Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.13.21

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Coffee is for closers. So is Sunburn, your morning rundown of Florida politics.

Good Tuesday morning.

Here’s hoping today is the day Michelle comes home from the hospital. In the meantime, Sunburn is chock full of news and scoops.


It seems 2022 will be a watershed year for the future of gambling in Florida.

Finance reports for June showed at least $42 million in contributions to a handful of new committees on the block, all of which hope to reshape the state’s gambling laws four years after an amendment reserved that right for Florida voters.

Florida Education Champions posted the most, showing a $20 million rake through eight-figure checks from DraftKings and FanDuel.

Last month, the committee announced its intentions: It wants to open up the state’s sports betting market to all comers sans oversight from the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which was granted exclusive rights to run the industry in a new Gaming Compact approved by lawmakers in May.

But two other committees with more nebulous goals also filed reports that would be considered colossal even if the election were 16 weeks out, let alone 16 months.

The first, Florida Voters in Charge, showed a $17 million check from Las Vegas Sands, the multibillion-dollar resort and casino company built by the late Sheldon Adelson and still controlled by his family. The company has wanted a Vegas-style resort-casino in South Florida for years, but committee spokesperson Sarah Bascom stopped short of saying that’s their goal in 2022.

Las Vegas Sands makes a major bet on gambling in Florida. Image via AP.

She said the committee is simply “contemplating various options with no intention to violate the recently passed compact/revenue sharing agreement.”

And then there’s People Against Regulatory Legislation Addressing You — an explication for PARLAY — which Magic City Casino staked with $15 million. Similar to Florida Voters in Charge, the committee did not lay out any specific goals.

According to committee chair Isadore Havenick, the group will “make sure our family business and other multigenerational family businesses are not excluded from any conversations that could cannibalize us.”

One final committee has yet to show its hand: Voters in Control.

The committee’s first finance report hasn’t been parsed by the Division of Elections. Still, sources tell Florida Politics that it will show a significant contribution from the Seminole Tribe when it goes live. The Tribe is hoping to squash amendments that would open the door for more operators, tacitly muting the significance of its historic win with the new Gaming Compact.

Seminole Gaming spokesperson Gary Bitner said as much.

“This is millions of out-of-state corporate dollars to try and manipulate the people of Florida, who are smarter than that. They think they can buy their way into the state. Our team intends to use our Florida dollars to protect the interests of the people of Florida,” he said in a statement to Florida Politics.


Personnel note: Alan Williams appointed Asst. Deputy Secretary at Joe Biden’s HUD — The Department of Housing and Urban Development has tapped Williams, a former member of the Florida House of Representatives, for a key post. Williams was named deputy assistant secretary for intergovernmental relations in the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations. “These talented and diverse individuals join HUD ready to deliver results for the American people by tackling our nation’s housing challenges to build a stronger, more equitable America,” HUD provided in a statement. Williams served in the Legislature from 2008 to 2016, at which point he was term-limited. During his time in the House, he chaired the Florida Legislative Black Caucus and worked as House Democratic Whip from 2012 to 2016.

Alan Williams is heading to D.C. for a federal gig. Image via Florida House.


Personnel note: Bob Asztalos heads to Florida Department of Veterans Affairs — Longtime Florida Health Care Association lobbyist Asztalos is now working as the Deputy Executive Director at the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs. Asztalos is a veteran government relations pro — he spent 30 years lobbying for FHCA and was also tasked with coordinating the association’s emergency response efforts. He retired from FHCA late last year and has spent the past eight months working as an emergency management consultant for his own firm, Asztalos & Associates. The George Washington University graduate has also served as the Nursing Home Stakeholders Team Leader at the State Emergency Operations Center since 2004.


Personnel note: Vivian Myrtetus now partnerships and policy head at Helbiz Myrtetus has a new top spot in the micro-mobility world. A former Southeastern U.S. government relations manager at Spin and government relations senior manager at Lime has joined Helbiz as its head of partnerships and policy. In the new role, Myrtetus will help the company expand its business into new markets across North America, working closely with local government officials, lawmakers and universities. “We are thrilled to welcome Vivian to our team,” Helbiz founder and CEO Salvatore Palella said. “Her appointment as Head of Partnerships and Policy is fully in line with our strategic plan to expand into new markets and will continue to position Helbiz as a leader within the micro-mobility space.”


Personnel note: Becker brings on Chris Berardini — Law and lobbying firm Becker welcomed Berardini to its federal lobbying practice this week. He comes to the firm from Iron Bridge Strategies, a boutique firm he founded. Before that, he spent 13 years working as a Chief of Staff in Congress. “We are very excited that Chris has joined our team. We know that our clients will greatly benefit from his international, legislative, and corporate experience,” said Omar Franco, head of Becker’s federal lobbying practice. Berardini played a key role in the passage of The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act Reauthorization Act, The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 and The Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semipostal Stamp Act. He was also instrumental in securing funding for New York and New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy.


@marcorubio: For those new to the issue of #Cuba the protests we are witnessing was started by artists, not politicians. This song #PatriaYVida powerfully explains how young Cubans feel. And its release was so impactful, you will go to jail if caught playing it in Cuba

Tweet, tweet:

@JakeSullivan46: The U.S. supports freedom of expression and assembly across Cuba, and would strongly condemn any violence or targeting of peaceful protesters who are exercising their universal rights.

@SenJanetCruz: For over half a century, #Cuba has suffered at the hands of its government. Make no mistake, their current situation has been exacerbated by the pandemic, but this has been a long time coming. They are pleading for food, medicine, and the restoration of their country. We must support the brave men and women in Cuba, who are risking their lives in order to stand up to the oppressive regime. I stand by them and their relentless fight for the freedom they deserve.

@CortesBob: Looks like I will live to see a #CubaLibre before I see #PRStatehood. I’m good with that as our Cuban Brothers and Sisters are long overdue. #keepfighting #SOSCuba #PatriaYVida

@alextdaugherty: .@SenRickScott on Cuba protests: “We cannot return to [Barack] ObamaBiden appeasement policies. We cannot lift sanctions or restore diplomatic relations with the Cuban dictatorship.”

Tweet, tweet:

@brhodes: The Cuban people suffer doubly from a repressive government and a cruel U.S. embargo. They deserve policies that empower them and help them improve their lives.

