Good Tuesday morning.
Like so many of you, the staff of Florida Politics is exhausted from the events of the last year-and-a-half. I’ve done my best to keep our team’s spirits up with paid Mental Health Days-off and overtime bonuses, but even those can only do so much. That’s why next week, the week leading up to the Fourth of July holiday and traditionally one of the slowest times of the year (cross your fingers), we are going dark, so to speak. The entire staff will be off next week so that they can catch up on taking care of themselves.
We’ll keep FloridaPolitics.com current with stories from The Associated Press and other wires, but “Sunburn,” “Last Call,” “Takeaways from Tallahassee,” “Jacksonville Bold,” and “The Delegation” email newsletters, as well our podcasts will be on hiatus until July 6.
Not only do I hope you will understand why we are doing this, but we also are grateful for your readership and financial support that affords us the ability to hit the reset button.
Converge Government Affairs is now Converge Public Strategies.
The full-service government affairs firm announced this week that it was rebranding with a new name, logo and website to better represent how the firm has grown in the years since it was founded.
“When we launched Converge, we had a vision to build a multifaceted, multistate public affairs firm that was headquartered in Miami,” Converge Public Strategies Chairman Jonathan Kilman said. “Today, in addition to our strong Florida presence, we offer government relations, communications and digital solutions services across the United States. Our new brand reflects the firm we have evolved into — a firm that partners with clients to solve hard problems in the public sphere.”
Converge partner Elnatan Rudolph added, “True to our culture, the website is bold and modern. Like our professionals, the design is equally innovative and professional. Our team is serious and capable of working within old guard institutions but nimble and sophisticated enough to keep pace with a rapidly evolving world. We updated our firm name and design to capture that essence of who we are.”
Converge Public Strategies provides state, local and multistate government affairs services, communications services and digital services to private and public sector clients.
The firm has become a go-to for companies on the leading edge of tech innovation — their portfolio of clients includes flying car company Lilium, driverless delivery company Nuro and dockless scooter sharing platform Revel Transit, among others.
The Miami-based firm has offices around the state, including Jacksonville, Orlando and Tallahassee. And in 2019, the firm opened an office in New York City focused on supporting clients in securing grant funding.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican Governors Association released fresh battleground polling that shows the GOP is heading into the 2022 cycle with the upper hand.
The survey touched on some hot-button issues, finding that Americans “largely reject the main pillars of the Democrats’ agenda, including wasteful spending, open borders, anti-Israel rhetoric, and critical race theory.”
The poll showed the American Jobs Plan, one of President Joe Biden’s top priorities, is underwater 48%-39%. Half of Americans said the country could not afford hefty spending on infrastructure compared to 39% who said it was necessary. And respondents said 51%-45% that the Biden White House is to blame for rising inflation.
The most encouraging lines for Republicans: The GOP wins a generic ballot test 43%-37%, and the gap grows to 50%-40% when the Republican candidate is pitched as someone who would pump the brakes on the Biden agenda. In both cases, the gap is more pronounced among independents.
“The Biden Administration, along with Democrats in Washington and across the country, are out of touch with Americans. Americans don’t want or need more government control of their lives. In fact, they’re sick of it,” said U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, who chairs the NRSC.
“We’ve seen this as a consistent trend in the polls we’ve conducted over the last few months. American families all want the same things: freedom and opportunity, jobs, safe communities, a great education for their children, less spending, and smaller government — everything that today’s Democrat Party stands against.”
The poll, conducted by OnMessage, sampled 1,200 likely voters across 26 Senate and Governor battleground states. The margin of error plus or minus 2.82 percentage points.
Before you read any further, pause for a second and add Episode 3 of “State of Emergency” to your podcast playlist. Those who caught it on Friday, skip ahead.
In this episode, co-hosts Peter Schorsch and Jared Moskowitz are joined by the “walking TED Talk” himself, Sen. Jeff Brandes.
The trio spends an hour riffing on the biggest news in politics, tech, vacation plans and the pandemic and, in some cases, where those topics intersect.
As always, no subject is off-limits.
Vaccine passports? Check. The “legalize it” movement? Check. Sending backup to the border? Check. And how the Governor could jack up your car insurance premiums by 50% with a stroke of his pen? That’s in there, too.
Congrats to Ann Duncan, Executive Vice President and Head of Occupier Services, Savills, on her engagement to Todd Inman, former Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Transportation and a veteran of multiple presidential and U.S. Senate campaigns. The couple met at the 2019 annual meeting of Florida Tax Watch. He popped the question this past weekend at the Urban Stillhouse in St. Pete.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@ElonGreen: That Tucker Carlson is a “secret” source for reporters is not a surprise and isn’t really news. The real story, which isn’t explicitly mentioned, is that the country’s most powerful reporters cozy up to a famed White supremacist and launder stories on his behalf.
—@AGAshleyMoody: In Florida, we do not tolerate lawlessness, and this is evident as the overall crime rate in our state has now dropped for the 50th straight year. This amazing accomplishment would not be possible without the service and sacrifice of Florida’s brave LEOs.
