Good Wednesday morning.
What was supposed to be America’s “hot vax summer” barely made it through July. The delta variant of COVID-19 is roaring back — in Florida and across the country — forcing The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to backtrack on its mask recommendations for vaccinated people.
But vaxxed versus unvaxxed is just one of many conflicts, disputes, and outright battles we face in Florida.
Nevertheless, it is that yin-and-yang that makes Florida politics so damn exciting.
Through all this, Peter is working overtime as a loving and dutiful caretaker (and chief bedpan wrangler) to his recovering wife, Michelle. The staff of Florida Politics wish her a speedy recovery; we are all lucky to have such a compassionate individual at our helm.
Yes, it may be a long journey ahead, but at least they are on the right road.
Sunburn is also taking a short breather; we will be back Friday morning. Thank you all for your readership and support.
That said, let’s start our morning with a handful of shots-and-chasers for a little context:
Federal appeals court sides with DeSantis, lifts CDC cruise ship restrictions | The Post Millennial https://t.co/Or3dcWRfkb
— Christina Pushaw (@ChristinaPushaw) July 24, 2021
Love that the ship is called Freedom. Just get vaccinated, people.
— Marc Graser (@marcgraser) July 18, 2021
— KATHY HARDIN (@KGPEP) July 26, 2021
Chaser: It’s July 28.
In an email from @Artiles40 on Sept. 14, the former lawmaker made it clear that Bainter is calling the shots. He wrote: “Attached is the September invoice for your review and approval. I am standing by for orders. Please remember I have 6 PC’s for independents if needed.”/4
— Mary Ellen Klas (@MaryEllenKlas) July 24, 2021
“Nobody brings a fella the size o’ him, ‘less they’re tryin’ to say somethin’ without talkin’.”
"The letter notes that the Sheriff’s Office has partnered with Pasco County Human Services…But it also delivers a stern warning: 'Our desire to help you will not hinder us from holding you fully accountable for your choices and actions.'" Read @kmcgrory: https://t.co/fETJgMr2pw
— Kathryn Varn (@kathrynvarn) July 27, 2021
Chaser: How soon until Chris Nocco announces for Florida Senate?
.@RobertGBlackmon rockets into strong second in latest poll of St. Pete Mayor's race, as @KenWelch continues lead and @DardenRice drops from top two, via @JanelleIrwinFL https://t.co/c4JKOrYKdR #FlaPol pic.twitter.com/9ZGHQa0KqO
— Florida Politics (@Fla_Pol) July 23, 2021
Chaser: We hear Robert Blackmon has brought in top consultants Jim Rimes and Nick Hansen to see him through the final weeks of the campaign. Can they quarterback him to the same level of upset that happened in 2010 when then-unknown Jeff Brandes knocked off Bill ‘Santa Claus’ Heller?
Steve Currall's two years at the helm of USF spanned a controversial consolidation, a national uprising against systemic racism and an aborted attempt to strip the College of Education of its undergrad classes. https://t.co/J3CSbh23dk
— Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) July 19, 2021
<Don’t say it, Peter.>
<Don’t you dare say it, Peter.>
<Peter, please don’t start that shit now.>
Me: What about Richard Corcoran for USF President?
🎉 TOMORROW (7/28)! Dave Matthews Band LIVE at MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre! 🎉 For health and safety information, + any other FAQs, please visit our website: https://t.co/YCNziwfidl pic.twitter.com/wlPXlQKKm0
— MIDFLORIDA Amp (@midfloridaamp) July 27, 2021
Sunburn will be off Thursday morning.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
Kinzinger gets choked up in his opening remarks at the Jan. 6 select committee: “I never expected today to be quite as emotional for me as it has been… you guys may individually feel a little broken… but you guys won. You guys held.” pic.twitter.com/u9GEPURNPk
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) July 27, 2021
—@JonAllenDC: “You hear that guys, this n— voted for Joe Biden,” a rioter responding to Officer (Harry) Dunn. Dunn said a colleague was told, “Put your gun down, and we’ll show you what kind of n— you really are.”
As we hear the powerful stories from officers on Jan 6 can’t help but think of the entire USCP force, including those that lost their lives as a result of that day.
As you walk around the Capitol today officers are glued to the hearing, watching their colleagues testify. pic.twitter.com/ljw2Br7tk3
— Haley Talbot (@haleytalbotnbc) July 27, 2021
—@TimWronka: How anyone can listen to Officer (Michael) Fanone’s testimony and dismiss that day as nothing is beyond me.
—@Alex_Patton: I was told before Jan that I didn’t understand the depths of planning, organization and resources behind the plan to “stop the steal.” I am also being told by the same sources that it isn’t over.
"The Kaiser Family Foundation this month found that counties won by Biden last year had vaccination rates nearly 12-point higher than counties won by Donald Trump." (h/t @ddiamond) https://t.co/A6jkALitji
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) July 26, 2021
—@Coo_Ray: I’m an Arkansas ER physician. We are at the point warned about a year ago. There are no ICU beds in the state. 4 days ago, we called 5 surrounding states looking for ICU beds, and we were unsuccessful.
—@KevinCate: Did not expect to have to send my daughter to middle school orientation in a mask. It hurts my heart so much.
Never forget this legend double fisting beers at 9AM supporting his wife at the Olympics pic.twitter.com/gasMaFmaVS
— Dr Grayfang (@DrGrayfang) July 24, 2021
— DAYS UNTIL —
‘Jungle Cruise’ premieres — 2; ‘The Suicide Squad’ premieres — 9; Canada will open its border to fully vaccinated Americans — 12; ‘Marvel’s What If …?’ premieres on Disney+ — 14; Florida Behavioral Health Association’s Annual Conference (BHCon) begins — 21; St. Petersburg Primary Election — 27; Boise vs. UCF — 36; Disney’s ‘Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings’ premieres — 37; Notre Dame at FSU — 39; NFL regular season begins — 43; Bucs home opener — 43; California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recall election — 48; Broadway’s full-capacity reopening — 48; Alabama at UF — 52; Dolphins home opener — 53; Jaguars home opener — 53; 2022 Legislative Session interim committee meetings begin — 54; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres (rescheduled) — 58; ‘Dune’ premieres — 65; Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary party starts — 65; MLB regular season ends — 67; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres (rescheduled) — 72; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 90; World Series Game 1 — 91; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 91; Georgia at UF — 94; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 97; Florida’s 20th Congressional District primary — 97; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 101; ‘Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 103; Miami at FSU — 108; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ rescheduled premiere — 114; FSU vs. UF — 122; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 135; ‘Spider-Man Far From Home’ sequel premieres — 142; NFL season ends — 165; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 167; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 167; NFL playoffs begin — 171; Super Bowl LVI — 200; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 240; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 282; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 309; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 345; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 357; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 436; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 471.
“CDC urges vaccinated people in high-transmission areas to resume wearing masks indoors as delta variant spreads” via Yasmeen Abutaleb, Joel Achenbach, Dan Diamond and Adam Taylor of The Washington Post — The CDC will recommend on Tuesday that vaccinated Americans wear masks indoors in certain circumstances, the latest step in the nation’s escalating fight against the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus. According to three people familiar with the guidance, the agency will advise that vaccinated people who live in high-transmission areas wear masks in indoor public spaces to reduce viral spread. It also advises that vaccinated people with vulnerable people in their households, including young children and the immunocompromised, wear masks indoors in public spaces. In addition, the agency will urge universal masking for all teachers, staff members, and students in schools, regardless of vaccination status.