@antoniogm: Cellphones were illegal in Cuba until 2008. Even basic 3G data on phones wasn’t available until 2018 (and is still prohibitively expensive). Still, you’re seeing images of government repression come out of Cuba that would have been impossible even a couple years ago.

@ric23: Strongly worded statement by @POTUS in support of the Cuban people. But we need more than strong words. We need direct diplomacy and an easing of sanctions that, as Biden recognized, “have done nothing to advance democracy or human rights” or curb COVID-19 spread in #Cuba.

@MiamiAbel: I’m already sick of Republicans using this for their own politics. Democrats are not Communists. Democrats don’t want the U.S. to turn into Cuba. And if you want to have a conversation about authoritarianism, let’s talk about the GOP curbing FREE SPEECH and PROTEST in Florida.

@Dgleick: Every time we do a tweet about Haiti, all the comments are “what about Cuba!?” and every time we do a tweet about Cuba, all the comments are “what about Haiti?!” and I want to die.

@realStanVG: Just finished reading the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and all 27 Amendments. Doesn’t take long, and I don’t think I’d done it since I was a college freshman which was a couple of years ago.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:


Jeff Bezos travels into space on Blue Origin’s first passenger flight — 7; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 10; second season of ‘Ted Lasso’ premieres on Apple+ — 10; the NBA Draft — 15; ‘Jungle Cruise’ premieres — 17; ‘The Suicide Squad’ premieres — 24; Marvel’s What If …? premieres on Disney+ — 29; Florida Behavioral Health Association’s Annual Conference (BHCon) begins — 36; St. Petersburg Primary Election — 42; Disney’s ‘Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings’ premieres — 52; NFL regular season begins — 58; Broadway’s full-capacity reopening — 63; 2022 Legislative Session interim committee meetings begin — 69; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres (rescheduled) — 73; ‘Dune’ premieres — 80; Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary party starts — 80; MLB regular season ends — 82; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres (rescheduled) — 87; World Series Game 1 — 106; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 106; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 112; Florida’s 20th Congressional District primary — 112; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 116; Disney Very Merriest After Hours will debut — 118; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ rescheduled premiere — 129; San Diego Comic-Con begins — 136; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 150; ‘Spider-Man Far From Home’ sequel premieres — 157; NFL season ends — 180; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 182; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 182; NFL playoffs begin — 186; Super Bowl LVI — 215; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 255; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 297; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 324; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 360; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 451; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 486.


Police patrol Havana in large numbers after rare protests” via Andrea Rodriguez of The Associated Press — Large contingents of Cuban police patrolled the capital of Havana on Monday following rare protests around the island nation against food shortages and high prices amid the coronavirus crisis. Cuba’s President said the demonstrations were stirred up on social media by Cuban Americans in the United States. The demonstrations in Havana and other communities around the tightly controlled country marked some of the biggest displays of anti-government sentiment in decades, and authorities appeared determined to stop them. Internet service was also spotty, possibly indicating an effort to prevent protesters from communicating with each other. The demonstrations were extremely unusual on an island where little dissent is tolerated. The last major public demonstration of discontent took place in 1994.

Biden says U.S. stands with Cuban people, protests are a ‘clarion call for freedom’” via Michael Wilner and Nora Gamez Torres of the Miami Herald — President Biden said on Monday the United States supports the Cuban people and called their rare protests a “clarion call for freedom and relief” from the pandemic and decades under dictatorship. “We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime,” Biden said in a statement first obtained by McClatchy. The President’s response comes one day after thousands of people took to the streets in cities and towns across Cuba, including Havana, to call for an end to dictatorship and demand food and vaccines.

Thousands of Cubans march against an oppressive government; the U.S. stands ‘firmly’ behind them. Image via AP.

Marco Rubio warns of a ‘Mariel style crisis’ after Cuba protests” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Rubio, who is Cuban American and the top Republican on the Senate committee responsible for Latin American affairs, said Cuban leader Miguel Díaz-Canel’s government will encourage an exodus, likely by boat, if it perceives the U.S. as backing political protesters. “We must not cave to blackmail & [Biden] must warn them that encouraging mass migration will be considered a hostile action,” he said on Twitter. History suggests that Rubio’s statement could come true. In 1994, the government under Fidel Castro opened maritime borders and around 35,000 Cubans attempted to leave the country mostly on makeshift rafts and boats not intended for ocean voyages. Some of the balseros made it to South Florida and others died at sea.

Rick Scott demands ‘loud and unequivocal’ Cuba response from Biden” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Scott issued a statement Monday, urging a “loud and unequivocal” stance by the U.S. against the communist regime in Cuba currently “shaking with fear” in the face of unprecedented protests throughout the country. “I stand proudly with the heroic Cuban freedom fighters & call on Biden to immediately impose further sanctions on the tyrannical regime. We cannot let up,” Scott tweeted Monday, setting up a longer statement that extended those themes. “I stand proudly with the heroic freedom fighters across Cuba that have taken to the streets determined to regain their freedom and put an end to the Castro dictatorship,” Scott asserted.

—“Jimmy Patronis condemns ‘decades of repression’ in Cuba” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

Cuban dissidents in Miami ask U.S. to intervene on the island after massive protests” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — A group of Cuban exiles in Miami and local conservative activists from Venezuela, Colombia and Nicaragua called for people in Miami to support a nationwide strike in Cuba and for the Biden administration to intervene in the aftermath of massive protests on the island. “The Cuban people are not on the streets asking for medicine; they’re not on the streets asking for food. They’re in the streets demanding freedom,” said Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat, a Cuban exile and prominent human rights advocate in Miami. “What they are saying is they don’t want a tomorrow with the Communist Party in charge.” Gutierrez-Boronat said that the Cuban President’s “call for violence” should be enough for the U.S. to get involved.

Thousands of people flood streets near Little Havana to support protesters in Cuba” via Monique O. Madan of the Miami Herald — About 5,000 people erupted in protest around the Little Havana area Sunday night in support of protests in Cuba calling for the end of Cuba’s communist government amid shortages of food, necessities and vaccines. “This moment is historic. That hasn’t happened in decades. Today the Cuban people have demonstrated that they want change, and they want it now,” said Alexander Otaola, a Cuban American social media influencer and political activist. Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo told the Miami Herald that zero arrests were made and that there was one medical emergency, a seizure. “It’s been a peaceful demonstration,” Acevedo said. “Our city is exercising its First Amendment right.”

