Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.22.21

Sunburn Orange Tally (8)
Your morning review of the issues and players behind Florida politics.

Good Wednesday morning.

The Rays are up with 10 games left to go.


Breaking overnight — “Miami federal judge blocks Florida from enforcing ban on ‘sanctuary cities'” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — A federal judge blocked Florida from enforcing a ban on so-called sanctuary cities, declaring portions of a law unconstitutional and tinged with “discriminatory motives.” The ruling struck down a key portion of the 2019 law that prohibits local and state officials from adopting “sanctuary” policies for undocumented migrants, a main focus for Gov. Ron DeSantis, who vowed to ban “sanctuary cities” in Florida when running for Governor in 2018 even though there were none in the state. The judge also blocked the state from enforcing a provision in the law requiring law enforcement officers and agencies to “use best efforts to support the enforcement of federal immigration law” when acting within their official duties.


The Florida Health Care Association has hired Susan E. Anderson as its director of government affairs, the association announced Tuesday.

Anderson comes to the FHCA from LeadingAge Florida, another nursing home association, and will work with FHCA senior director of government affairs Toby Philpot. In addition to her legislative lobbying duties, Anderson will assist FHCA member facilities with state and federal regulatory compliance.

Congratulations to Susan Anderson on her new gig at FHCA.

“Susan brings a wealth of legislative, regulatory and policy experience, and we’re confident that her knowledge and expertise will contribute greatly to our members’ goals to continuously enhance the quality care they deliver,” Emmett Reed, FHCA chief executive officer, said in a prepared release announcing the hiring.

Before joining the FHCA, Anderson was the director of assisted living public policy for LeadingAge Florida and vice president of public policy for the Florida Senior Living Association. She also worked in the Florida Department of Elder Affairs general counsel’s office.


Here are some other things on my mind.

🦠Essential pandemic reading from the best reporters covering it: The Atlantic compiled six key takeaways from the ongoing and unwavering COVID-19 pandemic, which the publication describes as “rules” to define the “second pandemic winter.” They cover such topics as the new role vaccines play in managing the crisis, how vaccination demographics affect overall outcomes, the ongoing changes to those most at risk, why breakthrough cases aren’t as bad as you think, the problem with dismissing COVID-19 rarities, and final caution, that there is no single “worst” version of the virus.

🗺Hyper-minority districts may be a thing of the past, even for those they benefit: This must-read think-piece in The Atlantic takes a look at oddly construed congressional districts that lump Black voters into single districts, guaranteeing in most cases a safe Democratic seat, to preserve surrounding districts for White Republicans. For years, Dems in those seats have defended their safe districts — such as Corrine Brown did as recently as 2010 in her meandering district between Orlando and Jacksonville — but that thinking is shifting, and it could shake up the nation’s congressional makeup.

🤯Mind-blowing Twitter thread shows how a Donald Trump lawyer really wanted the election overturned: Former George W. Bush staffer Christian Vanderbrouk tweeted a six-point plan Trump lawyer John Eastman hatched to overturn the 2020 election, including a scheme that would have given Trump both an electoral victory and one through individual states’ votes. As The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman points out, it contradicts Trump’s long-standing narrative that his pressure on Vice President Mike Pence was to hand the issue “back to the states” and not directly overturn the election. The perhaps not-so-shocking plan includes throwing out electoral votes from seven states with objections, reducing the needed number to win from 270 to 228, which under that scenario, Trump would have. It further goes on to suggest conceding to Democrats’ “howls,” by allowing votes to be taken by states in the House to elect the President, where Trump would have claimed a majority at 26, again handing him the election. Mind blown yet?

📚Like it or not, tax credit scholarships are helping Florida kids: More than 150,000 students are now attending K-12 private schools using Florida Tax Credit and Family Empowerment scholarships, nearly twice the number of students enrolled in the program as just six years ago. As lawmakers continue to emphasize school choice, particularly as a way to escape (or find) COVID-19 restrictions, expect that number to continue to grow. While the issue will always face scrutiny from pro-public education stalwarts in the Democratic Party, the kids who receive these scholarships are using them to obtain a high-quality education that may have been evading them in the public school system.

🎥Much anticipated Sopranos prequel gets a review no one wants to hear: Looking for a Corleonesque rise to power from Tony Soprano in The Many Saints of Newark? You might not get it. That’s the take away from a scathing review from AV Club about the much-hyped film, in which critic A.A. Dowd laments the main Sopranos character small role in the new movie, including “a solid hour” of a young Tony Soprano being “basically a Jake Lloyd-sized” boy “watching from the sidelines of a criminal empire in late 1960s Jersey.” The review bashes the film’s choice of emphasized characters, though not necessarily its casting choices (looking at you, Ray Liotta). But in true Sopranos fashion, die-hard fans will probably still give it a watch even with a lousy review, whether they like the outcome or not. You can catch it in theaters or on HBO Max on Oct. 1.

📱iPhones to detect depression, cognitive decline: What if your smartphone could predict when a user is depressed, or experiencing some cognitive decline? That’s what Apple is attempting in its latest attempt to expand its burgeoning health portfolio, The Wall Street Journal reports. The plan would use data on mobility, physical activity, sleep patterns and typing behavior, among others, to create a predictive algorithm to flag potential problems. Sounds cool, but there’s work to be done. The plan is in its infancy, and the data needed to predict such ailments could raise privacy concerns and rely on users to trust Apple with sensitive data. Still, though, the research progress shows an intriguing possibility.


Tweet, tweet:

@MichaelGWaltz: If the U.N. secretary is gravely concerned about a cold war with the (Chinese) he must send that message to Chairman Xi, who is actively trying to replace the American Dream with the China Dream and is silencing anyone who opposes the #CCP authoritarian rule.

Tweet, tweet:

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@GovRonDeSantis: At the request of @NorthPortPolice, @MyFWC law enforcement has been assisting in the search for Brian Laundrie. I have directed all state agencies under my purview to continue to assist federal & local law enforcement as they continue to search — we need justice for Gabby Petito.

@ChristinaPushaw: Just incredible to see journalism school graduates confidently assert that a Harvard Medical School graduate is “unqualified” to be Surgeon General. 👀

@MDixon55: The non-lobbying political consultants are in the building, which can only mean one thing: presiding officer designation day!

