Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.24.21

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Here's your morning briefing of what you need to know in Florida politics.

Good Friday morning.

ICYMI — General Counsel James Uthmeier will become Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new Chief of Staff as current chief Adrian Lukis departs the administration next month.

Uthmeier, a Destin native, has served as General Counsel since October 2020 and first began working in DeSantis’ legal office as Deputy General Counsel in March 2019.

James Uthmeier is moving up to Chief of Staff for Ron DeSantis. Image via NASA/Joel Kowsky/Flickr.

“We are proud to welcome James as the next Chief of Staff for Gov. DeSantis, where he will continue to serve the people of Florida,” DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske said in a statement. “James looks forward to supporting the Governor’s mission of ensuring our state continues to be a place where every family has the opportunity to succeed, knowing their constitutional liberties will also be protected.”

Before joining the DeSantis administration, Uthmeier served as a senior adviser and counsel to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and an associate at the law firm Jones Day. He is also an adjunct professor at Florida State University.

Lukis was elevated from Deputy to head Chief of Staff in March. However, Lukis didn’t plan to stick around long because of his young family.

Lukis’ last day — and Uthmeier’s first — will be Oct. 1.


Tweet, tweet:

@JKennedyReport: Watch out, @GovRonDeSantis. Ex-Pres (Donald) Trump now pressuring @GregAbbott_TX to audit last year’s elections — despite his big win there. Is Fla next for this exercise based on nothing?

Tweet, tweet:


The Problem with Jon Stewart premieres on Apple TV+ — 6; Disability Employment Awareness Month begins — 7; ’The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres — 7; Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary party starts — 7; MLB regular season ends — 9; ’No Time to Die’ premieres — 14; ’Succession’ returns — 23; ’Dune’ premieres — 28; World Series Game 1 — 32; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 33; Florida TaxWatch’s annual meeting begins — 33; Georgia at UF — 36; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 39; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Primary — 39; The Blue Angels 75th anniversary show — 42; Disney’s ’Eternals’ premieres — 42; ’Yellowstone’ Season 4 begins — 44; ’Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 45; Miami at FSU — 50; ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 55; FSU vs. UF — 64; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 68; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 74; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 77; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 84; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 89; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 92; CES 2022 begins — 103; NFL season ends — 107; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 109; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 109; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 112; NFL playoffs begin — 113; Super Bowl LVI — 142; Daytona 500 — 149; St. Pete Grand Prix — 156; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 182; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 226; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 245; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 251; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 287; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 299; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 378; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 413.


U.S. special envoy to Haiti resigns, says he will not be associated with ‘inhumane, counterproductive’ deportations of Haitians” via John Hudson, Anne Gearan and Anthony Faiola of The Washington Post — The U.S. special envoy for Haiti has quit his job in a blistering resignation letter saying he could not be associated with the Joe Biden administration’s decision to deport thousands of Haitian migrants to their home country, a move he called “inhumane” given the deteriorating security situation in the country. “Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my recommendations have been ignored and dismissed,” Daniel Foote said in the letter addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday. Foote was named special envoy in July, just weeks after the assassination of Haiti’s President plunged the country into political turmoil.

Daniel Foote is enraged by the ‘inhumane treatment’ of Haitian migrants. Image via FIU.

In resignation letter, Daniel Foote blasts repatriation of Haitians from U.S.-Mexico border” via Jacqueline Charles and Michael Wilner of the Miami Herald — Harshly criticizing what he called the United States’ “inhumane” treatment of Haitian migrants and its policy toward Haiti, Foote, the U.S. diplomat whose reputation for working in some of the world’s most challenging environments led the Biden administration to name him special envoy to Haiti, has resigned. In a strongly-worded resignation letter, the veteran diplomat criticized the U.S. decision to repatriate thousands of Haitians from the U.S.-Mexico border over the past few days. He also lashed out at what he called “puppeteering” of Haitian politics by the U.S. and other nations.

Congresswoman ‘pissed’ about treatment of Haitians at Texas border, says some are being sheltered in Miami” via Amanda Batchelor of WPLG Local 10 News — Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson held a news conference with other elected officials and community activists to discuss the treatment of Haitian migrants at the Texas border. Wilson kicked off the speeches Thursday at the Little Haiti Cultural Center in Miami, calling on Biden to immediately stop deporting people to Haiti. According to the Congresswoman, some of the Haitians currently at the border have not lived in Haiti for 10 to 15 years, and the country is not equipped to take them. Wilson also addressed controversial photos that surfaced this week, showing Border Patrol agents on horses using long reins against Haitians who were crossing back into Texas after going into Mexico.


Senate Agriculture Committee targets racial inequality among farmers” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — As head of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Sen. Darryl Rouson directed members’ attention Thursday to an issue he plans to address as chairman: racial inequality. “The plight of the Black farmer in the State of Florida is real,” Rouson told members at the committee’s first meeting. Dania Davey, a director with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund, briefed lawmakers Thursday about the decline of Black farmers in Florida. She warned they are losing nearly 4,000 acres each year while averaging less than half the government payments that non-Black farmers receive. Unlike their counterparts, Black farmers disproportionally are victims of discriminatory lending practices and lack adequate access to capital.

Darryl Rouson will take a deep dive into the financial disparity among Florida’s Black farmers. Image via Colin Hackley.

Happening today — The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in Attorney General Ashley Moody’s challenge to immigration enforcement moves by the Biden administration. U.S. District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell had turned down the state’s request for a preliminary injunction. Arguments begin at 9 a.m., Federal Justice Building, 99 N.E. Fourth St., Miami.

Tina Polsky, Dan Daley again push ‘Jaime’s Law’ to vet the sale and transfer of ammo” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Rep. Daley is trying for the third straight Session to push forward legislation requiring background checks for ammunition purchases. The measure (HB 181) is titled “Jaime’s Law,” named after Jaime Guttenberg, one of the 17 people killed during the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland. The measure would subject those buying ammo to the same background checks that exist for individuals purchasing a gun. Ammunition could still be freely transferred at shooting ranges, or hunting and fishing sites just as before, so long as “the transferor has no reason to believe that the transferee will use or intends to use the ammunition in a crime or that the transferee is prohibited from possessing ammunition under state or federal law.”

‘Self-Defense Restoration Act’ bill proposed in Florida would require retreat before use of deadly force” via Sam Sachs of WFLA — Rep. Michele K. Rayner filed a bill for the 2022 legislative session that would require a retreat from law enforcement officers during situations where non-deadly force is threatened or used. Rayner’s bill is entitled “The Self-Defense Restoration Act,” and is listed as HB 73. The bill would prohibit the use of deadly force by an officer who knows that it can be avoided “with complete safety by retreating.” It was added to the legislative agenda for 2022 on Sept. 17. Rayner is a Democrat from St. Petersburg and a civil rights attorney. The bill makes some adjustments to how officers respond to threatening situations. There are currently no co-sponsors to the bill. If enacted, HB 73 would require law enforcement officers to find alternative methods of handling situations where force is needed.