Little Havana in Miami was filled with protesters in solidarity with Cuban rallies. Image via AP.

—“Cubans in Orlando unite in solidarity with #SOSCuba and demand justice and freedom” via Jennifer A. Marcal Ocasio and Ginayra Alvarado Villegas of the Orlando Sentinel 

‘We stand with you’: Hundreds rally in Tampa to show support for Cuba protests” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Hundreds gathered in West Tampa Sunday afternoon to show support for protesters in Cuba who took to the streets earlier that day in one of the largest anti-government demonstrations the country has seen in decades. Cuban protesters flooded the country’s streets Sunday to call for change, protesting food shortages and high prices amid the coronavirus crisis. To show solidarity, a couple of hundred people flooded streets across West Tampa near Raymond James Stadium, waving Cuban flags and blasting Reggaeton in a parade of celebration and hope. The Tampa rally lasted into the night, with police shutting down nearby streets. The crowd dispersed by about 10 p.m.

Russian Foreign Ministry considers outside interference in Cuba’s affairs unacceptable” via Teller Report — She expressed confidence that “the Cuban authorities are taking all necessary measures to restore public order in the interests of the citizens of the country within the framework of the national Constitution and current domestic legislation.” “We consider it unacceptable for outside interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state and any other destructive actions that would encourage the destabilization of the situation on the Island,” the diplomat said on the agency’s website. Earlier, the U.S. President’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that Washington “supports freedom of speech and assembly throughout Cuba and strongly condemns any violence or harassment of peaceful demonstrators.”

— 2022 —

Powerful Senator pushes Realtors to drop housing campaign” via Steve Bousquet of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida Realtors have launched a statewide ballot initiative to permanently block the use of a housing trust fund for anything other than housing. The Realtors’ campaign to change the state Constitution follows a legislative session in which lawmakers again raided what’s known as the Sadowski trust fund, this time with permanent diversions of up to $100 million a year to fight flooding and sea-level rise and for grants to cities and counties. House Speaker Chris Sprowls tweeted that Realtors have a “self-serving special interest agenda,” and a key Senator also strongly opposes the Realtors’ action. “I am taking it personally,” said Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, the likely next Senate President and a real estate lawyer.

Kathleen Passidomo is strongly pushing Florida Realtors to end their push against budget sweeps of affordable housing. Image via Colin Hackley.

Spotted at The Lodge at Pebble Beach for a fundraiser for the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee: Sens. Wilton Simpson, Aaron Bean, Doug Broxson, Travis Hutson, Debbie Mayfield, Keith Perry, Kelli Stargel, and Travis Blanton, Brad Burleson, Chris Clark, former Speaker Steve Crisafulli, Anthony DiMarco, Steve Dyal, Cory Guzzo, Craig Hansen and former Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, Sonya and Jeff Hartley, Rich Heffley, John Holley, Nick Iarossi, Tracy and Frank Mayernick, Trey McCarley, Kris Money, Jon Rees, Eric Silagy, and Derek Whitis. 

Florida House Republicans launch ‘Firewall for Freedom,’ touting policies championed by conservatives” via Jordan Kirkland of the Capitolist — The Florida House Republican Campaign Committee (FHRCC) unveiled a new statewide digital ad campaign on Monday, touting policies championed by the Republican-led legislature during the 2021 Legislative Session. The nearly two-minute spot, titled ‘Firewall for Freedom,’ features 17 GOP state lawmakers taking a victory lap following a successful 2021 Legislative Session that saw the Florida Legislature carry several hot-button issues across the finish line for Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republicans. Many of the key victories highlighted in the video were core tenets of the Governor’s legislative agenda, including jump-starting Florida’s economy following the COVID-19 pandemic, cracking down on bad actors who riot and loot, and safeguarding and securing future statewide elections.

Sports betting initiative staked with $20M from DraftKings, FanDuel” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The political committee backing a proposed constitutional amendment to allow sports betting platforms to operate in the state raised $20 million in June, new finance reports show. The committee, Florida Education Champions, was formed in early June and is something of a joint effort between DraftKings and FanDuel, the two biggest names in the sports betting business. When it launched, insiders said the companies staked the committee with a “significant amount” of cash. As foreshadowed, the committee’s first finance report listed a $10 million infusion from DraftKings and another $10 million from FanDuel.

—”Democrat Natalie Jackson raises $51K for CD 10 campaign” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

—“Jason Fischer maintains cash edge early in SD 4 race, but opponents make up ground” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics 

—“Janet Cruz’ 2022 campaign adds $13K in June” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

—“Lori Hershey launches with $32K in HD 16 bid, trails Adam Brandon overall” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

—“Taylor Yarkosky hits $125K raised for HD 32 bid” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

—”Berny Jacques leads June fundraising for HD 66, brings in $13K” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

Chris Latvala backs Kim Berfield to succeed him in HD 67” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Latvala is endorsing Berfield as his successor in House District 67. Berfield is one of two Republicans running in 2022 to replace Latvala, who is not seeking reelection due to term limits. “The greatest honor of my life has been to represent House District 67 in the Florida House. I have known Kim for almost 20 years. She was an accomplished Member of the House, and she has been virtually a lifelong resident of this district and a lifelong member of our Republican party,” Latvala said in a written statement. Latvala’s statement is a dig at Berfield’s opponent, Jason Holloway, who, despite being a registered Republican, previously worked as a legislative aide to Sen. Darryl Rouson, a Democrat. Berfield previously served in the Florida House from 2000-2006. 

Kim Berfield is Chris Latvala’s preferred successor.

