Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.14.21

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Get ready for an espresso shot of Florida politics and policy.

The University of Florida keeps climbing.

A decade ago, UF was on the inside edge of the Top-20 in U.S. News and World Report’s public university rankings, but it has experienced a rapid ascent in the years since.

When UF President Kent Fuchs arrived in Gainesville in 2015, the goal was to bring the state’s flagship university into the top-10. It made the cut in 2017, tying at No. 9 with a couple of University of California system schools.

The University of Florida revels in its new elite status. Image via UF.

Now, U.S. News and World Report ranks UF as the No. 5 public university in the country tied with the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and one spot beneath the University of Virginia. Both schools broke ground on their campuses in the 18th century and have long been considered the elite public institutions on the East Coast.

That UF — which didn’t exist in its current form until 1909 — would be considered an equal to either was a pipe dream just a handful of years ago.

The university has also rocketed up the overall charts, moving from No. 50 to No. 28 on the overall list, which includes the Ivy League and other vaunted universities.

Several factors contributed to the university’s rise in the rankings, including strong and consistent support from the Governor, Legislature, Florida Congressional Delegation and the State University System Board of Governors. All shared in the celebration when the rankings were announced Monday.

“When we look back over the past 20 years, we’ve seen a steady improvement. In 2012, the University of Florida was ranked No. 19, and now, they are ranked five. There’s a lot of great students, administrators, the Florida legislature, and board members that have continued to make Florida the best place in the nation to get a great education,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

Both DeSantis and Florida Board of Governors Chair Syd Kitson emphasized that UF’s ranking was an accomplishment for the state as much as the university.

“UF’s commitment to excellence and continuous improvement has motivated and inspired all 12 of Florida’s public universities to strive for their very best,” Kitson said. “UF’s accomplishments elevate the entire State University System, which in turn elevate the state of Florida.”

The university says its climb will continue. It’s well on its way to generating $1 billion in research expenditures annually — it hit $942 million last year — and it has hired more than 500 full-time faculty in the past two years.

“I want to express my gratitude and acknowledgment to all of the people in the UF community who contribute every day to a culture of hard work, passion, invention and discovery that will far outlast this ranking season and any other accolades,” Fuchs said. “It’s an honor for UF to be recognized, and it’s a pleasure to say with full confidence that our momentum will continue.”

— “UF moves up, is Florida’s top college on U.S. News rankings again” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel

—”Ron DeSantis, University of Florida president celebrate school’s rise in ranking” via WESH

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FSU holds on to Top 20 ranking — Florida State University was once among the top-20 public universities in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, holding onto its No. 19 spot. In the overall rankings, which include private schools, the university inched up to No. 55. Like UF, Florida State’s rise in the rankings has been swift. Just five years ago, FSU was ranked No. 43 on the public schools’ list. An upswing in FSU’s six-year graduation rate (84%) and freshman retention rate (93%) since 2016 has helped the university move up 24 spots. “It is absolutely great news,” Sally McRorie, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said of the rankings. “It means that we’re doing the right kind of things to help our students succeed.”

FAMU repeats as nation’s highest-ranked HBCU by U.S. News & World Report” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida A&M University moved up 13 slots — from 117 to 104 — among the nation’s top national public universities. Last year, FAMU tied for seventh with North Carolina A&T University in the Top 10 HBCU category. North Carolina A&T, based in Greensboro, placed eighth this year. “Moving up 13 places is a testament to our focus on student success and the dedication of our faculty, staff, and students to the tenets of our strategic plan, FAMU Rising,” FAMU President Larry Robinson said. The university is hosting a celebration of its rankings during a public event at 6 p.m. Wednesday in front of Lee Hall, with the Marching 100 performing.

Florida Poly debuts at No. 1 on U.S. News and World Report list of best public colleges in the South” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Florida Polytechnic University ranked best among Southern public colleges in the U.S. News and World Report’s recently released 2022 Best Colleges list. It’s Florida Poly’s first appearance on that list. In its new list, U.S. News and World Report also ranks Florida Poly third among all colleges in the Southern United States, including public and private. “Our outstanding showing in these rankings is evidence that Florida Poly has matured into a dynamic provider of STEM education, on par with some of the most well-known institutions in the nation,” Florida Poly President Randy K. Avent said in a statement.

Keiser University gets a nod in U.S. News rankings — Keiser University also cheered the U.S. News and World Report rankings on Monday, touting its recognition as a top-5 university in social mobility. The rankings category recognizes universities that enroll and graduate large proportions of disadvantaged students awarded with Pell Grants. “We are very pleased to earn such high marks in social mobility for a third year in a row,” said Arthur Keiser, Ph.D., Chancellor of Keiser University. “Keiser University is dedicated to providing access and opportunity to a diverse population of students, and we’re pleased to include this goal in our commitment to student success.” In 2020, Keiser took the No. 34 overall spot in the category and moved to No. 11 last year.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@MEPFuller: Pretty interesting to see how the violent insurrectionists are rebranding to “political prisoners” and “nonviolent protesters of J6.” “J6” sounds like a boy band, or a condo address. Definitely not an apt description for a violent mob that sought to terrorize our government.

@Kkfla737: From where DeSantis sits, I get his political maneuvering. He saw (Donald) Trump booed for pushing vaccines; RDS won’t go there. He’s superseded Trump as both the GOP leader & officeholder most connected to the right-wing media ecosystem. It’s terrible potentially for other Republicans.

@BillKristol: FWIW, COVID situation as I see it: 1. Vaccines? Mandates work. (Joe) Biden Administration doing right thing. 2. Boosters? Vaxx for kids? A bit more urgency? 3. Testing? Some progress. BUT I don’t see why WH is allowing the bureaucracy to deny us Europe-type cheap, rapid, at-home tests.

@GrayRohrher: So, if cities can’t mandate vaccines for employees under SB 2006, does that prohibition apply to businesses too? Because I’d like to know when the $5,000 per infraction fines start on Disney.

@SpencerRoachFL: POLITICO FL article published on Sept 9th indicates that since the start of the pandemic, 23 children (under 16) have died from COIVD in the state of Florida. A total of 214 nationwide. (Many morbidly obese). That is a tragedy, but perspective is important.