@SenPizzo: It’s the worst-kept secret that I’ve been blessed with the hardest working, most loyal and dedicated person since Day 1. Bittersweet, but the best and brightest must have the space to shine bigger and brighter — @FLSenateDems are stronger with @ChiefMaggie as Staff Director.

@PaulFox13: Right now, we are closer to the Winter Solstice (Dec. 21, 2021) than the Summer Solstice (June 20, 2021).


The Problem with Jon Stewart premieres on Apple TV+ — 8; Disability Employment Awareness Month begins — 9; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres — 9; Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary party starts — 9; MLB regular season ends — 11; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres — 16; ‘Succession’ returns — 25; ‘Dune’ premieres — 30; World Series Game 1 — 34; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 35; Florida TaxWatch’s annual meeting begins — 35; Georgia at UF — 38; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 41; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Primary — 41; The Blue Angels 75th anniversary show — 44; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 44; ‘Yellowstone’ Season 4 begins — 46; ‘Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 47; Miami at FSU — 52; ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 57; FSU vs. UF — 66; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 70; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 76; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 79; ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 86; ‘The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 91; ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 94; NFL season ends — 109; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 111; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 111; Joel Coen’s ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 114; NFL playoffs begin — 115; Super Bowl LVI — 144; Daytona 500 — 151; St. Pete Grand Prix — 158; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 184; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 228; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 247; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 253; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 289; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 301; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 380; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 415.


Ron DeSantis’ new Surgeon General questions masks, vaccines, other COVID-19 measures” via Gray Rohrer and Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — New state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said he was a signer of the Great Barrington Declaration, a statement from a group of scientists in October 2020 that called for herd immunity through natural infection. It was immediately blasted by the scientific community, including an open letter to the medical journal The Lancet signed by more than 80 researchers that called the theory “a dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence. … It is not feasible to restrict uncontrolled outbreaks to particular sections of society.”

Joseph A. Ladapo toes the line on mask mandates, COVID-19 shutdowns. Image via Colin Hackley.

DeSantis nominates doctor who opposes COVID-19 restrictions as next state Surgeon General” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO

—” ‘Fear is done’: Florida’s new Surgeon General outspoken critic of COVID-19 lockdowns, mandates” via Jeffrey Schweers of USA Today Network

>>>Ladapo is also the author of multiple op-eds questioning vaccines and downplaying the effectiveness of masks. In a June Wall Street Journal piece headlined, “Are COVID Vaccines Riskier Than Advertised?” Ladapo argued that COVID-19 vaccines could be attributable to a spike in deaths in some countries such as Norway and decried “anti-Trump politics in the spring of 2020 [that] mushroomed into social-media censorship.” In an April Wall Street Journal op-ed entitled, “An American Epidemic of ‘COVID Mania,'” Ladapo argued the U.S. response to COVID-19 was an “overreaction,” and the disease “never posed a serious threat to social and economic institutions.” As recently as last week, Ladapo continued to push for the use of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment, writing in the Journal, that “health officials seem determined to close the book” on it.

Here’s a selection of readings from Dr. Ladapo:

—”Are COVID-19 vaccines riskier than advertised?” for The Wall Street Journal

—”Vaccine mandates can’t stop COVID-19’s spread” for The Wall Street Journal

—”Masks are a distraction from the pandemic reality” for The Wall Street Journal

—”Let’s all be honest about hydroxychloroquine: Evidence is more positive than many in the medical community admit” for the New York Daily News


Paul Renner denounces division, highlights GOP in designation speech” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Renner touted freedom while rejecting division that stifles opposing thought in his designation speech. In a speech that at times condemned division and at others stoked it, the new Speaker-Designate decried division and radicalism while touting the Republican vision. While dismissing political labels, Renner highlighted “two directions, two distinct visions,” one moving toward and one away from freedom. Renner denounced social media bans, group guilt, and marginalizing opposing viewpoints as a negative vision. The radical views remind him of the false promises made in Cuba, he added. “Bullying people to conform to a narrow set of ideals is not progressive, and it certainly isn’t American,” Renner said.

Paul Renner rejects divisiveness in politics. Image via Colin Hackley.

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Jimmy Patronis backs DEP Secretary interview amid DeSantis-Nikki Fried feud” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Patronis says his office will recommend that the Cabinet consider Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton’s appointment at its next meeting. Disagreements over Hamilton’s recent appointment flared during Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting. Fried contends DeSantis illegally appointed Hamilton to the position without a public interview or the Cabinet’s unanimous approval. As she did in June, Fried interrupted the Cabinet meeting to raise concerns that the Secretary’s appointment was invalid. “My other concern is that any action he takes at this point is not a lawful appointment. It’s not even a lawful interim appointment,” Fried said.

Cabinet approves preservation of 20,000 acres” via Ben Montgomery and Selene San Felice of Axios — Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Cabinet approved $50 million on land preservation deals for seven parcels covering almost 20,000 acres. The money comes from the Florida Forever program and the deals either preserve wilderness lands by limiting public access or allow ranching operations to continue with rules against development. The move protects important water supplies and preserves linkages through the Florida Wildlife Corridor, which runs the length of the state to provide safe migration routes for the Florida Panther and other animals. Six of the seven parcels are in the Corridor. This is the first time the Governor and Cabinet have met since the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act was signed into law, showing a bipartisan commitment to the environment.

Fried casts lone vote against Miami-Dade road project — The Governor and Cabinet voted 3-1 to approve an extension to the Dolphin Expressway in Miami-Dade after an administrative law judge rejected the plan because it would damage farmlands and the Everglades. Fried casting the lone nay vote and questioned why her “Cabinet colleagues think they know better than an Administrative Law Judge who recommended against this wasteful project. By overriding a judge with the expertise to recommend against it, Cabinet members have once again sided with developers in favor of harming Everglades restoration, risking wildlife, agricultural lands, and Miami-Dade’s water supply, while not really reducing urban sprawl. Let’s be clear about what was done today, because these lands can’t be unpaved once they’re gone forever.”

Fried, Democrats rebuke abortion restriction efforts ahead of Session” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Democratic lawmakers demonstrated alongside activists Tuesday, vowing to fight Texas-style abortion restrictions ahead of the 2022 Legislative Session. Fried left a Cabinet meeting to attend the event, a move that garnered applause among demonstrators. She warned similar legislation is on the horizon. “We will not let the White men of this building tell us what to do with our bodies,” said Fried, a Democratic gubernatorial contender. Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo coined the law “The Rapist Bill of Rights.” She blasted Republicans and encouraged attendees to organize in defense of state abortion rights. Abortion rights, she warned, are under threat. Despite vocal support from Senate President Wilton Simpson, DeSantis last month appeared less enthused to push similar legislation in Florida.

