Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.17.21

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Who's up, down, in and out — your morning tipsheet on Florida politics.

Good Thursday morning.

Rubin Turnbull & Associates has expanded its team with the addition of Zach Hubbard as a governmental consultant.

Hubbard joins the firm after serving in the Office of Policy and Budget in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration and before that as a legislative aide to Sen. Jeff Brandes.

“We are thrilled to welcome Zach to our firm as he puts his wealth of knowledge to work for our growing roster of clients. Zach’s work ethic and experience in different levels of Florida government will be invaluable to our team and clients,” firm chairman Bill Rubin said.

Congratulations to Zach Hubbard, the newest member of Team Rubin Turnbull.

Managing partner Heather Turnbull added, “We are excited to have Zach join our growing team at Rubin Turnbull. Zach comes with great Florida knowledge and experience and will be an invaluable member of our team as we work with our clients that include Fortune 500 companies, trade associations, and growing businesses.”

Hubbard’s portfolio will focus on tech, innovation, and insurance, where he will put to work his deep-rooted knowledge of Florida government, having recently worked in the Governor’s policy office and before that in the Senate.

“This is an exciting time in my life as I transition from public service to the private sector. I have deeply enjoyed my work in Gov. DeSantis’ administration and my time in the Florida Senate, and now ready for new challenges in the private sector as I work with Rubin Turnbull’s expanding client roster and focus on Florida’s unique opportunity to grow its tech sector. Under the leadership of Bill and Heather, I know I will continue to grow professionally and effectively guide our clients at all levels of government,” Hubbard said.


Longtime Disney government relations manager Adrianna Sekula has taken a job at innovative recycling company PureCycle Technologies.

Sekula will serve as chief of staff to PureCycle Technologies CEO Mike Otworth and take the lead on building out the company’s public relations and government relations teams.

“I am thrilled to join PureCycle Technologies and eager to contribute to a world-class team that is revolutionizing the way the world recycles plastic,” Sekula.

PureCycle holds the patent for a groundbreaking recycling process that takes plastic waste and removes the color, odor, and contaminants to produce a virgin-like resin that can be used again in unlimited markets.

Congrats to Adrianna Sekula, making the leap to an innovative recycling tech firm. 

The Orlando-based company went public in March and is listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the ticker symbol PCT. The company is currently building out its first commercial-scale recycling plant in Ironton, Ohio.

“Adrianna has the political experience, leadership talent, and authentic passion PCT needs as we rapidly expand to domestic and global markets,” Otworth said.

Sekula is a public affairs professional with a background in government relations, transportation, construction, tourism, and corporate citizenship.

At Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, she managed local government relations in Central Florida. She previously served as the government affairs director at the Greater Orlando Builders Association, focusing on local land use, development and residential construction.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from Florida State University and is a graduate of Leadership Tallahassee and Leadership Orlando. In 2017, the Orlando Business Journal named her to its “Women Who Mean Business” list.


@GovRonDeSantis: Last week, Texas and Arizona called for help to secure the southern border. I’m proud to announce that Florida is stepping up to help the effort and to protect our residents from the harms caused by open borders.

@CharlieCrist: Diverting state law enforcement to Texas and Arizona is a political stunt that makes our state less safe.

@AGAshleyMoody: Unfortunately, Florida has to do what @JoeBiden refuses to do — secure the border. The crisis he created makes all of us less safe. I’m proud to stand with @GovRonDeSantis and FL’s brave LEOs to protect Floridians from the criminals and drugs flooding the southern border.

@NikkiFriedFL: I voted today to uphold our laws, while so-called pro-law enforcement @GovRonDeSantis is encouraging people to break the law with politically motivated stunts. We may not agree with every law, but we are obligated to follow them as the price of a civil society.

@JimmyPatronis: I guess liberals only support law enforcement when they’re shutting down small business owners?

@AnnaForFlorida: Another political STUNT by @GovRonDeSantis — instead of perpetuating the attacks on immigrants & going after Biden Administration, why don’t you focus on the people who live in FL! We’re dealing w/a broken unemployment system & affordable housing crisis that you could be fixing!

@CarlosGSmith: Some basic questions for @RonDeSantisFL … How does this help Florida? Who’s paying? Will this DEFUND local police? What will they be doing at the border? When is @GovRonDeSantis gonna stop chasing boogeymen to start actually helping Floridians?

@JimRosicaFL: More questions: Does Florida “need the Department of Homeland Security’s permission?”

Tweet, tweet:

@RebekahBydlak: Juneteenth isn’t new just because you didn’t know about it before this week.


Father’s Day — 3; Amazon Prime Day — 4; New York City Mayoral Primary — 5; Microsoft reveals major Windows update — 7; F9 premieres in the U.S. — 8; Bruce Springsteen revives solo show, “Springsteen on Broadway” — 9; ‘Tax Freedom Holiday’ begins — 14; Fourth of July — 17; ‘Black Widow’ rescheduled premiere — 22; MLB All-Star Game — 26; Jeff Bezos travels into space on Blue Origin’s first passenger flight — 33; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 36; second season of ‘Ted Lasso’ premieres on Apple+ — 36; the NBA Draft — 46; ‘Jungle Cruise’ premieres — 48; ‘The Suicide Squad’ premieres — 54; Florida Behavioral Health Association’s Annual Conference (BHCon) begins — 62; St. Petersburg Primary Election — 68; Disney’s ‘Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings’ premieres — 77; NFL regular season begins — 84; Broadway’s full-capacity reopening — 89; 2022 Legislative Session interim committee meetings begin — 95; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres (rescheduled) — 99; ‘Dune’ premieres — 106; MLB regular season ends — 108; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres (rescheduled) — 113; World Series Game 1 — 132; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 138; Florida’s 20th Congressional District primary — 138; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 140; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ rescheduled premiere — 154; San Diego Comic-Con begins — 162; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 176; ‘Spider-Man Far From Home’ sequel premieres — 186; NFL season ends — 206; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 208; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 208; NFL playoffs begin — 212; Super Bowl LVI — 241; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 281; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 323; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 350; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 386; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 477; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 512.


Ron DeSantis to send Florida police to Mexico border” via Gray Rohrer and Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis is sending state and local law enforcement officers to the U.S. border with Mexico, answering a request from the Governors of Arizona and Texas for help from other states to prevent illegal immigration and deport those here illegally. DeSantis blamed Biden for undoing many of the policies of his predecessor to enforce immigration laws, saying those moves have led to a surge in illegal drug importation and crime. It’s unclear how many officers will be sent, what they’ll be doing when they get there or how much it will cost state taxpayers. DeSantis said those details haven’t been finalized yet, but said they’ll be gone for 16 days, the length requested by Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona and Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas.