Lawmakers play nice over redistricting process — for now” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The truncated but still monthslong process of redrawing Florida’s state and federal jurisdictions rolled forward Thursday. Two committees met simultaneously, further showcasing newly available tools for drawing and submitting maps. For now, the infamously partisan process remains cordial and friendly. Rep. Kelly Skidmore, the ranking Democrat on the House Congressional Redistricting Subcommittee, said she looked forward to the challenge of “fair and legal districts” that comply with an anti-gerrymandering amendment passed by voters just over a decade ago. There’s been plenty of skepticism over whether that will happen.

Kelly Skidmore looks forward to the redistricting process, for the time being. Image via Colin Hackley.

What is Florida’s three strikes malpractice law? Here’s how dangerous doctors evade it” via Holly Baltz of The Palm Beach Post — In Florida, voters in 2004 passed a law that is supposed to prevent dangerous doctors from practicing medicine. It’s known as the three-strikes malpractice law and requires that doctors with three findings of malpractice lose their license. Sounds pretty simple, right? But then the Florida Legislature in 2005 got involved and made it nearly impossible for the board of medicine to levy a strike. The law says a strike happens after a judgment of malpractice by the court in a lawsuit or a finding by the board of medicine or an arbitrator. If the doctor settles a malpractice case or a disciplinary complaint, which doctors often do, there’s no finding of malpractice.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Ellyn Bogdanoff, Becker & Poliakoff: Gulf Group Holdings Acquisitions & Applications

Leslie Dughi, Metz Husband & Daughton: Amscot Financial, BioFlorida

George Feijoo, Gary Guzzo, Floridian Partners: Castle Key Insurance Company

Shawn Foster, Sunrise Consulting Group: CohnReznick

BillieAnne Gay: HCA Healthcare

Patrick Gillespie: Department of Management Services

Doug Holder, The Legis Group: West Coast Inland Navigation District

Paul Mitchell, Laura Boehmer, Clark Smith, The Southern Group: Next Insurance

Marco Paredes, Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler: Eisenhower Property Group

Monica Rodriguez, Ballard Partners: Barry University

Will Rodriguez, Corcoran Partners: Peoples Gas System, Tampa Electric Company, TECO Energy


Florida COVID-19 update: 1,213 deaths and 4,215 cases added to tally, fewer in hospital” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — Florida on Thursday reported 1,213 more deaths and 4,215 additional COVID-19 cases to the CDC. According to the Herald analysis, all but 131 of the newly reported deaths — about 89% — occurred since Aug. 26. About 56% of the newly reported died in the past two weeks, the analysis showed. The majority of deaths happened during Florida’s latest surge in COVID-19 cases, fueled by the delta variant. In all, Florida has recorded at least 3,531,465 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 53,105 deaths. In the past seven days, on average, the state has added 328 deaths and 8,227 cases to the cumulative daily total, according to Herald calculations of CDC data.

Florida’s COVID-19 stats are still high but show signs of slowing down. Image via AP.

Lost to COVID-19: Summer delta wave puts Florida in Top 10 states for pandemic deaths” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida has moved up as a fierce summer wave pushes the virus’ toll past 50,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Florida now has the No. 10 highest per capita death rate among U.S. states. More than a fourth of those deaths have occurred over the summer, despite the widespread availability of highly effective vaccines in preventing serious illness. Behind the numbers is a trail of heartbreak.

Florida purchases GlaxoSmithKline monoclonal antibody as federal reduction continues” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The DeSantis administration has purchased 3,000 doses of GlaxoSmithKline’s monoclonal antibody treatment after the Biden administration reduced the federal supply of Regeneron’s version of the coronavirus-fighting drug by more than half. Speaking in Tampa, DeSantis told reporters the state would soon receive that shipment and could use it to offset the declining federal distributions. The news comes eight days after DeSantis met with leadership from GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical company that produces the latest monoclonal antibody therapy to receive federal approval, sotrovimab.

Florida’s mysterious COVID-19 surge” via German Lopez of Vox — The most common explanation for the outbreaks in the South that we saw over the recent summer was the low vaccination rates across the region. But Florida defies the regional trend. The state ranks 20th for full vaccination in the U.S., with 56% of people fully vaccinated — not great, but a little above the national rate. According to Google’s mobility data, Floridians around mid-August were about 14% less likely to travel to retail and recreational outlets than pre-pandemic times. That’s almost the same as Californians and actually lower than New Yorkers. Neither New York (about 59% fully vaccinated at the time) nor California (about 54% fully vaccinated at the time — not much higher than Florida) saw surges anywhere as bad as Florida’s in August.

Ron DeSantis says natural immunity is equal to vaccines. Experts say it’s not so simple” via Bianca Padró Ocasio and Daniel Chang of the Miami Herald — DeSantis is focusing some of his attacks on one main claim: Federal authorities are ignoring the benefits of natural immunity against COVID-19 reinfections. “You can’t tell noble lies to try to get [people] to behave in a way that you think you want them to behave in. And so, we see that time and time again in this issue of natural immunity,” DeSantis said as he introduced the state’s new Surgeon General. Infectious disease experts and vaccine researchers agree it’s way too soon to make declarative statements that ignore the risk of severe illness and omit the mountain of caveats that come with a novel virus that mutates rapidly and which scientists are still struggling to understand.

Ron DeSantis says natural immunity is as good as a vaccine. Not everyone agrees. Image via Colin Hackley.

U.S. begins reimbursing Florida school officials docked pay for defying mask mandate ban” via Heidi Przybyla of NBC News — The Biden administration began compensating some Florida school board members whose pay was docked this month for defying DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates, the Department of Education said. As part of the Biden administration’s “Project SAFE” grant program, an initial sum of $148,000 has been awarded to Alachua County school board members who voted this summer to mandate masks in the county’s schools as Florida developed some of the worst rates of COVID-19 infection in the nation. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement that the first wave of reimbursements offers a clear message: You will not be punished for overriding GOP Governors and legislatures to make schools safer for kids.

CVS is hiring thousands in Florida to cover COVID-19 demand and flu season. How to apply” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — CVS Health is hosting a nationwide hiring spree Friday to help prepare for flu season while also juggling the demand for COVID-19 vaccinations and testing. The retail pharmacy hopes to fill 25,000 positions across the country, including 2,400 jobs in Florida and 70 positions in Puerto Rico. Open positions include full-time, part-time and temporary licensed pharmacists, trained pharmacy technicians, nurses, and retail associates. Some corporate and fully remote positions are also available. The company recently eliminated the high school diploma or GED requirement for most entry-level roles and will be raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour next year.