@marcorubio: University of Florida has always been a great school, but it is now in the Top 5 of public universities in the nation. Well-deserved recognition for @UF @FloridaGators. #GoGators

@AGAshleyMoody: Congratulations to my alma mater, @UF, on continuing to climb the ranks of best public universities in the country. Now #5 according to U.S. News and World reports. #GoGators

@ChrisSprowls: Rankings are finally catching up to reality. Everyone affiliated w/@USouthFlorida knows this is a school committed to changing the trajectory of students’ lives. Special recognition should go to the dedicated faculty — the engine powering USF’s meteoritic rise. Congrats & Go Bulls!

@ChrisSprowls: As my double Gator wife @ShannonSprowls likes to remind me, it’s always a great day to be a Florida Gator. It has never been more true than today, as @UF breaks into the @usnews TOP 5 public universities ranking. There is no limit for the future of our state!

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— DAYS UNTIL —

Alabama at UF — 4; Dolphins home opener — 5; Jaguars home opener — 5; 2022 Legislative Session interim committee meetings begin — 6; The Problem with Jon Stewart premieres on Apple TV+ — 16; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres (rescheduled) — 17; Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary party starts — 17; MLB regular season ends — 18; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres (rescheduled) — 19; World Series Game 1 — 32; ‘Dune’ premieres — 35; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 43; Florida TaxWatch’s annual meeting begins — 43; Georgia at UF — 46; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 49; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Primary — 49; The Blue Angels 75th anniversary show — 52; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 52; ‘Yellowstone’ Season 4 begins — 54; ‘Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 55; Miami at FSU — 60; ExcelinEd’s National Summit on Education begins — 65; FSU vs. UF — 74; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 78; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 87; ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 94; ‘The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 99; ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 102; NFL season ends — 117; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 119; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 119; NFL playoffs begin — 123; Super Bowl LVI — 152; Daytona 500 — 159; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 192; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 236; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ rescheduled premiere — 255; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 261; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 297; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 309; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 388; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 423.

— TOP STORY —

DeSantis says vaccine mandates will be met with fines — DeSantis on Monday threatened to fine cities and counties that require public employees to get vaccinated $5,000 per violation. Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida reported that the announcement is the latest salvo in the Governor’s war against COVID-19 related mandates, which has included battles over school masking policies and a recent directive from President Biden that private employers with more than 100 workers require vaccinations. “We cannot allow these people being cast aside and their jobs being destroyed,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Newberry. But local officials said they would not back down. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said the county was prepared to challenge the Governor’s fines in court if needed.

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DeSantis says cities, counties could face millions in fines over vaccine mandates for employees” via Hannah Knowles, Paulina Firozi, Paulina Villegas, Annabelle Timsit and Bryan Pietsch of The Washington Post — DeSantis said Monday that cities and counties in the state could face millions of dollars in fines for requiring that their employees get vaccinated against the coronavirus, the latest escalation in Republican leaders’ opposition to public health mandates. The Governor has clashed with local leaders over masks in schools and is among a chorus of Republican Governors denouncing or vowing action against Biden’s sweeping order requiring businesses with more than 100 employees to require their workers to either be vaccinated or to be regularly tested for coronavirus.

Despite DeSantis’ threat of $5,000 fines, Leon County stands by employee vaccine mandate” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Leon County Administrator Vince Long is standing by the requirement that all county employees get vaccinated against the coronavirus by the end of the month, despite the assertion by DeSantis that he would begin to level fines for doing so. DeSantis announced Monday a $5,000 fine per employee, which would mean upward of $5 million if accounting for all 1,000 Leon County employees, against cities and counties that require vaccinations. Long said what the county requires is legal and doesn’t fall under the statute cited by DeSantis, which bans private businesses from requiring a “vaccine passport” of customers to provide proof of vaccination.

— FOR YOUR RADAR —

Herschel Vinyard and Jeff Littlejohn have teamed up once again, this time creating the go-to lobby team for businesses looking to navigate Florida’s complex regulatory environment.

Vinyard and Littlejohn make up the Florida government affairs practice at Adams and Reese LLP, a law firm with offices throughout the Southeastern United States.

The new practice will be based in Tallahassee and will focus on development, infrastructure, permitting, and natural resources.

Herschel Vinyard and Jeff Littlejohn are teaming up once again.

“Florida is experiencing so much growth right now, and businesses are looking for expertise and guidance that helps them navigate the complex regulatory environment in Florida,” Vinyard said. “Our experience inside the public sector and as leaders in the private sector enables us to help our clients find solutions.”

Most know Vinyard as former Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, a position to which he was appointed by then-Gov. Rick Scott in 2011.

Vinyard was quick to tap Littlejohn as Deputy Secretary at DEP, and they share a common goal of finding solutions for the state’s greatest challenges.

“Floridians have a long history of environmental problem-solving, as we’ve had to balance the needs of our growing state with our need for clean air, water and natural places,” said Littlejohn. “We’re fortunate to be part of the solution, helping clients who have new ideas to connect with the stakeholders that can adapt them on a big scale.”

Littlejohn was the key author of the 2019 Seaports Resiliency Report, issued by the Florida Ports Council. The report identified vulnerabilities in Florida’s network of seaports and outlined best practices for the ports to strengthen infrastructure against anticipated threats, including sea level rise.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Florida COVID-19 update: 23,930 cases, 968 deaths and fewer people in hospital and ICU” via David J. Neal of the Miami Herald — Florida on Monday reported to the CDC 23,930 more COVID-19 cases and 968 deaths. The CDC did not report case and death data Sunday, so what was reported Monday includes two days’ worth of data. In this most recent phase of the pandemic, Florida has reported deaths in Monday and Thursday clumps through the CDC. All but 88 of the newly reported deaths, about 91%, occurred since Aug. 16. About 57% of the newly reported died in the past two weeks. Most deaths happened during Florida’s latest surge in COVID-19 cases, fueled by the delta variant.

