Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of 6.20.21

Gov. Ron DeSantis topped Donald Trump in a straw poll about the 2024 presidential race. That's winning, right? Or will it just make the ex-President mad?

Money is tight for colleges and universities throughout the state, but three of them just scored a major windfall.

And they did so because philanthropist MacKenzie Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett, decided something that might seem out of step into today’s “greed is good” culture.

Scott is the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, so she’s got some cash. Her fortune is an estimated $60 billion. Instead of holding on to that money with a death grip, though, she decided to invest in the next generation.

That’s how three Florida institutions of higher learning received staggering “no strings attached” gifts. that instead of holding onto their vast fortune could be put to better use helping pre

She gave Broward College $30 million, while Florida International and U.C.F. each received $40 million. Broward is the only two-year school on the list.

Gregory Haile, the Broward College president, said the money would go to its Broward UP program. That provides free educational opportunities and workforce training throughout the county.

“It is our hope that this gift will inspire others to join us in raising Broward County’s post-secondary education attainment and economic mobility for all,” the school said.

F.I.U. will increase scholarships and student support.

“This gift is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform our university …,” F.I.U. Board of Trustees Chairman Dean C. Colson said.

U.C.F. said it would use the money to strengthen its social mobility program.

Don’t expect Scott to stop giving, either. She pledged to give away most of her fortune, and she is staying true to her word. Through three rounds of donations, she redirected $8 billion to address “systems in need of change.”

“In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share,” she said. “My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort, and care. But I won’t wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty.”


Now, on to our weekly game of winners and losers.


Honorable mention: Joe Gruters and Jack Brill. Regardless of what you may think of ex-President Donald Trump, who, by the way, lost the election, landing him for a rally in Sarasota on July 3 is a major coup.

Gruters, Chairman of the Florida Republican Party, said, “We are thrilled to be hosting President Trump as he launches out on his next voyage to continue making American great. We played an important role in his election, and we want to show our support for his strong leadership as President.”

The rally begins at 2 p.m., with “pre-program speakers” coming on at 5. Trump gets the prime-time spot at 8 p.m. to celebrate “Freedom, Faith, and America.”

“This is a huge win for Sarasota and the Republican Party,” Brill, the acting chairman of the Sarasota Republican Party, said. “This once again shines the spotlight on Sarasota and all we’ve accomplished here.”

Click here for tickets.

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner: College athletes. The U.S. Supreme Court drove the final spike in the N.C.A.A.’s attempt to perpetuate the myth that college athletes should not make money off their skills and images.

For decades, the N.C.A.A. kept a near-tyrannical hold on student-athletes in the guise of amateurism. There was, of course, an underground system to send cars, money, and other perks to the highest-profile athletes, and coaches often looked the other way.

Meanwhile, the N.C.A.A. raked in billions of dollars from sponsorships and T.V. contracts. N.C.A.A. President Mark Emmert’s annual base salary at last report is $2.7 million, and big-time coaches like Nick Saban make a lot more than that.

Saban’s $9.3 million annual salary is worth it, too, for all the money he brings into the University of Alabama. Everybody gets paid – except the star attractions.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh said it best.

“Those enormous sums of money flow to seemingly everyone except the student-athletes. College presidents, athletic directors, coaches, conference commissioners, and N.C.A.A. executives take in six- and seven-figure salaries,” he wrote.

“Colleges build lavish new facilities. But the student-athletes who generate the revenues, many of whom are African American and from lower-income backgrounds, end up with little or nothing.”

Well, that’s going to change.

And a tip of the cap to Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature for being out front on the issue. Florida was one of the early states to sanction the ability of college athletes to make money off their name.

The N.C.A.A. is finalizing how this will work, but one thing is clear.

The game has changed.

The biggest winner: DeSantis. The Governor finished ahead of his mentor, Trump, in a straw poll at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver.

OK, so straw polls generally aren’t worth the cost of a match it takes to burn them, but this one might have ignited a few things.

Republicans seem to see DeSantis as the heir apparent to Trump, should the former President decide not to run in 2024.

DeSantis has played his cards extremely well, looking and sounding like a presidential contender without actually declaring he is one. It’s the safe, prudent way to approach these things for the time being.

After all, DeSantis is running for reelection as Governor, and Democrats are loading up to beat him. And the fact is, Trump hasn’t announced what he will do. Jumping in before getting Dear Leader’s blessing could wreck DeSantis’ ambitions.

Just ask other Republicans who ran afoul of Trump what it feels like to be on the business end of his wrath.

Many Republicans probably secretly hope Trump does not run. He just lost an election by more than seven million votes.

DeSantis would bring youth and a track record that widely appeals to conservatives.

Stay tuned.


Dishonorable mention: Hurricane preparedness. The good news is, a strong majority of Floridians are concerned about the hurricane season. But as a U.S.F. survey showed, the bad news is that most of them haven’t prepared for a big storm to hit.

A majority (58%) do not have an evacuation plan or vital supplies like a N.O.A.A. weather radio (57%) or a stocked emergency kit (51%).