Orlando VA no longer leads the nation in active COVID-19 cases, closes mobile ICU” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — The Orlando Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center closed its mobile intensive care unit on Wednesday, about three weeks after it began using it to treat patients to conserve hospital resources. The facility still limits visitors and screens them for COVID-19. “The Orlando VA Healthcare System has seen a sustained decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the past couple of weeks and has decommissioned the mobile ICU effective today,” wrote spokesperson Heather Frebe. The VA has seen its number of active COVID-19 cases cut in half from 506 two weeks ago to 222 as of Wednesday. Patients occupy 92% of its ICU beds and 72% of its medical and surgical beds.

AdventHealth Central Florida continues to report drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations as its hospitals remain at green status” via Danielle Prieur of WMFE — There are some 660 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at AdventHealth Central Florida’s hospitals in seven counties. That represents an almost 50% drop in hospitalizations from the peak in August when about 1,700 people were in its hospital and ICU beds. Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Neil Finkler says, “This slow, but steady decline in new admissions of COVID-19 patients is a positive signal that we continue to head in the right direction.” Finkler urges residents to continue to get vaccinated in order to avoid severe cases of the coronavirus that might result in hospitalization and death. Although hospitalizations are dropping, hospital capacity remains high which is why AdventHealth is still operating under green status.

Is the COVID-19 pressure starting to release in Central Florida? Image via AdventHealth Central Florida.

—“Dramatic drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations across South Florida” via Peter D’Oench of CBS4

Brevard quarantine critics hail rule allowing asymptomatic exposed students to go to class” via Bailey Gallion of Florida Today — Previously, students exposed to COVID-19 were required to quarantine at least four days and could return on the fifth day with a negative COVID-19 test if they did not have symptoms. Parents can now choose to send exposed children to school as long as they remain asymptomatic, or they can quarantine an asymptomatic child for up to seven days. The move runs counter to guidance from the CDC and has been criticized by liberal politicians, some school officials and the state’s largest teachers’ union over fears that it may drive further spread of COVID-19. Some people infected with COVID-19 may never show symptoms, and both they and infected people who are not yet symptomatic can spread the virus.

— 2022 —

Charlie Crist wants newly minted Surgeon General fired over new COVID-19 rules” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — It’s only Dr. Joseph Ladapo’s second day as Florida’s Surgeon General and Crist already wants him removed for what he calls a “reckless” order that leaves it up to parents whether their COVID-19-exposed child should stay home from school. Crist hosted an online event Thursday with school officials, parents, and a teacher to decry the action, which he says is going to remove a layer of protection for the most vulnerable children, many of them who are too young to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Hiring an anti-mask, vaccine skeptic to be the state’s top doctor is another way for DeSantis to go “soft on COVID,” Crist said.

Charlie Crist wants Joseph Ladapo gone. Image via Colin Hackley.

Florida’s property insurance markets ripe for 2022 battle — Florida’s property insurance market is in “dire” shape and will likely be a major issue in the 2022 midterms. “It is dire. These are not good results,” Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier told a Senate committee this week. “These results continue to not be sustainable. We will see companies either not survive or decide Florida is not the place for them to conduct business.” Matt Dixon of POLITICO reports that property insurance reform is shaping up to be a major battle in The Capitol. By 2022, the effects of a huge insurance bill designed to limit costs for insurance companies will be better known, particularly in Crist’s gubernatorial campaign. In 2006, when Crist won the race as a Republican, Florida had just experienced a series of hurricanes, with a spike in property insurance rates.

Save the date:

Miami Beach commission candidate apologizes after falsely claiming to be Hispanic” via Carli Teproff of the Miami Herald — Former Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez said Thursday she “wasn’t even conscious” of what she was saying when she told Democratic Party leaders while seeking their campaign endorsement last week that she was Hispanic — even though she is not. “I have always identified politically as a Hispanic,” Rosen Gonzalez, who is hoping voters will return her to the Miami Beach Commission this November, told the Miami Herald Editorial Board during a scheduled interview Thursday. “I’ve apologized, and I’ve said I am obviously not Hispanic.” The apology came a day after Miami Herald news partner CBS4 wrote about Rosen Gonzalez’s claim in a Miami-Dade Democratic Party endorsement interview.


U.S. sets the stage for COVID-19 booster shots for millions” via Lauran Neergaard and Mike Stobbe of The Associated Press — The U.S. vaccination drive against COVID-19 stood on the verge of a major new phase as government advisers Thursday recommended booster doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans — despite doubts the extra shots will do much to slow the pandemic. Advisers to the CDC said boosters should be offered to people 65 and older, nursing home residents, and those ages 50 to 64 who have risky underlying health problems. The extra dose would be given once they are at least six months past their last Pfizer shot. Still, getting the unvaccinated first shots remains the top priority, and the panel wrestled with whether the booster debate was distracting from that goal.

Booster shots are coming for millions of Americans. Image via AP.

Has the spread of COVID-19 peaked in the U.S.? What future COVID-19 spread could look like” via Akshay Syal of NBC News — New COVID-19 cases reached a high point Sept. 13, with a seven-day average of cases at 166,807, NBC News data finds. Since then, cases have been gradually dropping nationwide for seven of the last eight days. It’s the most consistent decline since June 23, a period before the delta variant took hold in the U.S. Ali Mokdad, chief strategy officer at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, is hopeful that cases should continue to decline. “It will not be a sharp decline like we saw a sharp rise,” Mokdad warned. He said there could be a bump around the December holidays due to the seasonality of the virus, potential relaxation of physical distancing measures, and any waning immunity from the vaccines.

Rural vaccinations climb by fastest rate in three months” via Tim Marema of the Daily Yonder — New vaccinations in rural America last week reached their highest level in three months, according to a Daily Yonder analysis. The increase in newly completed vaccinations came as the rural death rate from COVID-19 climbed to twice that of metropolitan areas. Rural counties reported approximately 362,000 newly completed vaccinations last week. That’s an increase of about 20% over two weeks ago and the largest number of new vaccinations recorded in rural counties since the third week of June. In metropolitan counties, the number of newly completed vaccinations climbed by about 9% compared to two weeks ago.

—“West Virginia, Montana case rates doubled in last month as Alaska sees record highs” via ABC News

—“Mapping America’s hospitalization and vaccination divide” via Zach Levitt and Dan Keating of The Washington Post

Providers challenge only U.S. law banning vaccine mandates” via Amy Beth Hanson of The Associated Press — Medical providers and Montana residents with compromised immune systems are challenging the only law in the U.S. that prevents employers from mandating workers get vaccinated amid a surge of COVID-19 infections. They argue the new law violates federal requirements for safe workplaces and reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities and want a federal judge to rule that it doesn’t apply to hospitals and other medical providers. The Montana Medical Association, private physician groups, a Missoula hospital and seven individuals filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in Missoula on Wednesday, arguing the law inhibits providers’ ability to “practice ethical and effective medicine” by requiring them to employ unvaccinated workers who are more likely to spread infections and diseases than vaccinated workers.