For your radarAmericans *hate* the Texas abortion law” via Chris Cillizza of CNN — At the core of the Texas abortion law is the empowerment of private citizens to bring lawsuits against people who assist someone in getting an abortion after the state’s six-week window. It also provides monetary rewards of up to $10,000 for those who bring the suits. People really don’t like either of those provisions, according to new national polling from Monmouth University. Fully 70% of Americans disagree with the idea of allowing private citizens to bring lawsuits against abortion providers. That number includes 9 in 10 Democrats, yes, but also more than 4 in 10 Republicans. Opposition to paying off these complainants is even higher in the poll, with 81% disapproving of the idea — including 2 in 3 (67%) self-identified Republicans.

In reversal, Florida to apply for $820 million in food aid” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — In a reversal, Florida announced this week it would tap into $820 million in federal food aid money for children in low-income households. After weeks of saying the money wasn’t needed, Florida’s Department of Children and Families said it is applying for the no-strings-attached funding after all. That means parents of up to 2.1 million children could receive $375 to pay for food for each child over the summer. The shift came after months of urging from advocacy groups and food banks, who noted that children are hungrier in the summer. A U.S. Census Bureau survey of Florida households from June and July found that 14% of adults reported that their kids were not eating enough because the household could not afford food.

Senators consider staffing needs stemming from child welfare reform” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Senators on the Children, Families and Elder Affairs committee reviewed recent reforms to the foster care system that already have had implications on staffing within the child welfare system. The committee reviewed two top bills emerging from that Session affecting the Department of Children and Families. Sen. Darryl Rouson said meeting requirements under new laws DeSantis signed this year requires “herculean efforts” from the department. Sen. Gayle Harrell said she was concerned about the demand placed on the workforce by significantly expanding the welfare system. The employee applicant pool has decreased, Deputy DCF Secretary Taylor Hatch noted.

“‘We’ll get it done’: Keith Perry breathes life into juvenile expunction bill” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Sen. Perry announced plans Tuesday to refile a bill that would broaden a juvenile’s ability to expunge their arrest record in Florida. This time, however, he expects the Governor’s signature. “We’ll get it done,” Perry told Florida Politics. “Absolutely.” Despite the proposal (SB 274) soaring through the Legislature without a single downvote, DeSantis vetoed it in June, citing public safety concerns. The bill was among the most expansive criminal justice reform efforts in decades.

With minimum wage hikes on the horizon, bill would expand state children’s insurance eligibility” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Minimum wage workers are getting a pay raise Sept. 30 and Rep. Robin Bartleman of Weston wants to ensure that pay bump won’t cost workers their children’s health insurance. Bartleman has filed a bill (HB 135) to increase the maximum income a family can earn to be eligible for state-subsidized health insurance for their children, called Florida KidCare. Currently, those making less than 200% of the federal poverty level are eligible to get the insurance. That means a single mother with two children can’t earn more than $43,919 in annual income for her children to be eligible for state-subsidized insurance. Bartleman proposes the threshold to 250% of the federal poverty level, or $54,900 annually for that single mother.

Lauren Book, Anna Eskamani bring back measure to make diapers tax-free” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Sen. Book and Rep. Eskamani are back with bills to eliminate sales tax for child and adult diaper purchases. Book has backed versions of the legislation for years, though the measure has yet to pass. “It’s time to stop taxing Florida families for essential health care items,” Book said in a statement announcing she’s renewing her push again ahead of the 2022 Legislative Session. Last year’s legislation earned unanimous approval in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee and the Senate Finance and Tax Committee. It died in the Appropriations Committee, its last committee stop. No House member joined Book on a companion bill during the 2021 Session.

Is she fast or just furious? — “Book measure would crack down on drag racing, target promotion on social media” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Book is hoping to strengthen the state’s laws against drag racing in a bill which would, in part, target those who promote and coordinate illegal races via social media. Book is bringing back legislation she filed before the last Session. Her previous attempt stalled, dying in the Transportation Committee. This year’s version (SB 258) would amend state statutes regulating racing on highways to clearly add “roadways,” “parking lots,” and “organized rides” to the list of regulated areas. The bill also explicitly bars racing with mopeds, all-terrain vehicles, and other vehicles not licensed to operate on roads. In addition, the measure aims to crack down on race spectators and organizers who utilize social media.

Lauren Book wants to put the brakes on drag racing. Image via Colin Hackley.

Assignment editors — Sen. Shevrin Jones; House Democratic Co-Leaders Bobby DuBose and Evan Jenne; and Reps. Dotie Joseph, Michele Rayner and Marie P. Woodson will hold a joint news conference regarding the humanitarian crisis at the U.S. Southern border, 11 a.m., 4th Floor Rotunda. This event will also be livestreamed on The Florida Channel.

Citizens Insurance may push you toward more expensive insurers” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Customers of state-owned Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will be forced to spend more to insure their homes if a new state law limits or eliminates their ability to just say no to private companies taking over their policies. Citizens is looking for ways to reduce its policy count, which has increased from 420,000 in 2019 and is expected to reach 765,000 by the end of the year and more than 1 million by 2022. Three proposed changes to state law that Citizens plans to seek next year would throttle policyholders’ ability to reject bids by private-market insurers seeking to cherry-pick their policies out of Citizens.

Florida Education Foundation welcomes two board members — The Florida Education Foundation, a direct-support organization for the Florida Department of Education, announced on Tuesday that Rebecca Matthews and Sarah Painter have joined its board of directors. Matthews is vice president of Automated Health Systems and will serve as the foundation’s treasurer. Painter is Florida’s 2022 Teacher of the Year and will serve as an ex officio member of the board on its civics committee.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Gregory Black, Brian Jogerst, Waypoint Strategies: R Street Institute

Travis Blanton, Johnson & Blanton: The Innovation Group

Amanda Fraser, Colodny Fass: United Property & Casualty Insurance Company

Jeff Johnston, Amanda Stewart, Anita Berry, Johnston & Stewart Government Strategies: SentinelOne

Fred Karlinsky, Timothy Stanfield, Greenberg Traurig: Florida Casualty Insurance Company

Daniel Olson, Meenan: Delta Dental Insurance Company, Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, Florida Life & Health Insurance Guaranty Association, Florida Service Agreement Association, FlowMSP, Nationwide Insurance

Ron Pierce, Natalie King, Edward Briggs, RSA Consulting Group: Muzology

David Ramba, Thomas Hobbs, Ramba Consulting Group: Village of Wellington

Katie Webb, Colodny Fass: United Property & Casualty Insurance Company


Tuesday Florida COVID-19 update: 13,201 more cases added to state tally” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — Florida on Tuesday reported to the CDC 13,201 more COVID-19 cases and five deaths. In all, Florida has recorded at least 3,517,177 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 51,889 deaths since the pandemic began. On average, the state has added 376 deaths and 9,112 cases per day in the past seven days, according to Herald calculations of CDC data. The 376 deaths per day, reported Tuesday, tie with Florida’s highest seven-day death average recorded Monday.

