — DeSantis pushed to block businesses from requiring customers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations. But the measure crafted by DeSantis’ Republican legislative allies exempted hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, ambulatory surgical centers, physician offices and ambulance providers, among many other health care providers. Lobbyists for nursing homes, hospitals and physicians said they didn’t request the exemption. But Mary Mayhew, president and CEO of the Florida Hospital Association, called the exemption “obvious.” … “Of course, hospitals, just as we ask for other health care information, would want to ask about a highly infectious virus in order to inform care,” said Mayhew. The new law prohibits businesses, schools and governmental entities from requiring customers to document that they have had COVID-19 vaccinations.

DCF launches rental assistance program” via The News Service of Florida — The Florida Department of Children and Families is looking to distribute more than $800 million in federal aid to help low-income renters economically affected by the coronavirus pandemic pay past-due rent and utilities. Department Secretary Shevaun Harris announced Tuesday the agency was starting to accept applications for an emergency program called “OUR Florida” that focuses on low-income renters whose household incomes meet certain thresholds. Renters who have experienced losses of income, faced financial hardships due to the pandemic, are at risk of losing their residences, or can show they live in unhealthy conditions might also be eligible. In a news release, Harris said, “this program will provide a safety net to keep families stable and in their homes.”

— CORONA LOCAL —

Wealthy parts of Palm Beach County are also tops in vaccination rates” via Jane Musgrave of The Palm Beach Post — Wealthy and senior-rich areas are leading Palm Beach County in COVID-19 vaccination rates while poor and minority communities are lagging behind, data released Tuesday by county health officials shows. With nearly 93% of its 9,000 residents inoculated, the town of Palm Beach leads the county in the percentage of people age 16 and up who have had at least one shot, according to the report that breaks down vaccination rates through April 30 by ZIP code. The Tequesta area is close behind, with nearly 92% of its roughly 8,500 residents inoculated. It is followed by the sprawling retirement mecca west of Delray Beach, where slightly more than 91% of the 21,521 residents age 16 and up have gotten shots.

‘Masks are child abuse.’ Crowd protests Broward Schools COVID-19 policy” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — More than 60 people packed outside the K.C. Wright headquarters in Fort Lauderdale before Tuesday’s School Board meeting to question why the Broward School District requires masks to be worn by everyone in schools, including children. Many were affiliated with a conservative group called “Florida First,” which has protested mask requirements at school districts throughout Florida. Palm Beach County announced similar plans last week, leaving Broward the only South Florida school district that has yet to announce any changes to its mask policy. Broward schools already don’t require masks to be worn for outdoor activities, officials said. Superintendent Robert Runcie said no changes are planned for the rest of the school year.

Anti-maskers believe forcing kids to wear masks is ‘child abuse.’ Image via AP.

Sarasota schools mask rule to remain intact” via Ryan McKinnon of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Masks are most here to stay for the final three weeks of the Sarasota County School District year, but the School Board will review a policy at its next board meeting that could make masks optional in schools by July 1. During a Tuesday workshop and subsequent board meeting, the School Board held what will probably be the final discussion on the board’s mask policy for this year, with board members Bridget Ziegler and Karen Rose pushing to make the mask requirement optional.

Are more out-of-state folks moving to Bay County to avoid stricter COVID-19 regulations?” via Nathan Cobb of The Panama City News-Herald — According to Bay County Tax Collector Chuck Perdue, about 50 new people get local driver’s licenses each week. Most are from out of state. Of Perdue’s four offices, the Panama City Beach location has the most traffic, with new residents passing through “almost daily.” The others in Panama City, Lynn Haven, and Callaway average “several” each week. “They’re coming from states that had pretty significant lockdown measures, and they just were tired of being held up in their homes,” Perdue said of his conversations with customers. Amanda Corbin, president of the Central Panhandle Association of Realtors, said that she also had noticed an uptick in new residents from across the United States, a trend she said began sometime last fall.

— CORONA NATION —

Coronavirus vaccines may not work in some people. It’s because of their underlying conditions.” via Ariana Eunjung Cha of The Washington Post — There are millions of immunocompromised Americans, about 3 to 4% of the U.S. population, for whom the shots may not work fully, or at all, and who are unsure of their place in a country that is increasingly opening up. Emerging research shows that 15 to 80% of those with certain conditions, such as specific blood cancers or who have had organ transplants, are generating few antibodies. Last week, federal health officials’ decision to rescind almost all masking and distancing recommendations for those who are fully vaccinated only added to the sense of fear, isolation, and confusion for those with immune issues.