Penn State temporarily suspends 117 students for missing required coronavirus testing” via Paulina Firozi of The Washington Post — More than 100 students at Penn State have been temporarily suspended for failing to comply with the school’s weekly coronavirus testing requirement, the university said this week. Students and employees who are not vaccinated against the coronavirus must undergo weekly testing throughout the semester, which the school said it announced before the start of the fall semester. Students who did not disclose that they are fully vaccinated received weekly emails about the required testing. There are 117 students who have missed at least three weeks of testing and have been placed on interim suspension, the school said. Last week, staff called students with three missed tests, an effort that “brought several hundred students into compliance,” according to a statement.


Household net worth in U.S. hits record on surging home values” via Reade Pickert of Bloomberg — Household net worth increased by $5.8 trillion, or 4.3%, to $141.7 trillion in the second quarter, a Federal Reserve report out Thursday showed. The advance included a $3.5 trillion gain in the value of equities and a $1.2 trillion improvement in real estate held by households. Household net worth increased by $5.8 trillion, or 4.3%, to $141.7 trillion in the second quarter, a Federal Reserve report out Thursday showed. The advance included a $3.5 trillion gain in the value of equities and a $1.2 trillion improvement in real estate held by households. Equity shares as a percent of total household assets rose in the second quarter to almost 29.5%, up from 25.6% in 2019, the Fed’s report showed.

The average U.S. household is just a little bit richer. Image via WSJ.

U.S. and European economies slowed by delta variant, supply chain bottlenecks” via Jason Douglas and Amara Omeokwe of The Wall Street Journal — Manufacturing and services businesses in both the U.S. and Eurozone reported slower growth in activity this month, although the pullback was more pronounced in Europe. Forecasting firm IHS Markit said its index measuring U.S. business activity, based on surveys on purchasing managers, fell to 54.5 in September from 55.4 in August. That was the lowest level in a year. A level above 50 points to an increase in activity, while a level below 50 indicates a contraction. IHS Markit said its index of eurozone activity fell to a five-month low of 56.1 in September from 59 in August. The fall was steeper than predicted. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had expected a reading of 58.5.

A record number of cargo ships off the California coast shows a crack in the supply chain.” via Gregory Schmidt of The New York Times — Sixty-one vessels were anchored offshore on Thursday waiting to unload cargo, down from a record 73 on Sunday, said Capt. J. Kipling Louttit, the executive director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California, a nonprofit that works in partnership with the Coast Guard to provide data on maritime commerce. In addition to the anchored ships, 29 were adrift up to 20 miles offshore. The delay in getting the container ships to port comes as the easing of pandemic restrictions and increased consumer spending have ramped up demand. As a result, manufacturers are struggling to keep pace, and shortages of some products, like semiconductors, have caused slowdowns in production.

COVID-19 requirements add another number to define small businesses.” via Stacy Cowley of The New York Times — When the Biden administration announced a mandate that employees be vaccinated or tested regularly at companies with 100 or more employees, business leaders responded with a barrage of questions. Among smaller companies, one loomed especially large: Why 100? It’s an appealingly round, easy-to-remember number, and it captures a broad section of the American workforce. But as a dividing line between a “big” business and a “small” one, it’s a threshold not found in any other major federal or state law. For entrepreneurs who employ a smattering of workers, that’s an increasingly common challenge: Every time lawmakers invent a new regulation, they also make up a new definition of which businesses count as small.

Palm Beach County approves nearly $6 billion budget with American Rescue Plan help” via Hannah Morse of the Palm Beach Post — With a boost of millions of dollars from the federal government, Palm Beach County will come into its second full fiscal year during the pandemic with a balanced budget. But County Administrator Verdenia Baker warned that the county may face difficult financial decisions in the future. “Next year will be challenging, but we’ll get it done,” she said Monday evening. Palm Beach County Commissioners approved a $5.9 billion budget for the cycle that starts Oct. 1. The budget includes a $1.6 billion spending plan on county services and operations, as well as a total budget of $788.6 million for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.


Moderna chief executive sees pandemic over in a year” via Reuters — Moderna Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel thinks the coronavirus pandemic could be over in a year as increased vaccine production ensures global supplies, he told the Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung. Vaccinations would soon be available even for infants, he said. Asked if that meant a return to normal in the second half of next year, he said: “As of today, in a year, I assume.” Bancel said he expected governments to approve booster shots for people already vaccinated because patients at risk who were vaccinated last autumn “undoubtedly” needed a refresher. Its booster shot had half the initial dose, which meant more of them would be available.

With more vaccines, Stéphane Bancel thinks the coronavirus pandemic could be over within a year.

COVID-19 treatment derived from antibodies found in llamas shows promise in initial study” via Annabelle Timsit of The Washington Post — A small antibody found in llamas and camels that has been studied as the basis for a potential treatment for COVID-19 showed promise in new research published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature Communications. In the study, researchers injected a llama called Fifi with noninfectious parts of the coronavirus, which triggered an immune response. They then harvested Fifi’s blood and isolated nanobodies — small antibodies found in some animals that are prized by researchers because of their ability to get into nooks and crannies and because they are slow to degrade in the body — that they manipulated in a lab “to increase their ability to bind to the virus.” According to the researchers, the nanobodies were able to neutralize the coronavirus and its alpha and beta variants in lab experiments.

Brazil approaches 600,000 COVID-19 deaths in second-deadliest outbreak” via Anthony Boadle of Reuters — Brazil has had 24,611 new cases of the novel coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours, and 648 deaths from COVID-19, the health ministry said on Thursday. The South American country has now registered 21,308,178 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 592,964, according to ministry data, in the world’s third-worst outbreak outside the United States and India and its second-deadliest after the United States. As vaccination advances, the rolling seven-day average of COVID-19 deaths has fallen to less than one-fifth of the toll of almost 3,000 a day at the peak of the pandemic in April.

A fictional funeral home tries to save lives with an anti-vaccine ad.” via Alyssa Lukpat of The New York Times — It was a tailgate unlike any other on Sunday morning, as a strange truck circled the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Don’t get vaccinated,” the side of the truck said, much to the bewilderment of the Carolina Panthers fans who were there to watch a game against the New Orleans Saints. Underneath that text was the name of the apparent sponsor, Wilmore Funeral Home, with a link to its website and a phone number. The twist was that Wilmore Funeral Home was a fictional business, and its website sent visitors to a vaccine registration page. The phone number belonged to Crenshaw Visions, the advertising agency that owned the truck.

A real eye-opening message from a fake mortuary. Image via Twitter.

Both vaccinated? Oregon health officials say you can kiss on dates again!” via Lizzy Acker of The Oregonian — Back in April 2020, the Oregon Health Authority put out some advice for daters in the time of COVID-19: “You are your safest sex partner.” It has been a long, hard 18 months of pandemic behavior for people who want to date but are also somewhat responsible. But now, OHA has a new message: If you’re vaccinated, and your date is vaccinated, and you both are generally being safe; otherwise, get intimate! OHA’s dating advice really isn’t too wild. In fact, it’s the same advice all the experts keep giving everyone, even people who aren’t looking for new kissing partners — get vaccinated, wear a mask in crowded spaces, don’t go anywhere, or do anything if you have any symptoms of any illness.