DeSantis says monoclonal antibody brought Florida COVID-19 ER visits down 70%” via Brendan Cole of Newsweek — DeSantis has said that monoclonal antibody treatment is having a significant effect on COVID-19 cases in his state, as he continues to lock horns with the Joe Biden administration over the distribution of the therapy. Along with other GOP Governors, DeSantis has championed the treatment that lessens the severity of COVID-19 symptoms, which he sees as a key pandemic-fighting policy, along with promoting vaccines. However, DeSantis faces criticism for his opposition to mask mandates and has joined other GOP Governors in threatening legal action to prevent the order announced by Biden to mandate vaccinations for workers at some companies.

Ron DeSantis touts how Regeneron has helped keep hospitalizations down. Image via Colin Hackley.

Duval Schools data shows COVID-19 cases are slowing. Doctors say it’s because the mask mandate is working.” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — The number of new COVID-19 cases reported within Duval County Public Schools has tapered off significantly within the last week. Doctors say it’s an indicator that the school district’s stricter mask mandate is working. The 2021-22 school year started with a mask requirement that students’ families could easily opt out online. About 10% of the student population or 12,500 students opted out within weeks of the school year. Cases of the coronavirus on campus quickly multiplied, though the district isn’t tracking masked versus unmasked cases.

Polk County residents voice outrage at Commissioners for not supporting ivermectin letter” via Dustin Wyatt of The Lakeland Ledger — The majority of Polk County Commissioners said Friday that they wouldn’t support a letter to DeSantis written by Commissioner Neil Combee that promotes people’s right to try alternative drugs, such as ivermectin, to treat COVID-19. The rejection of this letter outraged many residents, and dozens, several representing local Republican groups, came to the meeting Tuesday morning to express their dismay and disappointment with the all-Republican elected body. There was shouting, a plea to three Commissioners to step down, threats of a recall campaign, and several residents were ejected for not following rules of decorum. Many of the comments from the public echoed remarks and conspiracy theories that have been perpetuated by Combee in recent months.

“‘We’re coming back:’ Parents plan to keep pushing for masks after school board strikes down meeting” via Jack Newby of the Pensacola News Journal — The Escambia County School District board voted against calling a special meeting about face masks in the classroom, but that hasn’t stopped a growing number of concerned residents from pushing for the board to reconsider. “We’re at least trying to get them to go back to the protocols they used last school year,” said Pensacola resident Dianne Krumel, who delivered a pair of impassioned pro-mask speeches during the public forum of two school board workshop meetings last week. Krumel and others plan to speak during the public forum again to encourage Superintendent Tim Smith to put something actionable on the agenda for October’s meeting.

Palm Beach Gardens will use more than $2M of its COVID-19 relief money to build a golf course. Why?” via Katherine Kokal of The Palm Beach Post — As communities nationwide spend millions in federal relief funds helping businesses and residents hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, Palm Beach Gardens is set to spend the lion’s share of its first $2.9 million payment on building a new golf course. The city confirmed plans to use $2.1 million from the American Rescue Plan to pay for the development of a par-3 golf course it is building immediately west of the one at its Sandhill Crane Golf Club. Palm Beach Gardens is using a $14 million bond to pay for the rest of the course’s construction along Northlake Boulevard west of Florida’s Turnpike.

— 2022 —

Influential donor promises $100K donation if DeSantis entertains 2020 election audit” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Notable pandemic denier Alfie Oakes, who says he would rather give children heroin than a COVID-19 vaccine, promised to donate $100,000 to DeSantis’ reelection if the Governor meets about auditing the 2020 election. The politically influential Naples businessman is part of a public pressure campaign to persuade DeSantis to sit down and talk fraud. Oakes tells right-wing outlets that the idea is to prove through an election audit that in the 2020 election, nearly a million votes were stolen in Florida, a state that former Trump won by more than 370,000 votes. Show that’s possible — even in a state where Republicans control state government — and it will prove that in some states won by Biden, the fix was in.

Alfie Oakes says if Ron DeSantis audits the 2020 election, he’ll donate six figures.

A congressional election is almost here. Who knew?” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Within a week, 100,000-plus South Florida voters will get ballots in the mail so they can start voting in a critical Nov. 2 election. That’s not a mistake, even though it’s an odd-numbered year, when there aren’t usually elections. Voters are picking the region’s next member of Congress, anointing someone who could serve for decades into the future. Even though signs are up, some candidates are sending flyers in the mail, and TV commercials are airing, the contest hasn’t attracted much interest. With a low turnout and an unusually large number of candidates, the winner could be decided by an extremely small number of voters.

Annette Taddeo endorses Janelle Perez as ‘the right person’ for SD 37” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Taddeo has endorsed Perez, a Cuban American businesswoman, in the Senate District 37 race, adding her name to a list that is likely to grow through next year. Taddeo, rumored to be weighing a 2022 run for Governor, pointed to the person now occupying the office, DeSantis, as one reason she is backing Perez. “Gov. DeSantis has been acting more like an autocrat and less like a democratically elected Gov.,” Taddeo said in a statement announcing the endorsement. Taddeo’s endorsement is the second to come from an elected state Democrat within a week of Perez’s announcement that she was swapping races in her inaugural run for political office.