Turns out the chance of winning a million bucks may be a decent vaccination incentive” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — Part of the coronavirus relief bill passed earlier this year provided funding to states that could be used for vaccination programs. The state of Ohio decided to do something unexpected with that money: Last week, Gov. Mike DeWine announced that any adult who had been vaccinated could enter a lottery to win one of five $1 million jackpots. On Tuesday, the state’s website for the “Vax-a-Million” contest went live. Before I get into the point of this article, I need to expound briefly on a rather surreal part of that website. It’s styled like a lottery website, as the name might suggest, with lots of flashy graphics and links to extensive qualification rules.

Mike DeWine tells Ohioans ‘Vax-a-Million.’ Image via AP.

New honor system on masks: ‘Am I to trust these people?’” via Julie Bosman and Sarah Mervosh of The New York Times — Our capacity to trust other people’s honesty has already been tested, and fibs may have happened along the way. Did every person who drove across a state line follow 14-day quarantine rules? So it is no surprise that the latest honor code, the federal government’s guidance encouraging vaccinated Americans to take off their masks, was greeted with skepticism in parts of the country that have not already done so. Fewer than half of Americans over the age of 18 are fully vaccinated. Health experts say that vaccinated people should be protected from severe disease. But the unusual sight of bare faces has arrived when Americans’ trust in institutions and one another is particularly fragile.

‘Hot Vax Summer’ is coming. Can it possibly live up to the hype?” via Maura Judkis and Lisa Bonos of The Washington Post — Officially, the promise of mass vaccinations is a return to schools and offices and maskless mall outings and stress-free visits to Grandma and Grandpa. Unofficially? A return to non-distanced dating and wild bar nights and all-night dance parties and making out with strangers unrestrained by the fear of disease. Granted, some people were already partying as if the coronavirus wasn’t a thing. But with about half of eligible Americans on the verge of full vaccination, the reluctant homebodies of the pandemic are ready to return to the nightlife with the abandon of college freshmen. It’s as if vaccinated America is newly single and rebounding hard after leaving a terrible relationship.

— CORONA ECONOMICS — 

Americans are booking working ‘vacci-cations’ before office life resumes” via Heather Kelly of The Washington Post — This summer presents an unusual opportunity for many office workers in the United States. It’s sandwiched between a wider availability of vaccines and office reopenings, kids are out of school, and travel restrictions are being eased across the country. Technology has also caught up to remote work over the past year, with a massive rollout of new options like improved video chat and collaboration tools. So people are booking working vacations, moving their remote offices to be near parents they haven’t seen for more than a year or to tropical locales, and thinking about what the post-COVID-19 work-life balance should look like. Thanks to the past year of pent-up demand for a change of scenery, travel bookings are already booming.

Americans are itching to get away, and starting to plan post-vaccination vacations. Image via AP.

Past-due renters can now get money through the state of Florida” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Tenants who are behind on their rent because of the COVID-19 pandemic now can apply for assistance through the state of Florida and possibly get money to their landlords more quickly than if they used a local program. And that will be useful for many local renters because application portals for assistance programs run by Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties are currently closed while workers process thousands of applications received so far. The Florida Department of Children and Families began accepting rental assistance applications from tenants and landlords last week through its website, OURFlorida.com, and started processing them on Monday.

‘An opportunity year’: How Tallahassee Commission may spend $46 million in federal aid” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Tallahassee City Commissioners are likely to devote the bulk of millions of dollars in federal funding to replenishing public sector revenue losses accrued during the height of the coronavirus pandemic last year. They also hope the funding can chip away at homelessness, affordable housing and human services. Commissioners will get their midyear budget update Wednesday when city staff will present an itemized preliminary budget and preplanning efforts to spend the $46.2 million coming as part of March’s American Rescue Plan stimulus plan by Congress. Funds cannot be dispersed until the city’s application to the U.S. Treasury is approved.

— MORE CORONA —

The U.S. has promised 80 million vaccine doses to other countries. Experts say it isn’t nearly enough.” via Daniel E. Slotnik and Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times — If all goes according to plan, the United States will soon send 80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to help countries beleaguered by the coronavirus, Biden said on Monday. But world leaders, experts and advocates warn much more is needed to stop the virus from running rampant in much of the world, which gives it time to mutate and possibly evolve until it can evade vaccines. Activists, too, have joined the cohort of voices calling on the Biden administration to move boldly. “Donating 80 million doses of vaccines without a plan to scale up production worldwide is like putting a Band-Aid on a machete wound,” said Gregg Gonsalves, a longtime AIDS activist.