Ron DeSantis rounds up the posse.

—“Rick Scott stops short of endorsing DeSantis border cop deployment” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

—“Florida Gov. heeds call from Texas, Arizona for border help” via Bobby Caina Calvan and Adriana Gomez Licon of The Associated Press 

— 2022 —

State backs contribution limit in ballot drives” via The News Service of Florida — Florida officials this week disputed arguments that a new law limiting contributions to ballot-initiative efforts should be blocked because it violates First Amendment rights. Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office, representing members of the Florida Elections Commission, urged a federal judge to reject a request by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and three political committees to issue a preliminary injunction against the law, which the Legislature passed in April. The law (SB 1890) places a $3,000 limit on contributions to political committees collecting petition signatures to put proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot. The ACLU and the political committees contend that the cap violates First Amendment rights and would make it virtually impossible to collect the hundreds of thousands of required petition signatures.

Randolph Bracy releases congressional campaign launch video” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Bracy launched his congressional campaign platform called “The Bracy Plan,” which covers straightforward Democratic planks, led by Bracy’s focus on criminal justice reform and social justice, along with voting rights, increased education funding, investments in affordable housing, and investments in technology infrastructure to foster job growth. Bracy is one of three major candidates vying in Florida’s 10th Congressional District opened as Rep. Val Demings runs for the U.S. Senate. Bracy’s two-minute video, which went out with a fundraising pitch, begins mixing footage of last year’s pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests with historic shots of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rep. John Lewis, before turning to shots of Bracy and scenes representing CD 10.

To watch the video, click on the image below:


In secret recording, Florida Republican threatens to send Russian-Ukrainian ‘hit squad’ after rival” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO — During a 30-minute call with a conservative activist that was recorded before he became a candidate, William Braddock repeatedly warned the activist to not support GOP candidate Anna Paulina Luna in the Republican primary for a Tampa Bay-area congressional seat because he had access to assassins. The seat is being vacated by Rep. Charlie Crist, who is running for governor. “I really don’t want to have to end anybody’s life for the good of the people of the United States of America,” Braddock said at one point in the conversation last week, according to the recording exclusively obtained by POLITICO. “That will break my heart. But if it needs to be done, it needs to be done. Luna is a f—ing speed bump in the road. She’s a dead squirrel you run over every day when you leave the neighborhood.”

Kelli Stargel endorses Colleen Burton as next SD 22 Senator” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Stargel endorsed Rep. Burton to succeed her in Senate District 22 next year. “My friend Colleen Burton is a true conservative who has a strong record of fighting for family values, and creating an environment where businesses can prosper and create jobs,” Stargel said. Stargel, a Lakeland Republican who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, cannot run for reelection next year because of term limits. Burton is one of two Republicans running for SD 22 this cycle. Burton currently represents House District 40, which covers part of Polk County. A member of the House leadership team, she has successfully advanced local priorities through the Legislature and secured funding for her district.

—“Rick Kriseman backs Lindsay Cross for HD 68” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

Three new candidates enter South Florida House races” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Three new Democratic candidates have filed to run in 2022 House contests in three different districts across South Florida. Attorney Rick King has filed to run for the open contest in House District 88. King is a former lieutenant at the West Palm Beach Police Department, where he spent nearly 20 years. Paulette Armstead, a former candidate for Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections, and Jervonte Edmonds, founder of the mentoring program Suits For Seniors, are also running for the HD 88 seat in 2022. All declared candidates so far are Democrats.

Anna Eskamani steers political committee to voter registration training” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Rep. Eskamani is completing the conversion of her political committee into a statewide grassroots progressive organization. People Power for Florida is registering volunteer leaders across Florida for two two-hour virtual training sessions as voter registration leaders. People Power has committed to registering 25,000 new voters before the 2022 election. Eskamani said she wants the group focused on long-term programs, not cyclical efforts. She said she wants the group to coordinate with the Florida Democratic Party and other groups like House Victory, emphasizing volunteer grassroots. The organization has raised more than $130,000 from more than 500 donors since it pivoted in February, and Eskamani said that money is dedicated to the statewide efforts, not her reelection.

Lakesha Burton, a Democrat, would make history as Jacksonville Sheriff. Republican money might help her do it” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Burton, a candidate for the 2023 race for Jacksonville Sheriff and currently an assistant chief in the department, is assembling a remarkable coalition of supporters that includes a growing group of well-known Republican donors, turning her into the most formidable Democrat to run for the office in two decades. Burton is the first Black woman to run for sheriff in Jacksonville and would be the first-ever elected in Florida. A 22-year veteran of the department and protégé of former Duval County Sheriff Nat Glover, Burton has a singular life story about surviving sexual abuse by a stepfather and the depression that followed and a nonpartisan sales pitch closing the deal in one-on-one meetings with Jacksonville’s right-of-center donor class. 

Florida election officials vent over new law pushed by DeSantis” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO —Florida’s local election supervisors on Wednesday grilled state election officials over the state’s contentious new voting law, railing about the “absurdity” and confusion that they say will result from the changes pushed by Gov. DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Legislature. The criticism came from both Democratic and Republican election supervisors as they peppered the top lawyer for the Florida Department of State and the director of the Florida Division of Elections on how they will carry out the law that placed limits on vote-by-mail. The state’s 67 election officials — along with dozens of their top employees — are meeting this week in their first statewide conference since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Would you agree with me that these questions are the classic example of why legislators should have checked with election experts?” said Alan Hays, the Republican elections supervisor for Lake County and a former state Senator.

— “Florida supervisors of election slam Arizona ‘audit’ of 2020 presidential election” via Mitch Perry of Spectrum News


Joe Biden administration action could hamper Florida’s ban on transgender athletes from woman’s sports” via Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO — The U.S. Education Department’s declaration that Title IX sex-based discrimination protections extend to transgender students could aid future legal challenges to a law recently passed in Florida banning transgender athletes from playing girls and women’s sports. The federal Title IX decision gives potential lawsuits new grounds for disputing legislation in Florida and other Republican states that have pushed similar policies, according to one legal expert. At least one LGBTQ advocacy group has pledged to sue Florida over its recently signed law, although the controversial law doesn’t appear to be facing any legal challenge.