DeSantis news conference spreads anti-vax falsehood” via Jim Swift of The Bulwark — In a news conference Monday that was branded to promote “protecting Florida’s freedoms,” DeSantis invited anti-vaccine residents to stand behind the state seal and explain their opposition to the vaccine in front of the assembled media. One of DeSantis’s featured speakers falsely stated that “the vaccine changes your RNA.” Let’s walk through the relevant scientific facts: First, all vaccines pose risks, although the risks associated with the vaccines are significantly smaller than the risks of COVID-19 itself. Second, there’s a blatant misconception among some anti-vax types that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines change one’s DNA. They do not. Third, the claim that these vaccines change your body’s RNA is also false.

Ron DeSantis lets a vaccine falsehood slide.

After speaker spreads disinformation, DeSantis stands by vaccines but offers no correction” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — After a speaker at a DeSantis-headlined event made a false statement about vaccines, the Governor’s Office stressed his own support for shots. But nobody corrected the information at the event. The controversial remarks came during a news conference in Gainesville where DeSantis threatened to fine local governments for imposing vaccine mandates. At the event, Darris Friend, an employee at Gainesville Regional Utilities, spoke about his reasons for refusing a vaccine. “The vaccine changes your RNA, so for me, that’s a problem,” Friend said.

Is Florida vaccinating racial groups equitably? It’s hard to tell” via Margo Snipe of the Tampa Bay Times — As the worst coronavirus pandemic wave continues across the U.S., recent data shows that Black and Hispanic people are getting vaccinated at higher rates. The racial disparity in who’s receiving shots appears to be improving. When vaccines were first rolled out earlier this year, both groups lagged tremendously behind their white counterparts. But the lack of complete data makes it hard for researchers to tell if the gap is truly closing. The trends appear to be similar in Florida. But not having specific local data on race and ethnicity makes it difficult to pinpoint where vaccination rates are equitable or inequitable and address any disparities.

— CORONA LOCAL —

Surge may be waning in Palm Beach County, across Florida, weekend cases show” via Chris Persaud and Jane Musgrave of The Palm Beach Post — The deadly surge of COVID-19 continued to wane in Florida on Monday with 24,078 new infections reported over the weekend, pushing the seven-day average to a more than six-week low. At the same time, the number of people hospitalized with the disease both across the state and in Palm Beach County continued to drop. Statewide, 11,547 people were hospitalized, and 2,820 were in intensive care units. Those are the lowest patient counts since early August as the highly contagious delta variant caused infections to spike.

Clearwater man dies after catching coronavirus in Pinellas jail” via Kathryn Varn of the Tampa Bay Times — A 70-year-old man died at a local hospital after contracting the coronavirus in the Pinellas County jail, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Monday. The Sheriff said that Sir Walter Boykin III of Clearwater tested positive for the virus and was taken to Northside Hospital on Sept. 4. He died Friday. “It’s unfortunate and sad that it happened,” Gualtieri said, “but it’s a tough environment that we’re in.” County jails have long been a point of concern for coronavirus spread because of their high turnover and cramped quarters. The Pinellas County jail had its own outbreak in the last month that, at its peak, hit about 100 cases among inmates. Gualtieri said that number had dropped to 37 cases as of Monday.

Bob Gualtieri says a ‘tough environment’ led to the COVID-19 death of an inmate from Clearwater.

Hillsborough offers $500, extra days off to vaccinated county workers” via C.T. Bowen and Allison Ross of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough County will sweeten the carrot it’s using to entice county government employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. In a Monday email to county workers, County administrator Bonnie Wise said employees would receive $500 and two extra days off if they submit documentation of receiving the coronavirus inoculation. Previously, the county offered a $50 wellness reward and one floating holiday as an incentive. But the county isn’t relying exclusively on the carrot approach. There’s a stick component, too. Employees who have not submitted their vaccination card by Oct. 15 will have to submit to weekly testing beginning Oct. 18 and must wear a mask while at work.

Will vaccine mandates help or hurt nursing home staffing in Tampa Bay?” via Hannah Critchfield of the Tampa Bay Times — The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is expected to issue an emergency rule requiring staff vaccinations within nursing homes nationwide later this month, following an announcement by the Biden administration that these facilities must do so or risk losing federal funding. Senior care leaders fear the impending requirement will lead to a “mass exodus” of employees from an industry already struggling with worker shortages. The Florida Health Care Association, which represents more than 80% of Florida nursing homes, applauded the Biden administration’s move last week to expand the mandate to all health care providers receiving federal funding — as nursing home staff are now less likely to quit to work in another health care setting like a hospital.

‘It’s almost like a movie set’: Parrish COVID-19 ICU sees unprecedented level of deaths” via Rick Neale of Florida Today — Mortality rates are sobering at Parrish. COVID-19 deaths skyrocketed from one in June and four in July to 50 in August amid the delta variant surge, forcing hospital officials to bring in an overflow morgue unit to store all the bodies. Most of the coronavirus patients die in the ICU. Only four patients survived the coronavirus and got discharged during the past month and a half, said Jennifer Watts, a nurse practitioner. Coronavirus deaths would soar from four in July to 50 in August. That’s a 1,150% increase in one month.

For decades, Scott Hopes advocated for face masks. Now his hands are tied.” via Jesse Mendoza of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Nearly 20 years ago, the director of the World Health Organization’s China office briefed Hopes about the first outbreak of a deadly new disease called SARS.  To Hopes, an epidemiologist and health care executive, the virus seemed to spread like tuberculosis – another respiratory disease – and at the time, he recommended that WHO contain the spread by using N95 masks, respirators, gowns, face shields and gloves as protective equipment. Decades later, Hopes once again finds himself facing a deadly coronavirus. Only this time, he must calibrate his response to the priorities of the political leaders who are his bosses and the divided community he serves.

Polk County has to ‘pick winners and losers’ with COVID-19 relief money. Here’s why” via Dustin Wyatt of The Lakeland Ledger — Polk County’s game plan with its share of federal COVID relief money is to spend most of it, $82 million, on infrastructure needs like roads, drainage and utilities. It’s left with $10.5 million in American Rescue Plan funding that’s not yet allocated, money that commissioners say they want to go toward addressing social and health needs in the community as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc. This poses a challenge. As County Commissioners inch closer to adopting a budget in October, with a budget hearing scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, they will have to decide which programs and services are worthy of those dollars.

