Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.29.21

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Wake up right: Get your scoops and other news about Florida politics.

Civil rights activist Desmond Meade — the face and driving force behind efforts to force Florida to restore voting rights to felons — has been named a 2021 MacArthur Fellow.

The honor from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation of Chicago is awarded to “extraordinarily talented and creative individuals” throughout the country who show “promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments,” and who show the “potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.”

Each fellowship comes with a no-strings-attached $625,000 “genius grant.”

Desmond Meade is among the 2021 recipients of the McArthur ‘genius grant.’

Meade, of Orlando, led a grassroots effort for many years that culminated in 2018 with the statewide passage of Amendment 4 to the Florida Constitution, restoring voting rights for as many as 1.4 million Florida felons such as himself, though his rights are still withheld.

Meade said the fellowships demonstrate the potential in anyone who might have been struggling at some time.

“I think this is an amazing opportunity for two types of folks, for folks to see people who may be going through things in life — whether it’s homelessness or addictions or incarceration — how, even though they may not see a light at the end of the tunnel, they know that they cannot only overcome these obstacles, but they can have an impact on their community,” Meade said.

He said he will use some of the prize money to pay off his law school loans but will be looking for ways to use it for his work helping other returning citizens.

Last year Meade won the Puffin Foundation’s Puffin Prize for Creative Citizenship, which comes with a $100,000 grant. He put most of that up as matching grants for the coalition’s “fines and fees” fund to pay court-ordered costs necessary for Florida’s felons to win back their voting rights. With that contribution, he said the coalition raised more than $200,000.


@SenRickScott: Gen. (Mark) Milley has the audacity to undermine the previous President to reporters & even adversaries, but now scrambles to cover for (Joe) Biden’s Afghanistan failure that stranded Americans & took the lives of 13 U.S. troops. I’ve been clear: Biden isn’t fit to lead as commander in chief.

@DanCGoldberg: 70,000 Americans died from COVID during August/September after 18,000 died in June/July

@SenSanders: Let’s be crystal clear. If the bipartisan infrastructure bill is passed on its own on Thursday, this will be in violation of an agreement that was reached within the Democratic Caucus in Congress.

@MichaelPaulson: Paragraph I did not expect to read this morning: “Mr. (Donald) Trump’s handlers designated an unnamed White House official known as the ‘Music Man’ to play him his favorite show tunes, including ‘Memory’ from ‘Cats,’ to pull him from the brink of rage.”

@ryangrim: On the Congressional Progressive Caucus conference call today, every member who spoke — roughly 2 dozen — said they were committed to opposing the bipartisan bill until reconciliation is ready, per a source. Not one member said they’d vote yes on Thursday.

@JimRosicaFL: First, @JeffreyBrandes filed to rescind the designation of the mockingbird as the state bird. Now, @TinaPolsky has filed to go further and replace the mockingbird with the Florida scrub-jay.

@fineout: “Is Australia freer than communist China right now? I don’t know” — @GovRonDeSantis

@schindy: “It’s not often you sentence a killer cop and catch a cop killer on the same day,” one law enforcement official noted after the sentencing of former JSO Detective Billy Baer and the arrest of Patrick McDowell @FCN2go

Tweet, tweet:

@daithaigilbert: The Arizona Audit has become so corrupted by disinformation that Cyber Ninjas has had to come out with a statement claiming a “false report” being shared by prominent Trump supporters … is fake.

@JeffWeinerOS: New: NPA candidate Jestine Iannotti was a mystery to voters in Senate District 9, even as an apparent vote-siphoning scheme promoted her. Turns out one local politician knows her: Ben Paris, Seminole’s GOP chair — who works for SD9 winner Jason Brodeur.

@desmondmeade: This is one of those moments when all you can say is “But God!”


The Problem with Jon Stewart premieres on Apple TV+ — 1; Disability Employment Awareness Month begins — 2; ’The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres — 2; Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary party starts — 2; MLB regular season ends — 4; ’No Time to Die’ premieres — 9; ’Succession’ returns — 18; ’Dune’ premieres — 23; World Series Game 1 — 27; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 28; Florida TaxWatch’s annual meeting begins — 28; Georgia at UF — 31; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 34; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Primary — 34; The Blue Angels 75th anniversary show — 37; Disney’s ’Eternals’ premieres — 37; ’Yellowstone’ Season 4 begins — 39; ’Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 40; Miami at FSU — 45; ‘Hawkeye’ premieres — 46; ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 50; FSU vs. UF — 59; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 63; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 69; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 72; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 79; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 84; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 87; CES 2022 begins — 98; NFL season ends — 102; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 104; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 104; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 107; NFL playoffs begin — 108; Super Bowl LVI — 137; Daytona 500 — 144; St. Pete Grand Prix — 151; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 177; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 221; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 240; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 246; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 282; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 294; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 373; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 408.


Ron DeSantis sues Joe Biden to force migrants to be detained” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida sued the federal government Tuesday over immigration, demanding the Biden administration retain people who claim asylum at U.S. borders instead of releasing them to await a hearing. At the same time, DeSantis signed an executive order preventing any state agencies from “aiding or abetting in any way what the federal government is doing right now.” The federal suit seeks to end a system the Trump administration and DeSantis derisively call “catch and release.”