DeSantis pardons all coronavirus restriction and mask mandate violators” via Christine Sexton of the Orlando Sentinel — The state clemency board on Wednesday pardoned all Floridians who were arrested or fined for violating local-government requirements about wearing masks or social distancing. Nikki Fried was the only member of the Board of Executive Clemency to oppose the move. DeSantis reiterated his positions at the meeting Wednesday. The clemency board in March also agreed to wipe out fines. Fried, however, blasted DeSantis for political grandstanding. “I voted today to uphold our laws, while our so-called pro-law enforcement Governor is actively encouraging people to break the law with politically motivated stunts like this,” Fried said in a prepared statement.

Bracy pledges new Florida Juneteenth bill” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — With Congress approving a federal holiday for Juneteenth, the day’s leading advocate in the Florida Legislature vowed Wednesday he’ll try again to win state recognition. Democratic Sen. Bracy said Wednesday the timing is right. This spring, Bracy pushed SB 490 to make a state holiday of June 19. But his bill stalled in the Senate, while the House counterpart, from Democratic Rep. Travaris McCurdy, never moved. Some proponents of recognizing emancipation as a holiday argued June 19 is not historically accurate in Florida. That’s the date word made it to Texas of the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves. But Florida actually got the news about a month earlier, on May 20.

—“‘Spaghetti Politics’: Pinellas legislators recap 2021 Session” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics 

Assignment editors — Sen. Janet Cruz, Rep. Fentrice Driskell, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, and local activists will hold a news conference on HB 37, which would set up a task force for studying, identifying, and memorializing abandoned African American cemeteries and burial grounds across Florida, 10 a.m., Robles Park Village, 220 E. Kentucky Ave., Tampa.

Facebook post of the day:


—“Teaching kids to ‘attack cops’: DeSantis adds fuel to critical race theory fire” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Assignment editors — Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis will hold a news conference to highlight Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 4 and the importance of preparing for the 2021 hurricane season, 10:30 a.m., Emergency Operations Center, 110 George DeSalvia Way (110 N Andes), Orlando. RSVP to Devin Galetta at [email protected]

Jimmy Patronis says it’s never too soon to prepare for a hurricane.

‘Loser pays’ challengers questioned by judges — A 1st District Court of Appeal panel questioned a challenge on a law that requires the loser in development lawsuits to pay the legal costs of the prevailing party. As reported by Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida, members of the three-judge panel inquired whether plaintiff 1000 Friends of Florida had grounds to challenge the law since no one has been charged under it to date. The group’s attorney, Richard Grosso, said lawsuits by residents were the primary enforcement tool for community planning and that the 2019 law undermines that. “1000 Friends of Florida is harmed by the inability to do its job to fulfill its purpose to bring these kinds of lawsuits because of the exorbitant threat of financial sanctions,” he said.

‘Gap Map’ adds poverty rates for children under 12 — The Florida Chamber Foundation on Wednesday updated its “Florida Gap Map” tool to include data on poverty rates for children under 12 years old. The map allows users to view statistics by ZIP code. About 830,000 Florida children live in poverty, and more than half live in just 15% of Florida’s 983 ZIP codes. Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson said the update “provides a more detailed view of where we can track childhood poverty and educational gaps, and additionally a more detailed view of where the Florida Chamber Foundation, its partners and the Florida business community can unite to implement solutions.”

Court refuses to halt high-stakes hospital fight” via Jim Saunders of News Service of Florida — A three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal on Wednesday refused to halt a case that argues Sarasota County is required to reimburse private hospitals for providing care to indigent patients. The county argued that it should be shielded by sovereign immunity, which generally is designed to protect government agencies from lawsuits. Wednesday’s decision bolstered the case brought by what is now Venice Regional Bayfront Health, Doctors Hospital of Sarasota and Englewood Community Hospital. The legal fight started in 2011, with the private hospitals saying the county had been collecting property taxes for indigent care but had not been providing reimbursements. The hospitals’ invoices now exceed $500 million, according to a footnote in the decision.

‘We believe in your dreams’: 130 Black youths in new MDC program that aids students of color” via Devoun Cetoute and Asta Hemenway of the Miami Herald — Miami Dade College began a new path of community uplift on Tuesday as it inaugurated 130 freshly graduated high school seniors into the new Rising Black Scholars Program that aims to aid the students financially and emotionally. Nearly 400 family members, MDC faculty and staff, community leaders and scholars gathered at the Miami Dade College North Campus Conference Center. In suits and formal dressing, 130 Black men and women beamed as they joined MDC’s first class of the Rising Black Scholars Program. By earning a spot in the program, beating out more than 500 other competitors, these scholars will receive free tuition for up to 30 credits plus fees per year, book stipends, a laptop computer and scholarship opportunities.

Miami Dade College is offering a new path of community uplift for students of color. Image via Miami-Dade College.

When investors tried to cash out, Boca firm said it didn’t have their money, lawsuits say” via Ron Hurtbise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Multiple investors are suing an insurance and financial services firm in Boca Raton, saying the company failed to keep its promise to pay out millions of dollars when their investments matured. Seniors who believed they would earn interest as high as 8% annually invested between $100,000 and $10 million in promissory notes purchased from National Senior Insurance Inc. and several affiliates, said Scott L. Silver, a Coral Springs attorney representing plaintiffs in three cases. “It was a substantial part of their net worth,” Silver said. “What makes this case so horrible is we’re talking about senior citizens who have lost their life savings.”

FPL blows up its last coal-fired power plant; announces plans for its newest solar center” via Lina Ruiz of TC Palm — Florida Power & Light will build its newest solar energy center in Indiantown, making the announcement moments before blowing up its last remaining coal-fired power plant. State and local leaders and other VIPs watched the implosion Wednesday morning as the 495-foot chimney toppled like a domino and an 800-foot coal chute collapsed by its legs. The 15-second spectacle created a thunderous boom, and a shockwave felt by observers more than a quarter-mile away. Smoke lingered in the sky above what had been the Indiantown Cogeneration Plant as FPL representatives celebrated their next endeavor toward clean energy.


Poll shows vast majority of Floridians disagree on DeSantis policy, think it’s OK to require COVID-19 vaccinations for cruise passengers” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In a poll released Wednesday, more than three-quarters of Floridians disagree with Gov. DeSantis’ policy banning cruise lines from requiring passengers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. The survey, conducted by the University of South Florida School of Public Affairs, found just 24% said cruise lines should not be allowed to require guests to show proof of vaccination — which is Gov. DeSantis’ position. A plurality, 43%, said it should be mandatory for passengers to provide proof of vaccination on all cruises that port in Florida. And another 33% said it should be up to individual cruise lines. Neither of those options is allowed under rules championed and signed into law by DeSantis.