— STATEWIDE —

Ashley Moody backs plaintiffs against Gainesville vaccine mandate” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — With Republicans’ temperament flaring over vaccine mandates, Moody asked a court Monday to block the City of Gainesville from requiring all city employees to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment. Moody’s brief, filed in Florida’s Eighth Judicial Circuit Court in Alachua County, marks the state’s latest effort to stomp out vaccine mandates sprouting in cities across the state. In the three-page emergency relief document, Moody sides with the plaintiffs, a group of Gainesville city employees, and argues the “unlawful” mandate will aggravate the shortage of law enforcement officers across Florida. Fewer officers, she warned, may lead to longer response times, fewer solved crimes, and even a “lower quality of life” in impacted areas.

Ashley Moody seeks to block the City of Gainesville from enacting a mask mandate.

Florida buys armored weather stations as climate changes makes hurricanes stronger” via Kimberly Miller of the Palm Beach Post — Florida is investing millions of dollars in hurricane-hardened weather stations as climate change stokes worsening catastrophes and the nation’s primary weather gauges surrender to high winds and power outages. Since 2019, nearly $3 million has been dedicated by state lawmakers for the Florida Severe Weather Network — a series of armored instruments that are solar-powered, cellular, provide real-time information, and can withstand wind gusts up to 185 mph. The move follows severe storms such as 2017’s Hurricane Irma, where complete failure or loss of multiple functions occurred at eight weather sites monitored by the National Weather Service in Miami.

Happening today — The Lafayette County legislative delegation meets: Sen. Jennifer Bradley and Rep. Jason Shoaf, 10 a.m., Lafayette County Courthouse, County Commission Room, 120 West Main St., Mayo.

Happening today — Sen. Kathleen Passidomo is the featured speaker at a meeting of the Florida Commission on the Status of Women, to talk about affordable housing issues, noon. Register online.

Happening today — The Dixie County legislative delegation meets: Bradley and Rep. Chuck Clemons, 1 p.m., Dixie County Courthouse, County Commission Meeting Room, 214 N.E. Highway 351, Cross City.

Happening today — The Gilchrist County legislative delegation meets: Bradley and Clemons, 3:30 p.m., Gilchrist County Commission Meeting Facility, 210 South Main St., Trenton.

Personnel note: Kyle Dunaway to lead marketing, comms for Florida Clerks” via Florida Politics — Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers announced Monday that Dunaway has been promoted to Director of Marketing and Communications. In the new role, Dunaway will lead the association’s in-house communications team and oversee the strategy and execution of statewide marketing and communications initiatives on behalf of Florida’s 68 independently elected Clerks of Court and Comptrollers. Dunaway previously served as FCCC’s deputy director of Creative, Marketing, and Design Support. FCCC said he had played a critical role in developing and implementing many communications initiatives since joining the association in 2018.

— 2022 —

House Democrats post record August fundraising ahead of 2022” via Will Weissert of The Associated Press — The campaign organization aiming to maintain Democratic control of the House in the 2022 midterm races raised $10 million last month, its best August haul ever during a year without a national election. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says that nearly 250,000 grassroots donors provided $6.6 million, accounting for two-thirds of its monthly total. That total included transfers worth more than $1 million from other Democratic campaign accounts. The largest, from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was worth nearly $800,000.

Nancy Pelosi and the national Democrats post some blockbuster August numbers. Image via AP.

—”Maggie’s List backs Amanda Makki for CD 13” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

—“Unopposed Manny Diaz posts $43,500 August haul” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics

Ralph Massullo not worried about primary competition” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — The forms may say state House District 34, but make no mistake: Rep. Massullo is eying the Senate. Massullo is awaiting the legislative redistricting process to see what the future Senate district that includes Citrus County looks like. Officially, he’s opened a campaign account for reelection. Between it and his political committee, he has $168,000 ready to spend on his 2022 campaign. SD 10 is currently held by Senate President Wilton Simpson, who is term-limited and running for Agriculture Commissioner. Rep. Blaise Ingoglia has already filed for the seat, but Massullo said he “wouldn’t have any qualms running against him.” However, he said he wouldn’t challenge a House colleague in a Senate race unless he earns the backing of Senate leadership.

Shane Abbott expands HD 5 money lead in three-way race to succeed Brad Drake” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Abbott padded his fundraising lead in the Republican-only race to succeed Rep. Drake in House District 5. The DeFuniak Springs pharmacy owner raised $11,250 last month. Since launching his campaign in February, it was his weakest month for fundraising, but he still raked in more than GOP Primary competitors Vance Coley and Clinton Pate throughout the month. Abbott received 21 donations in August, including a $1,000 distribution from the political committee of law and lobbying firm GrayRobinson. However, the majority of those donations naturally came from pharmacists, pharmacies and pharmacy groups.

Brian Clowdus boasts strongest month with support from Roger Stone, still drowned by Griff Griffitts in HD 6” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Clowdus posted his best fundraising month yet in the race for Bay County’s House District 6. But the former Atlanta theater pioneer is still leagues behind County Commissioner Griffitts in the GOP Primary that will likely determine who succeeds Rep. Jay Trumbull. Clowdus raised nearly $7,000 in August. After spending cash on marketing and events throughout the month, he’s left with just over $8,000 in the bank as of the end of the month. Since launching his campaign in April, Clowdus, who promises to “shake things up in Bay County,” has raised nearly $19,000.

With some help from Roger Stone, Brian Clowdus posts some solid fundraising, but still lags behind. Image via Twitter.

Angel Perry brings pro-union stance to HD 50 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Perry wants voters to understand that Republicans can have rock-solid conservative views on most issues and still be pro-union. Perry, of Orlando, is among three Republicans, along with Robyn Hattaway and Christopher Wright, vying for a chance to succeed Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia in HD 50 in Orange and Brevard counties. A New York transplant, Perry is a technology support representative. Since 2014, she’s also served as a union steward, an AFL-CIO delegate, and a union local officer. She’s now executive vice president of Communication Workers of America Local 3108. In those roles, she helped locals craft proposed legislation and establish advocacy positions at city, county and state levels, and vet candidates for endorsements.