Answers to your vaccine questions: I got two shots in Argentina. Am I considered fully vaccinated in the U.S.?” via Lois K. Solomon of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Biden administration is easing travel restrictions into the United States beginning Nov. 1. Tourists coming in from other countries will need to show proof of vaccination and a negative test for COVID-19 taken within three days of boarding the plane. To be considered fully inoculated, foreign travelers must have two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The U.S. will also accept vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, including the AstraZeneca shot. However, Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine has not been approved by the WHO. So, you will not be considered fully vaccinated in the U.S., and it’s the same for Canada.


Joe Biden pushes deterrent border policy after promising ‘humane’ approach” via Michael D. Shear, Natalie Kitroeff, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Eileen Sullivan of The New York Times — The images could have come straight from Trump’s immigration playbook: mounted Border Patrol agents rounding up desperate Haitian families at the southwestern border for rapid deportation from the United States. In fact, the aggressive effort to quickly clear a makeshift camp in Del Rio, Texas, of more than 15,000 Haitian migrants was part of a Biden administration response that included “surging” agents to the overrun area using a public health immigration rule invoked by Trump to send many people home. President Biden’s spokeswoman said the scenes of agents on horseback were “horrific” and not “acceptable or appropriate.”

Joe Biden seeks a more humane approach to Haitian migrants.

Biden administration directs border officials to suspend horse patrols in Del Rio migrant camp” via Nick Miroff of The Washington Post — The Biden administration has directed U.S. border officials to suspend patrols by agents on horseback in the Del Rio, Texas, migrant camp, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday. Psaki said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told civil rights leaders Thursday the department would no longer use horses in Del Rio. “So that is something, a policy change that has been made in response,” she said, describing the administration’s reaction to anger from Democratic lawmakers, rights groups and others over widely circulated images showing U.S. agents on horseback charging at migrants, including families, in an attempt to drive them back to Mexico, while cursing and swinging reins in the air.

White House weighs invoking defense law to get chip data” via Jenny Leonard of Bloomberg — The Biden administration is considering invoking a Cold War-era national security law to force companies in the semiconductor supply chain to provide information on inventory and sales of chips, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Thursday. The goal is to alleviate bottlenecks that have idled U.S. car production and caused consumer electronics shortages and identify possible hoarding, she said in an interview. Her team for months has sought clarity into how companies allocate their semiconductor supply. The Commerce Department is now asking companies to fill out questionnaires within 45 days providing supply chain information. The request is voluntary, but Raimondo said she warned industry representatives that she might invoke the Defense Production Act or other tools to force their hands if they don’t respond.

Biden finalizes move to phase out potent greenhouse gas used in refrigeration” via Maureen Groppe of USA Today — The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized the first major step taken under Biden to curb climate change, releasing new regulations to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, a potent greenhouse gas used in refrigeration. Emissions would be cut by 85% over 15 years. By 2050, the reductions would be the equivalent of eliminating three years’ worth of carbon dioxide emissions from America’s power sector, according to the administration. Critics have charged that the restrictions will hurt consumers whose air conditioners and refrigerators run on affordable refrigerant. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute joined with other business groups in praising the regulation as balanced and a “win-win for both the climate and the economy.”

America’s billionaires pay an average income tax rate of just 8.2%, Biden administration says” via Sarah Ewall-Wice of CBS News — The Biden administration analysis estimated billionaires paid 8.2% of their income between 2010 and 2018, including on forms of income that go largely untaxed — lower than the rates paid by most Americans. In that final year of analysis, it notes that those families had at least $2.1 billion in wealth, according to Forbes. The analysis by economists from the Office of Management and Budget and the White House Council of Economic Advisers drew from publicly available data and said the disparity is primarily driven by how the tax code treats income generated from wealth — such as income from stocks, whose worth increases over time — rather than wages, which are immediately taxed.

South Florida developer nominated to be Biden’s ambassador to Belgium” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — Biden nominated Coral Gables real estate mogul Michael Adler as the new U.S. ambassador to Belgium, one of two ambassadorship nominations of major Democratic fundraisers announced Wednesday. Adler, the chairman and CEO of South Florida-based Adler Group, Inc., has been a Democratic donor for over a decade and was the national finance chairman of Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign. In 2019, ahead of the Democratic presidential preference primary, Adler hosted a private fundraiser for Biden at the Gables Club, where then-candidate Biden warned the crowd of about 200 people that reelecting Trump would be the “end of NATO.”

Michael Adler gets an ambassadorship. Image via


Biden White House leans toward releasing information about Donald Trump and Jan. 6 attack, setting off legal and political showdown” via Tom Hamburger and Jacqueline Alemany of The Washington Post — The White House is leaning toward releasing information to Congress about what Trump and his aides were doing during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol despite the former President’s objections, a decision that could have significant political and legal ramifications. Trump has said he will cite “executive privilege” to block information requests from the House select committee investigating the events of that day, banking on a legal theory that has successfully allowed Presidents and their aides to avoid or delay congressional scrutiny for decades, including during the Trump administration. But President Biden’s White House plans to err on the side of disclosure given the gravity of the events of Jan. 6.

Donald Trump is not happy with the White House releasing info about his association with Jan. 6. Image via Bloomberg.

“‘He put himself ahead of the country’: Chris Christie rips Trump’s election claims” via David M. Drucker of Yahoo News — Christie said Trump should stop peddling conspiracy theories that the 2020 election was stolen, arguing that the claims are inconsistent with putting America first and damage the Republican Party’s efforts to blunt Biden’s agenda. “I think it would be better if he accepted the results of the 2020 election. And I think that would be better for the country. There hasn’t been any type of substantive evidence that has come forward,” the former two-term New Jersey Governor and Republican 2024 contender said during a virtual appearance at the annual Texas Tribune Festival.

Trump moving political HQ back to Mar-a-Lago” via Paul Steinhauser of Fox News — Trump has headed south to Florida. A top adviser to the former President says that with the onset of autumn, Trump’s moved his residence and political operation back to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach. “The season is starting to open down there,” Corey Lewandowski said. “You are going to see a complete rush of candidates going down to the Mar-a-Lago area to do fundraising, to be near the President, to talk to him, to get his advice and counsel.” Trump moved from the White House to Mar-a-Lago in late January, at the end of his presidency. But in May, he moved his political headquarters and residence north to his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey.