What Rick Scott is readingJapanese doctors call for Olympics cancellation amid COVID-19 surge” via Katerina Ang, Jennifer Hassan and Derek Hawkins of The Washington Post — The Tokyo 2020 Games start in 66 days, but a major Japanese doctors’ group is calling for the already delayed event to be canceled over fears that Japan’s health care system cannot accommodate the potential medical needs of thousands of international athletes, coaches and media amid a surge of coronavirus cases in the country. “We strongly request that the authorities convince the [International Olympic Committee] that holding the Olympics is difficult and obtain its decision to cancel the Games,” the Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association said. Tokyo hospitals “have their hands full and have almost no spare capacity,” the association of roughly 6,000 primary care physicians added.

There’s a push in Tokyo to just cancel the Olympics.

More indelible than ink: Tattoo businesses flourish again” via Hannah Denham of The Washington Post — Tattoo businesses are in the midst of a revival after the coronavirus recession and pandemic-fueled closures. Bookings and revenue are surging as Americans look for expressive and therapeutic outlets in a year marked by isolation and loss. And with nearly 1 in 2 Americans already sporting at least one tattoo and an expanding coterie of tatted artists and athletes, any lingering stigmas about skin art have largely dissipated. Tattoo artists say they adapted easily to COVID-19-era safety precautions because they were already diligent about cleaning surfaces and taking steps to prevent cross-contamination. Since reopening, many shops have also added temperature checks, required face coverings, reduced capacity, and begun offering video consultations.

— PRESIDENTIAL —

The faces of the Joe Biden administration are still sometimes behind masks” via Annie Linskey of The Washington Post — A maskless President Biden delivered triumphant remarks Thursday, heralding the news that federal health guidelines had changed to say fully vaccinated Americans need not wear masks indoors or outside in most situations. But within days, Biden was spotted in Wilmington, Delaware, walking out of church with his black mask still firmly fixed to his face and had it on again Tuesday as he emerged from his presidential limo. Vice President Kamala Harris also appeared maskless for the Thursday announcement but wore one over the weekend when she dropped by Washington’s Eastern Market. After wearing masks everywhere, the three most visible White House figures suddenly became avatars of the country’s patchwork of local and state rules and norms about face coverings.

Joe Biden can still be spotted wearing a mask. Image via AP.

In Biden White House, the celebrity staff is a thing of the past” via DNYUZ — Gone are the days when a counselor to the President like Kellyanne Conway was so well-known that she needed her own security detail; when a White House press secretary like Sean Spicer was a recurring character on “Saturday Night Live”; when a policy adviser like Stephen Miller was not only recognized but booed out of a restaurant; and when a glamorous, drama-prone communications director like Hope Hicks was photographed regularly by the paparazzi as she left her home in workout clothes. Proximity to power has a way of attracting interest regardless of whether it is coveted, and Biden’s aides may still end up more well known than they set out to be. 

— EPILOGUE TRUMP — 

Breaking overnight — “New York AG ‘actively investigating’ Trump Organization ‘in a criminal capacity’” via Rebecca Falconer of Axios — The New York Attorney General’s office has informed the Trump Organization that its investigation into the company “is no longer purely civil in nature” and is now a criminal one. AG Letitia James‘ office is now working with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which has been investigating the Trump Organization for potential bank, tax and insurance fraud.

The investigation into Donald Trump is now criminal in nature.

The Trumpy right is violating everything our children are taught” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — Pretty much everything the Trump-occupied Republican Party has been doing these days violates the basic tenets of democracy that American schoolchildren are taught. They want to cancel civics education. If the voters don’t know how the government is supposed to function, they’ll be none the wiser when it malfunctions. Conservative writer Stanley Kurtz said a new bill to provide grants for civics education would promote a “woke education” and a “Marxist-based philosophy.” In reality, the civics bill does no such thing. The “Civics Secures Democracy Act” specifically states that it doesn’t “authorize the Secretary of Education to prescribe a civics and history curriculum.” That’s up to state and local leaders.

— CRISIS —

Kevin McCarthy opposes commission to investigate Jan. 6 attack on Capitol; Mitch McConnell open to proposal” via Karoun Demirjian, John Wagner and Marianna Sotomayor of The Washington Post — McCarthy announced his opposition Tuesday to a bipartisan deal to establish an independent commission to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, in part because he said its scope should include other acts of political violence. But McConnell did not follow suit, declaring Tuesday afternoon that the Senate GOP is “undecided at this point” and is “willing to listen” to arguments in favor of the panel. McConnell leaving the door open to backing the commission suggests enough Republican votes in the Senate to pass the legislation establishing the commission.