—”Jason Holloway outraises Kim Berfield in August for HD 67 race” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

—“Clay Miller narrowly tops HD 100 field in August fundraising” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

— CORONA NATION —

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COVID-19 deaths in delta surge trend younger in unvaccinated people” via Jon Kamp and Paul Overberg of The Wall Street Journal — A surge in COVID-19 deaths caused by the highly contagious Delta variant is hitting working-age people hard while highlighting the risks for people who remain unvaccinated. Federal data show COVID-19 deaths among people under 55 have roughly matched highs near 1,800 a week set during last winter’s surge. These data show weekly tallies for overall COVID-19 deaths, meanwhile, remain well under half the pandemic peak near 26,000 reached in January. The Delta-driven COVID-19 surge is the first major case surge to spread through a partially vaccinated U.S. population.

FDA official hopeful kids 5 to 11 can get vaccines by year’s end” via Lauran Neergard of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The FDA’s vaccine chief said Friday the agency will rapidly evaluate COVID-19 vaccinations for younger children as soon as it gets the needed data and won’t cut corners. Dr. Peter Marks said he is “very, very hopeful” that vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner: One company, Pfizer, is expected to turn over its study results by the end of September, and Marks said the agency hopefully could analyze them “in a matter of weeks.” In the U.S., anyone 12 and older is eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. But with schools reopening and the delta variant causing more infections among kids, many parents anxiously wonder when younger children can get the shots.

Tensions mount between CDC and Joe Biden health team over boosters” via Erin Banco, Sarah Owermohle and Adam Cancryn of POLITICO — Top Biden COVID-19 officials are increasingly clashing with the CDC as the administration pushes to begin distributing booster shots widely by Sept. 20. In meetings and conversations over the past month, senior officials from the White House COVID-19 task force and the FDA have repeatedly accused CDC of withholding critical data needed to develop the booster shot plan, delaying work on the next step of Biden’s vaccination campaign and making it more difficult to set clear expectations for the public.

Our most reliable pandemic number is losing meaning” via David Zweig of The Atlantic — Presumably, hospitalization numbers provide a stable and reliable gauge of the pandemic’s true toll in terms of severe disease. But a new, nationwide study of hospitalization records suggests that the meaning of this gauge can easily be misinterpreted — and that it has been shifting over time. The study found that from March 2020 through early January 2021, the proportion of patients with mild or asymptomatic disease was 36%. From mid-January through the end of June 2021, however, that number rose to 48%. In other words, the study suggests that roughly half all the hospitalized patients showing up on COVID-19-data dashboards in 2021 may have been admitted for another reason entirely or had only a mild presentation of the disease.

— CORONA ECONOMICS —

U.S. inflation starting to look like a stimulus-led outlier” via Ben Holland of Bloomberg — COVID-19 inflation is everywhere, but some have more of it than others. Among advanced economies, the U.S. is starting to look like an outlier. That’s probably because it did more fiscal stimulus in the pandemic, economists say. The consensus is that high inflation won’t last long. But even if that’s right, the current elevated level has the potential to cause problems of its own. According to Bloomberg surveys, August data due Tuesday is set to show annual growth in U.S. consumer prices stayed above 5% for a third straight month. The median forecast was 5.3%. Most other developed countries have seen a spike, too — just not nearly as big.

U.S. households say they expect inflation to stick around 4% over the next three years. Image via Bloomberg.

Anthony Fauci says he would support vaccination requirement for air travel” via Yaron Steinbuch of The Washington Post — Dr. Fauci has expressed his support for COVID-19 vaccination requirements for air travel, as the Biden administration did not rule it out. “I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people that you should be vaccinated,” the White House chief medical adviser said in an interview. On Friday, White House coronavirus response team coordinator Jeff Zients said the administration is “not taking any measures off the table” when asked if it had “ruled out” ever implementing vaccine or testing requirements for domestic flights. The President also directed the Transportation Security Administration to double fines levied against travelers who refuse to wear masks.

What Carol Dover is reading — “Restaurants close dining rooms again as delta-driven infections spread” via Heather Haddon of The Wall Street Journal — Restaurants’ plans to return diners to indoor tables are unraveling. Chains such as McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A are slowing their dining rooms’ reopenings, given the Delta-driven surge in COVID-19 infections. Other restaurants are again losing customers and trying to squeeze more diners into outdoor patios while the weather allows. Laurie Torres, the owner of Mallorca in downtown Cleveland, said sales at her Spanish-themed restaurant had risen earlier in the summer from pandemic lows but fell again last month as diners grew nervous.

The delta variant may lead to more restaurant closures.

From zippers to glass, shortages of basic goods hobble U.S. economy” via Howard Schneider and Timothy Aeppel of Reuters — Shortages of metals, plastics, wood and even liquor bottles are now the norm. Along with the shortages come hefty price increases, which has fueled fears of a wave of sustained inflation. There’s growing tension among Federal Reserve policymakers over how to gauge the long-term impact on prices. Some Fed policymakers are more convinced than others that price pressures will recede after some supply chain disruptions are resolved. How this debate evolves could influence how quickly the Fed moves to reduce the pace of asset purchases launched at the start of the pandemic, and how soon it lifts the policy interest rate from its current level near zero.

— MORE CORONA —

White House lays out new global targets in coronavirus pandemic fight” via Dan Diamond of The Washington Post — Biden plans to call on global leaders to make new commitments to fight the coronavirus pandemic, including fully vaccinating 70% of the world’s population by next September, according to a list of targets obtained by The Washington Post. The goals were shared with global health leaders ahead of a virtual summit the White House is scheduled to convene next week, positioning the event as an opportunity to set worldwide objectives to end the pandemic. The targets, which draw on similar goals laid out by the World Health Organization and other global health experts, include providing billions of dollars in tests, oxygen and other supplies to developing countries, and setting up a financing system to pay for global health response by next year.

England abandons vaccine passport plans” via Claire Parker of The Washington Post — As more countries turn to coronavirus vaccination requirements in a bid to bring the pandemic to heel, England is moving in a different direction. The announcement marked a reversal of the government’s plan to require proof of full vaccination to enter nightclubs and other crowded venues in England. Intended to incentivize vaccine uptake, especially among young people, the system had been expected to take effect at the end of the month. About 65% of the population in England is fully immunized. But vaccination rates among young people have lagged behind those of older demographics. Coronavirus cases have dropped since July, though England is still reporting more than 20,000 new cases per day.

The idea of British vaccine passports, which held much promise, has collapsed.