Michael Flynn thinks they might be putting the COVID-19 vaccine in your salad dressing” via Ryan Bort of Rolling Stone — On Monday, Flynn appeared on “Thrivetime Show: Business School Without the B.S.,” a podcast clearly meant to drive business to host Clay Clark’s business coaching program. It’s hard to overstate how far afield of reality, or even mainstream conspiracy-theory culture, the discussion ventures. At one point, Flynn suggests that the government could be secretly administering the vaccine through salad dressing. The idea that “they” are putting vaccines in salad dressing likely trickled down from a recent story about how researchers at the University of California at Irvine are trying to develop a way to grow edible plants that contain the same medication active in the mRNA vaccines.


Jan. 6 investigation accelerates as it turns toward Trump” via Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu of POLITICO — The march to unearth Trump’s Jan. 6 secrets has shifted into a sprint. In interviews, six members of the House panel investigating the Capitol attack made clear that they’re prepared to fly past any obstacles they encounter, mindful of Trump’s past success at stymieing congressional investigators. The calendar makes their job tougher: Panel members know they need to show results quickly as the midterms bear down, given Democrats’ thin majority. “The schedule has always been a challenge to accomplish what we need to accomplish in the time frame,” said Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar of California. “We’re committed to do it, and we’ll use every available tool to get there.” And the potential hurdles are many.

The Jan. 6 investigation inches toward Donald Trump. Image via AP.

Jan. 6 select committee subpoenas four Trump aides” via Ivana Saric of Axios — The Jan 6. select committee investigating the deadly Capitol riot has subpoenaed four aides to Trump for testimony and documents. Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former communications official Dan Scavino, former Defense Department official Kash Patel, and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon were all in touch “with the White House on or in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection,” the committee said in a release. These are the first subpoenas for testimony issued by the select committee. Earlier Thursday committee member Rep. Adam Schiff warned that those who refuse to comply with subpoenas would be guilty of criminal contempt.

To sue The New York Times and his niece, Donald Trump turned to a low-profile attorney from New Jersey” via David A. Farenthold and Alice Crites of The Washington Post — Earlier this month, one of Trump’s best-known attorneys, veteran litigator Marc E. Kasowitz, withdrew from a case where Trump had been sued for defamation. Trump replaced him with a lower profile lawyer: Alina Habba, from a four-attorney firm with offices near Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club. Her experience included serving as general counsel for a parking garage company. On Tuesday, she filed a $100 million lawsuit on Trump’s behalf, targeting The New York Times, three Times reporters, and his niece Mary L. Trump. Trump alleges that Trump violated the terms of a 2001 legal settlement by providing the reporters with family financial records, which they used to write Pulitzer Prize-winning stories.


Democrats see tax ‘framework’ to pay for huge $3.5T package” via Lisa Mascaro and Alan Fram of The Associated Press — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the progress as Biden administration officials and Democratic congressional leaders negotiated behind the scenes. Staring down a self-imposed Monday deadline, lawmakers said they would work nonstop to find agreement on specifics. Democrats’ views on those vary widely, though they largely agree with Biden’s idea of raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy to fund the package. Moderate Democrats, most prominently Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, are demanding that the massive dollar total be reduced. The revenue options to pay for it — that mostly means taxes — being considered can be dialed up or down, the leaders say. The ultimate price tag may certainly slip from the much-publicized $3.5 trillion.

Chuck Schumer says Democrats are headed in the right direction on Joe Biden’s massive infrastructure bill. Image via AP.

Nancy Pelosi says government funding won’t lapse” via Kristina Peterson and Andrew Restuccia of The Wall Street Journal — House Speaker Pelosi said Congress wouldn’t let government funding expire next week, on the same day that the Biden administration began preparing for a possible partial shutdown. “We will keep our government open by Sept. 30, which is our date, and continue the conversation about the debt ceiling, but not for long,” she said Thursday. “We will have a (continuing resolution) that passes both houses by Sept. 30.” White House officials remained optimistic that lawmakers would avoid a shutdown. There “is enough time for Congress to prevent a lapse in appropriations, and we are confident they will do so,” White House Office of Management and Budget spokesman Abdullah Hasan said.

House Democrats plan Saturday votes to advance tax, spend plan” via Erik Wasson and John Fitzpatrick of Bloomberg — House Democrats are attempting to move forward with the next procedural step needed to pass Biden’s economic agenda, penciling in a rare Saturday committee meeting to advance a proposed $3.5 trillion package. The Budget Committee’s markup could occur Friday instead of Saturday if Republicans agree to an expedited schedule, Chairman John Yarmuth said, adding that he expects the full House to consider the package next week. The committee’s vote on the individual components of the tax and spending bill is a necessary step but does not mean Democrats have resolved all their differences on the package. The Budget panel cannot amend what the other committees voted to approve earlier this month — any changes would come in the Rules Committee or on the House floor.

Federal court voids ruling on minimum age requirements for purchasing handguns” via CBS News — A federal appeals court tossed out an earlier ruling that found federal laws prohibiting the sale of handguns to young adults under the age of 21 are unconstitutional, because the woman who mounted the legal battle against the minimum age requirement turned 21 “Despite efforts to add parties and reframe her claimed injuries, it is too late to revive this case. So, it must be dismissed as moot,” Judge Julius Richardson wrote in an opinion. The 4th Circuit panel ruled in the dispute over the age requirements for handgun purchases in July, finding that 18-year-olds possess the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. The ruling from the 4th Circuit panel was at the time criticized by gun control groups.

The tangled tale of the Israel consulate, the Dilbert cartoonist and the Matt Gaetz case” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO — Scant media attention has been paid in the sex crimes investigation to the mysterious cameo of Jake Novak, broadcast media director of the Consulate General of Israel in New York. Three days before the story broke in March that federal investigators were probing whether Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old girl, Novak began corresponding with Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams about the scandal. Novak indicated to Adams he had inside knowledge of the probe and suggested he was personally involved to get $25 million out of Gaetz’s wealthy father to help free an American hostage in Iran named Bob Levinson.


Tropical Storm Sam forecast to grow into major hurricane by Saturday” via Robin Webb and Chris Perkins of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Tropical Storm Sam, the 18th named storm of the season, is expected to be at hurricane strength by Friday and could be a major hurricane with top winds of 125 mph by next week, according to the National Hurricane Center. Sam formed Thursday from Tropical Depression Eighteen and was moving west at 16 mph with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, as of 5 p.m. Thursday, about 1,635 miles east-southeast of the boundary where the Atlantic Ocean meets the far eastern Caribbean Sea. It is forecast to move west-northwest by Friday. Sam could be at major hurricane strength Saturday, the center said.

Latest poll for St. Pete Mayor’s race shows Ken Welch with wide lead over Robert Blackmon” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The poll, the first since the Aug. 24 Primary, shows Welch with 53% support to Blackmon’s 36%, with 11% of voters still unsure in the race. That’s a troubling data point for Blackmon because it shows even if undecided voters broke his way, it still wouldn’t be enough to bridge the gap with Welch. The lead is well outside the St. Pete Polls survey’s 4.5% margin of error. The last poll taken just days before the Primary showed Welch leading Blackmon in a hypothetical General Election matchup with the same 53% share of the vote. Blackmon improved some from that poll, which showed him at the time with just 29% support.

