Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics – Week of 8.15.21

Hurrah for school boards who put safety over politics. And let's give a shout-out to Tim Tebow for showing to handle disappointment. But Rick Scott gets a major thumbs-down.

Advocates for mandatory masks and vaccinations against COVID-19 are told not to berate those opposed to such measures.

People say that only makes anti-vaxers more determined to avoid shots and masks. With calm voices, advocates should use reason and education to convince the holdouts.

Meanwhile, virus rates are shooting through Florida’s population again like it’s a race among the nasty little bugs to see how many people they can infect.

What to do?

The Florida Hospital Association and the Florida Medical Association rolled out public service announcements that drive the consequences home without shaming anyone.

The spots might actually give skeptics a moment of pause, especially the one entitled “Mommy.

“We’re still in the same circumstances that we were when there wasn’t a vaccine. Where you’re watching people just pass away. You know, and just — it’s so devastating to watch unfold,” RN Juana Diaz said in the video.

“We had someone in her 30s, a young mommy. She left her husband and three little kids, ages four, two, eight. They’re saying, ‘Mommy, come home. Mommy, I miss you.’ She’s not saying anything because she’s intubated.” That, she said, is rough to watch.

Very rough.

Alabama doctor Jason Valentine said on Facebook he would no longer treat unvaccinated patients.


“If they asked why, I told them covid is a miserable way to die, and I can’t watch them die like that,” he wrote.

Maybe the saddest thing of all, though, are multiple stories about patients in the last stages of COVID-19 asking if they can get the vaccine.

By then, it’s too late.

Vaccinations and masks give people an infinitely higher chance of surviving the virus if they become infected. People say this because they care.

That’s all.

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


Honorable mention: Tim Tebow. Hey, wait a minute. Didn’t the Jacksonville Jaguars release him?

Yes, they did, and so, you ask, how is that winning?

Because there’s a right way to accept disappointment and a wrong way. Tebow showed the right way to handle a tough situation, and that’s a lesson a lot of people could learn.

“Thank you to the @Jaguars organization and everyone who has supported me in this journey. And we know that…God works all things together for good. Romans 8:28,” he tweeted.

He added, “Thankful for the highs and even the lows, the opportunities, and the setbacks. I’ve never wanted to make decisions out of fear of failure, and I’m grateful for the chance to have pursued a dream…”

Critics quickly pounced, as they are keen to do with Tebow.

He is renowned for his Christian faith, they noted, but got a chance to play six years after retiring. Colin Kapernick, who made a social statement by kneeling on the sideline, remains blackballed by the NFL.

That is true, but that’s also not Tebow’s fault.

He is as genuine as a sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean, and as we all know, that’s winning.

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner: Ben Albritton. The Republican state Senator from District 26 prevailed over Manny Diaz Jr. of Wauchula in the race to be the Senate President in 2023 and 2024 – assuming, of course, the GOP still controls the upper chamber.

“It’s a real honor and privilege for me to have earned the support of my colleagues in the Senate,” Albritton said.

“Senator Manny Diaz is a valued colleague and a friend who puts people above politics. We share a vision for the future of Florida, and we’ll work together in the years ahead to advance policies that are in the best interest of the state of Florida.”

Albritton’s victory is especially good news for Florida’s farmers. He is the current chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture Environment and General Government.

He has also chaired the Florida Citrus Commission and the Peace River Valley Citrus Growers Association.

The biggest winner: State school boards. We just went through a week the likes of which Florida hasn’t seen in, well, forever.

Across the state, multiple local school boards voted to defy Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order outlawing mask mandates in their districts.

They did this despite the threat by DeSantis to withhold salaries of superintendents and board members (he can’t do that) or even remove them from office.

“We should not allow ourselves to be scared by the Governor’s threat,” said Miami-Dade County school board member Lucia Baez-Geller said.

Throughout the week, though, we saw district after district put the safety of their students and staff ahead of DeSantis’ unannounced campaign for the 2024 presidential election.

On Wednesday, school boards in Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties voted Wednesday to join Broward and Alachua in requiring students to wear masks unless they get a doctor’s note.

Orange County is considering a similar move as the delta variant continues its rampage throughout the state.

Politico pointed out that more than 1 million students live in districts defying the Governor’s mask order. That’s 37% of the state’s student population.

Meanwhile, the state Board of Education raised the stakes with yet another threat. On Friday, gave boards in Broward and Alachua counties 48 hours to reverse the mandate or face funding reductions equal to the combined salaries of board members.

President Joe Biden backs the boards.

He ordered the Secretary of Education “to take additional steps to protect our children. This includes using all of his oversight authorities and legal action if appropriate against governors who are trying to block and intimidate local schools officials and educators.”


Dishonorable mention: Florida’s legal strategy. You can say one thing for DeSantis – he is consistent. Consistently stubborn, that is.

After Norwegian Cruise Lines won a federal court decision against DeSantis’ plan to ban so-called vaccine passports, the state quickly appealed the decision.

That prompted CEO Frank Del Rio to unload on the Governor.

In an interview with Yahoo Finance, Del Rio called DeSantis’ legal maneuver “beyond bizarre” and “shameful.”

“Can you imagine if 700,000 people died of anything other than Covid, the outrage that there would be, what government would do to stop that,” Del Rio said.

He added, “I mean, come on, give it up. This is a pandemic we are talking about. People are dying every day. Florida now is the epicenter of the epicenter. What does it take for common sense to rule?