—“Lindsay Cross raises $52K in first month running for HD 68” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics 

—“Rick King, Paulette Armstead top HD 88 field in June fundraising” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

—“Chip LaMarca adds $25K to defend HD 93 seat” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

—“Tom Fabricio raises $10K in June as he seeks second term in HD 103” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics 

—”With $10K June haul, Vance Aloupis reelection war chest hits $76K” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics 

—”Demi Busatta Cabrera crosses $80,000 raised for HD 114 reelection” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

—“Jim Mooney raises $28,000 in June to defend HD 120 seat” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics 


Ron DeSantis says state will review condo association disclosure requirements following Surfside collapse” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — DeSantis repeated his promise to review condo association regulations following the deadly building collapse in Surfside, killing at least 94 people. DeSantis spoke Monday at a virtual event with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, where the Governor also promoted additional charitable causes to help victims of the June 24 collapse. Asked whether the state would consider tightening fiduciary controls on condo associations, DeSantis said everything would be on the table during next year’s Legislative Session. DeSantis explained more answers would be coming in the months ahead, as the investigation was still in its early stages. 

Condo associations will soon be under the microscope after the Surfside collapse. Image via AP.

Paul Renner: Legislature may examine changes to building codes” via Jim Turner of News Service of Florida — As the investigation continues into the deadly condominium collapse in Surfside, Rep. Renner said lawmakers don’t need to make immediate changes to state building codes. The future House Speaker pointed to the inability of the Champlain Towers South condo association to quickly address safety and structural repairs needed for the once 12-story building. “It will be something I assure you that we’re going to look at and address and determine whether the solutions are legislative or whether they’re an issue of basically a breach of fiduciary duty on the part of the (condo association) board members,” Renner said. He cautioned against seeking legislative remedies before the actual cause of the South Florida disaster is determined.

Paul Renner foresees building code changes. Image via Colin Hackley.

Nikki Fried calls on DeSantis to do more for Tampa Bay red tide crisis” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Fried is calling on DeSantis to issue an executive order in response to the severe red tide outbreak plaguing the Tampa Bay area. In a letter to DeSantis Monday, Fried says the current red tide outbreak is considered worse than the massive 2018 outbreak on the state’s coast. “The current red tide crisis has been considered worse than the 2018 red tide with experts noting both the unusually early timing and unlikelihood of swift resolution,” Fried wrote. The 2018 outbreak led to then-Gov. Scott declaring a state of emergency for seven counties impacted by the algae bloom. The executive order provided state funding and made available state biologists and scientists for cleanup and animal rescue efforts, among other resources.

Florida to seek $945M to boost Medicaid via News Service of Florida — Sen. Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, said the DeSantis administration is poised to send a proposal to the federal government that would allow the state to draw down a 10 percentage-point increase in federal Medicaid funds. The increased federal funds were included in the American Rescue Plan Act, a stimulus package signed by Biden in March. If the state’s plan is approved, Florida will draw down roughly $945 million more for Medicaid services over the next two years, Bean said. Lawmakers were aware of the availability of the additional Medicaid funds for home- and community-based when as they were crafting the 2021-2022 budget but did not include the additional money in the record-high $100 billion spending plan.

AARP ranks Florida lawmakers’ voting record on priority bills” via Haley Brown of Florida Politics — The AARP Florida issued the 10th edition of its Legislative Voting Record Monday. The digital book includes detailed, vote-by-vote information on key legislation from the 2021 Legislative Session. The voting record dives into votes taken during committee meetings and final actions by the full House and Senate. “We’re excited to provide the Voting Record as a resource to our members and all Floridians. The Voting Record is available in a user-friendly digital flipbook format,” AARP Florida Advocacy Manager Jack McRay said in a written statement. Not every bill from the Session is included in the AARP Florida’s published record.

How $45K went unaccounted for from PAC with ties to ‘ghost’ candidate scandal” via Annie Martin and Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel — At least $45,000 in spending that cannot publicly be accounted for was reported last year by an obscure political action committee with ties to the growing scandal surrounding so-called “ghost” candidates in several key Florida Senate elections, including one in Central Florida. Records show the political committee, called “Liberate Florida,” was set up a few months before last year’s election by a friend of a Republican strategist involved in the spoiler candidate scandal.


Governor unveils $29M in grants for rural communities” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis announced $29 million in development grants for 42 small and rural communities Monday. The Governor made the announcement in Green Cove Springs, which is slated to receive $700,000 for three neighborhood revitalization improvement projects. Those funds are available through the Florida Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program under the Department of Economic Opportunity. Only cities with populations less than 50,000 or counties with unincorporated populations of less than 200,000 are eligible for the grants. “We’ve got some really big populated areas — they’re great, and they do a lot for the state — but we’ve got to make sure that we’re tending to our small municipalities and some of our rural communities,” DeSantis said.

Ron DeSantis touts millions in rural improvement money. Image via AP.

Patronis, Ashley Moody make gains in net worth” via Jim Turner of News Service of Florida — CFO Patronis, whose family-owned landmark restaurant in Panama City Beach has recently weathered a major storm and a pandemic, reported his net worth grew 2.8% in the past year. Fellow Cabinet member Attorney General Moody, with a fiscal portfolio bolstered by land holdings and investments, saw her net worth go up 21.8%, according to financial disclosures posted on the Florida Commission on Ethics website. Meanwhile, Agriculture Commissioner Fried, who hopes to become the Democratic nominee for Governor next year, continues to refine her annual financial disclosure report due July 1. Disclosure forms require elected officials to list their estimated net worth, along with assets and liabilities valued at more than $1,000 and information about their income.

Citrus season ends on sour note” via Jim Turner of News Service of Florida — The USDA announced Florida growers produced enough oranges — mostly for orange juice — to fill 52.8 million 90-pound boxes, the industry standard, during the season that began late last summer. The total is up slightly from a June forecast of 52.7 million boxes but below preseason expectations that growers would fill 57 million boxes. The current crop is also down from 67.3 million boxes in the 2019-2020 season. Florida growers have struggled for years against residential and commercial development, imports, changes in beverage consumption habits, and, since 2005, citrus greening, an incurable bacterial disease. But the Florida Citrus Commission is trying to capitalize on a reported increase in demand for orange juice during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.


Jerry Demings urges vaccinated people to wear masks indoors as COVID-19 cases surge in Orange County among unvaccinated.” via Stephen Hudak and Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Amid a surge in new COVID-19 infections, Demings said Monday vaccinated people should strongly consider wearing face masks while in crowded places indoors. Demings, in issuing his warning, said the CDC has shifted the county back into the “high risk” category. He said he wasn’t issuing a mandate, but a “strong recommendation.” Specifically, Demings recommends that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks indoors when in crowds.