It was such a privilege visiting @usfsp, and speaking with students from the @FloridaYIG program! It’s always an engaging conversation with the some of the brightest students in our state! pic.twitter.com/ep8lGIgNBD
— Amber Mariano (@ambermariano) June 21, 2021
This Father’s Day happens to coincide with my 9th foster placement since getting licensed almost two years ago. Here’s a nod to all foster fathers out there doing their best to be there for a child. pic.twitter.com/SFAhZbowzr
— SpencerRoach (@SpencerRoachFL) June 20, 2021
— DAYS UNTIL —
Microsoft reveals major Windows update — 2; F9 premieres in the U.S. — 3; Bruce Springsteen revives solo show, “Springsteen on Broadway” — 4; ‘Tax Freedom Holiday’ begins — 9; Fourth of July — 12; ‘Black Widow’ rescheduled premiere — 17; MLB All-Star Game — 21; Jeff Bezos travels into space on Blue Origin’s first passenger flight — 28; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 31; second season of ‘Ted Lasso’ premieres on Apple+ — 31; the NBA Draft — 41; ‘Jungle Cruise’ premieres — 43; ‘The Suicide Squad’ premieres — 49; Florida Behavioral Health Association’s Annual Conference (BHCon) begins — 57; St. Petersburg Primary Election — 63; Disney’s ‘Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings’ premieres — 72; NFL regular season begins — 79; Broadway’s full-capacity reopening — 84; 2022 Legislative Session interim committee meetings begin — 90; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres (rescheduled) — 94; ‘Dune’ premieres — 101; MLB regular season ends — 103; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres (rescheduled) — 108; World Series Game 1 — 127; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 133; Florida’s 20th Congressional District primary — 133; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 135; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ rescheduled premiere — 149; San Diego Comic-Con begins — 157; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 171; ‘Spider-Man Far From Home’ sequel premieres — 181; NFL season ends — 201; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 203; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 203; NFL playoffs begin — 207; Super Bowl LVI — 236; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 276; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 318; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 345; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 381; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 472; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 507.
“Supreme Court rules against NCAA restrictions on colleges offering educational perks to compensate student-athletes” via Robert Barnes and Molly Hensley-Clancy of The Washington Post — The Supreme Court ruled Monday unanimously against the NCAA’s limits on education-related perks for college athletes, a serious blow to the organization’s power to dictate the rules for compensating those who participate in college sports. In a 9-0 vote, the court rejected the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s argument that its rules limiting such educational benefits were necessary to preserve the image of amateurism in college sports. The ruling itself was modest, but it seemed to open the door for larger questions about paying athletes. Justice Brett Kavanaugh warned that the NCAA is “not above the law.” Tradition alone “cannot justify the NCAA’s decision to build a massive money-raising enterprise on the backs of student-athletes who are not fairly compensated,” Kavanaugh wrote.
“Chip LaMarca celebrates latest SCOTUS ruling” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — LaMarca is supporting a Monday decision by the U.S. Supreme Court chipping away at National Collegiate Athletic Association governing compensation for college athletes. LaMarca fronted Florida legislation allowing college athletes to make money, including via endorsement deals, off their name, image and likeness (NIL). Monday’s Supreme Court dealing did not deal with that issue. Instead, SCOTUS unanimously struck down NCAA rules limiting education-related benefits, such as laptops or paid internships to college athletes. “We don’t see too many 9-0 votes on the U.S. Supreme Court,” LaMarca said. Monday’s opinion by Justice Neil Gorsuch found that the NCAA violates price-fixing rules aimed at preventing monopolies.
— 2022 —
“Gov. Ron DeSantis posts increase in net worth” via Jim Turner of News Service of Florida — With his only listed income a taxpayer-funded salary of $134,181, DeSantis reported a net worth of $348,832 as of Dec. 31, 2020, up from $291,449 at the end of 2019, according to a financial disclosure posted Monday on the Florida Commission on Ethics website. State elected officials face a loose July 1 deadline to file annual disclosure reports. The forms require disclosure of an estimated net worth, assets valued at more than $1,000, liabilities of more than $1,000 and information about income. In addition to his salary in 2020, DeSantis listed assets of $235,000 in a USAA account; $105,755 in a government thrift savings plan, a type of retirement savings and investment plan; and $30,302 in the Florida Retirement System.
“DeSantis edges former President Donald Trump in 2024 straw poll” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — A Florida man was the favorite of Western conservatives for President in 2024 and it wasn’t the former President in Palm Beach. DeSantis topped the 2024 presidential approval poll at the Western Conservative Summit 2021 in Denver over the weekend, edging out Trump by a count of 74.12% to 71.43%. DeSantis’s straw poll win came during the same weekend in which he was the home state headliner at another conservative conference in Kissimmee, earning the nod to close out the event over former Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Scott.
—”Business leaders write five-figure checks to Charlie Crist committee” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics
—”Jeff Greene, Thomas Buhr cut big checks for Nikki Fried” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics
Save the date:
“Cory Mills touts another congressional backer in CD 7 bid” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Republican congressional candidate Mills picked up another endorsement in the race for Florida’s 7th Congressional District. U.S. Rep. Brian Babin of Texas endorsed Mills, who is one of four Republicans running for the seat currently held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy. Mills is a U.S. Army veteran who now works as a defense, diplomatic, and law enforcement consultant and contractor. In 2006, as a contractor for the U.S. State Department, he was injured in two separate explosions in Iraq. Babin is the fifth member of Congress to endorse Mills in the primary race, which also features state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, Jeremy Liggett and Mark Busch.
Spotted last week at The Gasparilla Inn & Club: Speaker Chris Sprowls, Reps. Paul Renner, Danny Perez, Sam Garrison, Adam Botana, Jenna Person, Bob Rommel, Josie Tomkow, Jay Trumbull, and Adam Babington, Melanie DiMuzio Chris Dudley, Cory Guzzo, David Hart, John Holley, and Gary Hunter.
“Senate Victory gets new leadership team” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Senate Democrats have announced a new leadership team at Senate Victory as the 2022 midterms inch closer. The Senate Democratic caucus’ campaign arm, under the leadership of Minority Leader Lauren Book, on Monday added Sierra Fareed as its finance director, Christian Ulvert as its general consultant, Claire VanSusteren as its communications director and Tim Wagner as its political director. “I am excited to welcome our new team of Democratic operatives to Senate Victory as we lay the groundwork to defend incumbent seats and win new ones,” Book said in a statement. Senate Democrats are coming off a rough 2020 electoral cycle in which the party lost nearly every competitive race. Democrats hoped to expand their majority but ultimately lost a seat.
“David Jolly’s SAM political party registers in 3 states” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The Serve America Movement, which last year brought in former Rep. Jolly to lead it, has filed political party formation paperwork in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. Florida registration should not far behind, along with registrations in a few other states, Jolly said Monday. Jolly and the interests behind SAM, organized in 2016 by Morgan Stanley lawyer Eric Grossman and others, are organizing an across-the-spectrum party built on shared principles of problem-solving, electoral reform, transparency, and accountability, not on conservative or liberal political ideologies.