“Here’s a state that relies on tourism. It’s the number one industry, and the number one priority of any hospitality business is to keep their customers safe,”

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser: It’s understandable if Frank Artiles feels a little claustrophobic these days. The walls seem to be closing in on the GOP operative and former state senator.

Artiles stands accused of an illegal scheme to siphon votes in the 2020 District 37 Senate race. Investigators say Artiles paid $45,000 to Alexis Rodriguez to run as an independent in that race. Rodriguez shares the same last name as then-incumbent Jose Rodriguez, a Democrat.

Alexis Rodriguez did not run a serious campaign, but his presence on the ballot still attracted 6,382 votes. Republican Ileana Garcia won the election by 32 votes.

Prosecutors say Rodriguez knowingly submitted a false address on official campaign forms, which is a third-degree felony. He lived outside District 37 at the time.

The Miami Herald reported that Rodriguez would plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors in their case against Artiles.

Artiles also recruited another spoiler candidate in the District 39 race. That candidate, 81-year-old Celso Alfonso, received only 3,639 votes.

Republican Ana Maria Rodriguez won that race handily over Democrat Javier Fernandez.

The biggest loser: Rick Scott. He took hyperbole to an absurd level, even in these strange times. Scott tweeted that Democrats consider using the 25th Amendment to remove President Biden from office.

Scott focused on Biden’s handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, and it has been ugly. But I don’t recall Scott saying much (anything) when ex-President What’s-His-Name from Mar-a-Lago reached a deal with the Taliban (!) to end America’s longest war.

“We must confront a serious question: Is Joe Biden capable of discharging the duties of his office? Or, has time come to exercise the provisions of the 25th Amendment?” Scott wrote.

Florida’s senior Senator, Marco Rubio, said he didn’t support Scott’s idea.

Yeah, I don’t foresee that happening,” Rubio told Florida Politics.

Good for him.

If Scott wanted to say Biden screwed this up, that’s fair game. He also could focus on the human tragedy of the situation, which is considerable. Maybe he could suggest how we can help Afghan women, whose lives are about to revert to the Stone Age.

But suggesting Biden’s removal from office after Scott was a lapdog to a lying, riot-inciting former President?


Joe Henderson

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


  • Ocean Joe

    August 22, 2021 at 9:31 am

    Scott should avoid the 25th Amendment and stick with the 5th.

  • Tom

    August 22, 2021 at 9:43 am

    Good morning Joe.

    Steve Contorno of Tampa Bay Times , he actually posed questions to the Democrats running for Governor. Besides criticism, what would they actually do different about Covid. Compliments to Steve for actually being a reporter and asking questions. When reading both, one may conclude they have very little to offer differently as candidates. But you wouldn’t know that with all the hysteria being presented the last 3 weeks.

    Runner Up Winner: Governor DeSantis for presenting and offering the Monoclonal meds and centers for assistance. Along with media “smear” remember 60 minutes everyone. His ex military officer like precision in opening up centers and offering short term alternative and hope demonstrates extra commitment.

    Nikki Fried. Actually announced she was doing the Governors job. No you are not, but you are on a island between the Bahamas and Cuba. Her worse moment was running to Tampa to open a Monoclonal center. You can’t make this stuff up.

    Afghanistan: This once in a 50 year catastrophe will live in “infamy” Unfortunately, on how not to do conduct a withdrawal. Bag-ram AF base should have been the last place to close before the U.S. embassy. Let’s pray it ends peacefully.

    • Sister Mary Elizabeth Boombatz

      August 22, 2021 at 11:16 am

      If you’re going to write your own little column, please be aware of the latest trends in writing: correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
      Not to mention logic.

  • Tom

    August 22, 2021 at 11:29 am

    Gas lighter.
    Don’t deal with the issues.
    You don’t have to read.
    One more:
    Can’t defend abroad.
    Can’t defend our cities
    Can’t defend our border.
    Happy Sunday Sister, God’s Blessings.
    My goodness.

  • Charles

    August 22, 2021 at 11:44 am

    Actually some good information here, however Henderson cannot resist his comfort zone -being a journalistic hack and spewing jackassery. Time has passed by this old liberal donkey — unfortunately he doesn’t realize he’s become just a irrelevant old fool.
    Time to enjoy the grandchildren before life ends Joe. .

    • dan

      August 22, 2021 at 12:28 pm

      brilliant: your’s and sister mary’s replies rank up there with “oh yeah” and “sez u”.

    • Joe Henderson

      August 23, 2021 at 10:26 am

      And yet, Charles, you have a comment on nearly everything I write. If I’m so irrelevant and a fool, why do you read my stuff? Oh, and I do enjoy my grandson very much. Have a nice day.

      • Ron Ogden

        August 24, 2021 at 9:18 am

        We comment, Joe, because if we didn’t readers could naturally conclude that we agree with you, and we most certainly do not. It does no good to guard against falsehoods and polemics in our national life if we ignore the most immediate source. Besides, what are you so testy about? The mature attitude toward critics is to say, “Thank You.” Criticism rightly valued helps sharpen our intellects. Now, in your case, I admit that is like trying to strike an edge on a piece of well-chewed bubble gum but, hey, there is a bit of the Quixote in all of us. Sally forth, Joe! We all need a chuckle.

Comments are closed.


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