Leon County’s COVID-19 cases up 62.1%; Florida cases surge 51.4%” via Mike Stucka of the Tallahassee Democrat — New coronavirus cases leaped in Florida in the week ending Sunday, rising 51.4% as 23,747 cases were reported. The previous week had 15,684 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19. Florida ranked third among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis. In the latest week coronavirus cases in the United States increased 47.5% from the week before, with 136,187 cases reported. With 6.45% of the country’s population, Florida had 17.44% of the country’s cases in the last week. Many places did not report cases and deaths around the Fourth of July, which would shift those cases into the following week and make week-to-week comparisons inaccurate.

Carnival Cruise Line requires unvaccinated travelers buy insurance for Florida cruises” via Taylor Dolven of Florida Politics — Unvaccinated and booked on a Carnival Cruise Line cruise from a Florida port after July 31? You’ll have to buy special COVID-19 travel insurance. Carnival Cruise Line joined Royal Caribbean International in requiring COVID-19 travel insurance for unvaccinated passengers on cruises from Florida ports. Carnival requires all passengers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 but allows for preapproved exemptions for unvaccinated passengers if they agree to extra testing and, in the case of Florida, travel insurance. The travel insurance must be in the name of the unvaccinated passenger and must cover at least $10,000 of medical expenses and $30,000 of emergency medical evacuation expenses.

If you are traveling unvaccinated, Carnival Cruises says it is going to cost you.


Few options for Biden as vaccination pace hits a wall” via Adam Cancryn of POLITICO — The Biden administration is running out of ideas for jump-starting the pace of coronavirus vaccinations, raising the prospect that more than a quarter of American adults could still be vulnerable to the virus into the fall. The federal immunization campaign has slammed into rising partisanship and deep resistance among the 91 million adults who remain unvaccinated, turning what was once an all-out sprint into a marathon with no clear end in sight. The administration is now strategizing over how to manage a nation with 68% of the population at least partially vaccinated, where pockets of the country will be subjected to periodic outbreaks while most Americans move on.

Joe Biden’s vaccination efforts hit a wall. Image via AP.

Most unvaccinated people have low incomes” via Bob Herman of Axios — More than half of unvaccinated Americans live in households that make less than $50,000 annually. Making it easier for the working poor to get the COVID-19 vaccine without dinging their already-low incomes could help boost the country’s vaccination rates. Vaccination has been politicized, but juggling work schedules and child care could be bigger factors than politics. Workers also may worry about taking unpaid time off if they come down with any vaccine side effects. Rewards may not move the needle a lot if companies don’t make it easy to get the vaccine or offer full pay for any time off.

Summer camps hit with COVID-19 outbreaks; are schools next?” via Heather Hollingsworth, Kantele Franko and Lindsey Tanner of the Orlando Sentinel — The U.S. has seen a string of COVID-19 outbreaks tied to summer camps in recent weeks in places such as Texas, Illinois, Florida, Missouri and Kansas, in what some fear could be a preview of the upcoming school year. In some cases, the outbreaks have spread from the camp to the broader community. The clusters have come as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reversed course, surging more than 60% over the past two weeks from an average of about 12,000 a day to about 19,500.


Inflation threat may be boosted by changes in globalization, demographics and e-commerce” via Gwynn Guilford of The Wall Street Journal — For the past few decades, the Federal Reserve has succeeded in keeping inflation low — perhaps too low. It had an assist: Shifts in the global economy, including globalization, demographics and the rise of e-commerce, helped keep prices in check. Some economists say these so-called secular forces have begun to reverse in ways that the pandemic has intensified. “The factors that were … playing a significant role in that low-inflation environment last cycle are beginning to fade,” said Sarah House, director and senior economist at Wells Fargo. That could have important implications for the Fed as it grapples with how much of the current inflation pickup is temporary, and for the U.S. economy as a whole.

Numerous factors could make looming inflation worse. Image via Wall Street Journal.

What happens to the economy when $5.2 trillion in stimulus wears off?” via Andrew Van Dam of The Washington Post — The U.S. government spent at least $5.2 trillion to combat the COVID-19 crisis. It stands as one of the most expensive, ambitious experiments in U.S. history. And it succeeded. A final phase of that assistance could begin this week when the Treasury Department begins a $110 billion program of child tax credit payments for millions of Americans. Those benefits are set to run through the end of the year. But even that program runs out, assuming it is not renewed. Previous attempts to let pandemic-related benefits expire were met with last-minute extensions, as economic updates remained dismal. But the White House appears ready to let the training wheels come off this year as positive indicators pile up.


U.N.: World hunger was dramatically worse in pandemic year” via Frances D’Emilio and Edith M. Lederer of The Associated Press — The United Nations lamented a “dramatic worsening” of world hunger last year, saying much of that is likely connected to the pandemic. A report issued jointly by five U.N. agencies said hunger outpaced population growth in 2020, with nearly 10% of all people estimated to be undernourished. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the data shows between 720 million and 811 million people faced hunger last year — as many as 161 million more than in 2019. More than 2.3 billion people, or 30% of the global population, lacked year-round access to adequate food. This indicator, known as the prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity, leaped in one year as much as in the five previous years combined.

The COVID-19 pandemic is aggravating hunger issues in much of the world. Image via AP.

Greece pressures vaccine skeptics as infections surge” via Derek Gatopoulos of The Associated Press — Health care workers in Greece will be suspended if they refuse to get vaccinated under a new mandatory policy announced Monday by the country’s prime minister. Staff at nursing homes will be suspended starting Aug. 16 if they don’t book a vaccination appointment, with a similar policy to follow in September for hospital workers. Starting Friday, and until the end of August, all indoor commercial areas will only be available for the vaccinated. “After a year and a half, no one can claim ignorance about the coronavirus anymore,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said. “The country will not shut down again due to attitude adopted by certain people … It’s not Greece that’s a danger, but unvaccinated Greeks.”