Survey: Misinformation, party affiliation driving vaccination decisions” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — A majority of Floridians have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, but many still remain hesitant about the jab. The statewide survey sought to understand why Floridians may be hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as examine attitudes toward policies related to vaccines. Overall, 64% of respondents reported receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, leaving 36% who have not. The survey found that among adults who have not yet been vaccinated in the state, 35% say they will “probably not” or “definitely not” get vaccinated, and another 24% are still undecided. The survey found that the highest driver of vaccine hesitancy included concerns over potential side effects and fears the vaccines were created too quickly.

Some cruise lines vow to defy Florida’s ban on proof of vaccination” via Eric Glasser of WTSP — The world’s biggest cruise line may have just thumbed its nose at the state of Florida. Carnival Cruise Line says it will start sailing again at the end of next month; and when it does, it will require vaccinations even though doing that could violate the state’s new law banning companies from requiring customers to show proof of vaccinations. The company announced its decision would impact ships sailing again starting July 31, with a handful of cruises requiring proof of vaccination.

Royal Caribbean delays Odyssey of the Seas sailing after crew members test COVID-19 positive” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — Royal Caribbean International has postponed the inaugural sailing of its Odyssey of the Seas cruise ship “out of an abundance of caution” after eight crew members tested positive for COVID-19, the company’s CEO said. Odyssey of the Seas was set to sail from Fort Lauderdale on July 3 and make stops in the Caribbean. Its sailing is now postponed until July 31. A simulation cruise, originally scheduled for late June, will also be rescheduled. Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley announced the changes late Tuesday in a statement posted on Facebook.

Royal Caribbean scrubbed the initial sailing of the Odyssey of the Seas. It’s now scheduled for the end of July.


As pandemic recedes in U.S., calls are growing for an investigative commission” via Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times — With the nation beginning to put the crisis in the rearview mirror, Washington is taking up the idea of a COVID-19 commission. Bipartisan bills have been introduced in both the House and the Senate and have the backing of three former homeland security secretaries as well as health groups and victims and their families. Unlike the rancorous debate that doomed the proposal for a panel to investigate the Jan. 6 riot, discussion of a COVID-19 commission has not yet produced partisan discord. Sen. Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey and a lead sponsor of the Senate bill, noted that its work would cover both the Donald Trump and Biden administrations.

Bob Menendez wants to investigate coronavirus response in both the Joe Biden and Donald Trump administrations. 

U.S. to buy 200 million more doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine” via Robert Langreth of Bloomberg — Moderna Inc. said the U.S. government would buy 200 million more doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in a deal that included the potential for buying other COVID-19 candidates in testing, including booster shots. According to a spokesman for Moderna under the new deal, the U.S. will pay $3.3 billion to exercise its remaining options to purchase the shots for $16.50 a dose. That price is the same as previous options to purchase Moderna shots already exercised by the government. The new doses bring the total amount of Moderna vaccine ordered by the government to 500 million doses, of which 217 million doses had already been delivered as of June 14. Of the new doses, 110 million will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2021, and the rest will be delivered in the first quarter of next year.

Coronavirus vaccinations for young children should be an urgent priority” via Leana S. Wen of The Washington Post — A common refrain throughout the pandemic has been that kids aren’t at much risk. An adviser to the FDA questioned whether the agency should use emergency-use authorization to expedite vaccines for children under 12. Even under the emergency designation, vaccines probably won’t be authorized for younger school-age children until this fall, and toddlers and babies not until the end of 2021; waiting for full approval could delay the process well into 2022. We need to stop comparing the severity of children’s illness to that of adults; it shouldn’t matter if adults are at greater risk if the illness among kids is itself a problem. If you have the option to reduce a low risk of something awful happening to your kids to essentially zero, would you take it? I would, and I bet that many parents would too.

Donald Trump administration’s hunt for pandemic ‘lab leak’ went down many paths and came up with no smoking gun” via Yasmeen Abutaleb and Shane Harris of The Washington Post — Despite the early scientific consensus supporting natural origin, interest in the lab-leak theory never fully abated inside the U.S. government. Public health officials and intelligence officers worked to understand the origins of the virus and whether it might have escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Most of what they learned came from public sources of information, including news articles, social media and scientific journals. Within the classified realm, a significant amount of the intelligence the United States obtained came from foreign governments. Last month, Biden breathed new life into the origin mystery when he ordered intelligence agencies to redouble their efforts. A senior Biden administration official said a large amount of information remains unexamined.


Prepare to pay more for Uber and Lyft rides” via Kate Conger of The New York Times — As the coronavirus pandemic appears to recede in the United States and more people return to traveling, socializing and using ride-hailing apps, they are discovering that those cheap and quick rides have become more costly and not so readily available. Customers around the country say they have been startled by the price jumps. Like many other industries, the ride-hailing outfits say prices are up because they can’t find enough workers. But more than most other types of companies, Uber and Lyft can nimbly pass the cost of finding those workers, in their case, drivers who are treated as contractors, directly to their customers.

Uber and Lyft are getting even more expensive. Image via AP.

Goldman Sachs goes all-in on Florida as Wall Street South” via Brian Chappatta of Bloomberg — Goldman Sachs seems determined to make clear that Florida isn’t just a passing pandemic fad for the financial industry. The bank, which is practically synonymous with Wall Street, made waves late last year with plans to move part of its asset-management unit to South Florida. I noted at the time that the decision didn’t signal that the core of Goldman was fleeing for a warmer, lower-tax region. Insider reported that the bank is in the early stages of moving what could ultimately be more than 100 traders and sales representatives to West Palm Beach. The transplants are expected to include the bank’s most senior executives, those 400 or so partners who earn almost $1 million and get a cut of a special bonus pool. Several partners have already expressed interest.


Inside Pfizer’s race to produce the world’s biggest supply of COVID-19 vaccine” via Christopher Rowland of The Washington Post — “Our first engineering trial … was an absolute and utter failure,” said Pat McEvoy, Pfizer’s senior director of operations and engineering at the Kalamazoo plant. Pfizer had evidence the mRNA vaccine could stop the virus. But it would do little good unless Pfizer could rapidly take the new nanoparticle technology from the lab to mass production, a feat never before accomplished. The company and its vaccine partner BioNTech would ultimately master the job of churning out large batches of mRNA vaccine, making it the clearest winner among drug companies to emerge from the pandemic. The failed September test shows that success was far from a foregone conclusion.