New polling has Robert Blackmon slipping further behind Ken Welch.

Everyone is talking about DeSantis — except in St. Pete’s Mayor race” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — He’s a topic of conversation in races from California to Virginia and in the White House briefing room. He’s a hashtag and on flags. It seems everyone these days is talking about DeSantis — except the candidates running for mayor in St. Petersburg. Welch and Blackmon have all but ignored the state’s consequential and contentious Governor on the campaign trail. DeSantis hardly came up during the summer primary, and he remains a distant presence in the weeks since the race for City Hall became a two-man runoff.

6 women, babies dead. Botched circumcisions. Catastrophic injuries. Why this baby doctor practiced for decades” via John Pacenti and Holly Baltz of the Palm Beach Post — The birthing suite at Good Samaritan Medical Center resembled “something out of a movie, like a murder scene,” Jorge Douglas Miranda Romero recalls. Moments earlier, he’d watched his wife, Onystei Castillo-Lopez, give birth to their second child, a healthy baby boy. But something wasn’t right. After holding her son for about five minutes, Castillo-Lopez said she wasn’t feeling well. And then the blood wouldn’t stop. Castillo-Lopez was barely conscious when her husband spoke to her for the last time, as she was taken to surgery to stop the bleeding. Neither the husband, who is known as Miranda, nor his wife were aware that Dr. Berto Lopez had his medical license restricted by Florida three months earlier.

$750,000 in cash recovered amid rubble of Surfside condo collapse. Victims will get it back.” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — When the Surfside condo tumbled down in June, rescue workers painstakingly searched through the mountain of debris to recover nearly 100 victims and lots of personal property. Among the buried personal items at the collapse site of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building were cars in the underground garage, as well as furniture, clothes, jewelry and photos of families and friends. Miami-Dade County rescue workers also recovered cash — about $750,000 in total — some still neatly tucked into purses and wallets but most randomly scattered throughout the sprawling rubble.

Surfside families call for memorial at site of condo collapse” via David Selig and Alex Finnie of WPLG Local 10 News — Repeating that “we do not build over dead bodies,” family members of Surfside condo collapse victims demanded Thursday that a memorial be placed at the site where the Champlain Towers South once stood — not new construction. Thursday’s news conference took place on the beachwalk along Collins Avenue, between 87th and 88th Streets. Since the June 24 tragedy, a debate has ensued over what to do with the 1.88-acre plot of land where 98 lives were lost. Some say it should be sold for the highest price to support the surviving residents and families of the victims. Others wish to see a memorial on that very land, which they say is sacred.

Three Miami Beach police officers involved in rough arrest now face felony charges” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — Three Miami Beach police officers charged over the rough arrest of two men at the Royal Palm South Beach hotel two months ago will have their charges upgraded to felonies. Prosecutors announced upgraded charges for Officer Kevin Perez and Sgt. Jose Perez, who had been charged with misdemeanor battery and are now charged with third-degree felony battery. Officer Steven Serrano is now charged with a count of official misconduct, a third-degree felony, for allegedly authoring a bogus police report about the incident. Serrano is still facing a misdemeanor battery charge. Prosecutors said officers on July 26 used excessive force against a man named Dalonta Crudup, who had been illegally parked on a motor scooter on 13 Street and Ocean Court.

Latest Florida election glitch: In Miami cop union poll, hundreds of votes cast from Kansas” via Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — Despite the controversies surrounding him and a lashing from Miami commissioners, someone appears to be a very big fan of Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo. So much so that a person using the same computer address somewhere in Kansas likely voted for the chief more than 500 times in a police union poll that could help to determine his fate in the city. The discrepancy threatens to further muddle and delay the results of an already quite unscientific poll commissioned by the president of the city’s Fraternal Order of Police — an elected officer who has been anything but shy over a series of beefs he’s had over the chief’s actions in the past few months.

Miami may ban homeless encampments, arrest residents. Advocates say that’s the crime” via Anna Jean Kaiser and Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Bambi Nicole Kuttkuhn was afraid when police came through the I-95 overpass on NW 11th last month, an area where she and some 60 homeless people resided. She said they took some of her belongings, saying they’d been stolen, and forced her and the others to leave. After three weeks living in a vacant lot about a mile away, the 43-year-old is back, but worried about a proposed city ordinance that would give the police new powers and could make such clearings more frequent. City commissioners last week gave initial approval to an ordinance that prohibits encampments on public property and in entryways.

Why SunPass payments may be on their way out at Miami International Airport garages” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Miami International Airport plans to stop accepting SunPass payments by the end of the year, cutting off the only remote pay option in the parking garages at one of Florida’s busiest airports. A recent memo lays out MIA’s strategy to drop SunPass at MIA’s Dolphin and Flamingo garages. The latest agreement with a parking operator that won a 2019 bidding contest to upgrade MIA’s garage technology “deletes the SunPass component and installs a ‘Pay-on-Foot’ system, which is a user-friendly alternative,” Jimmy Morales, Miami-Dade County’s chief operating officer, wrote in a memo presented at the Sept. 13 meeting of the county commission’s Airport and Economic Development committee.

Condo prices dip in Miami for first time this year. Here’s how much they went down” via Rebecca San Juan of the Miami Herald — Home prices decreased slightly in Miami-Dade County in August, according to the latest Miami Association of Realtors sales report on Wednesday. The median sales price dipped by about 3% for single-family homes — from $515,000 to $500,500 — and by almost 2% for condos — from $340,000 to $335,000 in Miami-Dade. It is the first drop in condo prices in 2021 in the county. From January through June, condo prices increased from $280,000 to $340,000 and remained steady for July. Single-family homes last declined in price from April to May. In Broward County, prices remained steady for houses and increased slightly for condos.

Stronger sense of community would increase Broward philanthropy” via Sylvia Gurinsky in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In July, the Community Foundation of Broward, the county’s fundraising arm, issued a report titled “Untapped Potential: Growing Philanthropy in Broward.” The report indicates that county residents give over $1 billion a year in local charitable contributions, and the total is going up. However, Broward lags behind Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, as well as nationwide communities of comparable size, in total contributions. The biggest donations are concentrated in a handful of neighborhoods, mainly in Fort Lauderdale. From 2016 to 2018, about 70% of donations from Broward-headquartered private foundations went outside the county. The study indicates that 85% of Broward residents have been in the same home for at least a year. But a longer look is needed.

His books on Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. were banned. Here’s what this South Florida author did” via Connie Ogle of the Miami Herald — When South Florida writer Brad Meltzer learned that a Pennsylvania school board had banned his books “I am Rosa Parks” and “I am Martin Luther King, Jr.,” he knew he couldn’t ignore it. “If you’re taking the lessons of Rosa Parks, you have to fight back,” said the creator of the Ordinary People Change the World series. “I am Rosa Parks” and “I am Martin Luther King, Jr.” — which, like the other books in the series, are illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos — were two of more than 200 anti-racism books and resources suggested by the Central York School District’s diversity education committee last year. The Central York School Board vetoed the entire list.