Israel starts administering third dose of Pfizer vaccine to at-risk adults” via Shira Rubin, Emily Rauhala, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Tyler Pager of The Washington Post — Israel’s Ministry of Health on Monday began offering a third dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to severely immunocompromised adults in what health experts say could be the first phase of an experiment to provide coronavirus booster shots for older people and the most vulnerable. The recommendation said the new program’s goal was to raise antibody levels among immunocompromised citizens, including cancer patients, recipients of liver transplants, and others. It said that it had still not decided to administer third shots for the general adult population. Globally, the push to introduce booster shots has prompted pushback from the WHO and rights groups, who say the focus should remain on getting first doses to the world’s most vulnerable.


White House doesn’t rule out sending troops to Haiti, says political future unclear” via Michael Wilner of the Miami Herald — The Biden administration has not ruled out sending U.S. troops to Haiti to help secure the country amid political fallout from the assassination of its President, Jovenel Moïse, the White House said on Monday. A high-level delegation of U.S. officials spent Sunday on the ground in Port-au-Prince meeting with three men at the center of a power struggle in the country, each claiming to be Haiti’s rightful leader. The U.S. team briefed Biden on their initial assessment on Monday morning, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

Haiti’s interim government is asking the U.S. to deploy troops to protect key infrastructure in the wake of the President’s assassination. Image via AP.

Voters chose boring over bombast. They got Biden’s penchant for pontificating.” via Michael D. Shear of The New York Times — “I know that’s a boring speech,” Biden said at the end of 31 minutes and 19 seconds filled with statistics, academic studies, and global gross domestic product comparisons. To be sure, the details of governing are mind-numbingly tedious. But when the President starts a speech, what can seem like high-stakes drama to those inside the Washington Beltway often feels like the stuff of PBS documentaries to the rest of the country. The details in Biden’s speeches often trip him up as well, leading to mumbles, stumbles, pauses and real-time corrections as he struggles through the dense material on the teleprompter.


In Donald Trump Organization prosecution, the top charge carries the most uncertainty” via Jacob Gershman of The Wall Street Journal — The most serious offense leveled in a 15-count indictment of Trump’s longtime right-hand man, Allen Weisselberg, also carries the most uncertainty for New York prosecutors. The charge, a single count of second-degree grand larceny, stands out in the July 1 indictment, which alleges that the Trump Organization and Weisselberg, its chief financial officer, cheated on taxes over the course of more than a decade. Prosecutors say the company secretly padded Weisselberg’s compensation, subsidizing everything from his Upper West Side residence to home furnishings and private-school tuition. In all, prosecutors say, Weisselberg concealed around $1.8 million in taxable income and evaded more than $900,000 in taxes.

The most significant charge against Allen Weisselberg is also the most tenuous. Image via AP.

Trump Organization CFO removed as officer of subsidiaries, records show” via Corinne Ramey of The Wall Street Journal — The Trump Organization has removed longtime finance chief Allen Weisselberg as an officer at some of its subsidiaries, after prosecutors accused him and the company of a 15-year tax-fraud scheme, according to public filings and people familiar with the matter. The removal of Weisselberg as an officer from multiple Trump Organization entities comes amid discussions of potential changes in the chief financial officer’s duties, responsibilities and possibly title at Trump’s company, people familiar with the matter said. Weisselberg, who has worked for the Trump family since 1973, is expected to remain at the company, the people said.

Trump has completed his journey toward embracing the Capitol rioters” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — Two sentences from Trump’s interview on Sunday with Maria Bartiromo of Fox News encapsulate how the former President has come to publicly embrace the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on his behalf. The first was Trump’s declaration that those involved were “tremendous — in many cases, tremendous people, tremendous people.” The other revealing sentence came not from Trump but from Bartiromo. As has happened so often before, she offered no pushback on Trump’s claims, abdicating her responsibilities as a journalist and her network’s responsibility to inform its audience to instead bask in the energy of being Trump’s hypeman.

“‘Get on the team or shut up’: How Donald Trump created an army of GOP enforcers” via David Siders and Stephanie Murray of POLITICO — Trump and his political team worked to re-engineer the infrastructure of the Republican Party, installing allies in top leadership posts in key states. In Oklahoma, the newly installed party chair is endorsing a primary challenge to GOP Sen. James Lankford, who crossed Trump by voting to uphold results of the November election. In Michigan, the state party chair joked about assassinating two Republican House members who voted to impeach Trump. Arizona’s state chair accused Republican Gov. Doug Ducey of nothing less than killing people by restricting the use of hydroxychloroquine.

Trumpworld wants distance from QAnon even as the ex-President winks at it” via Tina Nguyen and Meridith McGraw of POLITICO — This past weekend, two promoters of QAnon conspiracy theories were given press credentials to Trump’s MAGA rally in Sarasota, The men took selfies with their badges, taunted journalists covering the event as “fake news,” showed off their wristbands printed with the movement’s slogan “#WWG1WGA” and generally reveled in the access they’d scored. Trump’s press team said the two men, Jeffrey Pedersen and his podcast co-host Shannon Shadygroove, were not welcome and had registered for the rally with “Red State Talk Radio,” a network that has sent people who, a Trump aide said, “appear to be legitimate” to events before. Trump’s team said they are considering a new policy to verify reporters ahead of events to prevent people like the two men from gaining access.


DOJ reviewed reports of potential misconduct, complicity by officers responding to Capitol riot” via Kyle Cheney of POLITICO — The Justice Department has reviewed reports of alleged misconduct by police officers who responded to the Jan. 6 assault on The Capitol and is preparing to share them with defense attorneys in the sprawling case. The U.S. attorney’s office said it is providing those reports at the request of multiple lawyers for the accused rioters. Those lawyers have inquired about allegations that some officers may have been “complicit in the Jan. 6 Capitol Breach,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Regan wrote in the filing.

Capitol Police may have been complicit in the Jan. 6 riot. Image via AP.

Video of U.S. Capitol riot ‘contradicts public narrative,’ says St. Augustine man’s lawyer” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — The lawyer for a St. Augustine man indicted after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol is finding common cause with news organizations asking the government to release video she says “contradicts the government’s accusations and their indictment.” A 30-second video clip “exposes the weakness of their case … and it contradicts the public narrative that the government has put forward,” John Steven Anderson’s attorney, Marina Medvin, told a federal judge in Washington last week. Sixteen media companies calling themselves the Press Coalition last month asked court permission to intervene in Anderson’s case. They want to dispute a government contention that a video clip from a closed-circuit TV camera should be exempt from release under a protective order Medvin previously opposed.