“CDC reverses course on K-12 mask guidelines, clashing with Ron DeSantis’ plans for school” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — DeSantis gathered a collection of scientists who railed against masking kids for the upcoming school year, a move that came just one day before federal guidelines were revised to say everyone should wear masks inside K-12 schools amid a national surge of COVID-19 cases. “Masking students is inconvenient, I know, but will allow them to learn and be with their classmates with the best available protection,” Biden said in a statement, shortly after the CDC said children and adults, regardless of their vaccination status, should wear masks heading into in-person classes in the fall. The new federal mask guidelines are almost certain to brew more tension in Florida, where DeSantis has been doubling down on his opposition to mask children.
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“DeSantis shuts out press for virus roundtable redo” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis waited until late in the evening Monday to send out his daily schedule, and it was clear why when the document revealed a 12:30 p.m. roundtable event with COVID-19 skeptics. DeSantis, who bemoaned YouTube removing similar material before, decided this time to sidestep the traditional media altogether, which finally gets to review on Tuesday the actions in the Capitol Monday afternoon. Typically, events such as a roundtable on masks in schools would have had a media advisory and a stream on the Florida Channel. However, the advisory and the stream did not happen. DeSantis framed the panel as one discussing “unmasking our children in schools,” amid “talk among the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics to force masking on children.”
“COVID-19 vaccine dividing Floridians along party lines” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Floridians are split along party lines on the question of whether the vaccine for COVID-19 is safe and effective, as public health officials say. Nearly three-quarters of Floridians told researchers they are either very or somewhat confident in the vaccine guidance public health officials offer, but there’s a marked split about this medical issue along party lines. Confidence is highest among Democrats (86.1%), followed by Independents (70.7%), while only half of Republican respondents said they were very or somewhat confident in public health officials’ advice on the vaccine.
“‘Sellout’: Anti-vax conservatives come for DeSantis” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO — The Republican Governor has come under attack from the medical community and Democrats as the Delta strain of COVID-19 sweeps through Florida, turning it into a national coronavirus hot spot. The state recorded more than 73,000 infections last week — four times as many as the start of July — leading to overcrowded hospitals and more than 300 deaths in the most recent seven-day period. But as DeSantis encourages vaccinations — he said “vaccines are saving lives” — he is facing a backlash from the anti-vaccination wing of his political base.
Assignment editors — Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried will hold a news conference to discuss the surge of COVID-19 cases in Florida and provide the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 12:15 p.m., Cabinet Room. It will also be livestreamed at Facebook.com/FDACS.
“Annette Taddeo calls for 2nd COVID-19 state of emergency” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Taddeo is calling on DeSantis to declare a second state of emergency due to COVID-19 just 86 days after the first state of emergency was lifted. The virus’ resurgence makes a new state of emergency imperative, the Democratic lawmaker wrote in a letter dated Tuesday and sent at 11:15 a.m. She also urged him to resume daily reports on COVID-19 infection and death. “Right now, our state is seeing similar infection and hospitalization rates that occurred in June 2020 when we witnessed peak infection rates, intubations, and deaths,” Taddeo wrote. A response from the Governor’s office and Emergency Management were not immediately available, but the Governor’s spokeswoman said there were no plans for a new declaration.
“Gov. DeSantis not planning new emergency order despite spiking COVID cases, hospitalizations” via Jeffrey Schweers of the USA Today Network — Rejecting calls from local elected officials and the medical community, Gov. DeSantis will not declare a state of emergency in light of Florida being the epicenter of the “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” his office said Monday. “No, there are no plans for a new state of emergency regarding COVID,” said Christina Pushaw, the governor’s press secretary, in an email when asked by the USA TODAY Network-Florida if the situation warranted one. When asked why not, Pushaw replied, “What, concretely, do you believe a state of emergency would accomplish that cannot be accomplished without a state of emergency?”
“State argues CDC violated cruise case injunction” via Jim Saunders of News Service of Florida — A federal judge put off acting on a request by Florida to find that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention violated an injunction against pandemic-related restrictions on the cruise-ship industry. The decision Monday came after a flurry of legal activity that started Friday when a federal appeals court blocked restrictions that the CDC had imposed on the industry because of COVID-19. The appeals court held a preliminary injunction that a lower court judge issued against the CDC last month. The wrangling came in a battle that has drawn national attention as Attorney General Ashley Moody and DeSantis argued the CDC overstepped its legal authority in imposing restrictions on the cruise ship industry.
“Some Florida health care workers face vaccine requirements” via Christine Sexton of News Service of Florida — The 7,400 employees at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville will have to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 17. Staff who refuse will be required to wear masks and socially distance. Mayo did not release information about the percentage of staff members who have been vaccinated. But in a statement released Monday, Mayo said that vaccination rates at its clinics in Jacksonville, Rochester, Minnesota, Scottsdale, Arizona, and Phoenix range between 75% and 85%. Mayo’s announcement came as more than 50 health care organizations, such as the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, signed a letter Monday calling for all health care workers, including those in the long-term care industry, to get vaccinated.
“Florida’s criminal defense lawyers want virtual court again amid COVID-19 spike” via Haley Brown of Florida Politics — As the Sunshine State emerges as a hotbed of COVID-19 infections, Florida’s defense attorneys want courts to go back to using Zoom hearings for all nonessential hearings. In a news release, the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (FACDL) said using Zoom proceedings for all matters that do not constitutionally require in-person appearances will lower the possibility of infection. “The use of Zoom can be both more efficient and, frankly, safer,” wrote the group in the release. President of the FACDL, Jude M. Faccidomo, warned that the courts will add to an already existing backlog if preventive measures aren’t taken.
“As COVID-19 cases surge, Palm Beach imposes new mask mandate and social distancing measures” via Jodie Wagner of the Palm Beach Daily News — With statewide COVID-19 cases surging to levels not seen since January, the town of Palm Beach announced Monday that it would require people to wear facial coverings and practice social distancing while indoors on town property — regardless of vaccination status — and called an emergency Town Council meeting for Tuesday. The mandate includes all town-owned buildings where Palm Beach offices, divisions, and departments conduct business and provide services to the community. Masks will be provided to visitors who may be unaware of the new policy, Town Manager Kirk Blouin said. The policy will remain in effect until the town deems it safe to relax mitigation efforts, the town said.
—“St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa to scale back elective surgeries due to COVID-19 surge” via Ashley Gurbal Kritzer of the Tampa Bay Business Journal
“Broward school district was going to discuss masks — until anti-mask protesters showed up” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — Anti-mask protesters and members of the Broward Teachers Union got into a heated exchange in the hallway outside of Tuesday’s School Board meeting where plans for next month’s reopening were expected to be discussed amid Florida’s rising new COVID-19 cases. Roughly 20 protesters gathered inside the lobby and hallways of the Kathleen C. Wright Building in Fort Lauderdale and refused to wear facial coverings even after they were told to do so by the building’s security detail. When it was clear the protesters would not wear masks, the School Board called off the meeting because all people who want to speak must wear them inside the auditorium, said Broward Public Schools spokeswoman Kathy Koch.
“Nova Southeastern University to require employee vaccinations” via Lois K. Solomon of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Nova Southeastern University will require its employees to be vaccinated by Sept. 20 or risk losing their jobs as part of a new plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19’s delta variant before the start of the fall semester. The announcement tops a tumultuous series of mandates and repeals by the university that began in April when President George L. Hanbury II announced all students and staff would need COVID-19 shots come fall. A few weeks later, the university rescinded the requirement after DeSantis signed a law preventing businesses and governments from asking for proof of vaccination.