DeSantis signs executive order regarding immigration” via Kaitlin Greenockle of the Fort Myers News-Press — DeSantis hopes to stall the influx of undocumented immigrants into the state, signing an executive order regarding law enforcement, announcing a lawsuit against the Biden administration, and appointing a new “public safety czar” on Tuesday. DeSantis spoke at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office in Fort Myers and announced the executive order will prohibit law enforcement agencies that report to him from aiding or abetting what the federal government is doing by busing or flying undocumented immigrants into the state. Along with Attorney General Ashley Moody, he also announced a lawsuit against the Biden administration for ignoring federal immigration laws.

To watch the signing ceremony, click on the image below:

DeSantis taps Larry Keefe as Public Safety Czar against illegal immigration” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Keefe is back. DeSantis named the former Trump-nominated U.S. attorney Tuesday as Florida’s “public safety czar.” While it is unclear what the role entails explicitly, DeSantis announced the new gig while unveiling a three-pronged approach to address the crisis at the southern border during a Fort Myers news conference. The approach includes a lawsuit against Biden’s “catch and release” policy and a new executive order. The order prohibits state agencies from assisting the federal government in transporting illegal migrants into Florida and prompts the Department of Children and Families to determine if Florida should continue housing unaccompanied migrant minors in the state.

Does DeSantis’ latest order pave the way for stricter E-Verify rules?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — An executive order signed by DeSantis seeks audits to ensure companies’ employees can legally work in America. Two years after immigration hard-liners expressed disappointment about an employment verification law, the new order sounds a lot like E-Verify. And DeSantis told Florida Politics while leaving a Lee County news conference that, indeed, he’d like stricter enforcement. “We need to have E-Verify,” DeSantis said. “I want as much as we can get, absolutely.”


Nikki Fried opposes DEP plan for phosphate sites — Agriculture Commissioner Fried on Tuesday criticized the Department of Environmental Protection plan to inject wastewater underground at Piney Point. As reported by Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida, Fried also criticized the department for issuing a proposed permit that would allow Mosaic to expand its waste stack at the New Wales plant in Polk County. “So, I will say it again: At some point, the Department of Environmental Protection has to actually start protecting the environment,” she said. “They can start by accepting responsibility for these environmental tragedies and committing to preventing them from ever happening in the future.”

Nikki Fried is pushing back on a plan to pump wastewater under Piney Point. Image via Colin Hackley.

Space Florida weights pay bumps against public perception — The Space Florida Governance and Compensation Committee recommended pay raises for top officials at the state-funded organization but acknowledged the move could hurt its public image. Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida reported that the committee recommended increasing CEO Frank DiBello’s pay from $325,000 to $484,000 and EVP/Treasurer/CIO Howard Haug’s pay from $275,000 to $353,000. “One thing we need to remember, guys, is … this is not my business or your business, this is a semi-government job,” committee member Mori Hosseini said, noting media criticism of legislative funding to give raises to state agency heads. Committee Chair Jesse Biter added, “I definitely believe we need to compensate them fairly. And we will defend ourselves as we need to if and when that becomes an issue.”


School safety oversight need might outlive Marjory Stoneman Douglas panel” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The state’s schools are safer since bullets ripped through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that fateful Valentine’s Day in 2018, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, the commission charged with examining that disaster heard Monday. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, chair of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, expressed a belief at the group’s meeting that more oversight on school safety is needed, beyond the MSD commission’s duties sunsetting in 2023. The commission, created by legislative act in 2018, examined and remedied the systemic and specific failures that resulted in 17 dead and another 17 injured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Shevrin Jones files twin to Allison Tant bill to expand Exceptional Student Education access” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Sen. Jones has joined Rep. Tant in filing a bill for the 2022 Legislative Session aimed at giving schools, parents, and faculty more time to assess whether a child needs federally funded special services and programs classified as Exceptional Student Education (ESE). Jones, of West Park, this month filed SB 236, a companion to H.B. 15, which Tant filed in the House July 21. Both bills would extend Florida’s cutoff for ESE assessment from age 5 to age 9, or when a child completes second grade, whichever comes first. Florida law provides that children who need tailored instruction and services in school are considered “exceptional students.”

Shervin Jones and Allison Tant file twin bills to boost access to federal services for families with special needs children. Image via Colin Hackley

Nursing home plaintiffs could pocket all punitive damages under Amber Mariano’s proposal” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — As lawmakers consider extending lawsuit protections for Florida’s nursing home industry in the upcoming Legislative Session, one House Republican will push to scrap a current law requiring a portion of punitive damages awarded in lawsuits be placed in a state trust fund. Rep. Mariano‘s HB 6035 would eliminate a mandate that half of any punitive damages awarded in lawsuits against nursing homes or assisted living facilities to be directed to a fund dedicated to quality improvement efforts. Mariano has filed the bill every year since she was first elected five years ago. She says the 2022 Legislative Session is the time to finally get it passed.