The Republican Party’s top lawyer called election fraud arguments by Trump’s lawyers a ‘joke’ that could mislead millions” via Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — The Republican Party’s top lawyer warned in November against continuing to push false claims that the presidential election was stolen, calling efforts by some of the former President’s lawyers a “joke” that could mislead millions of people. Justin Riemer, the RNC’s chief counsel, sought to discourage a Republican Party staffer from posting claims about ballot fraud on RNC accounts as attempts by Trump and his associates to challenge results in several states, such as Arizona and Pennsylvania, intensified. The email shows key figures in the party were privately disturbed by the false claims being made about the election by Trump and his supporters


Monthly payments to families with children to begin” via Jason DeParle of The New York Times — If all goes as planned, the Treasury Department will begin making a series of monthly payments in coming days to families with children, setting a milestone in social policy and intensifying a debate over whether to make the subsidies a permanent part of the American safety net. With all but the most affluent families eligible to receive up to $300 a month per child, the United States will join many other rich countries that provide a guaranteed income for children, a goal that has long animated progressives. Experts estimate the payments will cut child poverty by nearly half, an achievement with no precedent.

Senate Democrats introduce bill to replenish Capitol Police, National Guard coffers” via Marianna Sotomayor and Tony Romm of The Washington Post — Senate Democrats unveiled a plan Monday to quickly replenish accounts that fund U.S. Capitol Police officers and National Guard salaries, both of which are expected to run out as early as next month because of the amount of overtime tallied after the Jan. 6 insurrection. Although bipartisan support exists to ensure that Capitol Police officers and National Guard members earn their pay, striking a deal depends on compromising on scope. The Democratic proposal almost doubles the amount of spending that narrowly passed the House in May by redirecting funds to address pandemic-related costs incurred by the Defense Department and speeding up the Afghan Special Immigration Visas. The bill would put $31.1 million in the Capitol Police overtime account.

Democrats are looking to get quick funding for The Capitol Police. Image via Twitter.

Bernie Sanders, Biden meet as infrastructure bill swells past $3.5T” via Lisa Mascaro and Jonathan Lemire of The Associated Press — Sanders and Democratic senators on the Budget Committee huddled privately late Monday at the Capitol with key advisers to the President during a consequential time for Biden’s top priority. Congress is racing to put together a sweeping infrastructure proposal for initial votes later this month. He and Biden had a “very good discussion,” he said. Sanders said he and the President did not discuss a top-line figure, but the Vermont senator mentioned his own more far-reaching $6 trillion proposal, including expanding Medicare for older adults. Later at the Capitol, he told reporters that the Democrats’ package would be bigger than $3.5 trillion, an amount floated as in line with Biden’s initial proposal.


What is Disney World actually worth? Tax assessment battle heads to court” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — What is the value of the world’s most popular theme park? Disney is arguing its property tax assessments are too high for the Magic Kingdom and the other three Orlando theme parks, its hotels and other facilities that make up the company’s sprawling Central Florida real estate portfolio, according to a dozen lawsuits Disney filed last month in Orange Circuit Court for the 2020 tax year. For Disney, contesting the assessments, which the company calls “excessive,” has become an annual event since Disney started suing over them for the 2015 tax year in an attempt to lower its property taxes.

EDF video outlines climate challenges, solutions in Miami-Dade” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Environmental Defense Fund on Monday released the first in a series of videos aimed at educating Floridians on the current effects of climate change and possible solutions to address it. The first “Keeping Florida, Florida” segment focuses on the potentially catastrophic effects sea-level rise could have in South Florida and details the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-proposed Back Bay Study, which recommends traditional, hardened infrastructure, including a seawall, to protect the region. They are pitching an alternative anchored by natural and nature-based solutions, such as oyster reefs and mangroves, that can build long-term flood resilience while “keeping Florida Florida.”

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Lori Alhadeff adds nearly $67K in first month of reelection bid thanks to $50K self-loan” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Alhadeff added nearly $67,000 in her first month since filing for reelection in the Broward County School Board District 4 race. Alhadeff boosted that number with a $50,000 self-loan and adding close to $17,000 in outside donations. According to her team, she has nearly all of that $67,000 haul on hand as of June 30. Alhadeff lost her daughter, Alyssa, in the 2018 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. Alhadeff ran for and won the District 4 seat just months later, pushing the county to institute reform following the attack in Parkland, which killed 17 and injured 17 others. The district spans the northwestern part of the county, including Coral Springs, Margate, North Lauderdale, Parkland and Tamarac.

Broward in no rush to change building codes after Surfside” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward County says it won’t rush into sweeping code changes to ensure condo buildings are safe despite the catastrophe in Surfside. The county might ultimately discuss more frequent recertifications of condos as well as geotechnical studies on the buildings’ foundations. But an advisory board concluded Monday that changes should wait until the cause of the Surfside collapse is determined. “It makes no sense. It would be irresponsible. It would certainly not be wise,” said Daniel L. Lavrich, an engineer and the chairman of Broward’s Structural Committee, an advisory committee to the Board of Rules and Appeal. That didn’t sit well with Fort Lauderdale’s Mayor, Dean Trantalis, who doesn’t want to wait.

‘Beating the odds’: New report on large city schools highlights Duval Schools’ work to close opportunity gap” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — The Council of the Great City Schools, a highly regarded educational advocacy organization, released a study called “Mirrors or Windows?” that aimed to measure cities’ progress over the last decade when it comes to if scores are improving among students in urban areas with large concentrations of poverty. The report highlighted Duval County as one of the 17 areas out of 27 cities being measured that posted “statistically significant positive district effects in 2019.” Other cities and areas similarly spotlighted included Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, the District of Columbia and Miami-Dade County. Duval Schools Superintendent Diana Greene said, “the report reaffirms what is evident from visiting our classrooms. The quality of the instructional experience in our schools is exemplary.”

Diana Greene says a new report reaffirms Duval Schools’ exemplary education.