“Soaring COVID-19 cases lead schools to reconsider mandatory masks” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Masks could remain mandatory in Broward schools in the coming year due to soaring rates of COVID-19 and new guidance from the CDC. The Broward School Board plans to discuss the new guidance, which recommended masks for students, employees and visitors to schools, even those who are vaccinated. School Board member Debbi Hixon said she now supports mandatory masks. Board member Sarah Leonardi also said she supports mandatory masks. About 25 anti-mask protesters began the day with a mask burning ceremony outside the school district. Then they came inside to speak at the discussion on masks, scheduled for 11:30 a.m., but they refused to wear masks themselves, despite security asking them several times.
“Miami Lakes’ Republican Mayor resisted the COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s why he got the shot” via Marie-Rose Sheinerman of the Miami Herald — Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid said he doesn’t believe in “shaming,” one way or the other, when it comes to the choice to get vaccinated against COVID-19. But on Monday night, after months of hesitance, the 37-year-old Republican Mayor went public with his choice to now get the shot. “A lot of people in our community trust me, so I felt it was important to take that step for my family, for the community and get vaccinated,” Cid said on Tuesday. “But more importantly, to share it. I already know that as of yesterday, people’s minds have changed on it.” The Mayor’s message comes as a spike of hospitalizations for the coronavirus hits Miami-Dade County.
“Sarasota Memorial Hospital up to 92 COVID-19 patients Tuesday as infections surge” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — That’s an increase of six patients from Monday. As the largest hospital in the region, Sarasota Memorial, which announced Monday it was limiting visitation in response to the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, has been treating many of the local COVID-19 patients and is a bellwether for how the region is faring in the pandemic. Sarasota Memorial had 36 COVID-19 patients on July 19 and just four on June 19.
“Leon school board stands behind ‘mask optional’ policy after members get earful for 3 hours” via Ana Gofi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat — There were tears, there was yelling, there were references to the Jan. 6 insurrection, all at a school board meeting in which district leaders opted to stand behind the mask-optional policy that has caused contentious and packed meetings this summer. The decision came hours after the Centers for Disease Control recommended that children wear masks in school. Parents, teachers and community leaders filled the Aquilina Howell Center to air their grievances with the Leon County School District’s new COVID plan for the fall – plans that district leaders have created with conflicting guidance from state officials.
— CORONA NATION —
“As virus cases rise, another contagion spreads among the vaccinated: anger” via Roni Caryn Rabin of The New York Times — As coronavirus cases resurge across the country, many inoculated Americans are losing patience with vaccine holdouts who, they say, are neglecting a civic duty or clinging to conspiracy theories and misinformation even as new patients arrive in emergency rooms and the nation renews mask advisories. The country seemed to be exiting the pandemic; barely a month ago, a sense of celebration was palpable. Now, many vaccinated fear for their unvaccinated children and worry that they are at risk for breakthrough infections. Rising case rates are upending plans for school and workplace reopenings and threatening another wave of infections that may overwhelm hospitals in many communities.
“White House considering vaccine mandate for federal workforce” via Yacob Reyes of Axios — Biden on Tuesday said that requiring the federal workforce to get vaccinated against the coronavirus is “under consideration.” Biden’s statements followed a change in policy from the CDC recommending that vaccinated people wear masks indoors as the Delta variant continues to drive up case rates across the country. The Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to require its workers to receive the vaccine. The White House was reportedly aware of this decision.
“Federal law doesn’t prohibit COVID-19 vaccine requirements, Justice Department says” via Evan Perez of CNN — Justice Department lawyers have determined that federal law doesn’t prohibit public agencies and private businesses from requiring COVID-19 vaccines, even if the vaccines have only emergency use authorization. The opinion from the department’s Office of Legal Counsel paves the way for more federal agencies and businesses to require vaccinations. The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it will require many of its front-line health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The VA is the first in the federal government to require shots among its workers. Some colleges, both public and private, require their students to get vaccinated before returning this fall. Governments are also previewing plans to require vaccines for certain public workers.
“The courts are destroying America’s ability to fight pandemics” via Ian Millhiser of Vox — Imagine if, in the spring of 2020, Wisconsin’s public health agencies had needed to get permission from the state’s heavily gerrymandered, GOP-controlled legislature before they could implement policies intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19. That’s the sort of future that a raft of recent court decisions could be setting the country up for — one where the government has limited ability to fight this pandemic and any others that arise. These court decisions are not happening in a political vacuum. According to The Washington Post, “at least 15 state legislatures have passed or are considering measures to limit the legal authority of public health agencies.”
“‘What’s COVID-19?’ Why people at America’s hardest-partying lake are not about to get vaccinated” via Natasha Korecki of POLITICO — Erin, a bartender at Backwater Jack’s, couldn’t be in a more vulnerable position. She interacts closely with hundreds of maskless customers. She knows most of them are probably not vaccinated. She isn’t either. Depending on your politics, the scene at Backwater Jack’s is either a symbol of reckless abandon or unapologetic living in the face of a pandemic. One pole of the divide has erupted across the country, which increasingly seems cloven into two Americas: vaxxed and unvaxxed. In the Lake of the Ozarks region, where Missourians and out-of-staters pour in to boat, fish, sunbathe and party, to be unvaxxed is a source of identity and, at times pride, a totem of one’s independence and politics.
— STATEWIDE —
“Despite DeSantis’ concerns, some Florida juveniles facing felonies have been helped by ‘diversion’ programs” via Issac Morgan of Florida Phoenix — The public may not know that programs aimed at diverting youths from going to prison already include at least some felony offenses, according to juvenile justice advocates. And those minors have been participating in so-called diversion programs that have helped youths — even though they were involved in felony incidents. Advocates and lawmakers hope to reintroduce the legislation (SB 274), approve the bill in the 2022 Legislative Session, and assuage DeSantis and the Florida Police Chiefs Association about some felonies in the juvenile diversion programs. The programs usually focus on youth misdemeanor incidents. But a youth diversion program in Broward County has allowed working with certain minors with felonies, said Shamni Dougall, program manager of PACE Center for Girls Broward.
“Anti-DeSantis billboards planted blocks away from Governor’s Mansion” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — DeSantis’ surrounding neighborhood became a political battleground this week with the addition of two billboards highlighting the Republican Governor’s ties with embattled Congressman Matt Gaetz. Located blocks away from the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee, the billboards reference an ongoing U.S. Justice Department investigation into whether Gaetz broke sex-trafficking laws by engaging in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paying for her to cross state lines. One billboard implies DeSantis knew about it: “Best friends keep each other’s secrets.” Investigators, however, have not tied DeSantis to Gaetz’s behavior. The other features a joke Gaetz made while DeSantis’ was on the 2018 campaign trail for the Florida governorship: “Matt Gaetz says DeSantis is the ‘Batman’ to his ‘Robin.’”
“DeSantis impressed Christina Pushaw so much, she asked him for a job” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — On March 19, Pushaw wrote an email to DeSantis’ then-press secretary. She was ready to make a move. Pushaw, 30, a Washington, D.C., communications professional, was an admirer of DeSantis and the way he dealt with unflattering press coverage. She wrote that she was inspired to move to Florida because of how the Governor navigated the pandemic. Her message appears to have been received quite well. About six weeks later, the Governor’s Office sent her preemployment paperwork to fill out. By May 10, she had the job of press secretary. Her salary is $120,000 per year. Since her hiring, what was once a largely behind-the-scenes communications role has become one of the loudest pro-DeSantis drumbeats on the internet.