Pfizer is working to crank out historic amounts of vaccines. 

Regeneron’s antibody-drug cuts risk of death in some COVID-19 patients” via Denise Roland of The Wall Street Journal — An antibody treatment developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has been shown to significantly cut the risk of death among certain hospitalized COVID-19 patients, raising hopes for a valuable new tool for tackling severe cases. A large U.K. trial involving nearly 10,000 patients showed that administering REGEN-COV on top of usual care reduced the risk of dying by a fifth among hospitalized coronavirus patients who hadn’t produced antibodies to the virus. The drug did not affect patients who had already produced antibodies. The results released Wednesday by the U.K. researchers boost a drug class that has only been shown to work against milder forms of the disease until now.


Far apart at first summit, Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin agree to steps on cybersecurity, arms control” via Vladimir Soldatkin and Steve Holland of Reuters — In their first meeting since he took office in January, Biden asked Putin how he would feel if a ransomware attack hit Russia’s oil network, a pointed question making reference to the May shutdown of a pipeline that caused disruptions and panic-buying along the U.S. East Coast. While Biden stressed that he did not make threats during the three-hour meeting, he said he outlined U.S. interests, including cybersecurity, and made clear to Putin that the United States would respond if Russia infringed on those concerns. Both men used careful pleasantries to describe their talks in a lakeside Swiss villa, with Putin calling them constructive and without hostility and Biden saying there was no substitute for face-to-face discussions.

Mind the gap: Between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, there was no hiding the differences on issues such as human rights and cybersecurity.

Biden gets heated during post-Putin news conference” via Nick Niedzwiadek of POLITICO — President Biden conceded that he’d lost his composure on Wednesday toward the end of his post-summit debriefing with reporters in Geneva. And though he later apologized for being a “wise guy” with a reporter, he continued to attack members of the media for their negativity, before heading back to the United States. The flare-up came after CNN’s Kaitlan Collins shouted a question to Biden asking why he was optimistic that Russian President Putin would alter his provocative behavior following their high-profile meeting on Wednesday. The confrontation served as an odd coda to a weeklong overseas trip that was meant to portray the President as bringing in an era of stability and order after four years of Trump

To watch the exchange, click on the image below:

Hamburgers, Anthony Fauci and election fraud: How Biden World combats disinformation” via Natasha Korecki of POLITICO — As Biden walked out of a recent briefing, a reporter called out one last, unrelated question. “Mr. President, do you still have confidence in Dr. Fauci?” Conservatives on social media for more than a year had undertaken efforts to discredit Fauci. On a larger level, the question illustrated a broader hurdle the administration has been forced to confront. Disinformation has been rampant during the Biden era. It has popped up around issues big, existential, and small. Combating misinformation and disinformation can be a massive undertaking that requires intense and meticulous social media tracking. It also means confronting social media platforms, which can create First Amendment issues for the White House, if viewed as trying to restrict content.


Trump planning July 3 rally in Tampa, report says” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Trump is planning a July 3 rally in Tampa as he seeks to recapture the political spotlight and remain the biggest force in his Republican Party, according to a tweet from a Washington Post reporter. Word of Trump’s potential holiday weekend visit was first reported by Post reporter Josh Dawsey. Trump is also planning a June 26 event in Cleveland, according to Dawsey. Trump, a Florida resident, frequently campaigned in his adopted home state during the 2020 presidential election and has made the state the backdrop to some of the most consequential moments of his political career.

Donald Trump is making a triumphant return to Tampa. Image via AP.

Past criticism of Trump becomes potent weapon in GOP primaries” via Reid Wilson of The Hill — Opposition researchers are discovering the most potent weapon against potential rivals: past comments critical of Trump, or acknowledgment that Trump lost to Biden in the 2020 election. In key races across the country, those practitioners of the political dark arts are combing through radio and television interviews, Twitter feeds and public statements looking for any signs of apostasy among Republican contenders running for office. And while there are months to go before voters cast ballots, the earliest salvos in some key races have come against candidates who dared to criticize or question the ousted President. “Allegiance to Trump is the litmus test for Republican primary voters today. And a candidate who isn’t is no different than a pro-choice, anti-NRA Republican trying to win a GOP primary,” said one Republican strategist.

Jared Kushner has book deal, publication expected in 2022” via Hillel Italie of The Associated Press — Kushner, the son-in-law of former President Trump and one of his top advisers during his administration, has a book deal. Broadside Books, a conservative imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, announced that Kushner’s book will come out in early 2022. Kushner has begun working on the memoir, currently untitled, and is expected to write about everything from the Middle East to criminal justice reform to the pandemic. “His book will be the definitive, thorough recounting of the administration — and the truth about what happened behind closed doors,” Broadside announced Tuesday. Financial terms were not disclosed. Kushner was often at the center of the Trump administration’s policies.


FBI is pursuing ‘hundreds’ in Capitol riot inquiry, Christopher Wray tells Congress” via Luke Broadwater of The New York Times — The FBI is pursuing potentially hundreds more suspects in the Capitol riot, the agency’s director told Congress on Tuesday, calling the effort to find those responsible for the deadly assault “one of the most far-reaching and extensive” investigations in the bureau’s history. “We’ve already arrested close to 500, and we have hundreds of investigations that are still ongoing beyond those 500,” Wray, the FBI director, told the House Oversight Committee. His assurances of how seriously the agency was taking the attack by a pro-Trump mob came as lawmakers pressed him and military commanders on why they did not do more to prevent the siege despite threats from extremists to commit violence.

Christopher Wray and the FBI are aggressive about the January 6 rioters. Image via AP.

Republicans are on the brink of embracing the Capitol rioters” via Matt Ford of The Soapbox — Instead of the free and open denunciation of the Capitol riot, a growing number of Republican officials are softening their position from “It was Bad” to, at worst, “It was Not Good” or “It was … less than ideal.” Foremost among them is Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who freely admitted to Fox News over the weekend that he wanted to rewrite history to the rioters’ benefit. If Republican lawmakers can move from open condemnation of January 6 to a mixed indifference toward it in less than six months, there’s ample reason to believe that sometime between now and 2024, they’ll have revised their position to tacit or open support of something similar.

