- Broward College $30 million
- Dan Jewett MacKenzie Scott
- Florida International University $40 million
- Gov. Ron DeSantis straw poll
- Joe Gruters and Jack Brill Trump rally
- Justice Brett Kavanaugh college athletes
- Key West flooding
- MacKenzie Scott gifts
- Matt Gaetz Mark Milley
- Pensacola Trump rally
- Trump rally Sarasota
- UCF $40 million
- USF study hurricane preparedness
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.
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.