Brad Meltzer is not taking his book ban lying down.

Orange teachers push for bigger raises as school board laments state budget cuts” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — The Orange County teachers union was “shocked and saddened” when the county school district offered $175 raises to most teachers this year. Convinced Orange County Public Schools could afford far more, union leaders pressed for a better package last week at both the Orange County School Board meetings and during an impasse hearing before a special magistrate. Dennis Campagna, the special magistrate who heard the case, likely will not make a recommendation on how to resolve the pay dispute until the end of October, at the earliest, and whatever he decides will not be binding. Under Florida law, school boards have the final say. They also start the process by setting a tentative budget and the parameters for salary negotiations.

Clock is ticking for glitch-free Citrus County EMS takeover” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — At a special meeting Wednesday, Citrus Commissioners voted unanimously to keep in place an emergency declaration that board Chairman Scott Carnahan signed on Friday. The declaration provides authority for County Administrator Randy Oliver to spend money without prior board approval, negotiate contracts and bypass the bid process in the circumstances related to the Oct. 2 takeover of Nature Coast EMS. In a Friday email, County Attorney Denise Dymond Lyn said the emergency is necessary to ensure the transition takes place on time with no glitches. Oliver said all but four of NCEMS’s 72 paramedics and emergency medical technicians applied for jobs with the county heading into the transition. “The jobs are very much in demand,” he said.


The unTrump presidency slams into Trumpness” via Frank Bruni of The New York Times — France’s foreign minister described himself as “angry and bitter.” He called what Biden had done “brutal.” But those harsh adjectives meant nothing next to something else that the diplomat, Jean-Yves Le Drian, uttered late last week. He said that Biden’s decision to negotiate a secret submarine deal with Australia that nullified a lucrative French arrangement reminded him “a lot of what Trump used to do.” And nothing about Biden is ever supposed to remind anyone of Trump. All in all, Biden is a far cry from Trump. But that doesn’t mean that he’s untouched by Trump. And it doesn’t mean that he won’t find himself in similar places, because he’s navigating some of the same dynamics.


Gwen Ifill was right about ‘missing white woman syndrome’” via Charles M. Blow of The New York Times — The breathless coverage of the disappearance and apparent killing of Gabrielle Petito has played out in a virtual and sometimes literal split-screen alongside images of mounted officers in Texas swinging long reins like whips while herding Haitian migrants. It is not that these white women should matter less, but rather that all missing people should matter equally. Race should not determine how newsroom leaders assign coverage, especially because those decisions often lead to disproportionate allocation of government resources, as investigators try to solve the highest-profile cases.


U.S. Rep. Crist is calling for the firing of Florida’s new Surgeon General for changing the state’s COVID-19 protocols in schools.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— Once again, a speaker at a DeSantis news conference spreads misinformation, decrying the loss of failed, and dangerous experimental treatments for COVID-19.

— South Florida Congresswoman Wilson rails against the Biden administration over the treatment of Haitian migrants.

— Today’s Sunrise interview features Anna Paulina Luna, a candidate for Florida’s 13th Congressional District who proudly waves her recent endorsement from former President Trump.

To listen, click on the image below:


Battleground Florida with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): Reps. Anna Eskamani and Mike Beltran; Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at South Florida politics and other issues affecting the region.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable featuring retired Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Peggy Quince, USF-Tampa Honors College professor Dan Ruth, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare President/CEO Max Richtman and Mindy Murphy, president/CEO of The Spring of Tampa Bay.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Steve Vancore speaks with Dara Kam of The News Service of Florida.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: House Speaker-Designate Paul Renner; Steve Atkins of the SouthEast Development Group; and Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, chair of new Safety and Justice Task Force.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): A discussion of COVID-19, Florida’s proposed heartbeat abortion legislation, and coverage of the Haitian migrant crisis.

— ALOE —

Fossil footprints show humans in North America more than 21,000 years ago” via Tom Metcalfe of NBC News — David Bustos heard about the “ghost tracks” when he first came to White Sands National Park in New Mexico to work as a wildlife scientist in 2005. It wasn’t until over 10 years later, in 2016, that scientists confirmed the ghost tracks had been made by real people — and it’s only now that some of the ancient footprints at White Sands have been dated as the earliest in North America. The tracks at one location have been revealed as both the earliest known footprints and the oldest firm evidence of humans anywhere in the Americas, showing that people lived there between 21,000 and 23,000 years ago — several thousand years earlier than scientists once believed.

Are these the footprints of the earliest humans in the Americas? Image via NPS, USGS, and Bournemouth University.

One to charge them all: E.U. demands single plug for phones” via Kelvin Chan of The Associated Press — The European Union announced plans Thursday to require the smartphone industry to adopt a uniform charging cord for mobile devices, a push that could eliminate the all-too-familiar experience of rummaging through a drawer full of tangled cables to find the right one. The European Commission proposed legislation that would mandate USB-C cables for charging, a technology that many device makers have already adopted. The main holdout is Apple, which said it was concerned the new rules would limit innovation, ending up hurting consumers. The draft rules also call for standardizing fast charging technology and giving consumers the right to choose whether to buy new devices with or without a charger, which the EU estimates will save consumers 250 million euros ($293 million) a year.

Legoland Florida: 10th birthday celebration includes new attraction, shade over Miniland” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — The Winter Haven attraction, which opened on the former site of Cypress Gardens in 2011, debuts The Legoland Story on Oct. 15. The walk-through experience includes bits of Lego history, an interactive Minifigure trading wall and photo-ready displays, including one with an original ride vehicle from the Triple Hurricane, a roller coaster from the Cypress Gardens era. The top three Lego models from the second season of “Lego Masters” also are there. Oct. 15 also marks the reopening of Miniland, now featuring shade structures that will keep visitors and models cooler. This is the centerpiece area of the park, featuring miniature representations of landmarks from across the nation, including familiar Florida sights.


Best wishes to Jessica Love of GrayRobinson, as well as Davis Bean, Javi Correoso of Uber, Tom Griffin of Smith Bryan & Myers, Mary Mayhew of the Florida Hospital Association, Minnie Cora Merritt of the Board of Governors, and Jocelyn Mund. Celebrating this weekend is Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby.


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 Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as 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. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.

One comment

  • Tom

    September 24, 2021 at 8:46 am

    Great move by America’s Governor on getting additional monoclonal therapeutics.
    Despicable effort to limit Florida’s efforts by Biden/Feds.

    Whiz kid Governor DeSantis does not fail.
    Mission oriented, work horse not a show horse.
    God Bless this man who stands tall to liberal assault.

Comments are closed.


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