— DATELINE TALLY —
“DeSantis highlights $12 million increase in Alzheimer’s research funding” via Haley Brown of Florida Politics — On the heels of FDA approval for a new Alzheimer’s treatment, DeSantis held a news conference touting Florida’s funding to help fight the disease. The state’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year includes a more than $12 million increase in Alzheimer’s and dementia funding. The state’s total commitment for the 2021/2022 fiscal year to help with issues stemming from the disease is more than $51 million. DeSantis spoke about the funding while standing outside an assisted living facility called The Windsor at San Pablo in Jacksonville. Florida has the second-highest prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S., with an estimated 580,000 Floridians battling the disease. That number is projected to increase to more than 720,000 by 2025.
“Taxpayers getting large, but unknown benefit from Freedom Week” via Renzo Downey — State economists believe the upcoming Freedom Week tax holiday will create more in tax relief than previously thought. The question remaining is, by how much? The inaugural Freedom Week will run July 1-7 and will waive sales taxes on sporting and live music events, state park admission, gym dues and movie theater tickets. Outdoor products and supplies will also be tax-free. Lawmakers credited the faster than anticipated economic recovery for making the millions in relief possible in this year’s tax bill (HB 7061), signed last month. The hard part in pinning down the holiday’s fiscal impact is predicting how many people will take advantage of it.
“DeSantis signs new law that helps people remove their online mug shot” via Haley Brown of Florida Politics — DeSantis signed SB 1046 that will require mug shot publishers to remove booking photos if requested by the person featured in the image. The new law comes with penalties. If the publisher doesn’t remove the photo within 10 days of written notice, they face a daily $1,000 penalty. The change could give thousands of Floridians a second chance, according to supporter Blake Mathesie. Mathesie worked with bill sponsors, Republicans Sen. Aaron Bean and Rep. Jason Fischer, to get the law passed. A law passed in 2017 was supposed to crack down on the issue. That law prohibited mug shot publishers from demanding money for the removal of a mug shot. But mug-shot publishers can still make money from ad revenue.
“DeSantis limits restraint methods for disciplining students with disabilities” via Florida Politics — HB 149 revises requirements for the use of seclusion and restraint as punishments for a student with disabilities. Physical restraint of a student would be allowed only if needed to protect students or school personnel, but not as a disciplinary measure, and a student could be restrained only long enough to protect the student and others and only after all other options have been exhausted. The bill defines seclusion as “the involuntary confinement of a student in a room or area alone and preventing the student from leaving the room or area.” The bill said a time-out is not included in seclusion. Additionally, it specifically prohibits any physical techniques that would inflict pain and the use of straitjackets, zip ties, handcuffs, or tie-downs.
“DeSantis gets bill on CPR training in schools” via News Service of Florida — A measure that would require high school freshmen and juniors in Florida to take one hour of instruction on how to administer CPR was formally sent to DeSantis on Monday. The bill (HB 157) passed the House and Senate unanimously during the 2021 Legislative Session. Under the measure, school districts would be required to provide one hour of “basic training in first aid, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation” to all students in the ninth and eleventh grades. School districts also would be “encouraged” to begin giving basic first-aid and CPR training to students in grades six and eight. A House staff analysis said CPR, when started immediately, can double or triple a person’s chance of surviving cardiac arrest.
“No Casinos urges feds to reject Florida’s Seminole Compact” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — A prominent group opposing the expansion of casinos in Florida has sent a letter to federal regulators asking them to reject the state’s recent deal with the Seminole Tribe. Lawmakers last month ratified DeSantis and the Tribe’s Compact, and it now awaits the U.S. Department of the Interior’s approval. If given the green light, the 30-year deal is guaranteed to rake in $500 million per year for Florida over the next five years. However, No Casinos argues the Compact violates state and federal law, and has vowed to take the state to court if the department approves it. Under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), the department must sign off on state gaming agreements. Saying no gives Florida a chance to renegotiate the deal.
Happening today — Tuesday is the deadline for Florida Public Service Commission candidates to submit applications. The terms of Art Graham and Andrew Fay expire in January, and the PSC Nominating Council will interview candidates and send finalists to Gov. DeSantis for an appointment.
Happening today — The Public Service Commission will hold online customer hearings about a proposal for base-rate increases for Florida Power & Light, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Livestreamed here.
“DeSantis is using teacher bonus checks for a political plug, critics say” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida’s public school classroom teachers and principals are set to receive $1,000 bonuses this year, and DeSantis has systematically tied his name to the financial recognition. So much so that his administration has taken steps to have the money delivered directly from the state, rather than following the usual process of sending bonus funding to school districts for distribution. The departments of Education and Economic Opportunity are collecting employee data and looking into the logistics of cutting and mailing the checks. DeSantis critics have speculated that the governor will attempt to have his signature on the payments, either on an accompanying letter or the check itself. They suggested politics is at play.
— STATEWIDE —
Assignment editors — Agriculture Commissioner Fried will announce a new initiative by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Office of Energy to improve energy equity in Florida, 10 a.m., Robles Park Neighborhood, 3518 North Avon Avenue, Tampa. RSVP to [email protected]
“Texas backs Florida in immigration fight“ via News Service of Florida — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office last week filed a brief at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that seeks to bolster Attorney General Ashley Moody’s arguments that the Biden administration has shirked responsibilities in enforcing immigration laws and threatened public safety. Last month, a federal district judge rejected the arguments, leading Moody to take the case to the Atlanta-based appeals court. The lawsuit focuses on memos issued on Jan. 20 and Feb. 18 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with Moody contending that the directives violate immigration laws and what is known as the Administrative Procedure Act.
“Florida’s overall crime rate down, murders up in 2020” via The Associated Press — Crime was down overall in Florida during 2020, but violent crime rose. There were 1,285 murders in Florida last year, an increase of 260, or 14.7% from 2019. Of those, 1,025 were committed with a gun, up 20.2% from the year before. Murders committed with a gun made up nearly 80% of the state’s total. In a year when many people worked at home or stayed home more often during the coronavirus pandemic, burglaries, robberies and larcenies dropped significantly. There were 13,439 robberies, a drop of 17% from 2019; 51,928 burglaries, down 17.8%; and 291,923 larcenies, down 18.5%.