“Nikki Fried suspends concealed carry permits for alleged insurrectionists” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Fried suspended concealed carry weapons permits for Floridians arrested for involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. She announced the action as officers for the Capitol Police testified to a select House committee on the insurrection. “The deeply disturbing events that occurred at our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6 were sedition, treason and domestic terrorism — and those individuals involved in the insurrection must be held accountable for attempting to subvert our democratic process,” Fried said. “Since charges began being filed, we are using our lawful authority to immediately suspend the licenses of 22 individuals involved in the storming of the U.S. Capitol.”
Happening today — The Criminal Justice Estimating Conference meets to discuss funding issues in the Florida criminal justice system, 2 p.m., 117 Knott Building.
“‘In plain sight’: Dianne Hart calls on FBI to weed out white extremist Florida prison workers” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Hart isn’t shocked by today’s Associated Press report on a failed murder plot of a Black former inmate by Ku Klux Klan members, some of whom worked as state corrections officers. She’s only shocked by how little has been done so far to address the issue, and she now plans to call in the FBI to “conduct a thorough investigation into this matter and give recommendations to the Florida Legislature,” she said. Hart, representing parts of Hillsborough County, including Tampa, said she has heard from state corrections officers, inmates, and families about how the problem has spread throughout the state prison system.
“Feds serve Florida search warrants related to assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse” via Jay Weaver, Jacqueline Charles and Kevin G. Hall of the Miami Herald — Dozens of federal agents fanned out across South Florida Tuesday to carry out the first search warrants related to the assassination of Haiti’s President, focusing on two local businessmen that Haitian authorities suspect funded and trained the group of Colombians and others implicated in his killing. Teams of FBI and Homeland Security Investigations agents zeroed in on five locations in Doral, Westchester, and Weston in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to gather financial records and other documents as part of a federal investigation into whether they knowingly played a supportive role in Moïse’s death at his home on July 7.
“Mystery in Cuba: 5 high-ranking generals died in just eight days” via Hatzel Vela and Andrea Torres of WPLG Local 10 News — The Cuban government hasn’t released the cause of death of the five high-ranking generals who have died in the last eight days. The Cuban government did identify them as Cuban Generals Armando Choy Rodriguez, Rubén Martínez Puente, Manuel Eduardo Lastres Pacheco, Agustín Peña Porres and Marcelo Verdecia Perdomo. Choy Rodriguez was a brigadier general. He was an author and historian of Chinese descent and the founder of the July 26 Movement in Villa Clara. Central University “Marta Abreu” of Las Villas tweeted Tuesday that he had died Monday night. He was 87.
“Allison Tant files bill to broaden special education eligibility” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Rep. Tant filed a bill Monday that would broaden the definition of an “exceptional student” to include more students with disabilities. Under current law, students with disabilities who need tailored instructions and special services are considered “exceptional students.” Tant’s proposal (HB 15) would revise the definition to include pupils with developmental delays through age 9 instead of 5. “I have filed my first bill for the 2022 Legislative Session,” Tant tweeted Monday. “Educators, administrators, and parents have told me this bill is needed. This bill will make state standards consistent with federal law.” Tant’s proposal marks the second-year lawmaker’s latest move to support students with disabilities and families.
“How Florida got bipartisan police reform — and what was lost to achieve it” via the Tampa Bay Times — In early 2020, Florida’s legislative session wrapped up, but the Black Caucus kept meeting. At first, the group focused on what could be done about the pandemic. But as summer began and the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor brought renewed attention to the issue of police brutality and disparate treatment of Black people, the caucus turned its efforts to police reform. The 27 mostly Democratic members thought getting a package on this topic passed would be an uphill slog. Police reform was “something that we have not been able to get consensus on ever, at least as long as I can remember,” said state Sen. Randolph Bracy, a Democrat.
Triumph Gulf Coast Board approves $14M for tech education initiatives — Reynolds Henderson of Walton County and Collier Merrill of Escambia County joined the Triumph Gulf Coast Board on Tuesday as the panel approved $14 million in spending to boost technical certifications awarded by Florida State University — Panama City and the Okaloosa County School District. The spending includes $2.8 million for 1,100 industry-recognized credentials in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and unmanned systems at OCSD; and $11.5 million for 3,280 certifications at FSU Panama City. The FSU grant will establish the Advancing Science and Career Education in New Technologies (ASCENT) project. The ASCENT project will include an interdisciplinary cybersecurity hub to support local industry cyber and new technology training needs and partner with K-12 schools to recruit, hire, and train teachers to teach technical fields.
— 2022 —
“Latino voters moved toward Republicans. Now Joe Biden wants them back.” via Jennifer Medina and Lisa Lerer of The New York Times — Leaders of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials were taken aback when both the President and Vice President committed to speaking at their conference in June, the first time in the event’s decadeslong history that the top two White House officials had agreed to speak in a non-election year. For years, Latino activists and organizers complained that Democratic efforts to woo their community often seemed like an afterthought. But after last year’s election, when Republicans peeled away significant Latino support across the country, Democratic leaders are trying a more aggressive approach.
“Joe Gruters discourages finger-pointing, dismisses ‘false’ harassment accusation as ‘smear’” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Gruters dismissed a sexual harassment complaint as part of a “smear campaign” against him during a conference call with RPOF executive committee members, while also discouraging infighting about it within the state party. “I’m asking everyone to stay focused on 2022,” he said. “No finger-pointing and playing the blame game.” That comes amid broad speculation both about the nature of a sexual harassment complaint, and how the party handled the matter. The complaint was made early this year, not by the subject of the alleged harassment but an associate who heard about it.
“Republican files to succeed Audrey Gibson in Senate, could close Democratic primary” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — A Republican candidate has opened a campaign account in the hopes of succeeding term-limited Sen. Gibson in the Senate. Binod Kumar of Riverside is the first Republican to file to run in the 2022 race, and his entry ensures that the Democratic primary will be closed, should Kumar qualify for the ballot. Kumar, an engineer by trade who once worked for JEA, is no stranger to politics. He has run twice before for the Duval County Soil and Water Commission, coming in fourth in 2018 and third in 2020 races. Kumar reported no fundraising at all in the 2020 race, but did offer a biographical statement upon filing with the Duval County Supervisor of Elections.
— MORE CORONA —
“Saudi Arabia to impose COVID-19 vaccine mandate” via Stephen Kalin of The Wall Street Journal — People in Saudi Arabia will need to show proof on a mobile app that they have received at least one vaccine dose to enter public and private institutions beginning Sunday, including schools, shops, malls, markets, restaurants, cafes, concert venues and public transportation. From Aug. 9, Saudi citizens will need two doses to travel abroad. In the United Arab Emirates, access to most public places in the capital Abu Dhabi will be restricted next month to vaccinated people after the authorities said that 93% of the population had been inoculated. Mandates in Western nations have faced criticism. In Saudi Arabia, a tightly controlled authoritarian state of some 30 million people, the opposition has been muted.