Jacksonville City Council presidents back Lake Ray’s bid to reclaim HD 12 seat” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Former Rep. Ray, an Arlington mainstay who represented House District 12 from 2008 to 2016, is seeking a return to Tallahassee in 2022. Among past Council presidents endorsing him is the current HD 12 incumbent, Rep. Clay Yarborough, who is running for Senate. Current Jacksonville City Council President Sam Newby also endorsed Ray, as did former presidents Elaine Brown, Lad Daniels, Bill Gulliford, Jerry Holland, Kevin Hyde, Stephen Joost, Ginger Soud and Scott Wilson. “To say that I am humbled that this group of outstanding Jacksonville leaders would choose to endorse my candidacy would be an understatement … I look forward to working with them and our current leadership in helping to move our city and state forward,” he said.

Happening tonight:


Political newcomer and incumbent to face off in Lakeland mayoral election” via Sara-Megan Walsh of The Lakeland Ledger — When Election Day rolls around on Nov. 2, Lakeland residents will have their choice between two candidates for Mayor. Incumbent Bill Mutz is seeking a second, four-year term. Now retired, Mutz was a former used auto dealership owner who occasionally provides consulting or business mentorship. Though a political newcomer, Saga Stevin is no foreigner to politics as she has made a habit of studying the issues and believes it’s time to step up to the plate. “The groundswell of support is amazing,” she said. “So many people feel they are not being heard.” Mutz said there are many critical infrastructures needs the city must address in partnership with others.


“‘Soul-crushing.’ 1,900 Americans are dying every day from COVID-19” via The Associated Press — COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have climbed to an average of more than 1,900 a day for the first time since early March, with experts saying the virus is preying largely on a distinct group: 71 million unvaccinated Americans. The increasingly lethal turn has filled hospitals, complicated the start of the school year, delayed the return to offices and demoralized health care workers. Nearly 64% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. And yet, average deaths per day have climbed 40% over the past two weeks, from 1,387 to 1,947.

Joe Biden bets on rapid COVID-19 tests but they can be hard to find” via Matthew Perrone of The Associated Press — Biden is betting on millions more rapid, at-home tests to help curb the latest deadly wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the tests have already disappeared from pharmacy shelves in many parts of the U.S., and manufacturers warn it will take them weeks to ramp up production, after scaling it back amid plummeting demand over the summer. The latest shortage is another painful reminder that the U.S. has yet to successfully manage its COVID-19 testing arsenal, let alone deploy it in the type of systematic way needed to quickly crush outbreaks in schools, workplaces and communities. Experts say encouraging signs last spring led to false confidence about the shrinking role for tests.

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J&J says COVID-19 booster shot is 94% effective in the U.S. when given two months after first dose” via Berkeley Lovelace Jr of CNBC — Johnson & Johnson said its COVID-19 booster shot is 94% effective when administered two months after the first dose in the United States. It also said the booster increases antibody levels by four to six times compared with one shot alone. A J&J booster dose given six months out from the first shot appears to be potentially even more protective against COVID-19, the company said, generating antibodies twelvefold higher four weeks after the boost, regardless of age.

Study: Pandemic cut U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years” via Marisa Fernandez of Axios — The pandemic slashed U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years, with Black and Hispanic Americans losing more than twice as many years per capita compared to white Americans, according to research published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine. The data show that despite reports of older and more vulnerable populations assuming many of the deaths, young people with above-average life expectancies, including Black and Hispanic communities, were not spared. “The COVID-19 pandemic has robbed Americans of 9 million birthdays that would otherwise have been celebrated,” Hanke Heun-Johnson, one of the authors of the study tells Axios.


IRS COVID-19 benefit: How to get up to $600 tax deduction” via Fareeha Rehman of KRON — If you make a cash donation to charity before the end of 2021, you can take advantage of expanded tax benefits approved under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This includes deductions up to $300 for individuals and $600 for married couples who gave cash donations to qualifying charities during 2021, the IRS said. Normally, people who elect the standard deduction — 9 in 10 taxpayers, the IRS estimates — aren’t able to claim donations for an additional deduction. But under the CARES Act, contributions to charity through the end of the year will qualify taxpayers for more money back.

Here’s how to get a little extra off your taxes.

Polk County seeks applications for remaining $10.5 million in COVID-19 relief funds” via Dustin Wyatt of The Ledger — The county received $140 million in American Rescue Plan funding from the federal government. After the Commission agreed to put more than half the money, $82 million, toward infrastructure projects, the county has $10.5 million available for nonprofits, health organizations, or businesses. “Organizations are requested to submit informational proposals for projects that would help the community recover from and respond to COVID-19,” a release says. “Proposals will be reviewed to ensure they qualify for the ARP funds and meet the requirements of the Department of Treasury.” Applicants must be located in and doing business in Polk County, and also must have been established as a business before Jan. 1, 2021.

CVS to hire 25,000 new workers to meet flu, COVID-19 demand” via Vance Cariaga of Yahoo Finance — Most of the positions will be for full-time, part-time and temporary licensed pharmacists, trained pharmacy technicians and nurses at CVS Pharmacy locations, the company said in a news release. CVS will also add retail store associate positions. To attract applicants, CVS will hold a one-day virtual national career event on Sept. 24. Qualified candidates can apply by texting “CVS” to 25000. Another option is to visit the CVS Health Career website to learn about jobs in specific localities. You will enter a streamlined digital screening process on the website that facilitates an online application, virtual job tryout, and immediate hiring. No on-site applications will be taken, or any interviews be conducted.


Rodrigo Duterte accuses rich countries of hoarding COVID-19 vaccines while the poor ‘wait for trickles.‘” via Rick Gladstone of The New York Times — With his country badly lagging in COVID-19 vaccinations, President Duterte of the Philippines railed against the world’s affluent countries at the United Nations on Tuesday, accusing them of hoarding vaccines while the poor “wait for trickles.” Reinforcing his reputation as a blunt speaker, Duterte described the rich-poor divide over vaccination rates as scandalous. His remarks, delivered via prerecorded video to the 193-member General Assembly, were among the most forceful criticisms of the inequities that have been laid bare by the pandemic. Just 10 rich countries account for most of the 5.86 billion vaccine doses administered so far.

Rodrigo Duterte criticized rich nations for being ‘selfish’ with COVID-19 vaccines. Image via AP.

Tennessee recommends vaccinated residents lose access to monoclonal antibody treatment” via Brett Kelman of USA Today — The Tennessee state government now recommends nearly all vaccinated residents be denied access to monoclonal antibody treatment in a new effort to preserve a limited supply of antibody drugs for those who remain most vulnerable to the virus, largely by their own choice. The federal government began capping shipments of these drugs last week because the majority of the national supply is being used by a small number of poorly vaccinated southern states, including Tennessee. State officials say restricting eligibility to the treatment will reserve the now-limited supply of drugs for those unvaccinated residents most likely to suffer severe complications from a coronavirus infection.