‘Their crisis’ is ‘our problem’: Washington grapples with Idaho COVID-19 cases” via Mike Baker of The New York Times — At a time when Washington State hospitals are delaying procedures and struggling with their own high caseloads, some leaders in the state see Idaho’s outsourcing of COVID-19 patients as a troubling example of how the failure to aggressively confront the virus in one state can deepen a crisis in another. On the Washington side of the border, residents must wear masks when gathering indoors, students exposed to COVID-19 face quarantine requirements, and many workers are under vaccination orders. On the Idaho side, none of those precautions are in place. “It’s ridiculous,” said Cassie Sauer, the president of the Washington State Hospital Association.

1 in 7 people have dumped their friends over COVID-19 vaccine stance” via Chris Melore of StudyFinds — The coronavirus vaccine has been an incredibly divisive topic, and now it’s even ending friendships. Vaccinated Americans have called it quits with friends who refuse to get the COVID-19 shot. A survey of 1,000 Americans conducted by OnePoll on Sept. 2 examined why people have ended friendships in the last year and a half. Results show 16% of respondents have axed three pals from their lives since the pandemic began in March 2020. Of those who ended a friendship, 66% are vaccinated, and 17% don’t ever plan to receive the shot. Fourteen percent of vaccinated respondents, about 1 in 7, say they parted ways with friends who didn’t want to get the vaccine.

College students reported record-high marijuana use and record-low drinking in 2020, study says” via María Luisa Paúl of The Washington Post — The coronavirus pandemic that’s killed more than 658,000 people in the United States and infected 41 million, upended economies and moved classes to bedrooms may have added another change for college students: less booze and more weed. A newly released study found that nearly half the country’s college-age students said they consumed marijuana last year, leading researchers to wonder whether the pandemic may have spurred the record in cannabis consumption. According to the report, 44% of college students reported using marijuana in 2020, increasing from 38% in 2015. At the same time, reported alcohol use among college students dipped from 62% in 2019 to 56%, with the number of them reporting being drunk in the past month decreasing to 28% from 35% last year.

— PRESIDENTIAL —

Biden travels to California, a state in crisis as wildfires worsen” via Christopher Flavelle of The New York Times — Biden is making his first visit as President to the West Coast on Monday, but his travels to survey the damage from wildfires in California mark his second trip in as many weeks to bring attention to the immense human and financial costs of climate change. Biden went to New York and New Jersey earlier this month to survey the damage from the remnants of Hurricane Ida. But the wildfire crisis in California is in many ways more severe. As the fires have grown, so has the damage they cause. In 2017, California wildfires damaged or destroyed more than 10,000 structures — more than during the five previous years combined. The next year, that number more than doubled, to almost 25,000.

 

Joe Biden heads to California to talk wildfires, climate change. Image via Reuters.

About 1,000 protest Biden’s visit to Idaho” via Keith Ridler and Rebecca Boone of The Associated Press — Protesters gathered Monday in Boise during a visit by Biden to rail against his plan to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control, last year’s presidential election and a host of other issues. Biden visited Boise as part of a swing through Western states to promote his administration’s use of a wartime law to aid in wildfire preparedness, survey wildfire damage and push his economic agenda. About a half-dozen Boise police were stationed at the National Interagency Fire Center entrance, and other law enforcement officers patrolled the area on motorcycles. Police estimated the number of protesters to be at least 1,000 at its peak. The complex that houses the center is generally closed to the public, and the protesters gathered outside its entrance.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

U.S. steps up effort to unite families separated under Donald Trump” via Ben Fox of The Associated Press — A federal task force is launching a new program Monday that officials say will expand efforts to find parents, many of whom are in remote Central American communities, and help them return to the U.S., where they will get at least three years of legal residency and other assistance. The task force has reunited about 50 families since starting its work in late February, but hundreds of parents, and perhaps between 1,000 and 2,000, were separated from their children and have not been located. A lack of accurate records from the Trump administration makes it difficult to say for certain, said Michelle Brané, executive director of the administration’s Family Reunification Task Force.

Joe Biden’s administration is trying to reunite families separated by Donald Trump’s hard-line policies. Image via AP.

Trump endorses backer of election fraud claims for Arizona Secretary of State” via Tal Axelrod of The Hill — Trump endorsed Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem for Arizona secretary of state, backing a key supporter of his voter fraud claims to oversee the Grand Canyon State’s elections. In a statement endorsing Finchem, which was disseminated by the former President’s leadership PAC, Trump specifically cited Finchem’s backing of his election fraud claims and touted the state lawmaker as a supporter of his agenda. Finchem has centered much of his campaign on the need to restore “election integrity,” with a statement on the homepage of his website reading that he “knew something was very wrong with our elections process.” Footage uncovered in June also showed Finchem outside The Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

GOP 2024 hopefuls tread carefully around Trump” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO — Mike Pence leaned into his faith. DeSantis highlighted his credentials as a fighter. Ted Cruz sarcastically mocked the opposition. At a steak fry here just across the Missouri River from Iowa, the first-in-the-nation presidential state, some of the party’s leading prospects for the 2024 GOP nomination began carving out their lanes and test-driving messages on Sunday. Nearly absent from their remarks? Trump, who received only a few passing mentions. With Trump increasingly signaling he’s positioning himself for another presidential campaign, it’s a reflection of the political limbo that top Republicans find themselves trapped in. Always aware they are operating under Trump’s watchful eye; they are moving forward gingerly for fear of alienating the easily provoked former President.

— CRISIS —

GOP ‘moderate’ blasted Capitol riots — and cozied up to a Jan. 6 bus trip organizer” via Hunter Walker of Rolling Stone — The FBI was at Jim Worthington’s house and, he says, his girlfriend answered the door with a weapon in hand. It was January 2021, and the Feds wanted to talk to Worthington, a fitness impresario in the Philadelphia suburbs, about his involvement in the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally that precipitated the storming of the U.S. Capitol building. While Worthington acknowledges he was in D.C. for the rally and that he helped bring busloads of people to the event, he has insisted “we never went to the Capitol.” Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick is a moderate Republican who boasts of having an “all-time record in bipartisanship.” He represents a swing district that went against Trump in last year’s election.

