Last Call for 8.18.21 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

A digest of the day's politics and policy while the bartender refreshes your drink.

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

Maybe you’ve heard about the fight between state and local officials over school masks?

You know, the one involving the President of the United States?

Gov. Ron DeSantis made the latest chess move in the rancorous battle over whether school districts should be allowed to require students to wear masks, announcing his appointment to the School Board of Alachua County — just 12 hours after that same school board voted to extend its school mask mandate.

The Governor’s choice, Mildred Russell, is actively involved in local Republican politics, according to the website for the church she and her husband run. Russell is a former chair of the Alachua County Republican Executive Committee and served as the Alachua County Republican State Committeewoman.

Russell also volunteered on Front Porch Florida and was a tutor at Duval Early Learning Academy, reads a news release from the Governor’s Office.

DeSantis announced Russell’s appointment after the School Board of Alachua County voted Tuesday night to extend its school mask mandate even though the State Board of Education Tuesday afternoon found Alachua County Schools’ mask mandate to violate two laws: DeSantis’ recent executive order and a newly established Department of Health emergency rule.

Usually, the five school board seats in Alachua County are elected, but this vacant seat was DeSantis’ to fill two months ago, after declaring the seat vacant because school board member Diyonne McGraw lived outside her district’s boundary.

McGraw filed a petition to ask a court to throw out DeSantis’ order removing her from her position, saying he doesn’t have the constitutional authority.

In that filing, McGraw’s attorney argues that even if the court does not rule the executive order unconstitutional, it does not remove McGraw from office or allow DeSantis to appoint anyone to the open seat. A court has not ruled on the matter.

Evening Reads

Delta has changed the pandemic risk calculus.” via Amanda Mull of The Atlantic

For women who helped the U.S., even going to the airport to try to flee is a life-or-death decision.” via Lara Jakes of The New York Times

As population grows, so does debate on how to reach Latino voters in 2022 midterms” via Stephanie Akin and Suzanne Monyak of Roll Call

Why Joe Biden was so set on withdrawing from Afghanistan” via Andrew Prokop of Vox

The Taliban’s swift victory was years in the making” via Sune Engel Rasmussen of The Wall Street Journal

The problem with saying Haiti ‘can’t catch a break’” via Jonathan M. Katz of Slate

The Biden administration will use a federal civil rights office to deter states from banning universal masking in classrooms.” via Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Erica L. Green of The New York Times

Florida public school names still commemorate the ‘Lost Cause,’ but that’s changing” via Issac Morgan of the Florida Phoenix

Wildfires used to be helpful. How did they get so hellish?” via Matt Simon of WIRED

We need better climate propaganda” via Liza Featherstone of The New Republic

Michael Keaton on reviving Batman and the power of saying no to Hollywood” via Rebecca Keegan of The Hollywood Reporter

Quote of the Day

“When it comes to COVID, Florida still remains one of the most dangerous and least-prepared places to be in America, and no one bears more responsibility for that than Gov. DeSantis.” — U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, on the Governor’s coronavirus response.

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