More than two-thirds (67.7%) of Floridians do not trust the safety of public shelters. Even more frightening, half of the respondents said they don’t have enough money to evacuate.

About 42.8% reported having less than $1000 to cover emergency expenses.

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser: Matt Gaetz. What would our weekly winners and losers segment be like without Gaetz?

The frat boy Congressman from CD 1 got schooled by Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley during a House Armed Services hearing. The issue was the latest G.O.P. boogeyman: critical race theory.

Gaetz and Rep. Michael Waltz (CD 6), a former Army Green Beret, raised the teaching critical race theory at West Point.

That, the theory goes, is caving to the “woke” culture – whatever that is.

Milley, a four-star general, went off on the criticism.

“I want to understand white rage — and I’m white,” Milley said. “What is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America?”

He noted that he read the writings of Mao Tse Tung, Marx, and Lenin.

“That doesn’t make me a communist,” he said. “So what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend?”

TV captured the image of Gaetz with his trademark smirk as Milley spoke.

That’s his go-to look when he can’t win the argument, and it’s what lands him on the bad list.


The biggest loser: Climate change deniers. Despite mountains of scientific evidence that humans contribute to climate change, well, you can’t convince some people.

So, that’s how we get to where officials in Marathon in the Florida Keys decided to proceed with a plan to elevate city streets to alleviate the encroaching seawater.

However, that’s not the worst of it.

As The Guardian reported, “The Keys will become one of the first places in the U.S. – and certainly not the last – to inform residents that certain areas will have to be surrendered to the oncoming tides.”

“The water is coming, and we can’t stop it,” Monroe County Mayor Michelle Coldiron said. “Some homes will have to be elevated, and some will have to be bought out. It’s very difficult to have these conversations with homeowners because this is where they live. It can get very emotional.”

This has massive implications for the quality of life in a place many see as the Florida ideal. Homeowner insurance could become prohibitively expensive and mortgages all but impossible to get.

The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration project a 17-inch sea rise by 2040; that’s just 19 years from now.

One resident complained, “The roads are shot, they’re full of cracks, the water is permeating up.”

Gosh. If only experts who study the climate warned us that something like this could happen. We could have done something.

Oh, they did warn us, but the deniers, many of whom are lawmakers, mocked their findings and laughed at them.

Who’s laughing now? Nobody with a brain, that’s for sure.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Ron Ogden

    June 27, 2021 at 7:11 am

    “Gosh. If only experts who study the climate warned us that something like this could happen. We could have done something.” Simpering and snide at the same time. A journalistic doubleheader.

    The water has been rising for about 9,000 years. “Since about 20,000 years ago when the last ice age, or glacial period, reached it’s peak, after that the caps began to melt, receding from the states of america, northern Europe, northern-mid Asia etc, which lead to flooding all around the world” –

    China, not the US, is building coal plants.–
    Meanwhile, America is closing coal plants and converting to natural gas. Florida will close three in this decade. Oh, you want faster? Sure. You just tell us readers about how you have decided to turn off your air conditioner this summer (remember the old timers who had no air conditioning?) and then we’ll believe you.

    • Ocean Joe

      June 27, 2021 at 10:09 am

      “The biggest loser: Climate change deniers. Despite mountains of scientific evidence that humans contribute to climate change, well, you can’t convince some people.”
      Ron, I think you made his point for him.

      • Ron Ogden

        June 27, 2021 at 5:20 pm

        Oj. I do not deny climate change. I’m sure the climate is changing. It has been changing for thousands and thousands of years. When the left finally installs its tyrants in the next few years and socialism, probably communism, becomes the order of the day in your worker’s paradise, guess what: the climate will still change. By then of course, you will be able to sit satisfied in front of your TV and applaud old Kamalface president for life. Believe me, if you were then to decide in a flash of insight that not all is well in socialist America, you WILL NOT BE ALLOWED to say so.

  • Jmjtusa

    June 27, 2021 at 7:21 am

    You forgot: LOSERS: the american media (give up the faux-chi ‘journalist’ moniker… Such a level of distrust, for when leftists, like this one, who can’t help but show zer’s distain for things real, zer has to throw jabs, misses, not hits, at things that are legitimate to consider…
    But in zer’s world, anything that goes against the construct is bad..
    Poor thing: if zer only had a brain…
    I bet as the finalized version hits the keystroke, one must feel the rain-less now of pride to oneself indicating truly how smarmy & well-educated zer is as compared to us ‘commoners’
    … If only bezo’s carnival would give $ to research the brains of these poor helpless creatures, oh wait, they have, it’s called ‘high ed’.. Those cash strapped models of brain wash & indoctrination that are in so much need of soros cash..

  • ShoreChick712

    June 27, 2021 at 8:34 am

    Refreshingly honest, love this. If only all media could be delivered in perfunctory sound bites with “nothin but the facts.” Here in Fla, we need more of this ‘truth.’


    June 27, 2021 at 3:45 pm

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    ESPONGED POLICE CRIMINAL RECORDS University fraternities and sororities ARSEN Serial raping narcotics and weapons traffickingCultist men’s group members
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Comments are closed.


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