Becker & Poliakoff law firm the ‘nemesis’ of condo safety reformers” via Brittany Wallman, Mario Ariza, Spencer Norris and Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — For decades, the law firm representing the collapsed Champlain Towers South has waged a successful lobbying campaign against condominium safety measures. Now, the Becker firm is at the center of discussions about how to make condos safer. Its founders are credited with writing much of the law that underpins condo living in Florida, and its principals have spent decades constructing a hands-off regulatory framework that empowers associations to steer their own fate. As elected officials across the state debate potentially costly new regulations to make condos safer, Becker is sure to exert influence. The firm says it represents more than 4,000 condo buildings in Florida.

Happening today — The Seminole County legislative delegation meets: Sen. Jason Brodeur; Reps. David Smith, Scott Plakon and Joy Goff-Marcil, 9 a.m., Seminole County Services Building, County Commission Chamber, 1101 East First St., Sanford.

Happening today — The Brevard County legislative delegation meets: Sens. Debbie Mayfield and Tom Wright; Reps. Thad Altman, Randy Fine, Rene Plasencia and Tyler Sirois, 3 p.m., Brevard County Commission Chamber, 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Viera.

Facebook State Policy Manager Erica Woods talks available resources for small businesses — As Florida businesses continue to work toward recovery, Woods joined the Tallahassee Business podcast — as part of National Minority Business Development Week — to discuss resources offered by the social media platform to small businesses. Recognizing the challenges that businesses and particularly minority-owned businesses have experienced during the pandemic, Facebook has focused on providing support and tools to help small businesses strengthen marketing efforts and relationships with customers.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis attends the International Boat Builders’ Exhibition & Conference (IBEX) in Tampa. IBEX is North America’s largest trade event for recreational marine industry professionals. Earlier this year, Suzuki Marine USA announced that they would be moving their headquarters to Hillsborough County, which will create numerous jobs over the next several years.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Patrick Bell, The Legis Group: Putnam County School District

Brady Benford, Ballard Partners: Sunfest Herbs

Michael Corcoran, Jacqueline Corcoran, Matt Blair, Will Rodriguez, Andrea Tovar, Corcoran Partners: Lume Holding Company

James Grant, Tyler Russell: Department of Management Services

Warren Husband, Karl Rasmussen, Metz Husband & Daughton: Ecosystem Investment Partners, TikTok

Beth Labasky, Beth Labasky & Associates: Florida Coalition for Children


Land Down Under lockdown? DeSantis blasts Australian COVID-19 rules” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Australia is finally nearing the end of lockdowns after more than a year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic. But that’s in stark contrast to places like Florida, which DeSantis effectively fully reopened in September. The Australian military was also deployed this summer to enforce lockdowns in Sydney, the nation’s largest city. Sydney has been in lockdown since June 26 and Melbourne since Aug. 5. The capital territory of Canberra locked down on Aug. 12 after one positive test stemming from Sydney emerged. Speaking at the International Boatbuilders Exhibition in Tampa on Tuesday, DeSantis lamented the strict pandemic approach from one of the United States’ closest allies. “That’s not a free country. It’s not a free country at all,” DeSantis said.

Ron DeSantis says all is not well Down Under. Image via AP.

Health care providers report 1,865 adverse medical incidents to the state in Q3” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and ambulatory surgical centers reported 1,865 adverse incidents in the state during the third quarter of the calendar year 2021. Assisted living facilities accounted for about 45% of the reported adverse incidents resulting in death claims. Hospitals filed 40 adverse incident reports resulting in death during the three-month period, second only to ALFs, which filed 45 such reports. The third quarter includes events from July, August and September when Florida hospitals were at the apex of inpatient hospitalizations and the number of COVID-19 infections in Florida nursing homes was growing.

Florida protected nursing homes from COVID-19 lawsuits. Then cases began to spike.” via Hannah Critchfield of the Tampa Bay Times — Earlier this year, Florida passed a law that gave health care providers, including nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, sweeping protections from COVID-19-related lawsuits. Intended to prevent a flood of litigation overwhelming the health care system, as well as other industries, S.B. 72 raised the bar for individuals seeking to sue senior care homes for virus-related damages, injuries or death. The legislation, which DeSantis signed into law in March, is again under the microscope as Florida has experienced an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases in recent months and nursing homes faced outbreaks that may have previously opened up facilities to litigation.

Florida employees feel COVID-19 pressure” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Eighteen months into the pandemic, Florida’s state workers are struggling. COVID-19 outbreaks have closed departments and offices. Three state prisons are closing because of the lack of corrections officers. When their colleagues fall ill, some state employees say they aren’t being told. DeSantis’ efforts to keep Florida open have been felt acutely by many state workers, some of whom have been among the earliest to return to in-office meetings. “The workers are very scared,” said Vicki Hall, president of AFSCME Florida Council 79, which represents about 47,000, or nearly half, of state workers. “The governor wants everything open and running.”

Florida state workers are terrified to go back to work.