“Britain reports highest deaths from COVID-19 since March as Boris Johnson urges caution” via Alistair Smout and Paul Sandle of Reuters — Britain reported 131 new deaths from COVID-19, the highest daily total since March 17. The number of COVID-19 patients in British hospitals has also steadily risen to 5,918, the highest since March, following a spike in cases earlier this month. The number of new infections has fallen each day for the last seven days, though Prime Minister Johnson stressed the pandemic was not over. Johnson has lifted restrictions in England and is betting he can get one of Europe’s largest economies firing again because so many people are now vaccinated, a decision which marks a new chapter in response to the novel coronavirus.
“Europeans increasingly frustrated as White House maintains Donald Trump-era COVID-19 travel restrictions” via Rick Noack, Reis Thebault and Quentin Ariès of The Washington Post — Whereas vaccinated U.S. tourists have been allowed to return to much of Europe for weeks, most Europeans continue to be unable to travel to the U.S. under a ban that was first imposed by Trump in March 2020. The White House said Monday that the continuation of existing travel restrictions was attributable to concerns over the highly transmissible delta variant. Several European nations, including Spain, Britain and France, have recently seen a rise in cases linked to that variant. But the delta variant has long been in the United States, already accounting for the majority of new known cases, and many European nations are now starting to outpace the United States in vaccinations.
“15-year-old in medically induced coma after testing positive for COVID-19” via Terrell Forney of Local 10 — A teenage girl is on a ventilator and in critical condition after testing positive for COVID-19. The girl’s mother, who is fully vaccinated, also has tested positive. They’re among the many new cases as dangerous variants surge across South Florida. Tomas Velasquez, the brother of 15-year-old Paulina Valasquez, can’t even visit his sister because of COVID-19 safety restrictions. “I just want to tell people this virus is not a joke; it’s a real thing,” he said. “Before this, my sister was 100% healthy. Fifteen-year-old girl, always wore her mask, never took it off in public, and this still managed to happen.”
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“What does the delta variant mean for the U.S. economy?” via John Cassidy of The New Yorker — Now that the spread of the Delta variant has pushed the seven-day average of new cases above fifty thousand, and the number of hospitalizations has jumped by more than fifty% in two weeks, economists and investors are reassessing the prospects. Moody’s Analytics has constructed a “Back-to-Normal Index,” which tracks real-time economic data, such as restaurant bookings, the number of people flying, and initial claims for unemployment benefits. At the national level, there is little sign that the variant is affecting these statistics. However, the index has dropped in some hard-hit states, such as Florida.
“Work-from-anywhere perks give Silicon Valley a new edge in talent war” via Katherine Bindley of The Wall Street Journal — Some of the biggest names in tech aren’t just allowing existing workers to relocate out of the Bay Area, they are also starting to hire in places they hadn’t often recruited from before. The result is the most geographically distributed tech labor market to date. That’s leading to above-market rates for workers in smaller hubs, forcing local companies to raise wages to keep up with the cost of living and fend off deeper-pocketed rivals from California, Seattle and New York. The winners of the pandemic are turning out to be the workers themselves and the companies in coastal hubs who can pay less than a San Francisco salary but more than a local one, according to Mark Muro, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution.
“States that cut unemployment early aren’t seeing a hiring boom, but who gets hired is changing” via Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam of The Washington Post — The 20 Republican-led states that reduced unemployment benefits in June did not see an immediate spike in overall hiring, but early evidence suggests something did change: The teen hiring boom slowed in those states, and workers 25 and older returned to work more quickly. The findings suggest hiring is likely to remain difficult for some time, especially in the lower-paying hospitality sector. The analysis also adds perspective to the teen hiring boom, revealing that more generous unemployment payments played a role in keeping more experienced workers on the sidelines.
“How unemployment insurance fraud exploded during the pandemic” via Cezary Podkul of ProPublica — A Bronx man allegedly received $1.5 million in just 10 months. A California real estate broker raked in more than $500,000 within half a year. A Nigerian government official is accused of pocketing over $350,000 in less than six weeks. What they all had in common, according to federal prosecutors, was participation in what may turn out to be the biggest fraud wave in U.S. history: filing bogus claims for unemployment insurance benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fraudsters have filed in high volumes, sometimes obtaining payments from multiple states. Fraudsters have used bots to file online claims in bulk. And others, located as far away as China and West Africa, have organized low-wage teams to file phony claims.
“Pandemic-induced lotto-buying frenzy expected to taper off, economists predict” via Haley Brown of Florida Politics — The pandemic induced nothing short of a lottery buying frenzy, leading to record-breaking funding for Florida’s education system. But economists expect sales of tickets to trail off in the coming months. State economists met for a Revenue Estimating conference Tuesday to update revenue projections from Florida Lottery ticket sales. Economists suggested during the meeting the dramatic increase in scratch-off sales seen since March 2020 will slow down in the coming weeks. Holger Ciupalo, policy coordinator for the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget, predicted the increase in lottery ticket sales won’t be sustained, but it’s impossible to say exactly when they’ll go back to normal levels.
— PRESIDENTIAL —
“Biden mileage rule to exceed Barack Obama climate goal” via Tom Krischer and Hope Yen of The Associated Press — In a major step against climate change, Biden is proposing a return to aggressive Obama-era vehicle mileage standards over five years. He’s then aiming for even tougher antipollution rules after that to forcefully reduce greenhouse gas emissions and nudge 40% of U.S. drivers into electric vehicles by the decade’s end. The proposed rules from the EPA and the Department of Transportation reflect Biden’s pledge to attack climate change and balance concerns of the auto industry, which is urging a slower transition to zero-emission electric vehicles. The regulatory action would tighten tailpipe emissions standards rolled back under Trump.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“Trump finally has the obsequious press he always wanted” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — Fox News didn’t carry Trump’s speech in Arizona this weekend. But the speech didn’t need to air on Fox. Before it began, his newly appointed spokeswoman, Liz Harrington, hyped the fact that the speech would instead be carried on the small galaxy of Trump-loyal networks that have emerged in the past few years. For those interested in hearing Trump say the same things he’s been saying for nine months but with a new set of incorrect or misleading details, there was plenty of opportunities to do so. This is how it works now. Trump has a relatively small footprint in the mainstream media and conversation, including on Fox News. But on the remote media fringes where accuracy dies in obsequiousness, Trump’s message is as loud as it has ever been.
“George P. Bush learns the GOP’s Trump lesson the hard way” via Joel Mathis of Yahoo! News — In the end, George P. Bush was left with nothing. Bush — the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and now a candidate for Texas Attorney General — worked hard to get Trump’s endorsement. He did so even though his family, including former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and his father, famously disdains Trump and his influence on the party they once dominated. He did so even though Trump had insulted his own mother on Twitter in 2015. And he did so by selling merch, amplifying the fact that Trump had pitted him against his family. All in all, it was a nakedly amoral performance. And it didn’t work. On Monday night, Trump endorsed Ken Paxton.
— CRISIS —
“Swastika found etched into State Department elevator” via Hans Nichols and Jonathan Swan of Axios — A swastika was found on Monday etched into the wall of a State Department elevator near the office of its special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. The defacement raises troubling questions about security inside the nation’s foreign policy nerve center and the potential for antisemitism within an outward-facing element of the United States government. Secretary of State Tony Blinken sent an email Tuesday to the entire department that condemned the vandalism. “The hateful graffiti has been removed, and this incident will be investigated.” All elevators within “Main State” are within a secure perimeter, and security cameras — and, in many cases, uniformed guards — cover entrances to all secure areas.