Restaurant owners fear losing $25,000 outdoor dining sheds” via Kate Krader of Bloomberg — More than 11,800 restaurants have taken advantage of the city’s Open Restaurants Program, offering dining on streets, sidewalks throughout the five boroughs. Earlier this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed an amendment that would make the program permanent, by removing restrictions on the placement of outdoor cafes. The current Open Restaurant program expires at the end of 2022, when New York is slated to begin accepting applications for permanent structures. “The focus now must be on developing a permanent outdoor dining program,” says Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance.


Dems fear Biden’s domestic agenda could implode” via Burgess Everett and Heather Caygle of POLITICO — Internal Democratic discord has wounded President Biden’s massive social spending plan, raising the prospect that the package could stall out, shrink dramatically — or even fail altogether. Myriad problems have arisen. Moderate Senate Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona continue to be a major headache for party leadership’s $3.5 trillion target. The Senate parliamentarian just nixed the party’s yearslong push to enact broad immigration reform. House members may tank the prescription drugs overhaul the party has run on for years. And a fight continues to brew over Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders’ push to expand Medicare.

Will Joe Biden’s domestic agenda be an albatross for Democrats? Image via AP.

In his U.N. debut, Biden calls for global unity against common threats.” via Michael D. Shear, David E. Sanger and Rick Gladstone of The New York Times — Biden delivered his debut address to the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations on Tuesday amid strong new doubts about his ability to vault the U.S. back into a position of global leadership after his predecessor’s promotion of “America First” isolationism. He called for a new era of global unity against the coronavirus, emerging technological threats and the expanding influence of autocratic nations such as China and Russia. “Our security, our prosperity and our very freedoms are interconnected, in my view as never before,” Biden said. Calling for the world to make the use of force “our tool of last resort, not our first,” he defended his decision to end the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

Boris Johnson says dealing with Biden is ‘a breath of fresh air‘” via Scott Stump of TODAY — Asked about his close relationship with Trump, Johnson said the U.K. Prime Minister and U.S. President are “fated to get along,” which applies to Trump and now Biden. “But what I will say about Joe Biden and dealing with the new American President, yes, it is a breath of fresh air in the sense of some things on which we can really work together, and you knew I was gonna bring it up — climate change — he’s great on that,” Johnson said. “And he wants to cut CO². He wants to get to net-zero by 2050, and he shares with me, a basic view that you can do this without penalizing the economy.”


Trump Org prosecutors find new evidence — in a basement” via Jose Pagliery of The Daily Beast — Prosecutors have discovered a tranche of evidence in the basement of a co-conspirator in the Trump Organization tax fraud case, a defense lawyer for indicted chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg revealed in court on Monday, with the attorney also signaling that more shoes are yet to drop in New York’s ongoing investigation. “We have strong reason to believe there could be other indictments coming,” Weisselberg’s lawyer, Bryan Skarlatos, said in Manhattan criminal court on Monday. Skarlatos also referenced a private conversation that Weisselberg — along with his defense lawyers and prosecutors — had with the judge before proceedings were open to the public, revealing that prosecutors had discovered tax documents related to Trump’s company in the basement of an unnamed co-conspirator.

If you want dirt on Donald Trump, check the basement.

Trump campaign knew lawyers’ voting machine claims were baseless, memo shows” via Alan Feuer of The New York Times — Two weeks after the 2020 election, a team of lawyers closely allied with Trump held a widely watched news conference at the Republican Party’s headquarters in Washington. They laid out a bizarre conspiracy theory at the event, claiming that a voting machine company had worked with an election software firm, the financier George Soros and Venezuela to steal the presidential contest from Trump. But there was a problem for the Trump team. By the time the news conference occurred on Nov. 19, Trump’s campaign had already prepared an internal memo on many of the outlandish claims about the company, Dominion Voting Systems, and the separate software company, Smartmatic.

Donald Trump sues New York Times and niece Mary Trump over tax records story” via Katerina Ang of The Washington Post — Former President Trump sued over the publication of a 2018 article detailing allegations he “participated in dubious tax schemes … including instances of outright fraud” that allowed him to receive over $413 million from his father, Fred Trump Sr., while significantly reducing taxes. The suit, filed in a Dutchess County, N.Y., court, alleges Mary Trump, the New York Times and at least three of its reporters “engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records” about the former president’s finances. According to the lawsuit, Donald Trump suffered at least $100 million in damages as a result.

Two GOP operatives indicted for allegedly routing money from Russian national to support Trump campaign” via Felicia Sonmez and Isaac Stanley-Becker of The Washington Post — A political strategist who was pardoned by the former President after being convicted in a 2012 campaign finance scheme is facing new charges related to an alleged 2016 plot to illegally funnel donations made by a Russian national to support then-candidate Trump’s White House bid. Jesse Benton, 43, who was previously a top aide to former Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and later ran a pro-Trump super PAC, was charged this month, according to a federal indictment in Washington unsealed Monday. Also charged is Roy Douglas “Doug” Wead, 75, a conservative author and former special assistant to President George H.W. Bush.


Jan. 6 committee chairman says panel could start issuing subpoenas ‘within a week‘” via Annie Grayer and Ryan Nobles of CNN — The Democratic chairman of the House Select Committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol said Monday that the panel could start issuing subpoenas to companies and individuals who have not cooperated with records requests “within a week.” “We will probably as a committee issue subpoenas either to witnesses or organizations within a week,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi. The select committee spent most of August requesting records from a variety of government agencies and social media companies to begin charting its course for piecing together the events leading up to the Jan. 6 riot and zeroing in on who within Trump’s White House and orbit knew what.

Bennie Thompson says subpoenas are forthcoming. Image via AP.

Huge hack reveals embarrassing details of who’s behind Proud Boys and other far-right websites” via Drew Harwell, Craig Timberg and Hannah Allam of The Washington Post — Epik has long been the favorite internet company of the far-right, providing domain services to QAnon theorists, Proud Boys and other instigators of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. But that veil of anonymity abruptly vanished last week when a huge breach by the hacker group Anonymous dumped into public view more than 150 gigabytes of previously private data, including usernames, passwords and other identifying information of Epik’s customers. Extremism researchers and political opponents have treated the leak as a Rosetta Stone to the far-right, helping them decode who has been doing what with whom over several years.