Florida’s COVID-19 surge is not deterring real estate investors” via Chava Gourarie of the Commercial Observer — Florida’s COVID-19 case count is finally down after a summer surge that dwarfed previous outbreaks, causing close to 10,000 deaths in the state in August alone. And the death toll is not yet over, as deaths tend to lag case count by several weeks. But, while its toll on human life is still ticking up, COVID-19’s impact on Florida’s economy, and its real estate sector, has been minimal, and possibly nonexistent. In fact, the summer surge, fueled by the highly infectious delta variant, only intensified the same factors that had made Florida attractive to outsiders throughout the pandemic.


Why recent COVID-19 levels in Jupiter-area sewage are giving officials cause for optimism” via Katherine Kokal of The Palm Beach Post — As the number of COVID-19 cases gradually falls across the country, recent sewage testing in the Jupiter area points to an 81% decrease in virus levels in wastewater. That’s cause for optimism, officials say. The Loxahatchee River Environmental Control District, which provides sewage services for about 100,000 customers in northern Palm Beach County, collected wastewater samples from its treatment facility on Sept. 19 and Sept. 20 and sent them to Massachusetts-based Biobot Analytics to determine the presence of the coronavirus. Test results from two separate samples show that virus levels in wastewater dropped substantially through September, following the area’s peak levels in late August.

Changes in COVID-19 levels in Jupiter’s wastewater give hope to health officials. Image via Loxahatchee River District.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital COVID-19 patients continue to decline; deaths remain high” via Brian Ries of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The number of COVID-19 patients at Sarasota Memorial Hospital continues its slow and steady decline, reflecting a statewide trend as coronavirus cases decrease. Sarasota Memorial reported Tuesday that it has 120 COVID-19 patients, down from 137 on Friday. It’s a significant drop from a month ago when the hospital peaked at 291 COVID-19 patients. The number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital’s ICU has seen a similar decline, from 62 a week ago to 53 on Tuesday.

Can Manatee-Sarasota achieve zero traffic fatalities? It will take new way of thinking” via James A. Jones Jr. of the Bradenton Herald — Building a road network that eliminates traffic fatalities seems like a mission impossible. But that’s the goal of Destination Zero, as described in a workshop hosted by the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization. Even one fatality is too many, agreed a gathering of elected officials, public servants, and citizens at the Bradenton Area Convention Center. Not that the most dangerous intersections in Manatee-Sarasota are unknown, not that zero fatalities isn’t already a goal, and not that the number of traffic fatalities hasn’t continued to rise over the years.

— 2022 —

Wall Street helps DeSantis amass a hefty war chest for 2022” via Michael Smith, Jonathan Levine, and Bill Allison of Bloomberg — When it comes to the likely Republican presidential candidates in 2024, Wall Street’s money is on DeSantis, not Trump, who’s been teasing another run at the White House. A fifth of the $55 million that DeSantis has raised this year came from hedge fund billionaires, private equity bankers, investment managers, and other finance industry donors. Trump, who got less than 2% of his 2020 reelection funds from Wall Street, has raised the bulk of his $100 million war chest from small-dollar donors. Notably, the cash influx peaked in the early part of this year, before the delta variant sent deaths soaring in the Sunshine State, undermining DeSantis’s case for laissez-faire public-health policies.

Wall Street donors are lining up behind Ron DeSantis, not Donald Trump. Image via Colin Hackley.

Assignment editors — Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried will hold a Zoom conversation to mark the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s approval of the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) application for summer Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) funding, 10 a.m., Zoom link available upon RSVP, and will be livestreamed at RSVP no later than 9:30 a.m. to [email protected].

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Javier Fernández endorse Janelle Perez for SD 37” via Florida Politics — Perez has gained a pair of valuable endorsements to further bolster her effort to unseat incumbent Republican Rep. Ileana Garcia and take Florida Senate District 37. Perez’s campaign announced Tuesday that former U.S. Rep. Mucarsel-Powell and former state Rep. Javier Fernández have thrown their support behind her in what is increasingly promising to be a 2022 race to watch. Their backing joins endorsements from Florida Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book and Sen. Annette Taddeo offered earlier this month. Perez, a South Florida business owner, LGBTQ community leader and cancer survivor, said she is “thankful and honored” to receive Mucarsel-Powell and Fernández’s support.

Seminole GOP chair who works for Jason Brodeur knew mysterious independent candidate in key Senate race” via Annie Martin and Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel — After filing to run as an independent candidate in an important Central Florida Senate race last year, Jestine Iannotti remained a mystery to most voters. Iannotti made no public appearances, refused interview requests and spent several weeks during the campaign in Sweden. Meanwhile, an advertising campaign that promoted her candidacy, apparently designed to siphon votes from her Democratic opponent and help Brodeur win the election, included mailers featuring a stock photo of a different woman. But at least one prominent local politician knows Iannotti: Ben Paris, a former mayor of Longwood. Paris, who was hired by Brodeur in February 2019, said he knows Iannotti through a friend in Winter Springs who once lived with her.