Kevin McCarthy is pushing back against a Jan. 6 commission.

The uncomfortable questions for McCarthy about Jan. 6” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — An uneasy question involving McCarthy arose last week to less fanfare, but in a way that could reflect more poorly on him personally. In a tweet, Rep. Adam Kinzinger said that a few days before Jan. 6, he had explicitly cautioned McCarthy about potential violence resulting from what their party was doing. “I told Kevin that his words and our party’s actions would lead to violence on January 6,” Kinzinger said. “Kevin dismissively responded with, ‘OK, Adam, operator next question.’ And we got violence.” McCarthy wouldn’t necessarily be pinned for any blame for Jan. 6, as Kinzinger’s comments suggest. But we’ve already seen McCarthy squirm plenty to hold on to control of his party and move beyond talking about Donald Trump and the 2020 election. And these questions would warrant plenty more squirming.

QAnon Shaman attorney defends his client and alleged Capitol rioters as ‘short bus people’ in wild interview” via Ken Meyer of Mediaite — The Missouri-based lawyer representing Jacob Chansley (AKA the “QAnon Shaman”) has offered a highly unorthodox defense of his client and others who have been charged in connection with the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. One of the tactics it is widely believed their attorneys will use is the “Trump defense,” the argument that the accused rioters were compelled to violent criminal action because of Trump’s election lies and their belief that they were carrying out the former President’s will. So far, invoking Trump has not seen a whole lot of success as a legal defense. Attorney Albert Watkins argued that “legally, these are unprecedented cases.”

— D.C. MATTERS —

Brian Mast leads Republican revolt against wearing masks on House floor” via Peter Burke of WPTV — Mast, who is fully vaccinated, told his Republican colleagues that he’s “done” wearing masks and won’t wear them on the House floor anymore, even though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’ll continue to require them. Pelosi’s refusal to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated guidance angered many Republicans. “For more than a year, Americans have been told to listen to the scientists about masks,” Mast said in a statement to WPTV. “Now the scientists at the CDC are telling us if you are fully vaccinated, you can go about your life without wearing a mask or physically distancing. So, that’s what I’m doing. The question you should be asking is, why is Speaker Pelosi not?”

Brian Mast is dropping the mask, and urging other Republicans to follow suit.

Amid threats to members, House to vote on new security” via Mary Clare Jalonik of The Associated Press — Threats against members of Congress have more than doubled this year and many members of Congress say they fear for their personal safety more than they did before the siege. Several say they have boosted security measures to protect themselves and their families, money for which will be part of a broad $1.9 billion spending bill that the House will vote on this week, along with a separate measure that would create a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack. The security spending bill would provide congressional offices with more money to combat threats, including enhanced travel security, upgrades to home-district offices and better intelligence to track people down.

Floridians urge Joe Biden to pick Robert Wexler as U.S. ambassador to Israel” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun Sentinel — From Tel Aviv to Washington, D.C., political insiders have been speculating for months who President Biden would pick as U.S. ambassador to Israel — and the speculation has extended to Florida. The high-profile and sensitive post is even more important given the current heightened hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians. One possible pick for ambassador: former South Florida Congressman Robert Wexler, who was one of Israel’s most prominent supporters during his time in the House.

— LOCAL NOTES —

Boosting Jacksonville gas tax gets thumbs-down from most Duval County residents in UNF poll” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Fifty-eight percent of respondents to a recent poll either strongly or somewhat oppose increasing the local gas tax from 6 cents per gallon up to 12 cents. The release of the poll comes as City Council is in the thick of deciding whether it will boost the gas tax. Council will gather Wednesday for a special meeting devoted to the gas tax and a $930 million list of road, drainage, and transit projects put forward by Mayor Lenny Curry and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority. City Council President Tommy Hazouri has set up a schedule where the Council will take a final vote on May 26 on whether to increase the gas tax.

Lenny Curry’s gas tax proposal falls flat with Jacksonville residents. Image via A.G. Gancarski.