“Inside a KKK murder plot: Grab him up, take him to the river” via The Associated Press — Joseph Moore held a cellphone with a photo of a man splayed on the floor; the man appeared dead, his shirt torn apart and his pants wet. Moore brought the phone to David “Sarge” Moran, who wore a camouflage-print baseball hat emblazoned with a Confederate flag patch and a metal cross. His arms and hands were covered in tattoos. “Oh, shit. I love it,” he said. “Motherf— pissed on himself. Good job.” “Is that what y’all wanted?” “Yes, hell yeah,” Moran said, his voice pitched high. But the FBI had gotten wind of the murder plot. A confidential informant had infiltrated the group, and his recordings provide a rare, detailed look at the inner workings of a modern Klan cell and a domestic terrorism probe.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“‘A medieval battle’: Officers reveal horrors they faced defending Capitol on Jan. 6” via Nicholas Wu of POLITICO — Four police officers who defended the Capitol from a Jan. 6 riot by Trump supporters spoke out Tuesday during the first hearing of the select committee investigating the attack, sharing harrowing details of their physical and mental trauma. As the riot fades from public memory amid a new wave of Republican revisionism, select panel members aimed to cast the hearing as a vivid reminder of what happened. “Some people are trying to deny what happened — to whitewash it, to turn the insurrectionists into martyrs,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the panel, said in his opening statement.
“Police officers give Congress a front-row seat to the trauma of our politics” via Grace Segers of The New Republic — In such a fractured media environment, it’s unclear whether this hearing and the testimony of the officers will make any difference. According to a poll by CBS News released last week, 55% of Trump voters say they would describe what happened at the Capitol as “defending freedom,” and 51% said they would describe it as “patriotism.” The officers provided answers of their own. “For most people, Jan. 6 lasted for a few hours. For those of us who were in the thick of it, it has not ended,” Capitol Police Officer Aquilino Gonell said during his opening statement. An Iraq War veteran, Gonell said that on Jan. 6, he was “more afraid to work at the Capitol than my whole deployment in Iraq.”
“Cops blame Trump, Republicans for allegedly inspiring and then downplaying Jan. 6 Capitol attack” via Tyler Olson of Fox News — Four police officers who defended the Capitol from the pro-Trump mob that invaded it on Jan. 6 criticized the former President and Republicans who are loyal to him for allegedly inspiring and then downplaying the attack. The officers made the comments before a panel with no hostile questioners. Republicans pulled all of their appointees to the committee after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blocked two of them for being too closely aligned with Trump. The fact the only Republicans on the committee — Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney — were selected by Pelosi made for a hearing with little dissent or fireworks. But with graphic body camera video and emotional testimony, the hearing was still gripping and, at times, jarring television.
“Hearing exposes TV viewers to blunt language, racial slurs” via David Bauder of The Associated Press — People who watched the first day of a House investigation into the Jan. 6 uprising at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday were exposed to the sort of blunt language, including profanity and racial slurs, rarely heard on daytime television. The hearing featured emotional testimony from four police officers who defended the Capitol and video clips of violence and mayhem. It was shown live widely, but not uniformly, on several television networks. Capitol Police Officer Dunn, who is Black, said one rioter cursed him and called him the n-word, a repeated phrase and even chanted at him. Dunn didn’t mask any language while describing it. Networks warned of graphic material in on-screen messages.
“Trump officials can testify in inquiries into efforts to subvert election outcome and Jan. 6 riot, Justice Dept. says.” via Katie Benner of The New York Times — The Justice Department notified former officials this week that they could testify to the various committees investigating the Trump administration’s efforts to subvert the results of the presidential election and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Witnesses can give “unrestricted testimony” to the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, the department said. Both panels are scrutinizing the bid by officials in the Trump White House to force the Justice Department to undermine Biden’s victory, as well as the events leading up to the Capitol riot, as Congress convened to formally tally the electoral results.
“Stephanie Murphy tells Jan. 6 officers they saved Kathleen Rice, herself” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Murphy disclosed that she and another Congresswoman were hiding just a few paces away from where officers were holding the line against riotous insurrectionists. Murphy, the Winter Park Democrat on the committee, told four officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 that she believes they may have specifically saved her life, and that of Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice of New York on that violent afternoon. On the first day of the hearing into how and why insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol trying to overturn the presidential election certification, Murphy showed a video of some of the most intense fighting between them and police. She said she and Rice were hiding in a small office 40 paces away and hearing everything happening in the hallway outside.
“Matt Gaetz’s future sister-in-law says he’s a gaslighting ‘creep’” via Roger Sollenberger of the Daily Beast — Rep. Gaetz’s future sister-in-law appears to have had more than enough of the Florida congressman, posting three TikTok videos in the last two days slamming him as “weird and creepy” and “a literal pedophile.” Roxanne Luckey, the sister of Gaetz’s fiancee, Ginger Luckey, was sharply critical of the congressman and his treatment of young women, saying she “unfortunately was not surprised” to have learned Gaetz was under federal investigation for alleged sex crimes. In one video Monday night, Roxanne Luckey told a story about Gaetz pressuring an older man to court her when she was 19. She called the move “weird and creepy” and claims Gaetz yelled at her and her mother and went “full lawyer” when she confronted him.
— LOCAL NOTES —
“‘Treat her gently’: How an Israeli military search team helped recover majority of Surfside victims” via Wendy Rhode of The Palm Beach Post — Lt. Col. Golan Vach, commander of the Israeli Defense Forces’ National Rescue Unit, personally found 20 victims. His team, he said, recovered 81 by the time the last member departed Surfside on July 11. In all, the Israeli team found about 84% of the nearly 100 victims. “This is the way we were working, like detectives,” Vach said. “You have these stupid, simple, brilliant signs. You dig here, and you will find the people you are looking for. And it worked.” While half of Vach’s team met with victims’ families, the other half deployed to the rubble pile, Vach said. There, they found first responders digging in areas where search dogs were barking. Based on vast experience, Vach said, he believed the rescuers would need a “much wider methodology to try to evaluate where exactly people were buried in the site.”
“Hialeah mayoral, city council race kicks off as deadline to qualify for the ballot passes” via Marie-Rose Sheinerman of the Miami Herald — The deadline to qualify as a candidate in Hialeah’s upcoming mayoral election passed Monday night, setting the stage for a battle between former Miami-Dade Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo and Isis Garcia-Martinez, the first Hispanic woman to serve as Hialeah’s City Council President. With the Nov. 2 election still months away, the two favorites in the mayoral election have racked up more than $600,000 in contributions between the two of them. Down ballot, another 14 candidates will compete for three seats on the city council. Bovo and Garcia-Martinez, both former members of the city council, are household names in Hialeah politics and are now vying for outgoing Mayor Carlos Hernández’s seat.
“Frank Artiles worked closely with top GOP consulting firm during ‘ghost’ candidate scheme, documents indicate” via Jason Garcia and Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — Records show that Artiles billed Data Targeting Inc., the political consulting firm that was at the same time being paid millions of dollars by state Republican leaders to run Senate campaigns, for the cost of a plane ticket that he’d purchased on June 11. A dark-money group then featured Rodriguez’s candidacy in advertisements prosecutors say were designed to siphon support from the Democratic candidate in the race, which the Republican candidate won by just 32 votes out of more than 210,000 cast.