Chris Sprowls to host Tallahassee fundraiser for Chris Latvala as he eyes Pinellas County Commission” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Sprowls is throwing his weight behind Rep. Latvala as his colleague prepares for an eventual run for Pinellas County Commission. Sprowls is hosting a fundraiser for Latvala at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 2 at the Governor’s Club in Tallahassee. A flyer announcing the event asks for donations of $1,000 or less for Latvala’s official Pinellas County Commission campaign, the maximum allowable for that account. It also solicits contributions of more than $1,000 for Latvala’s political committee, Suncoast Better Government Committee. Sprowls’ name on a fundraiser adds statewide appeal to Latvala’s local race, which he seeks while facing term limits in the Florida House in 2022.

Chris Sprowls will lend some star power to a fundraiser for Chris Latvala. Image via Colin Hackley.

Broward County enlisting FIU to draw new district maps” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Much like the state’s redistricting process now underway, Broward County is redrawing County Commission districts to accommodate population shifts shown in the 2020 U.S. Census. But unlike the state process that puts legislators in charge of maps, Broward County is for the first time tapping university personnel to submit plans to county commissioners for approval. Florida International University is holding four public meetings this week to gather opinions on drawing districts best to uphold the “one person, one vote” principle. The first meeting on Thursday in Miramar drew about 50 people, said Maria Ilcheva, assistant director of planning and operations at FIU’s Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center.

Twelve states revise counting of prisoners to address concerns about voting fairness, but not Florida” via Laura Cassels of Florida Phoenix — Eleven states drawing new voting districts this year following the 2020 census are breaking with tradition to address claims about political unfairness in the way prisoners are counted, but Florida isn’t one of them. Nine of those states will, for the first time, sort their 2020 census data to list hundreds of thousands of inmates of their prisons, jails and detention centers as residents of their home communities, not as residents of the cells that were holding them during the Census taking. How inmates are identified in census data affects how local, state and federal voting districts are drawn. The growing number of states changing how they allocate census data on prisoners could shake things up in ways that voting-rights advocates say are just and overdue.


Pfizer-BioNTech says low dose of its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for kids 5-11” via Karen Weintraub of USA Today — Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11 at one-third the dose used in adolescents and adults. Many parents have eagerly awaited a vaccine for children who have returned to school amid a national wave of COVID-19 cases. Cases of COVID-19 in children have jumped about 240% since July. Children are less likely to become severely ill from COVID-19 than adults, but they can catch and pass on the virus and occasionally suffer serious disease and long-term consequences. The FDA and the CDC will need to sign off on the vaccine before it becomes available to children, but government officials have promised to review the data quickly.

Pfizer has made major headway in developing a vaccine for children. Image via AP.

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids may not be FDA authorized before November” via Jared S. Hopkins and Stephanie Armour of The Wall Street Journal — Regulatory clearance of the Pfizer vaccine for young children may not come until November, according to a person familiar with the matter, after the companies said they won’t ask for the green light for a few weeks. The companies said Tuesday they provided U.S. health regulators with data from a recent study of their vaccine in children 5 to 11 years old. They said they would file an application asking the FDA to authorize the use in the coming weeks, though they had previously targeted applying as early as the end of September. However, Pfizer may not finish its application until mid-October, which means the FDA may not make its decision until sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving.

COVID-19 cuts two years off the life expectancy of U.S. men” via Jason Gale of Bloomberg — American men lost 2.2 years of life expectancy last year because of COVID-19, the biggest decline among 29 nations in a study of the pandemic’s impact on longevity. Deaths among working-age men contributed the most to declining life spans in the U.S. Only Denmark and Norway, who have excelled at controlling their outbreaks, avoided drops in life expectancy across both sexes, the study published Sunday in the International Journal of Epidemiology found. Before the pandemic, life expectancy at birth had continuously increased in most countries for generations. COVID-19, though, “triggered a global mortality crisis,” the magnitude of which hasn’t been witnessed since World War II in Western Europe or the breakup of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe.


Spike in bond yields spooks investors, deflates tech stocks” via Damian J. Troise and Alex Veiga of The Associated Press — The S&P 500 fell 2%, its worst drop since May. The tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 2.8%, its biggest drop since March. The benchmark S&P 500 is down 3.8% so far this month. The selling came as a swift rise in Treasury yields forces investors to reassess whether prices have run too high for stocks. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for many kinds of loans, including mortgages, jumped to 1.54%. That’s its highest level since late June and up from 1.32% a week ago. Bond yields started rising last week after the Federal Reserve sent the clearest signals yet that the central bank is moving closer to begin withdrawing the unprecedented support it has provided for the economy throughout the pandemic.

Many are fearing that stock prices have run too high, leading the Fed to pull back pandemic support. Image via AP.

Bank mergers are on track to hit their highest level since the financial crisis” via Orla McCaffrey of The Wall Street Journal — It is a sharp turnaround from last year, when the economy spiraled, and many regional and community banks put merger plans on the shelf. Now, bank executives feel more certain about what the future holds, but some are finding it hard to make it on their own. Though the economy has in many ways recovered from 2020, loan demand is still low and profits from lending are slim. Banks have announced more than $54 billion in deals through late September, according to Dealogic. That puts industry mergers and acquisitions on pace for their biggest year since 2008, when some big banks had to sell themselves to stave off collapse. At this time last year, banks had announced just $17 billion in mergers.