“Where the lines are drawn: New state rule could threaten Florida teachers’ academic freedom in history, civics” via Danielle J. Brown of Florida Phoenix — Academic freedom has been a cornerstone in Florida classrooms, but a new rule imposed recently by the State Board of Education limits what materials and concepts can be used in discussing race in America, specifically the highly-targeted Critical Race Theory, the 1619 Project that won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary and Holocaust denial. The unclear boundaries have some teachers worried about accidentally crossing a line during instruction in areas of slavery and segregation. And educators could face the possibility of being stifled in their speech and limited in their actions as they prepare for the next school year in Florida. Keep in mind that state law in Florida requires African American history to be in the school curriculum.
“Big Tobacco targeted Black Floridians. Menthol ban aims to reverse the damage.” via Margo Snipe of the Tampa Bay Times — For decades, the tobacco industry has used flavored cigarettes to target communities of color, low-income groups and LGBTQ people. That’s why the FDA announced plans in April to ban menthol cigarettes, to chip away at the persistent health disparities in those groups. In 2009, the federal Tobacco Control Act banned flavors in cigarettes, but not menthol. While flavored cigars have seen a significant decline, menthol cigarettes continue to flourish. Across the country, an estimated 34 million adults smoke cigarettes. And nearly 18.6 million of those smoke menthol products.
“State pot license slated to go to Black farmer” via The News Service of Florida — A Black farmer with ties to doing business in Florida will be at the head of the line for a long-awaited batch of medical-marijuana licenses in an application process that state health officials will launch soon, senior aides to DeSantis said. The aides said the Department of Health will kick off the rule-making process for Black farmer applicants within “weeks to months” and set the stage for another set of licenses that would nearly double the number of medical marijuana operators in the state. “It would be awesome if we could get that application, get that license. We are definitely overdue as it relates to that,” Ocala nursery operator Howard Gunn, who is Black, said in a phone interview.
“Group urges tapping money for disability services” via News Service of Florida — A statewide advocacy group is calling on DeSantis to tap into an estimated $319 million in Medicaid money that could be used to help people with developmental disabilities. The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, in a letter last week to the Governor, warned that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to group homes closing and to ongoing staffing shortages. “We are hearing from self-advocates, families, support coordinators and group home providers that the situation is dire,” wrote Valerie Breen, executive director for the council. Breen’s letter said some homes had a 30% vacancy rate among staff and that turnover is up to 51% since the start of the pandemic.
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“Jill Biden to visit Florida for vaccine events” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Biden will travel to Kissimmee and Tampa on Thursday to encourage vaccination efforts in local Florida communities. “These trips are part of the Administration’s nationwide tour to reach millions of Americans who still need protection against the virus,” the White House said in an announcement. In Kissimmee, the First Lady is expected to visit a drive-through vaccination site. Later, she will join the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team for Advent Health’s Shots on Ice vaccination event. The public vaccination event will be held at Amalie Arena and will feature games and giveaways. Floridians can register for the event online. They can also receive a Pfizer two-dose or Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine at no cost.
“Delta variant seeps into FL; health experts warn it could be more transmissible than other strains” via Issac Morgan of Florida Phoenix — The so-called Delta variant has seeped into Florida and dozens of other states, with federal officials saying it could become the dominant strain in the country. First identified in India, Delta is classified as a “variant of concern” by the CDC because of its “increased transmissibility.” The CDC also noted on its website that the Delta variant known as B. 1.617.2, has a “potential reduction” in vaccine effectiveness and it is more transmissible than earlier strains such as B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the United Kingdom. On Friday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, warned that the Delta variant “could become the dominant strain in the United States,” according to ABC News. But last week, DeSantis appeared to downplay the Delta variant, in remarks following the Governor and Florida Cabinet meeting.
“DeSantis touts legal victory over CDC on cruise ship no-sail order” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — DeSantis suggested Monday that his legal victory over the CDC will serve as a larger check against the federal government and what he perceives as overreach amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking at a Jacksonville news conference, DeSantis took a moment to highlight a federal-court decision released Friday against the CDC’s no-sail order and its implications. The order, instituted in early 2020, halted cruise ship operations nationwide. Moody filed the lawsuit in April after the CDC failed to provide a pathway for the cruise ship industry to resume normal operations. In turn, DeSantis credited himself for kicking off the national dialogue on CDC powers.
“Royal Caribbean sails first ‘simulator’ cruise ship from Miami, as industry set to restart” via Bianca Cadró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — A Royal Caribbean International cruise ship left from PortMiami with 600 passengers on board Sunday evening, part of a test sail trip as the cruise industry gears up for a grand restart later this summer. The two-day trip on the Freedom of the Seas is a simulation with volunteer passengers, many of whom are Royal Caribbean employees, set to test whether cruise ships are safe. It’s a major milestone for the cruising industry after it came to a sudden halt last year during the COVID-19 pandemic and has not sailed with passengers for 15 months. The ship, which left the South Florida port at 7 p.m. Sunday, will stop in CocoCay, the Bahamian island owned by the major cruise line.
Happening today — The Florida Ports Council is hosting an event featuring cruise-line executives from Holland America Group, MSC Cruises USA, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean Group, Royal Caribbean International and Virgin Voyages. The summit will discuss restarting cruise operations, 9 a.m. PortMiami. Miami
“Florida medical marijuana patients anxious about the end of DeSantis coronavirus order” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — Citing an emergency order by DeSantis, the Department of Health has allowed marijuana patients to re-up their medication with cannabis physicians via telehealth. But DeSantis’ emergency order is set to expire June 26, apparently taking with it a doctor’s ability to continue to recommend medical cannabis to patients virtually. That’s a concern for the neediest of the state’s cannabis patients, doctors say. “To the patients who utilize medical cannabis, many of whom who are debilitated and unable to leave their homes … this presents a real barrier,” said Dr. Sasha Noe. DeSantis has made it clear he wants the state to return to pre-pandemic normalcy; he said on May 3 that Florida is “no longer in a state of emergency.”