AARP Florida urges Stephanie Murphy to act on prescription prices — AARP Florida on Tuesday called on U.S. Rep. Murphy to take action to lower prescription drug costs impacting Floridians. “Floridians are suffering because the high cost of medication is forcing them to choose between taking their pills and paying for food or rent. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy has a once-in-a-generation chance to help change this,” AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson said. Johnson cited data showing drug costs in Florida rose 26.3% from 2015 to 2019, while the annual income for residents only increased 13.0%. He added, “It is wrong that even during a pandemic and financial crisis, drug companies increased the cost of over 1,000 drugs last year, including those for chronic conditions that people over age 50 depend on.”

Stephanie Murphy is called on to do something about rising drug prices. Image via AP.

Billboards pop Murphy for ‘MISSING’ on child tax credit — The Economic Security Project Action political committee is putting up billboards and launching a digital ad campaign in Florida’s 7th Congressional District dinging U.S. Rep. Murphy for being “MISSING” in her support for the child tax credit. The ads are going up in response to Murphy’s recent statement that she would not vote for the $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better Act,” citing concerns with some provisions in the bill. The ads include an image of a missing poster on the side of a milk carton. They urge a vote for the Build Back Better Act. The billboard is located in Winter Park on the west side of U.S. 17/92, a little over half a mile north of Fairbanks Ave., facing south.

Shevrin Jones asks Biden administration to issue humanitarian parole to incoming Haitians — Sen. On Tuesday, Jones sent the Biden administration a letter asking it to direct U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents and officers to issue humanitarian parole to all Haitians seeking protection at a U.S. border and refer them into INA Sec. 240 removal proceedings. “These images are not from 1892, this is from 2021, and every one of us should be outraged. Our Haitian brothers and sisters have gone through the assassination of a President, a catastrophic earthquake, constant political unrest, gang violence, and the list goes on. This isn’t a border issue, this is America’s litmus test of humanity and empathy, and the Biden administration must act,” he said.


DeSantis directs state police to assist in search for Brian Laundrie” via Michael Lee of the Fox News — DeSantis announced that Florida State Police are assisting in the search for Laundrie. “At the request of @NorthPortPolice, @MyFWC law enforcement has been assisting in the search for Brian Laundrie,” DeSantis said on Twitter. “I have directed all state agencies under my purview to continue to assist federal & local law enforcement as they continue to search — we need justice for Gabby Petito.” Authorities found the body of a person that fit the description of Petito near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming Sunday. Police have had trouble locating Laundrie in the vast reserve, though authorities have now focused their search on a specific area of it.

Ron DeSantis wants the state to provide backup in the investigation of Brian Laundrie.

How one of the largest nursing home chains in Florida could avoid nearly all of $256 million fraud judgment” via Christopher Rowland of The Washington Post — The Justice Department and a medical whistleblower have tentatively agreed to settle a $256 million civil fraud judgment against a large nursing home chain for $4.5 million. Entities operating under Consulate Health Care, a chain based in Florida tied to private equity company Formation Capital, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March. The sixth-largest nursing home chain in the country with 140 facilities from the mid-Atlantic to the Gulf Coast, it said it did not have the resources to pay the large False Claims Act judgment against it. The penalty was the culmination of a whistleblower case brought in 2011 against an earlier owner of Consulate’s nursing homes a nurse who worked at two of the chain’s nursing homes.

Florida is a hot spot for government homes sold in flood-prone areas” via Lisa Peakes of WUSF —The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is disproportionately selling homes in areas prone to flooding. More than 500 in the past few years were sold in Florida: 112 of them in the greater Tampa Bay region. While HUD isn’t required by law to disclose that houses are in an official flood zone, NPR found the federal agency often doesn’t fully disclose the potential danger to buyers. And in some cases, the homes are being rented out, or have been resold to new buyers who were unaware of the risks.

Broward schools tech chief resigns, then decides to stay” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A Broward schools technology chief submitted his resignation last week but decided Tuesday he’ll remain a district employee for a while. Phil Dunn told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Tuesday morning he was stepping down due to health-related issues; he has longtime cardiac issues he needs to address. His Sept. 14 resignation letter said his last day would be this Friday. But by Tuesday afternoon, he said he had worked out an agreement to take medical leave instead of quitting. Dunn, who makes $178,000 a year, said he still expects the district to appoint a temporary replacement while he’s away for an unspecified time.

Former judge cleared in campaign finance investigation” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Former Broward Circuit Judge Tom Lynch and two campaign associates have been cleared of wrongdoing after an investigation into campaign finance issues from his 2020 run for Public Defender. The investigation became public in April when DeSantis assigned the case to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. Broward State Attorney Harold Pryor had asked the Governor to reassign the case to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest because Lynch’s son, Michael Lynch, is a judge overseeing Broward criminal cases. Miami prosecutors found no evidence that Lynch, campaign manager Michael Ahearn or campaign treasurer Megan Donahue committed a crime.

Tom Lynch is off the hook.

Blueprint: Funding Doak stadium repairs could leave OEV budget dry, but also boost the economy” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — If sales tax funding to do repairs to Doak Campbell Stadium are approved, it could leave the economic development arm of the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency without the ability to go after other projects. The 12-member board of City and County Commissioners will decide the fate of $20 million requested by Florida State University this spring to do infrastructure repairs and maintenance at its football stadium. The board meets Monday. Doing so could mean that the Office of Economic Vitality would use up 20 years’ worth of tax dollars. In all, the project is estimated to cost $33 million with FSU committed to paying the difference should the IA approve the funding.


If you thought kids in cages looked bad, President Biden, then take a look at this” via the Miami Herald editorial board — What’s your thinking, Mr. President, about the images of the border agent grabbing and menacing a Haitian migrant with what looks for all the world like a whip? We’re not sure if the border agent was channeling his inner “massa” from all those slave-era movies Hollywood churns out. But we’re pretty sure that he was just doing his job, following orders. Orders to round up these migrants so that they can be deported., Your orders, ultimately, President Biden.