Online used-car dealers thrive in market upended by pandemic” via Kyle Stock of Bloomberg — The used-car market has gone crazy over the past year, as social distancing and a global computer chip shortage have upended the auto industry, and companies such as Shift are thriving. The 3-year-old startup sold 10,323 vehicles in the first half of this year, triple the same period in 2020. Vroom, a competitor, doubled its business to 34,000 cars and trucks, while Carvana sold a record 200,272 vehicles. The online used-car trade isn’t new, but the upheaval of COVID-19 has changed the market significantly. “It’s not that there was a pandemic customer or a nonpandemic customer,” Vroom CEO Paul Hennessy said. “It’s just that there was an event that changed the way people thought about what they would have delivered to their home.”

Home-price growth hit record in July” via David Harrison and Nicole Friedman of The Wall Street Journal — The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, which measures average home prices in major metropolitan areas across the nation, rose 19.7% in the year that ended in July, up from an 18.7% annual rate the prior month. July marked the highest annual rate of price growth since the index began in 1987. “The last several months have been extraordinary not only in the level of price gains but in the consistency of gains across the country,” said Craig Lazzara, managing director and global head of index investment strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices. But the data suggest the market could be starting to cool. Price growth slowed slightly in three of the 20 cities tracked by the index: Detroit, Cleveland and Washington, D.C.


Network of right-wing health care providers is making millions off hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, hacked data reveals” via Micah Lee of The Intercept — America’s Frontline Doctors, a right-wing group founded last year to promote pro-Trump doctors during the coronavirus pandemic, is working in tandem with a small network of health care companies to sow distrust in the COVID-19 vaccine, dupe tens of thousands of people into seeking ineffective treatments for the disease, and then sell consultations and millions of dollars’ worth of those medications. The data indicate patients spent at least $15 million — and potentially much more — on consultations and medications combined. The data from the Cadence Health and Ravkoo sites was provided to The Intercept by an anonymous hacker who said the sites were “hilariously easy” to hack, despite promises of patient privacy. It was corroborated by comparing it to the publicly available information.

Members of America’s Frontline Doctors are working to sow vaccine doubt and help make millions in profits.

How COVID-19 misinformation created a run on animal medicine” via Erin Woo of The New York Times — For more than a year, misinformation that ivermectin is effective at treating or preventing the coronavirus has run rampant across social media, podcasts and talk radio. Even as the FDA has said the drug is not approved to cure COVID-19 and has warned people against taking it. The demand has strained the equine and livestock world. Jeffers, a national retailer of animal supplies, recently raised the price of ivermectin paste to $6.99 a tube from $2.99. Overwhelmed by orders, one farm supply store in Las Vegas started selling the medicine only to customers who could prove they had a horse. In California, a rancher was told the backlog of orders was so large that she was 600th in line for the next batch.

Restaurants and hotels push back against the uptick in customer tantrums” via Clare Ansberry of The Wall Street Journal — Restaurants and others in the hospitality business have long espoused “the customer is always right” and “all are welcome.” Now, many are rethinking that philosophy thanks to a surge in toxic customers and poor behavior. Some are choosing a more conciliatory approach, acknowledging inadequate staffing levels and asking for patience, but unapologetic about masking requirements and other public-health measures. Nearly all hotels, restaurants and other customer-facing businesses are talking with each other to ask what works, what doesn’t and attempting to find some way to improve the situation. “We’ve always been people-pleasers in the hospitality industry,” says Farouk Rajab, general manager of the Providence Marriott Downtown Hotel in Rhode Island. “The customer was always right. Well, they’re not.”

Behind Israel’s swift rollout of COVID-19 vaccine boosters” via Dov Lieber and Thomas Grove of The Wall Street Journal — Israel’s leaders have largely listened to the scientists, the advisers say, despite a protracted period of political turmoil that saw Prime Minister Naftali Bennett dislodge longtime leader Benjamin Netanyahu. The medical professionals who voted to approve booster shots were swayed by two studies. One was a Health Ministry analysis of Israeli data that showed those vaccinated in January through March were far more likely to get sick than those inoculated later. The second study pointed to the sharp rise in infections coming not only from the virulence of the delta variant, but also from the waning prevalence of antibodies in people who had been vaccinated. Pfizer said at the same time that its own research also showed that antibody levels were waning over time.

Boris Johnson says COVID-19 bereaved will have role in inquiry” via Pan Pylas of The Associated Press — British Prime Minister Johnson said Tuesday he will appoint a chair this year to the planned public inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic and that bereaved families will have a role in the proceedings. Following a “very emotional” meeting with the COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, Johnson said the experiences of those who have suffered a loss during the pandemic would form a major part of the public inquiry. The event, which took place more than a year after the prime minister promised to meet the bereaved, lasted just over an hour and took place outside at the request of the families. Five group members confirmed that Johnson told them they will have a say in who is appointed to chair the probe.