Deborah Birx to speak at FHA annual meeting — Former White House pandemic adviser Birx is listed as one of the keynote speakers at the Florida Hospital Association’s annual meeting. As reported by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, Birx is on the agenda alongside The Buried Life co-founder Ben Nemtin and former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Seema Verma. Birx was a fixture at White House coronavirus briefings but was sidelined somewhat after Trump supporters turned against her. FHA’s annual meeting will be held Oct. 6-8 in Orlando
— CORONA NATION —
“America is ready to return to normal. Joe Biden’s CDC chief isn’t so sure.” via Erin Banco of POLITICO — The newly installed director of the CDC had one big request for agency employees at an all-hands meeting in March: Don’t talk to the press without permission. Walensky’s remarks caught many CDC scientists and officials off guard. The CDC director’s request seemed to contradict what the Biden administration was trying to achieve: revitalizing the federal government’s COVID-19 response by spotlighting federal scientists that Trump had cast aside. During the first months of the Biden era, the CDC has scrambled to clearly communicate some of the most critical federal policies on COVID-19, and to balance the narrative that life is returning to normal for those fully vaccinated and that COVID-19 still posed an incredible risk to those who were not.
“COVID-19 deaths dip to lowest numbers in over a year as U.S. hits vaccine milestone” via Michael Kunzelman of The Associated Press — COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have dipped below 300 a day for the first time since the early days of the disaster in March 2020, while the drive to put shots in arms approached another encouraging milestone Monday: 150 million Americans fully vaccinated. The coronavirus was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020, behind heart disease and cancer. But now, as the outbreak loosens its grip, it has fallen down the list of the biggest killers. CDC data suggests that more Americans are dying every day from accidents, chronic lower respiratory diseases, strokes or Alzheimer’s disease than from COVID-19.
“In 11 U.S. states, the rate of vaccination in those over 65 lags the national level.” via Adeel Hassan of The New York Times — There are 11 states in the United States where at least 20% of older adults still haven’t received a COVID-19 shot, potentially putting the recovery there at risk. People 65 and older were given top priority for vaccinations because they are far more vulnerable to serious illness and death from the coronavirus than younger people are. Those 65 and older have the highest vaccination rate among all age groups, with 87% having received at least one dose, compared with 60% for people ages 18 to 64, and 31% for those 12 to 17. But in 11 states, seniors who have yet to get a dose of the vaccine pose a risk to their states’ recovery as most places remove restrictions aimed at limiting new outbreaks.
“New book offers fresh details about chaos, conflicts inside Trump’s pandemic response” via Dan Diamond of The Washington Post — In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, as White House officials debated whether to bring infected Americans home for care, Trump suggested his own plan for where to send them, eager to suppress the numbers on U.S. soil. “We import goods,” Trump specified, lecturing his staff. “We are not going to import a virus.” Aides were stunned, and when Trump brought it up a second time, they quickly scuttled the idea, worried about a backlash over quarantining American tourists on the same Caribbean base where the United States holds terrorism suspects.
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“Biden encourages Americans to take advantage of child tax credit” via Eugene Scott of The Washington Post — Biden made a strong push for the child tax credit Monday, encouraging Americans to take advantage of the program in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan that he signed into law in March. In a video released by the White House, the President also urged Americans to press their lawmakers to make the tax benefit permanent. The tax credit is in place only for 2021. “With the power of the American Rescue Plan and you, our country can ensure that all working families can raise their kids with the support and dignity they deserve,” Biden said. The expansion can benefit nearly 83 million children and reduce the number of impoverished children by more than 40% for the year.
To watch Biden’s video, click on the image below:
“U.S. economy is bouncing back from COVID-19. Now foreign investors are rushing in.” via Paul Hannon, Rhiannon Hoyle and Tom Fairless of The Wall Street Journal — The extraordinary recovery of the U.S. economy is likely to make the country the world’s top destination for overseas investment this year and next with foreign businesses drawn by the prospect of a rapid and sustained rebound in consumer spending and the Biden administration’s multitrillion-dollar infrastructure plans. Overseas investments by businesses around the world fell by a third in 2020 from the previous year. The U.S. recorded a 40% fall in investment but narrowly held on to its long-held position as the top destination ahead of China. The U.N. in January estimated that the U.S. had lost the top slot.
“The economy isn’t going back to February 2020. Fundamental shifts have occurred.” via Heather Long of The Washington Post — The U.S. economy is emerging from the coronavirus pandemic with considerable speed but markedly transformed, as businesses and consumers struggle to adapt to a new landscape with higher prices, fewer workers, new innovations and a range of inconveniences. In late February 2020, the unemployment rate was 3.5%, inflation was tame, wages were rising and American companies were attempting to recover from a multiyear trade war. The pandemic disrupted everything, damaging some parts of the economy much more than others. But a mass vaccination effort and the virus’s steady retreat this year has allowed many businesses and communities to reopen.
“Retail workers are quitting at record rates for higher-paying work: ‘My life isn’t worth a dead-end job’” via Abha Bhattarai of The Washington Post — Retail workers, drained from the pandemic and empowered by a strengthening job market, are leaving jobs like never before. Americans are ditching their jobs by the millions, and retail is leading the way with the largest increase in resignations of any sector. Some 649,000 retail workers put in their notice in April, the industry’s largest one-month exodus since the Labor Department began tracking such data more than 20 years ago. Some find less stressful positions at insurance agencies, marijuana dispensaries, banks and local governments, where their customer service skills are rewarded with higher wages and better benefits. Others go back to school to learn new trades or wait until they can secure reliable child care.