“Brother of NFL player charged in 2016 murder of an FIU student in parking garage” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade police detectives have arrested two men in the killing of Michael Zaldua, the Florida International University student who was fatally shot inside a parking garage near the school in Dec. 2016. The men, Donterio Fowler, 26, and Keondre Fields, 23, were booked into a jail in Pinellas County on Monday. They will be extradited to Miami-Dade to await trial on first-degree murder charges. Fowler and Fields, formerly students at ASA College in Hialeah, both lived in Pinellas County. Fowler is the brother of Atlanta Falcons NFL linebacker Dante Fowler, who is not accused of any wrongdoing. Donterio Fowler’s defense lawyer, Michael Grieco, issued a statement declaring the arrest unwarranted.
“Man accused of striking officer with scooter shares his side of story” via Madeleine Wright and Amanda Batchelor of WPLG Local 10 News — 24-year-old Dalonta Crudup showed his injuries after his rough encounter with Miami Beach police that left him with a black eye, bruised ribs, and blood on his chin. “I got beat up, got stitches, went to the hospital,” he said after bonding out of jail Tuesday morning. Crudup is accused of striking a police officer with a scooter he was riding early Monday morning. He said he didn’t know police were chasing him because he was driving with his headphones on. When he finally realized the officers were after him, he said he took off because he was scared. “They trying to put a Black man in jail for no reason. I ain’t do nothing wrong,” Crudup said. The incident started around 1 a.m. Monday.
“Miami Beach chief suspends 4 cops, has ‘serious concerns’ about force seen in video” via Carli Teproff and Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Clements suspended four officers Monday night after reviewing video that showed them repeatedly punching a man who they claimed was interfering with an arrest. The target of the beating denied that, saying he was merely filming the arrest of another man when police turned on him. In an unusual move, Clements released a statement to the media Monday night asking state prosecutors to take no action against Khalid Vaughn, 28, who was taken into custody that morning in the lobby of Royal Palm South Beach hotel. The chief also said he had already initiated an Internal Affairs investigation into the incident.
“Suspected White supremacy gesture sparks debate for Palm Beach County schools” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As a Black man spoke about the legacy of Jim Crow at a Palm Beach County School Board meeting last week, two men behind him made gestures that many believe were symbols of White supremacy. The gestures, made Wednesday by men wearing shirts that promoted the far-right group Proud Boys, caused alarm on social media. Now the school district plans to change its setup for public speakers so that audience members will no longer appear in the background. But several School Board members say they don’t support a policy change that would prevent people at board meetings from wearing clothing that contain controversial names or messages.
“Judge seeks investigation of leak in misconduct case that threatens her career” via Marc Freeman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Attorneys for Palm Beach County Judge Marni Bryson are calling on the state’s judicial watchdog to immediately investigate a leak of confidential information months before she got slapped with misconduct charges. Bryson’s defense says an inquiry is necessary to find out whether the breach means the Judicial Qualifications Commission has been biased in the handling of her career-threatening case. The commission filed the charges on April 13. The 47-year-old judge is accused of failing “to devote full time and attention” to her responsibilities from 2016 to 2019, as well as not notifying the chief judge about her absences over the same period. These are alleged violations of state and county judicial rules.
“Charges dropped against South Florida rabbi accused of inappropriately touching male students” via Rosh Lowe of WPLG Local 10 News — A South Florida rabbi who was accused of touching the private parts of a student had the charges against him dropped. Back in April, Rabbi Yosef Benita was accused of the crimes by a student at the Lubavitch Educational Center, which is located near the Golden Glades Interchange in Miami. An underage male student initially told police that during tutoring at the Orthodox Jewish day school, Benita touched his private parts four to five times. “Mr. Benita was falsely arrested and spent time in jail,” said attorney Dustin Tischler. The child also said the rabbi did the same thing to a friend. “I knew from day one that Mr. Benita was innocent,” said Tischler.
“Port St. Lucie homeowners may pay more in assessments for Waste Pro services” via Olivia McKelvey of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Homeowners may pay $2.82 more for trash pickup. The City Council unanimously approved at its meeting Monday increasing the preliminary solid waste services assessment rate from $281.92 to $284.74. The Council is expected to finalize the trash hauling assessment at budget hearings in September, officials said. If approved, the rate would go into effect on Oct. 1. Since 2006, the city has contracted Waste Pro for weekly yard waste collection and twice-weekly residential trash pickup. The city is expected to collect roughly $22.1 million from the proposed assessment increase to cover the costs of Waste Pro services.
“Glades-area cities, farmers worry new Lake Okeechobee plan will hurt water supply and more” via Kimberly Miller of the Palm Beach Post — Plans for managing Lake Okeechobee water drew the ire of some Glades-area officials and farmers on Tuesday as Palm Beach County lobbied for its share of the liquid heart of Florida. While the proposal, which was outlined by the Army Corps during a Board of County Commissioners meeting, is a fix for some environmental problems in South Florida, it doesn’t do as well when it comes to water supply for the areas south and west of the lake. King Ranch executive Mitch Hutchcraft, Belle Glade Mayor Steve Wilson, South Bay Mayor Joe Kyles and Clewiston City Commissioner Hillary Hyslope noted concerns during public comment about the so-called plan “CC” and its ability to provide enough water for homes and agriculture.
“Tampa General Hospital: A case study on supporting team members through a crisis” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — The 2020 pandemic led to the worst U.S. recession in history, but the real surprise was the “Great Resignation” that followed. Workers are quitting in droves, searching for new, better jobs. For many workers, the decision resulted from how their employers handled the crisis. Tampa General Hospital is a case study on how to support team members through a crisis. TGH invested $13.6 million to support its team members through challenges faced during the last 16 months. More than $4.6 million went to pay a higher rate to all team members on the front lines of COVID-19. $5.5 million was awarded to TGH team members in the form of a bonus in December 2020. It’s a demonstration of love and compassion.
— TOP OPINION —
“The pandemic has changed course again. The Biden administration urgently needs to do the same.” via Leana S. Wen for The Washington Post — With coronavirus infections climbing throughout the country and the pandemic worsening once more, the Biden administration needs to strongly urge a return of COVID-19 restrictions. The United States is on a very different trajectory now than back in May, when the CDC issued guidance that fully vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks. Even then, when cases were trending downward, many of us in public health were alarmed that the CDC’s recommendations would herald the precipitous and premature end of indoor mask mandates. We were right. The unvaccinated took off their masks, too; not enough people were vaccinated to be a backstop against further surges; and infections began to soar.
— OPINIONS —
“We need to talk about the CDC” via Mark Gongloff of Bloomberg — America’s biggest obstacle to beating COVID-19 might be a large cohort of people who don’t trust the government. The government is not exactly helping the cause. Today the CDC told vaccinated people to start wearing masks again in certain situations. This seems like a good way to slow delta’s spread. But the guidance comes just two months after the CDC told the vaccinated to leave their masks at home. Meanwhile, the FDA just approved an Alzheimer’s drug that might not work but still hasn’t approved ultrareliable COVID-19 vaccines that have been tested on hundreds of millions of people. And the Biden administration is blocking travelers from Europe but not from Indonesia. This is just a sampling of the mixed signals.
“The anti-constitutional beliefs of self-proclaimed ‘constitutional sheriffs’” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — If a county’s top elected law enforcer wants to call himself a “constitutional sheriff,” fine. We’re all for sheriffs and other elected officials keeping their oaths to uphold the federal and state constitutions. However, for some sheriffs, upholding the Constitution has increasingly come to mean that they — not the courts — are the final arbiters of what’s constitutional and what’s not. Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey calls himself a “constitutional sheriff.” But after Sandy Hook, Ivey was among the sheriffs who issued statements pledging not to enforce new gun regulations. Sheriffs who subscribe to this way of thinking need a dose of humility and a refresher course in how the Constitution really works, not how they wish it did.