Boris Johnson is giving voice to families who lost loved ones to COVID-19. Image via AP.

Russia reports record daily coronavirus deaths” via Medical Xpress — A government tally reported 852 fatalities over the past 24 hours, a record in Russia since the start of the pandemic. Under a broader definition for deaths linked to the coronavirus, statistics agency Rosstat reported in late August that Russia had seen more than 350,000 fatalities. The world’s fifth worst-hit country with more than 7 million infections, Russia has seen cases climb since last month as vaccinations stall. Moscow, the epicenter of the outbreak, has experienced a spike over the past week, with authorities warning of rising hospital admissions. Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova has said that the highly contagious delta variant now accounts for all of the cases in the Russian capital.


Biden trust takes a blow as COVID-19 lingers” via Margaret Talev of Axios — For the first time in his presidency, Biden faces a trust deficit among Americans when it comes to COVID-19, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index. The latest findings point to malaise more than fear. But malaise could spell real trouble for a Democratic President who built his support on a pledge to steer the nation out of crisis — and whose party’s bare House and Senate majorities are on the line in 2022. 45% of those surveyed say they trust Biden a great deal or a fair amount to provide them with accurate information about the virus and pandemic, while 53% said they have little or no trust in him.

Joe Biden faces a lack of trust. Image via AP.

Biden canceling Chicago trip as his legislative agenda hangs in the balance” via Jeremy Diamond of CNN — Biden scrapped his travel plans following meetings Tuesday with Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona aimed at bridging the gap between the moderate senators and progressive lawmakers over the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation legislation and the fate of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal. The decision to stay in Washington is a sign of how critical the next two days will be in determining the fate of the centerpieces of Biden’s legislative agenda and the central role the President is playing in stewarding those negotiations. “There is a strong feeling that progress is being made,” a source familiar with the discussions said. “Our big gun is staying here.”

Top generals contradict Biden, say they urged him not to withdraw from Afghanistan” via Lara Seligman of POLITICO — Top generals told lawmakers under oath on Tuesday that they advised Biden early this year to keep several thousand troops in Afghanistan — directly contradicting the President’s comments in August that no one warned him not to withdraw troops from the country. The remarkable testimony pits top military brass against the commander in chief as the Biden administration continues to face tough questions about what critics are calling a botched withdrawal that directly led to the deaths of 13 American service members. Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services in a hearing Tuesday that he recommended maintaining a small force of 2,500 troops in Afghanistan earlier this year.

Biden’s vax mandate to be enforced by fining companies $70,000 to $700,000?” via Adam Andrzejewski of Forbes — Biden didn’t just announce a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on companies employing 100 or more people; he plans to enforce it. On Saturday, the House quietly tucked an enforcement mechanism into their $3.5 trillion “reconciliation” bill. Buried on page 168 of the House Democrats’ 2,465-page mega bill is a tenfold increase in fines for employers that “willfully,” “repeatedly,” or even seriously violate a section of labor law that deals with hazards, death, or serious physical harm to their employees. The increased fines on employers could run as high as $70,000 for serious infractions, and $700,000 for willful or repeated violations. If enacted into law, vax enforcement could bankrupt noncompliant companies even more quickly than the $14,000 OSHA fine anticipated under Biden’s announced mandate.


As Donald Trump hints at 2024 comeback, democracy advocates fear a ‘worst-case scenario’ for the country” via Ashley Parker of The Washington Post — Now, as Trump looks like he intends to mount a presidential campaign rerun, Democrats and democracy experts are grappling with what such a campaign would mean for the country. One real risk is that Trump and his supporters emerge in 2024 more sophisticated and successful in their efforts to steal an election. “For me, the scary part is, in 2020, this was not a particularly sophisticated misinformation or disinformation campaign,” said Matt Masterson, who ran election security at the Department of Homeland Security between 2018 to 2020. In the future, these sorts of falsehoods will become more advanced and nuanced, exploiting genuine areas of confusion in the electoral system, and thus harder to combat.

Donald Trump’s possible return sends a chill through those advocating for democracy.

Trump may not have to steal 2024” via David Frum of The Atlantic — The Biden administration’s numbers are slumping in the fall of 2021, opening the way for Republican gains in 2022 and the return of the twice-impeached ex-president as a presidential nominee. The troubles of the Biden administration could empower Senate, House, and state Republicans to restore Trump to office. If we’re heading toward a crisis of the republic, the mistakes and misfortunes of the anti-Trump coalition deserve mention as well. This is not a “both sides to blame” complaint. Only one side is “to blame” for the crisis: those willing to reelect a corrupt and authoritarian president, even by disenfranchising legal voters if that’s the only way to do it.

Stephanie Grisham’s book details Trump’s ‘terrifying’ temper” via Katie Rogers of The New York Times — Grisham, the former Trump White House press secretary perhaps best known for never holding a televised briefing with reporters, plans to release a tell-all book next week that accuses Trump of abusing his staff, placating dictators like Vladimir Putin of Russia, and making sexual comments about a young White House aide. “The truth was that pretty much everyone eventually wore out their welcome with the president,” Grisham writes. “We were bottles of milk with expiration dates.”