“Florida wrestles with 500,000 job openings as 503,000 remain out of work” via Rob Wile of the Miami Herald — Florida now has about one job opening for every out-of-work resident, new state data showed Friday. The state added 35,800 private-sector jobs last month, its 13th consecutive month of job growth. Yet more than 500,000 jobs remain available in Florida, despite an almost equal number of people, 503,000, saying they are out of work and looking for a job. “Florida businesses are trying to fill vacancies and are actually having a difficult time hiring,” said Dane Eagle, head of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, in a statement. “Businesses across the state continue to provide Floridians with opportunities for meaningful employment and economic freedom.” The state’s unemployment rate crept up 0.1 percentage points to 4.9%, reflecting increased confidence about job availability and job seekers rejoining the workforce.
“Florida ranks in top five states for unemployment recovery” via Grace Mamon of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Florida’s unemployment claims have recovered fourth quickest in the country since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, seeing 13 consecutive months of job growth. Not all states are recovering at the same rate, according to a WalletHub study that compared the 50 states and Washington, D.C. based on changes in unemployment claims for several key benchmark weeks. Florida came in at No. 4 behind New Hampshire, South Carolina and South Dakota for states most recovered since the pandemic. This ranking is consistent with information from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, which reported Friday that the state’s unemployment rate is lower than the national rate.
—“‘A wake-up call’: Miami hotel workers resist going back to low-wage normal” via Taylor Dolven of the Miami Herald
—“Universal Orlando looks to hire 1,000 restaurant workers” via Austin Fuller of the Orlando Sentinel
—“Florida gas prices ease, but still flirt with $3 a gallon” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics
Happening today — Sen. Jason Brodeur and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer will join the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association to discuss the effects of COVID-19 on reduced business travel, along with meetings and events, on the state’s economy, 10 a.m. Hyatt Regency Orlando, 9801 International Dr., Orlando.
— MORE CORONA —
“We studied COVID-19 cases after birthdays. Family gatherings can still be dangerous.” via Christopher Whaley and Dr. Anupam B. Jena of USA Today — Despite more than a year of significant restrictions on formal gatherings, America has seen more than 33.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nearly 602,000 deaths. This high toll is likely partly due to informal social gatherings that have not been subject to state and local restrictions. One study found that peoples’ compliance with public health recommendations like wearing masks depended on the perceived risk of COVID-19 among the people with whom they interact. Another hypothesized that people might not view being with friends and family as a truly public setting. In counties where transmission of the disease was high, the likelihood of infection in a household increased by about 30% in the two weeks following a household birthday.
— PRESIDENTIAL —
“White House eyes ending migrant family expulsion by July 31” via Stef W. Kight of Axios — The White House is considering ending as early as July 31 the use of a Trump-era public health order that’s let U.S. border officials quickly turn back migrant families to Mexico. The policy known as Title 42 has resulted in tens of thousands of migrant family members, including asylum-seekers, being sent away, as well as thousands of kids then separating from their families to cross into the United States alone. Title 42 was rooted in protecting the United States from an influx of COVID-19. Maintaining its use has been harder to defend while the Biden administration touts climbing vaccination rates and slowing death and infection numbers.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“Trump and his CFO Allen Weisselberg stay close as prosecutors advance their case” via Jonathan O’Connell, Shayna Jacobs, David A. Fahrenthold and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — As the most senior non-Trump executive at the former President’s private, closely held company, Weisselberg is probably a key figure in prosecutors’ efforts to indict Trump, legal experts say. His central role in nearly every aspect of Trump’s business, revealed in depositions and news interviews over the past three decades, afforded him what former employees say is a singular view of the Trump Organization’s tax liabilities and finances. Although that role long allowed him to stay behind the scenes, it may place him front and center in what would be an unprecedented prosecution of a former President, should the investigation advance. Former Trump employees have described Weisselberg as having been entrusted with nearly every aspect of Trump’s business.
“Merrick Garland tries to untangle the Trump legacy at the Justice Department” via Devlin Barrett of The Washington Post — Three months into his new job, judge-turned-Attorney General Garland, who inherited a demoralized and politicized Justice Department, is facing criticism from some Democrats that he is not doing enough to quickly expunge Trump-era policies and practices. On a host of issues ranging from leak investigations to civil and criminal cases involving Trump, Garland has been beset by a growing chorus of congressional second-guessers, even as he insists he is scrupulously adhering to the principles of equal justice under the law. At a June 10 congressional hearing, Garland tried to assure members of the president’s party that he is restoring the department to its traditional, independent role.
“Trump election pressure caused senior Justice official to weigh resigning” via Aruna Viswanatha of The Wall Street Journal — John Demers, head of the Justice Department’s national security division, said the sole time in his three-year tenure he considered resigning came when the agency fell under pressure from then-President Trump to pursue baseless claims of election fraud. In early January, Trump was threatening to fire the acting attorney general over the sought-after election investigation, and, Demers recalled Monday, he was trying to figure out who would sign foreign intelligence surveillance requests and conduct other agency business if he resigned in protest along with other leading officials. Demers ultimately didn’t resign over the election issue, after the acting attorney general at the time, Jeffrey Rosen, resisted the White House pressure.
“RNC paid Trump’s Mar-a-Lago over $175,000 for donor retreat” via Brian Schwartz of NBC News — The Republican National Committee paid just over $175,000 to former President Donald Trump’s private club to host part of its spring donor retreat. Federal Election Commission filings show that the six-figure sum was paid in May to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, a month after the April donor event at the private club in Palm Beach, Florida. A Republican National Committee spokeswoman confirmed that more than $175,000 was, in fact, for the meeting. The new RNC filing describes the payment to Mar-a-Lago as fees for “venue rental and catering.”
— CRISIS —
“Unmasking the far right: An extremist paid a price when his identity was exposed online after a violent clash in Washington” via Robert Klemko of The Washington Post — In a flash, Laura Jedeed was surrounded by screaming men. The freelance journalist was filming a group of Trump supporters walking the streets when a man wearing an American flag gaiter mask approached her, stepped on her toes and began yelling. She uploaded a video of the incident to YouTube and Twitter, and it went viral. The man in the flag mask was quickly identified as Washington state resident Edward Jeremy Dawson. Twitter users mining public records later released his address and phone number. Two days later, Dawson lost his job as an ironworker. Anonymous abusive callers deluged the Dawsons’ cellphones, with some urging the couple to kill themselves.