Let science lead the way on COVID-19 booster shots” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — The Biden administration got ahead of the science last month in proposing to make all Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 eligible for a booster shot. The 16 to 2 vote against a Pfizer booster for most adults receiving the vaccine represented a political setback for the Biden administration, which last month proposed that most Americans receive a booster eight months after receiving their second shot. That rollout was to begin this fall. Biden’s motivations may have been admirable, but the President should have supported a vaccination strategy only after public health experts reached a consensus on the best way forward.

So, who should get booster shots for COVID-19? Americans are confused by Biden’s grand plan” via the Miami Herald editorial board — By Biden’s predictions, fully vaccinated American adults would be able to receive a third shot of the coronavirus vaccine starting Monday. It looks like the President jumped the gun. The President’s plan is bogged down in criticism after an FDA advisory group recommended against booster shots for anyone over 16 on Friday. The panel of outside experts recommended a third shot only for people over 65, at higher risk of severe disease or high risk of exposure to the coronavirus. It’s a far cry from the President’s message on Aug. 18 that “every fully vaccinated” adult would be eligible for a shot eight months after they finished their two-dose regimen of a Pfizer vaccine.

Dump COVID-19 vaccine religious exemptions. There is no Church of Moderna Disbelievers” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — What is a COVID-19 vaccine mandate worth if it includes exemptions for “sincerely held religious beliefs?” Very little, if anything at all. If the definition of religious beliefs were contained to major, established religions, there would basically be no exemptions because no major religion bans vaccination against COVID-19 or other diseases. Given how large a loophole religious exemptions create, no one should be remotely surprised that, where mandates have been introduced, thousands of employees are lining up to claim religious exemptions from vaccine requirements.

Florida’s elected hypocrites undermine the Constitution they profess to love” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — State Rep. Randy Fine marked Constitution Day last week by taking to Facebook and affirming his devotion to the 233-year-old document. That’s what he says. But here’s what the Brevard County Republican did: Fine has introduced a bill in the state House that contains some of the most sweeping government-imposed speech restrictions we’ve ever seen in a piece of legislation. Fine’s proposal would ban schools and government agencies from teaching or advocating, among other things, “divisive concepts,” which is defined in such broad terms that it includes saying anything that might make a person “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.”

Angela Garcia Falconetti: The Florida College System — fueling Florida’s future” via Florida Politics — The Florida College System (FCS) remains the top system in the United States, and the No. 1 provider of workforce education and training industries including health care, law enforcement and manufacturing. Beyond the economic benefits, the FCS provides many Floridians an improved quality of life and employment opportunities through transformative education. The training our institutions provide remains essential to supporting businesses in our communities and the overall prosperity of our economy. The FCS aligns with the Governor and the state’s workforce development priorities to accelerate the provision of quality workforce education programs and services and support other key priorities like dual enrollment and transfer student articulation. However, this requires investment in the Florida College System Program Fund.


Gov. DeSantis has named Dr. Ladapo as Florida’s new Surgeon General.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— Agriculture Commissioner Fried again spars with DeSantis — claiming he broke the law by independently appointing new Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton.

— Reporter Renzo Downey covered the spat for Florida Politics. He says the lone Democrat on the Cabinet has found an ally. Downey was also part of team coverage on DeSantis’ new agency heads.

— And the Biden administration is expressing horror over videos showing U.S. Border Patrol agents confronting Haitian migrants with whips, on horseback.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Holiday bummer: Now prices are soaring for Christmas trees and decorations” via Parija Kavilanz of CNN Business — It’s a good thing that consumers are in a mood to spend heading into the holiday season. Depending on where they buy it from, they may have to dish out more for a new artificial Christmas tree this year. Some large sellers of artificial trees say they are increasing their prices by double-digit percentages and are blaming unduly high shipping costs tied to the ongoing global supply chain mess. “We’ll have to raise prices. For trees, it’ll be on average about 20% higher,” said Mac Harman, CEO of Balsam Hill. Based in Redwood City, California, the company does more than $200 million in direct-to-consumer annual sales of artificial Christmas trees and other decorations in the United States.

Better get in the mood for holiday spending, because it is going to cost a bit more this year.

Jon Stewart drops first-look trailer for new Apple show” via Lacey Rose of The Hollywood Reporter — His new entry, The Problem With Jon Stewart, is set to roll out globally on Apple TV+ beginning Sept. 30. The series, a single-topic public affairs show that’s drawing early comparisons to John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, will tackle issues, or “problems,” including the struggle for comprehensive veteran care and better ways to support the American working class. And unlike his previous Comedy Central entry, which earned Stewart 22 Emmys and cultlike status among Hollywood liberals, he is hopeful the biweekly offering allows for the kind of deeper dive that he’s after at this stage of his career. The just-released 30-second teaser for his new series attempts to give viewers a sense of what’s in store, including a glimpse at a lively producers’ meeting.

Feels relevant in Florida — “The first look at Joel Coen’s take on Shakespeare is here in ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth'” trailer via Gabrielle Sanchez of AV Club — Oscar winner Coen is no stranger to epic tales of heroes in pursuit of power — their stories laced with tragedy, violence, and madness. In the Coen brother’s first solo film following Ethan Coen’s departure from filmmaking, Joel takes on a classic tale: Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” The first trailer sets the misty black-and-white stage, as the three witches foretell a prophecy to the power-hungry Macbeths. One of the absolutely necessary components to pull off a noteworthy Shakespeare adaptation is a legendary cast: Academy Award winners Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand play Lord and Lady Macbeth, with Bertie Carvel, Alex Hassell, Corey Hawkins, Harry Melling, and Brendan Gleeson filling out the cast of characters.

To watch the trailer, click on the image below:


Best wishes to Sen. Jennifer Bradley, Mario Bailey (he’s turning the big 4-0), Chris Clark, Brian Melton, and PR ace William Stander (shhh).


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.


  • Derek Logue

    September 22, 2021 at 6:54 am

    Senator rhymes-with-crook does not seem concerned about drunk drivers, like that rich lobbyist who got a slap on the wrist for flipping another car and nearly a killing a man in a crash. Oh wait, that was her father, Ronald Stagger-Lee Book.

  • PeterH

    September 22, 2021 at 8:46 am

    DeSantis searched high and low to find a doctor willing to prop up his false anti-mask, anti- vaccine narrative. Discredited Trump apologist Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo fit the narrative ….. so here we are!

    Florida has become a magnet for anti-vaccine and anti-mask tourism. Tourist will come here to contract Covid and take the virus home to their families and neighbors.

    You simply can’t fix stupid!

Comments are closed.


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