Capitol rally seeks to rewrite Jan. 6 by exalting rioters” via Lisa Mascaro of The Associated Press — The brazen rhetoric ahead of a rally planned for Saturday at the Capitol is the latest attempt to explain away the horrific assault and obscure what played out for all the world to see: rioters loyal to the then-President storming the building, battling police and trying to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s win. All told, the attempted whitewashing of the Jan. 6 attack threatens to divide further an already polarized nation that finds itself drifting from what had been common facts and a shared commitment to civic order toward an unsettling new normal. Rather than a nation healing eight months after the deadly assault, the country is at risk of tearing itself further apart as the next election approaches.

Capitol Police are preparing for a rally Saturday that seeks to portray rioters as political prisoners. Image via AP.

Melania Trump said ‘no’ when given chance to call for peace on January 6, sources say” via Kate Bennett of CNN — Then-First Lady Melania Trump declined to call for peace and nonviolence as insurrectionists stormed the United States Capitol building on January 6, two sources with knowledge of the events of the day told CNN. The sources told CNN that Trump’s aide Stephanie Grisham sent her a text that said, “Do you want to tweet that peaceful protests are the right of every American, but there is no place for lawlessness and violence?” to which Trump replied with one word: “No.” CNN reported in January that Trump was at the White House during the insurrection, overseeing a photo shoot of a carpet she had installed.

— D.C. MATTERS —

With big tax push, Democrats aim to tackle enormous gains of top 1%” via Jeff Stein of The Washington Post — Senior House Democrats on Monday unveiled legislation that would represent the most significant tax increases on the rich and certain corporations in decades, reflecting Biden’s pledge to confront a dramatic surge in U.S. inequality. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal proposed more than $2 trillion in new revenue that would overwhelmingly hit the richest 1% of Americans with several new taxes and tax changes affecting their incomes, investments, businesses, estates, retirement funds, and other assets. Neal’s plan pares back some of the ambitions in the Biden administration’s initial $3.5 trillion budget plan, rejecting a key White House proposal to tax the inheritances of the very wealthy and offering less aggressive changes for both domestic and multinational firms.

Congressional Democrats are pushing to tax the richest 1%.

House Democrats float 26.5% top corporate rate in tax plan” via Kaustuv Basu, Billy House and Erik Wasson of Bloomberg — The Democratic proposal from the Ways and Means Committee would raise the top corporate tax rate from 21% to 26.5%, less than the 28% Biden had sought. The top rate on capital gains would rise from 20% to 25%, instead of the 39.6% Biden proposed. Including a 3.8% Medicare surtax on high earners, the top capital gains rate would be 28.8%. According to Congress’ official scorekeeper, the proposed tax increases would raise revenue by $2.1 trillion over 10 years. When tax breaks are considered, the Ways and Means plan will provide $871 billion in net new revenue to be used for other spending priorities, the Joint Committee on Taxation said.

Charlie Crist calls for permanent Child Tax Credit expansion” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Crist, along with six House Democrats, is calling on U.S. Rep. Richard Neal to make permanent the 2021 Child Tax Credit expanded through federal COVID-19 relief in the American Rescue Plan. The plan expanded the Child Tax Credit this year from $2,000 per qualifying child to $3,600. Without an extension, that benefit would end in Fiscal Year 2022. The Congressional Research Service predicts that the CTC will nearly halve the number of children that live in poverty in the United States,” Crist wrote. “Additionally, the expanded CTC corrects the inequity of previous iterations of this tax credit by including those that need it most — lower-income families.”

— LOCAL NOTES —

EDF video outlines climate challenges facing Southwest Florida” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Environmental Defense Fund released the second video in a four-part series aimed at educating Floridians on the current effects of climate change and possible solutions to address it. The new installment of “Keeping Florida, Florida” focuses on the potentially catastrophic impacts of sea level rise in Southwest 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. The video claims that some infrastructure solutions in the U.S. Army Corps plan could exacerbate flooding in Collier County. EDF is instead recommending the county tackle flood mitigation with nature-based solutions such as mangroves and oyster beds. “We have seen proof that these solutions are successful,” the video narrator explains.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Go Holly go! —Former state Rep. Holly Raschein applies to fill Mike Forster’s Commission term” via Jim McCarthy of Keys Weekly — A community continues to grieve following the loss of Forster from a weekslong battle with COVID-19 just a week ago. His passing on the morning of Sept. 6 remains fresh and in the hearts of many, as social media posts remember his community spirit. One of the people applying for the seat, representing Key Largo and Tavernier, is a former state representative for the Florida Keys, Raschein. Serving on the Keys’ behalf for eight years in Tallahassee, Raschein is no stranger to the political scene and the issues facing the island chain.

26 people injured after explosion at Seminole casino, Hollywood Fire Rescue says” via David J. Neal of the Miami Herald — An explosion during the servicing of a fire suppression system injured 26 people at the Seminole Classic Casino Hollywood Monday morning, spokesmen for Hollywood Fire Rescue and the Seminole Tribe said. Hollywood Fire Rescue described all injuries as “minor” and said 20 people were treated at the scene while the other six were taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood. The casino is closed while Hollywood Fire Rescue and Seminole Fire Rescue investigate the explosion. There’s no set time for reopening.

Police union calls for Jupiter Town Manager Matt Benoit to resign. Why?” via Katherine Kokal of The Palm Beach Post — The union representing Jupiter police officers called for Benoit‘s resignation Thursday evening after they say Benoit has cut privileges to officers and kept the department understaffed. Benoit has been Jupiter’s top administrator for the past three years. He oversees the management of the police department and appointed Police Chief David England in February. Contacted Friday, Jupiter Mayor Todd Wodraska said he supports Benoit and the job he’s doing, and there are no plans to reconsider his contract. “This reeks of politics,” he said. “When people need to drum something up out of thin air, they attack people like him.”

DeSantis touts progress on Howard Frankland Bridge, Westshore interchange” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — DeSantis announced funding for three major roadway projects in the Tampa Bay area Monday, with investments secured from a $2 billion infusion into the State Transportation Trust Fund approved in the state budget earlier this year. Joined by Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault at the Howard Franklin Bridge construction site, one of the projects prioritized with the new funding. A new span is being constructed just north of the existing bridge. “This region is exploding. I was with Wilton the other day up in Pasco, and then drove down to Tampa. I’m like, just everywhere you look, there’s like a new community being built,” DeSantis said.