To watch the video, click on the image below:
“Three Northwest Florida men arrested after Jan. 6 riot have no apparent ties to Proud Boys” via Tom McLaughlin of Northwest Florida Daily News — Andrew William Griswold, thus far the only Okaloosa County resident to be arrested following the events of Jan. 6. He faced an initial appearance in federal court on March 5 and is awaiting trial. Jesus Rivera of Pensacola was arrested on Jan. 20. He was charged with knowingly entering a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds with intent to impede government business, engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol building or grounds, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in the Capitol building. Tristan Chandler Stevens was a computer engineering student at the University of West Florida in Pensacola when he was taken into custody in February and charged with assaulting officers, fomenting civil disorder, entering restricted buildings or grounds and violent entry or disorderly conduct.
“Get ready for the shitstorm that will follow Arizona ‘recount’” via Tim Miller of The Bulwark — Much like Trump’s Four Seasons Total Landscaping coup attempt, the Arizona audit is being ignored by Republican leaders such as Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, who are not engaging on the subject publicly and privately consider it a shambolic sideshow. This while conservative allies dismiss those of us who are alarmed about the ongoing risks to democracy. Meanwhile, the whole Arizona circus is being taken deadly seriously by Trump himself. Activists in the QAnon movement have described the audit as the first step in “The Great Awakening.” So when the Arizona audit bell tolls, what exactly is McConnell and McCarthy’s plan? Because it sure looks as if they are dooming us all to repeat the same history we just lived through.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Omari Hardy calls Marco Rubio a ‘clown’ on Twitter” via Joel Malkin of WFLA — A state lawmaker and congressional candidate is calling Sen. Rubio a clown on Twitter. Democrat state Rep. Hardy, who is running for the District 20 U.S. House seat left vacant by the death of Alcee Hastings, was responding to a Father’s Day tweet from Rubio, in which the Senator claimed “fatherlessness” can be linked to “every major social problem in America.” Hardy wrote, “My two mothers and I want you to know that you’re a clown.” Hardy is an African American former City Commissioner in Lake Worth Beach.
— LOCAL NOTES —
Top op-ed — “Denying opportunity to attend charter schools will cost Hillsborough’s students, community” via Patricia Levesque for the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough County Public Schools made disturbing news this week when the school board voted against contracts for four existing charters and denied an application from Mater Academy to open two new charter schools. The board’s rationale is simple. These charters were denied to fill the district’s coffers. The board did not consider what their decision might cost students throughout their lifetimes: hundreds of millions of dollars. Florida’s laws make clear that the state’s public education system exists for one overarching purpose: to provide all of Florida’s students “the opportunity to obtain a high-quality education.” Apparently, the Hillsborough County Public School Board disagrees, choosing to scapegoat charter schools and deny students access to best-fit options.
“Judge weighing whether Skanska is liable for economic losses from bridge closure” via Emma Kennedy of the Pensacola News Journal — Lawsuits against Skanska have been ongoing since Hurricane Sally in September, but Monday’s hearing marked a significant step. A judge heard arguments from both sides about whether the close to 1,100 claimants — many of whom are business owners and commuters — can get a stake in any potential damages awarded in the lawsuits because they suffered economic impacts from the bridge being closed, but did not suffer any physical damage. The claimants allege they suffered significant financial losses and hardships for the close to nine months that the Pensacola Bay Bridge was out of service after 27 Skanska barges broke loose from their moorings during the storm and collided with the bridge, rendering it unusable.
“Bridge toll hearing called off” via The News Service of Florida — After the state Department of Transportation reinstated tolls Sunday, a hearing has been called off in a long-running legal battle about a Northwest Florida bridge. Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper was scheduled Tuesday to hear arguments about whether he should force DOT to reinstate tolls on the Garcon Point Bridge, which spans part of Pensacola Bay. The department suspended the tolls because it said the Garcon Point Bridge was an alternate route for motorists during repairs to the Pensacola Bay Bridge, severely damaged by barges during Hurricane Sally. DOT announced Thursday that the Pensacola Bay Bridge was opening to four lanes of traffic and that the Garcon Point Bridge tolls would be reinstated.
“Wakulla Springs’ waters are clear for now” via Robbie Gaffney of WFSU — Wakulla Springs is the worlds’ largest and deepest freshwater spring. It was once famous for its crystal-clear waters. Tourists flocked to what’s now Wakulla Springs State Park for a chance to look deep into the water on a glass-bottom boat tour. But the water has since darkened, and the tours haven’t run in years. But for at least a moment, the waters are clear again. For the past seven years, Sean McGlynn has measured the clarity of Wakulla Springs. He operates a private lab that runs water samples from different lakes across the country. On June 10, he journeyed to Wakulla Springs and could see more than 80 feet deep.
— TOP OPINION —
“Celebrate reopening. But don’t lose sight of the forever virus.” via The Washington Post editorial board — Those who have survived COVID-19 must surely rejoice that a return to normalcy is coming in some parts of the country, largely due to another history-shattering event, the development and mass deployment of highly efficacious vaccines. Yet, the sober truth is that the pandemic has not ended either here or abroad. Nor is it going to come to an abrupt end. In a perceptive article titled “The forever virus” published in the July-August issue of Foreign Affairs, Larry Brilliant and co-authors caution that the virus “is not going away” and cannot be eradicated.
— OPINIONS —
“COVID-19 will lurk on every cruise ship. The question is how much.” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Recent reports of COVID-19 infections aboard cruise ships suggest that it will be nearly impossible for any cruise line to return to the seas without the coronavirus lurking. All vaccines are less than 100% effective, so chances are strong that at least some passengers will be infected among the thousands aboard even “fully vaccinated” voyages. Chances of more severe outbreaks are even greater in light of a court ruling Friday in favor of DeSantis, who wants to stop cruise lines from requiring vaccinations. Cruise lines faced with infections will have to perform a delicate balancing act of preventing the virus’s spread while minimizing inconveniences to uninfected passengers and crew members.