Florida Realtors, Gulfport agent sue CDC over eviction moratorium” via Ashley Gurbal Kritzer of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — They allege the agency’s “draconian” eviction moratorium during the COVID-19 pandemic has caused financial damage to landlords across the state. The lawsuit by Florida Realtors and R.W. Caldwell Inc. seeks to end the moratorium and wants a permanent injunction to ban the CDC from enforcing fines for evicting during the pandemic. It names the CDC and director Rochelle Walensky, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Secretary Xavier Becerra, the U.S. Department of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland as defendants. The CDC’s eviction moratorium has been in effect since September 2020. Those who violate the moratorium order can be fined up to $100,000 and/or spend a year in jail.

Jane Castor pans Florida’s transgender sports ban as ‘senseless’” via Mitch Perry of Spectrum News — The Tampa Mayor blasted the Florida Legislature’s recently passed bill that bans transgender athletes from women’s and girls’ sports. “I think it’s completely unnecessary, and frankly it’s mean spirited,” said the Mayor, an all-state basketball and volleyball player at the University of Tampa in the early 1980s. The measure — known as the Fairness in Women’s Sport Act — passed largely along party lines in the legislature last month. It had been postponed at one point in the Florida Senate, after the NCAA Board of Governors released a statement saying that it would only hold such events at locations “free of discrimination.”

Brazilian Twitter goes crazy over St. Pete City Council candidate’s resemblance to Big Brother star Gil do Vigor” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — What seemed like a run-of-the-mill local endorsement story quickly gained international attention after a Twitter user noticed that St. Petersburg City Council candidate Richie Floyd had an uncanny resemblance to Brazilian Big Brother star do Vigor. And Brazilian Twitter went wild. “I was a little surprised, as anyone,” Floyd told Florida Politics. What seemed to spark the craze was Eixo Político’s response to the original Florida Politics tweet. In a tweet that has since received more than 9.1K likes, Eixo Político posted the duo side by side, saying, “Can copy, OK, but not the same, it’s OK.” After that tweet, the post exploded with replies of gifs and pictures of actor and TV personality Vigor.

Richie Floyd side by side with Gil do Vigor.

Carnival Mardi Gras arrives June 4 at Port Canaveral, won’t sail with passengers for months” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — Carnival Cruise Line’s newest and largest ship, the Mardi Gras, will be arriving at Port Canaveral on June 4, in preparation for its first sailing with passengers. But it appears that a Mardi Gras cruise with passengers won’t happen until August at the earliest. Carnival says it hopes to resume sailing in July on three or four ships from U.S. ports after being idled by the coronavirus pandemic in this country since March 2020. But the Mardi Gras and Port Canaveral are not in those plans. Carnival said that, upon arrival to Port Canaveral, the Mardi Gras will continue to bring crew members on board; train them on new equipment, technology and procedures; and get ready to welcome guests for its inaugural sailing. 

— TOP OPINION —

Do some good with gambling: Expand Medicaid” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — The Seminole gambling compact that the Florida Legislature is considering in special session this week anticipates $2.5 billion in new state revenue over the next five years but doesn’t propose how to spend it. That’s an awful lot of money to leave to the discretion of people whose first instincts are to cut taxes for special interests rather than invest in making the state a safer and healthier place to live. So here’s a suggestion to senators and House members from Broward, Palm Beach, and other enlightened corners of our state: Amend the legislation to prioritize the new money for expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

— OPINIONS —

The Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority is about to show us its true colors” via Leah Litman and Melissa Murray of The Washington Post — The Supreme Court, with its newly constituted 6-to-3 conservative supermajority, is about to show the country its true colors. On Monday morning, the court agreed to hear a challenge to a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a case that poses a direct attack on the constitutional right to abortion. The decision to take the case was unsurprising. Trump vowed to appoint justices who would overrule Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision holding that women have a constitutional right to obtain abortions. It would not be unthinkable for this Supreme Court to use the Mississippi case to jettison Roe. This court has in recent years refused to be bound by established precedents.

Florida gaming commission no watchdog for the people. It lets DeSantis reward his friends” via the Miami Herald editorial board — A Florida commission to catch “nefarious” gambling activity in the state, as Senate President Wilton Simpson put it last week, sounds like something any sane citizen would jump at, considering the vast plan to expand gaming that lawmakers seem intent on passing in Tallahassee this week. But take a look at the details. That’s when it becomes clear that the proposed Florida Gaming Control Commission will be both ineffectual, it won’t be able to regulate Seminole gaming, and create a high-priced political patronage system for the Governor. This is no watchdog group. It’s just one more attempt to put one over on voters while forcing them to pay for it.