“Simone Biles and the price of being a GOAT” via Barry Svrlyga of The Washington Post — Here’s the problem with establishing yourself as the best at your chosen profession. Maintaining that standard over weeks and months and years takes its toll. So here was Biles, unquestionably the greatest gymnast on the planet, crippled — on the stage she owns, performing the tasks she had trained a lifetime to pull off, at the moment that mattered. What are we doing, breaking our athletes? Tennis star Naomi Osaka arrived here after a two-month hiatus she used to restore her mind. Swimmer Simone Manuel drove herself to overtrain, then became all but paralyzed when she did. The greatest Olympian of all — swimmer Michael Phelps, he of the 23 gold medals — spends his retirement advocating and advising athletes on the importance of tending to the mind.
— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —
Gov. DeSantis held a secret meeting on COVID-19. No reporters in the room mean no embarrassing questions about the rise in cases.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— Democrats in the Legislature are piling on DeSantis. Sen. Taddeo wants the Governor to declare a state of emergency, and Sen. Gibson wants him to order the health department to return to daily reporting of COVID-19 stats.
— Congressman Charlie Crist, who is running for Governor, says DeSantis is more concerned with a run for the White House than he is about the surge in COVID-19 cases.
— As long as the Governor is ignoring the issue, Agriculture Commissioner Fried — also running for Governor — decided to start holding her own news conferences on the COVID-19 crisis.
— In Washington, the House holds its first hearing on the Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, much to the dismay of Congressman Gaetz.
— Speaking of Gaetz, his future sister-in-law describes him as “weird and creepy.” Roxanne Luckey posted a video on social media describing how he encouraged a colleague in his mid-30s to ask her out when she was a 19-year-old Capitol intern.
— And finally, a Florida man wanted to walk to New York in a water bubble.
To listen, click on the image below:
— OLYMPICS —
“Biles withdraws from gymnastics final to protect team, self” via Will Graves of The Associated Press — Biles arrived in Tokyo as the star of the U.S. Olympic movement and perhaps The Games themselves. She convinced herself she was prepared for the pressure. That she was ready to carry the burden. Only, as the women’s gymnastics team final approached on Tuesday night, something felt off. And the athlete widely considered the Greatest of All Time in her sport knew it. So rather than push through the doubts that crept into her head as she’s done so many times in the past, Biles decided enough was enough. She was done. For now. The American star withdrew from the competition following one rotation, opening the door for the team of Russian athletes to win gold for the first time in nearly three decades.
“Anastasija Zolotic first American woman to win gold in taekwondo” via Wajih AlBaroudi of CBS News — Zolotic made history on Sunday, defeating Russia’s Tatiana Minina to become America’s first-ever female taekwondo gold medalist. The 18-year-old phenom defeated Minina 25-17 at Tokyo’s Makuhari Messe Hall. Zolotic’s path to gold widened once Britain’s Jade Jones — winner of the past two Olympic golds — and Korea’s Ah-Reum Lee fell in the round of 16. Still, Zolotic faced stiff competition en route to her historic finish. The Colorado Springs native took down Turkey’s Hatice Kubra Ilgun, the world’s second-ranked player, in the quarterfinals before topping the fourth-ranked Minina in the finals. The gold medal Zolotic earned was America’s fourth of the Tokyo Games as the country shook off a medal-less Day 1 to rank second in overall medals by Day 3.
“‘Woohoo!’: Ana Zolotic, Olympic gold medalist from Largo gets surprise welcome home” via Christine McLarty of WFLA — Zolotic made history in Tokyo as the first U.S. woman ever to win gold in Taekwondo. She touched down in Tampa late Tuesday night and got a surprise welcome home after she landed. “Wooohoo!” screamed a crowd of people as Ana exited the terminal at Tampa International Airport. Cheers, tears, and hugs were in no short supply. The Olympian got her start at U.S. Best Taekwondo, and Dennis White, the man who taught Ana her skills was among the crowd that welcomed her home.
“American Carissa Moore makes history by winning surfing gold” via Patrick Smith of NBC News — American surfer Moore made history Tuesday by becoming the first woman to win a gold medal in surfing at an Olympics Games. Moore, the lone ethnic Hawaiian on the U.S. Olympic roster and a former child prodigy who grew up to be the youngest world champion surfer, beat Bianca Buitendag of South Africa with a score of 14.93 to 8.46. The 17th-ranked Buitendag won a silver after pulling off upset after upset to deliver some of the contest’s biggest moments in her path to the Olympic podium.
“Critics pounce on Naomi Osaka after loss, denting Japan’s claim to diversity” via Motoko Rich of The New York Times — Just four days after Osaka mounted the stairs to light the Olympic cauldron, presented as a symbol of a new, more inclusive Japan, that image was undermined on Tuesday by a backlash that followed her surprise defeat in Tokyo. Osaka took a drubbing on Japanese social media, with some questioning her identity or right to represent the country at all. As the Japanese-born daughter of a Haitian American father and a Japanese mother, Ms. Osaka has helped to challenge Japan’s long-standing sense of racial and cultural identity. Her selection as the final torchbearer at the opening ceremony on Friday demonstrated how eager the Olympic organizers were to promote Japan as a diverse culture.
— ALOE —
“‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ trailer: first glimpse of Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray in sequel” via Jennifer Yuma of Variety — Sony Pictures has released a new trailer for “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” offering a quick glimpse at the classic characters played by Murray, Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. After Ramis’ death in 2014, it was unclear if a third installment with the original cast was going to take place. Sony produced an all-female re-imagining of the film in 2016. After that installment underperformed at the box office, Sony brought on Jason Reitman as co-writer and director, who got the original stars to agree to be part of the film. In the clip, viewers were shown the resurrected Ecto-1 speeding down the road, giving audiences a taste of what’s to come, including familiar “Ghostbusters” elements from the previous films.
To watch the trailer, click on the image below:
“Disney video shows ‘Harmonious’ barges in action, reveals some show details” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Walt Disney World has released more details about “Harmonious,” Epcot’s upcoming nighttime spectacular, as well as video of the formidable barges working in the theme park’s World Showcase Lagoon. The video shows the five massive barges, the center one shaped like a tall ring, in action. They are used as colorful screens and have spotlights and water effects. The lower-slung ones have extended arms that send out both water and flames. The center-ringed barge has a water screen that can be seen portraying a turning Earth. It might remind Epcot fans of the floating globe used in “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth,” which ran for almost two decades on the lagoon. The show debuts on Oct. 1.
“This $2.6 million home in Miami-Dade is up for grabs — for free” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — For-profit fundraising website Omaze is raffling off the seven-bedroom, six-bathroom home in Kendall near Dadeland Mall, Baptist Hospital and Continental Park. And it doesn’t cost a cent to enter. Of course, the more an entrant spends, the greater chance they have at scoring the 6,060-square-foot home or an alternate cash prize of $1.8 million. The deadline to enter is Dec. 18. Omaze said will announce a winner “around Jan. 5, 2022.” Built last year and listed for sale in February, the home at 8100 SW 96th St. sold for $2.6 million in April. If the winner “for any reason” chooses to forgo taking the house, Omaze will instead pay 12 them 12 monthly installments of $150,000.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday to the great Bill Cotterell. Also celebrating today is Jean Thrasher.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.