“Florida ranks 37th in U.S. for COVID-19 recovery, study says” via Garfield Hylton of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — A new study ranked Florida 37th in the country when it comes to recovering from the pandemic. TOP Agency, a global agency network, published a study on how the country is bouncing back from the COVID-19 lockdowns. Researchers looked at 48 states across 23 categories and used a weighted point system measuring three key dimensions: consumer confidence, job market strength, and COVID-19 safety. Florida scored 53.02 with a 30 in consumer confidence, 27 in job market strength, and 41 in COVID-19 safety. TOP’s study looked at categories such as the number of visits to local bars, social distancing rates, the number of businesses created during the pandemic, and more.
“Why did Florida GOP leadership decide to ‘reform’ voting now?” via Connor D. Borzig for the Tampa Bay Times — Last month, DeSantis signed into law SB 90, the new “election administration” legislation that puts into place new restrictions for both in-person and mail-in voting. The legislation took effect immediately and will, therefore, be in effect for Florida’s midterm and gubernatorial elections come November 2022, in which the Governor is the clear front-runner among Republicans, but is currently in a tight race with Democratic front-runner Fried. Among the most notable restrictions being put into place regarding mail-in voting are the limitations on hours of access to voter drop boxes, the ban on third parties helping voters return their vote-by-mail (“VBM”) ballots, and requiring additional means of identification for voters requesting VBM ballots.
“Dean Trantalis owes voters an apology after Pride parade tragedy” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — It’s an infinitesimally small percentage of our readers who can say they’ve seen someone run down by a vehicle just a few feet away, but Fort Lauderdale Mayor Trantalis is now among them. The Mayor owes his constituents an apology, and Trantalis’ words at a vigil the next day is the sort of halfhearted attempt too common among politicians who feel they can’t ever afford to be seen as mistaken. Trantalis’ expression of remorse showed that he knew he had made a grievous mistake and a rush to judgment. He knew he was wrong. To demand his removal from office is another gross overreaction.
“Feds need to reject Florida’s fatally flawed gambling deal with Seminole Tribe” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — No matter what the state of Florida might claim, it is not asking the U.S. Department of the Interior to approve a deal that legalizes sports betting on Seminole tribal land. It’s asking the federal government to approve a precedent-setting deal with the Seminole Tribe that authorizes sports betting on every square inch of Florida, tribal land or not, from Pensacola to Key West. For that reason, and others we’ll get to in a moment, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland should reject the compact and bounce it back until Florida and the tribe can get it right. No doubt, the Seminoles deserve a fair deal with the state, which has treated the tribe shabbily for years. This isn’t it.
— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —
Gov. DeSantis is still basking in the warm glow of a favorable court ruling in his fight with the feds over getting cruise ships back in business. The Governor says there are limits to what the government can do to protect you from the pandemic.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— DeSantis made his first public comments about the court ruling during a news conference in Jacksonville about the state’s financial commitment to support people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
— For Rep. Scott Plakon of Longwood, this is personal. Plakon says the state is spending more money on victims of Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
— Officials at the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council are hoping the Governor will be just as generous with their clients. They’re asking DeSantis to draw down $300 million in Medicaid money to help pay for home care services.
— Big changes are coming to Florida Politics. Publisher Peter Schorsch talks about upcoming projects, including a new Florida-centric podcast, hiring new reporters to beef up coverage in Miami Dade and creating a new repository of all of the vilest political ads out there.
— And finally, the stories of two Florida men: One has a tattoo of the state on his forehead, the other is accused of pulling a gun during a dispute over cream cheese. The victim’s mom is the chief of police.
To listen, click on the image below:
— ALOE —
“Japan to allow up to 10,000 domestic spectators at Olympic venues despite COVID concerns” via Simon Denyer of The Washington Post — Olympic organizers will allow spectators at this summer’s Tokyo Games but cap attendance at 10,000 people or 50% of a venue’s capacity, whichever is smaller, they announced on Monday. The upper limit will not include VIPs, officials and other “stakeholders,” organizers said, nor will it include school groups, which were given preferential opportunities to attend events. But organizers also warned they could still ban spectators entirely if the situation with coronavirus infections deteriorates dramatically before the Games begin on July 23. Earlier, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he would prefer to see fans in the stands, but if the pandemic situation worsens, banning any from attending is “definitely a possibility.”
“LEGO gets nostalgic with 2,000-piece classic typewriter — complete with moving keys and carriage” via Lianne Kolirin of CNN — Once found in virtually every office across the globe, the trusty typewriter is all but extinct. But now LEGO has gone back in time, launching a 2,079-piece model of the gadget, complete with moving keys and carriage. The newly launched set, aimed at adult builders, was inspired by an idea from British LEGO fan Steve Guinness. He submitted his concept to the LEGO Ideas platform, which takes new designs dreamed up by fans, puts them to a public vote, and turns them into reality. Guinness’ winning concept, which won more than 10,000 votes, will also see him receive a share of the profits from sales.
“Tallahassee 4th of July festivities and fireworks returning to Tom Brown Park” via Carl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Fireworks will again dazzle the night sky above Tom Brown Park as the city’s annual 4th of July celebration returns this year. Last year Tallahassee officials weighed whether to hold the event in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, but City Commissioners voted to cancel it to avoid attracting thousands of people to the capital. This year the event will be held from 7-10 p.m. Two musical acts have been secured and the family-friendly festival will also have kids events and food vendors. The traditional naturalization ceremony will not be held, however. Parking will be available within the park, with handicap parking being moved closer to the venue this year. Shuttle bus service will not be offered.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy belated birthday to Michele Cavallo of Duke Energy, Gia Porras-Ferrulo, Matt Harringer, Anthony Katchuk, Todd Josko of Ballard Partners, Shannon Love, Ed Miyagishima, former congressional candidate Leo Valentin, Courtney Bense Weatherford, and Bill Young. Celebrating today are Chief Justice Charles Canady, Speaker-to-be Danny Perez, Drew Weatherford, and Amy Young.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.