Political muscle should not dictate cities’ gambling revenue” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — By law, local governments share 3% of the state’s take from an agreement with the Seminoles. The money is meant to offset costs such as police and fire-rescue coverage. (The Seminole Tribe has its own police and fire units, but they often need assistance.) At the tribe’s reservation near Hollywood, where it operates two casinos, four governments qualify for revenue sharing: Broward County and the cities of Dania Beach, Davie and Hollywood. Under a previous compact signed in 2010, Hollywood receives 55% of impact money at the reservation. The county gets 25% and the other two cities 10% each. Since 2010, Hollywood has received $11.6 million and Davie $2.1 million.

FSU is off the hook, but Florida’s stuck with a culture warrior running education” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Corcoran won’t be the next president of Florida State University. He didn’t make the cut for the final three candidates over the weekend. If you’re an FSU student, professor or alumni, go ahead and breathe that sigh of relief. You just dodged a bullet fired from the culture-war front. If you work at a public school in Florida or send a child to one, you’re still stuck with an education ideologue. The FSU search committee was wise to pass on Corcoran. He may be bright but he’s a bad fit for FSU, and not just because of his rigid ideology. He has no experience in university administration. 

— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —

If all goes according to plan, the Special Session on gambling will end today.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— The Florida Senate approved the new Seminole Compact after lawmakers learned it would bring billions of dollars into the state coffers.

— Sen. Brandes disagrees, saying they sold out to the Seminole Tribe.

— But selling out was OK with the rest of the Senators. Brandes was the only one to vote against the deal … and the House will pass it today.

— A few ideas did not survive the Special Session. The House derailed plans to legalize wagering on fantasy football and other virtual sports. And the concept of allowing bingo at casinos went down in flames, thanks in part to opposition from Sen. George Gainer.

— Senate President Simpson says lawmakers can deal with fantasy football next year, but they won’t be messing with bingo. Simpson says they’re already expecting a legal challenge to the new Compact.

— Backers of the Compact know they may have run afoul of the state constitution, which requires voter approval of any casino expansion. They refused to put a transcript of their Session in the official journal of the Senate because it could be part of a court challenge.

— The Senate is done … now it’s up to the House; they plan to be done before the end of the day.

— Another lawsuit is challenging Florida’s new law that clamps down on voting by mail. Voting rights groups claim the real intent is to silence Black and Brown voters.

— Orlando Congresswoman Demings tells her supporters to “stay tuned” as she considers a run for the U.S. Senate. POLITICO reports that she’s planning to run against Rubio; Demings responded with a tweet confirming that she’s looking at Rubio’s seat.

— And finally, a Florida Man says he was speeding down Highway 1 in the Keys because he was trying to get home … to Cuba.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Total eclipse of the moon coming for skywatchers next week” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times — Skywatchers are getting excited about the May 26 total lunar eclipse also called a blood moon for its reddish hue. Unfortunately, according to astronomers, the West coast of the United States will have a better view of the year’s biggest sky spectacle than Floridians. Set your alarm clock for 5:30 a.m. May 26, said Craig Joseph, head of the St. Petersburg College Planetarium. A full “super moon” will brighten the night sky, and soon after, a lunar eclipse will occur when the Earth is between the full moon and the sun. The Earth’s shadow will cover the moon, which often brings on a rust color, hence the “blood” moon nickname.

The first total lunar eclipse of 2021 will occur on May 26.

The blockbuster movie makes a comeback this summer” via The Associated Press — After more than a year of benching its biggest spectacles, Hollywood is ready to dazzle again. From “F9” and “In the Heights” to “The Suicide Squad” and “Black Widow,” there will be a steady stream of blockbusters populating multiplexes across the country for the first time since March 2020. For beleaguered movie theaters, it’s not a moment too soon. The modern summer movie season, which runs from May through Labor Day, regularly accounts for over $4 billion in revenue and makes up around 40% of the year’s grosses. Last year, summer earnings were $176 million, down 96% from 2019. Although theaters have been ramping up operations for a while, this summer will prove to be the biggest litmus test so far about whether habits have changed irrevocably during the pandemic.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, Senate President-to-be Kathleen Passidomo, and former Sen. Daphne Campbell.

___

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter SchorschPhil AmmannRenzo Downey and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as 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.


One comment

  • Edward Lyle

    May 19, 2021 at 8:15 am

    “New honor system on masks: ‘Am I to trust these people?’”

    “My Body; My Choice”… remember that?… its not just for killing innocent babies anymore.

Comments are closed.


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