‘Shocking failure’: Pentagon and FBI come under fire for Jan. 6 response” via Nicholas Wu, Nick Niedzwiadek and Josh Gerstein of POLITICO — Days before the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, social media company Parler flagged dozens of worrying messages to the FBI — warnings that appeared to go unanswered. “Don’t be surprised if we take the Capitol building,” says a post from a Parler user who concluded, “Trump needs us to cause chaos to enact the Insurrection Act.” At a House Oversight Committee hearing on Tuesday, Chair Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat, disclosed the message, one of dozens Parler sent to the FBI on Jan. 2 — four days before the insurrection. FBI Director Wray said he did not “recall” hearing of the posts but that some were routed to FBI squads investigating domestic terrorism.

‘Potential crisis for democracy’: Threats to election workers could spur mass retirements” via Zach Montellaro of POLITICO — Election workers and watchdogs say that after officials preserved the integrity of the 2020 election despite enormous pressure from Trump and allies, the climate could kick off a “brain drain” in their field that would pose a threat to the administration of future elections if longtime election workers are replaced by those with less experience or by believers in the conspiracy theories about the 2020 results Trump and his allies promote. “What is normally a fairly obscure administrative job is now one where lunatics are threatening to murder your children,” said Al Schmidt, one of the three members of Philadelphia’s city board of elections. The decentralized nature of American elections means that there is no body or agency tracking election worker retirements right now.


House passes bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday” via Erin Doherty of Axios — The House voted 415-14 on Wednesday to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. All those voting against the measure were Republicans. The vote comes one day after the Senate unanimously approved the bill and three days before the holiday. Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, memorializes when the last enslaved people in Texas learned about their freedom under the Emancipation Proclamation. 49 states and D.C. already commemorate Juneteenth, but the bill’s passage makes the day a legal federal holiday. The bill’s passage comes amid GOP-led attacks on critical race theory, which dismisses the notion that racism stems from acts of individuals and says instead that it’s ingrained in our society and how the country formed.

Juneteenth is on the cusp of becoming a federal holiday. Image via AP.

Florida lawmakers push for seasonal crop protections in Congress” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants relief for the state’s vital agriculture industry. U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Scott and U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan and Al Lawson sponsored the Defending Domestic Produce Production Act to provide it. Florida officials have pushed for provisions for seasonal crops since the USMCA was signed. Specifically, it would make sure U.S. trade law applies to seasonal fruit and vegetable growers to petition the Commerce Department and International Trade Commission to secure relief from unfair trade practices. The law now requires petitioners to demonstrate year-round damage for help. 

How Nancy Pelosi plans to address growing inequality” via David Ignatius of The Washington Post — House Speaker Pelosi has decided to do something interesting to address the root causes of the inequities that vex America. This week she is launching a new Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth. That may sound like a mouthful of Capitol Hill gobbledygook, but it could be a way to showcase the fundamental issue confounding America, one that rarely gets directly addressed by the nation’s lawmakers. The basic idea is to create a forum that can bring together representatives from all sides: Rust Belt districts harmed by plant shutdowns, urban districts ravaged by racial injustice, rural districts where farmers are suffering from drought, and districts across the country where young people are struggling with debt, low-wage jobs, and an uncertain future.

Matt Gaetz’s former classmates say he’s an embarrassment to William & Mary Law School and should resign” via Robin Bravender of Business Insider — In interviews, many of Gaetz‘s former friends and acquaintances from William & Mary Law School’s class of 2007 said they were embarrassed by the constant headlines about the GOP congressman’s scandals. Insider spoke with 14 of Gaetz’s former classmates. Most of them spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect personal and professional relationships. One former law-school classmate regularly trolls Gaetz on Twitter by welcoming the Congressman’s critics to the “Matt Haetz Society.” Others circulate stories to each other via group texts when outrageous headlines break, such as a report about Gaetz snorting cocaine with a paid escort or a story that the congressman showed his congressional colleagues nude photos of women.

Lois Frankel, colleagues want 90-day extension considered in decision on managing Lake Okeechobee via Kimberly Miller of The Palm Beach Post — The new Lake Okeechobee plan could last for a decade or longer. A handful of Florida congressional members, including Frankel, are asking the Army Corps to consider a request for a 90-day extension of the plan. Environmental groups say they were excluded from a local meeting.


Hillsborough School Board surprises, saying no to six charters” via Marlene Sokol and Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — In a stunning departure from past practice, the Hillsborough County School Board denied six charter school proposals, leaving educational opportunities uncertain for as many as 3,600 students and setting up a political battle with Florida’s Republican leaders. More than 2,300 of the students affected by Tuesday’s actions are enrolled or expected to enroll at the Kids Community College High, Pivot, SouthShore and Woodmont charter schools, which face possible shut-down. The board also denied a request from Mater Academy, a South Florida organization that wanted to build two schools in east Hillsborough for more than 1,300 students beginning in the 2022-23 school year.

Bridget Ziegler defiant over critical race theory despite scolding” via Ryan McKinnon of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Several board members told Sarasota County School Board Member Ziegler they were disappointed in her decision to appear on the national Fox News broadcast to discuss the Board of Education’s decision to ban critical race theory from Florida schools. Ziegler appeared on the John Roberts afternoon show “America Reports,” where she said school districts both across the country and in Florida were teaching children to either feel guilty for their race or to feel that they are incapable of succeeding because of ongoing oppression. She also highlighted the fact she was the lone member of the School Board who has school-aged children.

Bridget Ziegler goes on Fox News and doubles down against critical race theory.

Rebuking the state, school board pledges support for transgender athletes” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Transgender students should be able to play sports with members of the gender they identify with, the Broward School Board has proclaimed in a rebuke to DeSantis. The School Board unanimously agreed to oppose the law, signed by DeSantis earlier this month known as the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.” The law is designed to stop transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams, arguing they have an unfair advantage since they were born male. ”Transgender youth are among the most misunderstood and marginalized within our schools and community.” The resolution adds that transgender youth “deserve to live a life that is safe and free of discrimination of any kind.”

Florida Keys company protests school district’s stadium contract” via Many Miles of Keys Weekly — A local construction company is asking how the school district can award seven consecutive construction contracts to the same company when state law requires them to spread those contracts equitably among qualified firms. And did district officials consider that law, or the six prior contracts they had awarded to Ajax Building last week when they again chose Ajax to build Key West High School’s new $15 million stadium over a local company? These are the questions that Gulf-Keystar, the other qualified firm that did not get the stadium contract, wants the school district to answer.