About 300 homes, the subject of an alleged Ponzi scheme, to be sold around Tampa Bay” via Emily L. Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — About 300 homes are about to hit the inventory-starved Tampa Bay real estate market. That’s thanks to federal government efforts to recover money lost by hundreds of elderly investors in what it contends was a Ponzi scheme. The accused fraudster is a company called EquiAlt, led by Tampa real estate investor Brian Davison. Davison raised the money from more than 1,100 investors nationwide, and promised that “substantially all” of it would be used to buy distressed properties to yield “generous returns.” Instead, returns were less than expected, according to the court documents, and EquiAlt “resorted to fraud.” Burt Wiand, the court-appointed receiver in the case, said he’s planning to hold an auction within the next month, starting with 30 properties.

Seminole County opens computer lab to help residents apply for rental, mortgage aid” via Caroline Glenn of the Orlando Sentinel — Seminole County opened a computer lab on Monday to help residents apply for rental, utility and mortgage assistance, a recognition of the “digital divide” that exists within the region. Located in Sanford at 520 W. Lake Mary Boulevard, the center has five stations with a computer and scanner and has staff on-site to help Seminole residents submit the necessary documents to receive a slice of the federal COVID-19 relief allotted for catching up on rent or mortgage payments. The lab’s hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Cora Yon, program manager for the county’s community services department, encouraged residents to call 407-665-0000 to make an appointment. The center will also take walk-ins, depending on availability.


Hey Biden, hands off Cuba!” via Jacob Silverman of the New Republic — Rubio, who is of Cuban descent, has tweeted frequently over the past few days in support of anti-government protesters while taking the opportunity to bash the Biden administration as insufficiently supportive of their efforts. The line expressed by Rubio has spread quickly among his colleagues. Republican politicians and conservative media outlets, from Rep. Lauren Boebert to DeSantis to Fox News, have echoed those sentiments while calling the Cuban protests an indictment of socialism, communism, or choose-your-left-wing ideology. Many of them use the #SOSCuba hashtag, which has become a locus for anti-regime expression of a pungently right-wing flavor. 


To conservatives, history is bunk. ‘All that’s in the past: Why bring it up’?” via Diane Roberts for Florida Phoenix — DeSantis hates our freedoms and rightfully so. Why should Florida allow eggheads like me to go around teaching impressionable students about, say, the Rosewood Massacre in 1923 when dozens of Black people were tortured and murdered by a white mob in Levy County while law enforcement turned a blind eye. Under DeSantis’ new dictate, students can now record their professors in class to see if any untoward anti-racism intrudes into the academic setting. The Critical Race Theory crowd I may or may not hang around with claims the arc of America’s story might suggest a certain amount of institutional racism. When he becomes U.S. President-for-Life, maybe our Governor will ban libraries, making everything much, much simpler and more comfortable.


About every Florida politician in sight is condemning the Cuban government’s crackdown on protesters and expressing solidarity with the people of Cuba. Sen. Rubio is warning this could trigger the next Mariel boatlift.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— The next Speaker of the Florida House says he doesn’t see the need for any immediate action by the Legislature to address the condo collapse in Surfside. Renner says the code works … the problem here appears to have been the condo association.

— Renner also warned against seeking legislative remedies before figuring out the actual cause of the disaster.

— The Governor hits the road to announce $30 million in grants for some of the least populated areas of the state. They’re called Small City Community Development Block Grants. That money will pay for everything from sidewalks and sewers to downtown revitalizations.

— Starting next month, Carnival Cruise Lines says anyone who wants to set sail on one of their ships from a Florida port will have to be vaccinated … or buy a special travel insurance policy to cover any COVID-19 related expenses.

— And finally, authorities are accusing a Florida Man of trying to smuggle crystal meth into the Orange County jail — by concealing it in his foreskin. 

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Epcot Food and Wine Fest returns earlier and lasts longer than usual for 2021” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times — After a year of keeping crowds at bay and in masks at Walt Disney World parks, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival returns this week with its most bountiful version ever, one that will be released with two waves of new food booths in summer and fall. Even though most of the food booths will open July 15, several will debut on Oct. 1 in conjunction with Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary, including the Kenya, Lobster Landing and a Mac & Eats kiosk. The festival runs through Nov. 20, and visitors still need an advance park reservation, though Disney has said it intends to be back at full capacity by the fall. Guests who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear masks unless they are on buses or other Disney transportation and indoor attractions.

Epcot’s popular Food and Wine Festival is coming earlier, lasting longer in 2021. Image via Disney.

Disney World announces holiday plans, changes” via DeWayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Walt Disney World has announced its holiday lineup for 2021. The list includes themed fireworks but not Candlelight Processional, and there’s a new after-hours Christmas offering at Magic Kingdom in place of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Disney Very Merriest After Hours will debut on Nov. 8 and continue on select nights through Dec. 21. A limited number of tickets will be sold, Disney says. Very Merriest will include “Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks,” which debuted in 2019. Tickets go on sale sometime in August for the event, which will feature characters across the park, holiday décor and treats.

‘Roadrunner’ director on Anthony Bourdain’s suicide, Asia Argento and the public’s ‘unprocessed trauma’” via Ellen Gamerman of The Wall Street Journal — Three years since Bourdain died by suicide at age 61, the celebrity chef still commands notice. A new documentary is bringing that attention to a boil. “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain” takes an intimate look at the food-and-travel TV star’s life from his breakout success as the author of the 2000 memoir “Kitchen Confidential” to his rise in popular series like “No Reservations” and “Parts Unknown.” The movie takes a turn as it deals with his death and attempts by his close circle to process the loss. Oscar-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville said he wanted his movie to address what he called some of the public’s “unprocessed trauma” around Bourdain’s sudden passing.


Celebrating today are Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Tampa City Council member Guido Maniscalco. Belated best wishes to Callie Neslund of Mosaic.


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. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.

One comment


    July 13, 2021 at 8:15 am

    In Manhattan the Cuban population eagerly await the new play
    “Santeria Street Theater” by Dr Larry Myers…the award winning international playwright recently was volunteer at Surfside Miami
    with Catholic workers……former St John s University professor he is a self avowed “Advanced Catholic” who created service/volunteer dramatc arts…………..dramatists do volunteer work——–experience, witness, encode, reevaluate then pen poems and plays…Myers is part of a new post-Covid theater movement mirroring theater after the original Dark Ages–reborn in the Church cafes colleges THE STREETS squatting if necessary~his Surfside Miami play is “Towers Fall” which Playwrighta Sanctuary will produce


Comments are closed.


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