Ron DeSantis touts the progress on the new Howard Frankland bridge. Image via Fox 13.

Police: Florida man attacks kid yelling playground is noisy” via The Associated Press — A 70-year-old man has been accused of slamming a child to the ground at a Florida playground after yelling that kids were making too much noise. Police arrested the man on a child abuse charge in Clearwater and took him to the Pinellas County Jail, arrest records show. Officials say several kids had fun at the playground at around 6:30 p.m. Saturday when the man stormed out of his nearby apartment, annoyed over the noise. WTSP reports the man picked up a 10-year-old child by the shirt and slammed the kid to the ground. Officials say the child was not seriously hurt.

Former House candidate Alexandria Suarez announces Monroe County School Board bid” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Suarez, a former Republican House candidate, confirmed her bid for the District 5 seat on the Monroe County School Board. “I’m very excited to start our campaign for the Monroe County School Board,” Suarez said Monday. Sue Woltanski currently represents District 5 on the Monroe County School Board. Woltanski has supported instituting a mandatory masking policy for students. In a vote last week, she was the only member of the five-person body to vote in favor of such a policy. The other four commissioners opposed a mandate. Now, Suarez is seeking to challenge Woltanski.

— TOP OPINION —

After a brief glimmer of hope, FSU Seminoles football hits an all-time low” via Gene Frenette of The Florida Times-Union — Seriously, the menu of disgraceful options to point out from Saturday night’s mind-boggling 20-17 loss to FCS opponent Jacksonville State is so long, head coach Mike Norvell may find it impossible to sleep for the remainder of his Seminoles’ tenure. Which could be a lot shorter than it was looking just a few days ago after this colossal meltdown. There was the undisciplined aspect of accumulating 114 yards in penalties, including a targeting call against linebacker Kalen DeLoach that got him ejected. It also nullified an interception that would have sealed an FSU victory since the ‘Noles held a 10-point fourth quarter lead at the time. Of course, scoring just 17 points against a JSU team that got throttled 31-0 in its season opener by UAB was pretty embarrassing.

— OPINIONS —

What Casey DeSantis is reading — “Women’s mental health took a beating in the pandemic. It’s time to make it a priority” via the Miami Herald editorial board — The pandemic has been rough on women’s mental health. More women lost their jobs than men. Women already did more of the home chores, more of the child care, more of the eldercare. COVID-19 made the juggling act even harder. For many, the feminist rallying cry that women can “have it all” felt even more distant. And while many women are emerging from the crisis with a different sense of purpose and a recalculation of what works in their lives, the COVID-19 pandemic has been chronic stressors for 18 months. There’s a cost to that. Depression and anxiety are up among women across the nation, compared to pre-pandemic rates, one South Florida expert told the editorial board.

George W. Bush reminds us that Republicans once believed in democracy” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — In his first inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson forecast that the young nation would “unite in common efforts for the common good” after the bitter election of 1800. Bush reminded us of those sacred ties in his magnificent speech Saturday contrasting the warm courage of national unity after the 9/11 attacks with the domestic terrorism Trump has unleashed. The days of post-9/11 solidarity “seem distant from our own,” Bush continued. On cue spoke the Malign Force himself. Trump, rejecting invitations to attend 9/11 memorials with other former Presidents, used the solemn anniversary to stoke resentment. “We won the election,” he told firefighters in New York.

At least one legislator is standing up for Florida’s diminished public records law” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — It’s good to see that not every lawmaker has surrendered to the relentless, decadeslong, bipartisan legislative assault on open government in Florida. State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat, is suing the Florida Department of Health and the Surgeon General to release detailed records about the spread of COVID-19. Smith’s request in July for COVID-19 information, broken down by age, was rejected by the state. Officials cited an exemption to the state’s public records law, an exemption that Florida law says can be lifted “when necessary to public health.”

— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Gov. DeSantis allows a supporter to spread disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines during a news conference. Instead of correcting the false statement, DeSantis fanned the flames of doubt over vaccination boosters.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— Attorney General Moody called Biden’s vaccine mandate unlawful and Republican Congresswoman Kat Cammack vows to stop it.

— On the Sunrise interview, Democratic Rep. Omari Hardy chimes in on a federal judge’s decision to temporarily block Florida’s anti-protest law.

— And First Lady Casey DeSantis launches Hispanic Heritage Month with the theme: “Celebrating Hispanic-American Community Leaders and Champions.”

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Film critics say ‘Dune’ should be seen on the big screen. Here’s why Warner Bros. still plans to debut the movie simultaneously on HBO Max” via Rebecca Rubin of Variety — Of all the new titles from Warner Bros. this year, “Dune,” a film with an enormous budget that has been hailed for offering up a truly epic slice of world-building and big-screen spectacle, would have been a prime candidate to eschew the day-and-date model on HBO Max. However, insiders say the HBO Max deal gives Denis Villeneuve assurances that diminished box office revenues won’t prohibit him from having the chance to make his follow-up film. Other films that had a hybrid release still have sequels in development, with Warner Bros. developing other characters in its “Mortal Kombat” universe. “I hope we can do a second one,” Timothee Chalamet, who plays the lead character Paul Atreides. “That would be a dream.”

‘Dune’ will be best seen on the big screen, but it will also be on HBO Max. Image via AP.

Black News Channel thriving under new President and CEO Princell Hair” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — The timing couldn’t have been more challenging for Hair. Last July, he was appointed president and CEO of the Black News Channel, the nation’s first major cable news network with an ambitious mission to provide news and perspective to the country’s Black and Brown communities. After years of planning, the Tallahassee-based network launched that February, just five months before Hair’s arrival under the leadership of its co-founders, former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts and then-CEO Bob Brilliante. The operation’s primary investor is billionaire Shahid Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, among other businesses, who invested millions in the operation, including its gleaming headquarters and production center off Killearn Center Boulevard.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to Gov. DeSantis, state Rep. Mike Caruso, Danny Martinez, Bryan Nelson, and the one and only Brian Pitts. Belated best wishes to Berneice Cox.

___

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to 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.


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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

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