West Palm police employees getting huge raises — up to 29% — in new contract” via Wayne Washington of the Palm Beach Post — Police officers and civilian employees of the West Palm Beach Police Department will get giant pay raises of up to 29% over the next year and a half as part of a new $7.2 million contract between the city and the union that represents officers and other employees of the department. The pay raises, which will range from 15% to 29% for police officers and from 10% to 15% for civilian employees, are far larger than any that have been doled out in recent years to city employees who do not work for the police department. Those employees got a 3% raise in fiscal year 2020.

Palm Beach County continues ’21-year monopoly’ for private ambulance providers” via Hannah Morse of the Palm Beach Post — Two private ambulance companies that have for the past 20 years enjoyed exclusive rights to transfer patients between hospitals, assisted living facilities and rehabilitation centers in Palm Beach County will continue to operate without competition for at least six more years. After four hours of presentations, discussion and comment from the public, county commissioners on Tuesday unanimously decided to extend the certificates allowing American Medical Response, or AMR, and Medics Ambulance Service, to continue to provide emergency services. The two companies have been owned by the same parent company since 2011. In a separate vote, commissioners denied All County Ambulance, which had been recommended to be offered a certificate, as well as three other applicants.

Royal Palm Beach Publix shooter’s ex-wife says she warned authorities about his mental health” via Sanela Sabovic and David Selig of WPLG — Palm County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw expressed outrage last week, saying that the murder-suicide at a Royal Palm Beach Publix could have been avoided if someone came forward to alert authorities about Timothy Wall. Bradshaw said no one told his agency that Wall had mental health issues before Wall, 55 of Loxahatchee, shot dead a 69-year-old woman and her toddler grandson before taking his own life. The shooter’s ex-wife expresses her condolences to the family that lost its loved ones, but she says her family has made numerous efforts to get Wall the help that he needed and that they did contact the sheriff’s office.

Miami-Dade officer gets 10 years for raping women he was monitoring on house arrest” via Ariana Aspuru of the Miami Herald — As a Miami-Dade corrections officer, Yulian Gonzalez’s job was to supervise inmates released as part of the jail system’s house arrest program. But in at least three cases, he raped women he was tasked with supervising, even threatening to send them back to jail if they refused his advances. For his crimes, Gonzalez will be headed to prison for a decade. He will also receive 10 years of parole and mandatory status as a registered sexual predator upon his release. Gonzalez, 36, was first arrested and charged with four counts of armed kidnapping and armed sexual battery in September 2019. He then faced additional charges in Oct. 2019 after two more victims came forward about their rape.

Judge allows school shooter’s defense to film crime scene in Parkland” via Andrea Torres of WPLG — A judge allowed the attorneys who are defending the man who confessed to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre to film the crime scene in Parkland. The judge issued the order on Friday and the work started on Sunday. There were nine hours scheduled on Tuesday and nine hours on Wednesday. Attorneys are preparing for the death penalty trial of Nikolas Cruz, who investigators said used a Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport II semi-automatic rifle, a variant of the AR-15, during the Feb. 14, 2018 massacre. Prosecutors and Marla Carroll, a forensic video consultant, visited the crime scene on Aug. 5, 2019, records show.

Pride Month street paint vandalized in Delray Beach, police say” via Austen Erblat of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The intersection at Northeast First Street and Northeast Second Avenue in Delray Beach is one of many around the country painted in honor of Pride Month, an international celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. The city unveiled its street art on Saturday. By Monday, there were skid marks from vehicle tires stretching from one side of the intersection to the other. “Once we saw the picture of it, it was pretty clear that someone made a concerted effort to mark up the entire intersection,” said Claudia Harrison, a spokeswoman for Compass, a Palm Beach County-based community center for the LGBTQ community. Delray Beach police are investigating the damage as vandalism.

No pride: A Pride street mural in Delray Beach is vandalized.

Nestle Waters sells bottling operations while judge rules on lawsuit venue” via Cindy Swirko of The Gainesville Sun — Nestle Waters will no longer be the villain in an ongoing debate about drawing more water from the aquifer in Ginnie Springs for bottling. One Rock Capital Partners and Metropoulos & Co. have bought the water bottling operation from Nestle, including the Ginnie Springs plant. The new corporate name is BlueTriton Brands. Meanwhile, Eighth Circuit Judge Robert Groeb ruled a lawsuit related to the plant should be transferred to Suwannee County from Gilchrist County, where it was filed. Metropoulos & Co. is an investment firm that has bought and sold several well-known companies, including the snack maker Hostess and the beer company Pabst Brewing. BlueTriton is likely to get just as much opposition for bottling Florida water, particularly from a Santa Fe River system with declining water levels, as Nestle did.

Not all Tampa Bay area are hospitals following a new billing transparency law” via Vanessa Araiza of ABC Action News — The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, or CMS now requires all U.S. hospitals to create a comprehensive machine-readable file with all items of service and display shoppable services in a consumer-friendly format. According to Patient Rights, of the 73 hospitals in the Tampa Bay area, 30 were not compliant. A CMS spokesperson said as of April 2021, they have begun sending warning letters to hospitals that are not abiding by the new rules. If a hospital does not comply, they could be fined $300 a day.

‘We can overcome their voices’: Collier leaders react to homophobic, anti-Semitic video on student’s social media” via Andrew Atkins of the Naples Daily News — Local and religious leaders have responded to an anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ video shared on a Collier County student’s social media. The video, which was shared on Snapchat about two weeks ago, includes homophobic slurs, swastikas and references to Adolf Hitler. If not deleted by the user, Snapchat stories — where the video was posted — automatically delete after 24 hours. Representatives from Temple Shalom, the Naples United Church of Christ, the Holocaust Museum & Cohen Education Center of SWFL, Naples Pride, PFLAG of Naples, and the Boxcar Foundation co-signed a letter submitted to the Naples Daily News in response.

Should Bartow’s Confederate marker come down? If not, some want an emancipation memorial on-site” via Dustin Wyatt of The Lakeland Ledger — The nearly 5-foot tall memorial in downtown Bartow honors 79 local men who died defending the Southern Confederacy during the Civil War. At a May 13 meeting of the Polk County Historical Commission, several called for its removal or relocation. Some suggested another option: If the marker with a Confederate flag on top must stay, Polk County should erect another memorial of similar size on the property. One that celebrates the abolition of slavery. The 10-member Historical Commission has stated what they’d like to see happen. Keep the Confederate memorial. Cover up the Rebel flag at the top with a plaque. Explore the idea of an emancipation monument on site.


Hard truths about critical race theory” via Mac Stipanovich for Florida Politics — DeSantis is right in principle about the impropriety of teaching CRT and the 1619 Project to children, as much as it pains me to say so. Looking unflinchingly at the hard truths about slavery and its sequels is one thing, a necessary thing, but wallowing in them exclusively, which these essays do, is something else. Moreover, the underlying scholarship of the Project is sometimes suspect. This is not to say there is not a wealth of excellent information, much truth, and real value in the 1619 Project, because there is. But it is to say that the content is uneven, off the charts tendentious, and more than a little controversial.


How Biden followed in Trump’s footsteps in Europe” via Rich Lowry or POLITICO Magazine — It is the ultimate victory for a politician if he doesn’t just reorient his own party, but the other party like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher both did this, producing more moderate Democratic and Labor leaders in Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, respectively. It is impossible to imagine President Barack Obama during his time in office, just five years ago, pressuring reluctant European allies to take a tougher line on China, as Biden did over the past week. Trump’s wrenching shift in the U.S. approach is now getting the ultimate tribute of broad acceptance by a successor who has nothing good to say about him and wants. For 20 years, the U.S. had operated on the bipartisan assumption that welcoming Beijing would pay off in a liberalizing China. By the end of the Obama years, it was increasingly clear that this strategy had come a cropper. 

Florida’s overriding interest in safe cruising” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — DeSantis’ opposition to so-called “vaccine passports” is bad for the cruise industry, ship passengers, and Florida’s own economy. It’s another example of how politicians have politicized the coronavirus to their own detriment and to that of citizens who expect a reasonable balancing of public health as the nation reopens. Billions of dollars and thousands of jobs are at stake, along with revenue to suppliers, public ports and the maritime services industry. The law is a sop to anti-vaxxers at the expense of cruise lines and travelers acting responsibly, and it ignores the practical reality that cruise ships are an entirely different environment for managing public health. The cruise companies should insist on putting the safety of their passengers and crews first. 

Fake E-Verify: Florida immigration law is just bogus pandering” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Last week, the Orlando Sentinel revealed that Florida’s much-touted crackdown on illegal employment has been a total bust. Nearly six months after it was enacted, not a single violation or complaint has been lodged with the agency in charge. And the agency hasn’t taken any enforcement action. Republican lawmakers didn’t crack down on squat. They claimed they were passing a law that required employers to use the federal government’s E-Verify database to confirm all their hires were legal. But they exempted every business in the state without a government contract, including the entire agriculture industry, which admits most of its workers are undocumented.

An airtight sex case, a sweetheart deal, and questions about justice” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — The case against Joel Greenberg has no shortage of disgusting details, including sex with a 17-year-old girl. For that and other offenses, Greenberg is facing a long stint in a federal pen. Andrew John Jones, a former prosecutor and candidate for Seminole County judge, isn’t going to serve a day behind bars under a plea deal reached with prosecutors earlier this month. Nor will his name go on the state’s registry of convicted sex offenders. He’s getting two years of community control, basically house arrest, and eight years of probation. We understand that administering justice is an imperfect process where these questions don’t always yield easy answers, but one thing is for sure: The circumstances in Jones’ case are, in fact, grotesque. And the plea deal he got seems outrageously generous.


Gov. DeSantis is assembling a posse of Florida deputies to help patrol the Mexico border.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— The Governor says Mexican meth and fentanyl is flooding Florida, and he wants to cut it off at the source. But they haven’t figured out how many officers will be making a run for the border … or when it will happen.

— DeSantis and the state Clemency Board issue a blanket pardon for anyone charged with violating local health and safety orders … like Mike and Jillian Carnevale.

— Yep, enforcing a mask mandate is persecution. And DeSantis says they were victims of government overreach.

— Fried was the only Cabinet member to vote against the blanket pardon: She accuses the Governor of encouraging lawlessness and trying to turn Florida into a cradle for the insurrection.

— It’s the end of an era as Florida Power and Light begins demolition of their last coal-fired power plant in the Sunshine State. The CEO of the state’s largest power company says they’re moving on from coal. FP&L is building a new solar plant near the Indiantown Cogeneration Plant in Martin County that just blew up.

— It’s been more than six weeks since the end of the Legislative Session, and we’re still trying to figure out exactly what happened. A group of lawmakers describe it in just one word … “spaghetti politics.”

— OK. it’s not one word … but there’s always one guy who breaks the rules.

— And finally, a Florida Man told police it was OK for him to go bottomless at the beach because he was still wearing a shirt. It was not.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Could a fireworks shortage affect July Fourth celebrations? Phantom Fireworks urges customers to shop early” via Kelly Tyko and Scott Tady of USA Today — Weeks ahead of July Fourth festivities, Phantom Fireworks, the nation’s largest consumer-based retail fireworks company, is urging customers to shop early as the industry faces a potential shortage for the second year in a row. Sales of fireworks boomed in 2020 as more families opted to put on their own shows amid the COVID-19 pandemic after cities across the nation canceled public displays. This year, Ohio-based Phantom Fireworks, which has approximately 80 stores throughout the U.S. and supplies thousands of retailers nationwide, says it has extended store hours and brought in additional staff to sell their backyard firecrackers.

Fireworks retailers are saying to stock up before a possible shortage.

‘Beauty and the Beast’ limited musical series in the works at Disney+” via Chloe Milas of CNN — Disney’s animated classic, “Beauty and the Beast” is being turned into an eight-episode musical series for the Disney+ streaming network. The series is a prequel to the 2017 live-action film and will tell the story before Belle and the Beast fell in love. It will follow Gaston LeFou and LeFou’s stepsister, Tilly. “For anyone who’s ever wondered how a brute like Gaston and a goof like LeFou could have ever become friends and partners, or how a mystical enchantress came to cast that fateful spell on the prince-turned-beast, this series will finally provide those answers … and provoke a whole new set of questions,” Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer of Disney Branded Television, said in a news release. 


Best wishes to Republican political consultant Brett DosterDonna Main, the very talented Kristin PiccoloToby Philpot of the Florida Health Care Association, House candidate Rachel Saunders PlakonSharon Smoley, the vice president of Advocacy and Public Policy for the Orlando Economic Partnership.


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, 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.


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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Aimee Sachs, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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