Trump loses case over ex-aide Omarosa Manigault Newman’s tell-all book” via Greg Farrell of Bloomberg — Trump lost his case seeking damages from Manigault Newman, an ex-White House aide who wrote a blistering 2018 book about him. Andrew Brown, the arbitrator who decided the case, said the nondisclosure agreement Trump was seeking to enforce against Manigault Newman was so vague as to be unenforceable. Brown, who issued his decision on Sept. 24 and sent it to Manigault Newman’s lawyers on Monday, said she could recover legal fees from the Trump campaign entity that first initiated the proceeding. “Nobody in her life has done more for Omarosa than a man named Donald Trump,” Trump said Tuesday. “Unfortunately, like certain others, she forgot all about that — which is fine with me!” He didn’t directly address the arbitrator’s decision.

Donald Trump notches a loss in the fight against Omarosa. Manigault Newman.

Oxbridge Academy, school of Barron Trump, closed amid health department probe” via Andrew Marra of The Palm Beach Post — Oxbridge Academy was closed Friday as the state Health Department conducted an investigation at the school. The upscale private school west of West Palm Beach sat empty while health investigators worked with school officials on an “epidemiological investigation.” “DOH-Palm Beach is currently working closely with Oxbridge Academy on this investigation,” health department spokesman Alex Shaw said. He declined to elaborate, saying that “epidemiological investigations are confidential.” The school campus and parking lot on Military Trail were empty Friday morning. The upscale school, which educates students from grades 7-12, made headlines last month when it enrolled Trump.


January 6 rioter who said she looked for Nancy Pelosi ‘to shoot her in the friggin’ brain’ pleads guilty to misdemeanor for illegally protesting” via Marshall Cohen of CNN — A Pennsylvania woman who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and said she had been looking for Pelosi “to shoot her in the friggin’ brain” pleaded guilty Tuesday to a low-level misdemeanor for unlawfully protesting on restricted grounds. Doylestown gym owner Dawn Bancroft entered the guilty plea in D.C. District Court and was immediately dressed down by a federal judge, who called the violent rhetoric caught in a video selfie “disturbing.” … “That’s really troubling. It’s horrible. It’s outrageous,” District Judge Emmet Sullivan said, before turning his attention to federal prosecutors and asking, “Does it not rise to the level of a threat?”

Dawn Bancroft threatens Nancy Pelosi at The Capitol riot, pleads guilty to a much lesser charge.

FBI arrests Syracuse man they say played a role in Jan 6 insurrection at U.S. Capitol” via Local Syracuse — The FBI has announced that a Syracuse man has been arrested in connection with the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. According to court documents, Richard Watrous told investigators he was inside the Capitol for about five minutes, during which he said he felt uneasy with the chaos of the scene, and walked out of the building to sit on the Capitol steps. The documents say Watrous then heard someone say they were going to Pelosi’s office before entering the building, and the man came back out crying, apparently having been pepper sprayed, and held a bottle of wine saying “Democratic Convention” that the man said was Pelosi’s.


‘Non-starter’: Dems tangle over how to raise the debt ceiling” via Burgess Everett and Heather Caygle of POLITICO — Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin says raising the debt ceiling via budget reconciliation is a “non-starter” that simply takes too long. Across the Capitol, his House counterpart Steny Hoyer put it differently: “Reconciliation is one option and that’s on the table.” Those mixed messages underscore the confusion among congressional Democrats about how the majority party and its slim majorities will avoid a potential default just three weeks away. Senate Republicans sank Democrats’ plan to fund the government into December and kick the debt limit through the 2022 midterms, and now they are about to block an effort from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to lift the debt ceiling by a majority vote on Tuesday.

The debt ceiling fight is filled with mixed messages. Image via AP.

Democrats hit impasse on Biden agenda, debt ceiling increase” via Erik Wasson, Laura Litvan, and Jarrell Dillard of Bloomberg — A group of progressive Democrats on Tuesday said they would defy Pelosi and oppose a bipartisan infrastructure bill in a planned Thursday vote without separate legislation for the bigger piece of Biden’s economic plans. In the Senate, Republicans for the second time in as many days blocked a Democratic move to raise the federal debt limit. Concern over the debt-ceiling impasse triggered a sell-off on Wall Street, with stocks suffering their worst rout since May. And still unresolved is the fate of a stopgap funding measure to prevent a government shutdown after the current fiscal year ends on Thursday. “Everybody’s waiting for Pelosi to pick another rabbit out of the hat. So, we’ll see,” U.S. Rep. Jimmy Gomez, a California Democrat, said.

Janet Yellen says Treasury could exhaust cash reserves by Oct. 18 if debt limit isn’t raised” via Nick Timiraos and Kate Davidson of The Wall Street Journal — Treasury Secretary Yellen told Congress that the Treasury would be unable to pay all of the government’s bills if lawmakers don’t raise or suspend the federal borrowing limit by Oct. 18. “At that point, we expect Treasury would be left with very limited resources that would be depleted quickly. It is uncertain whether we could continue to meet all the nation’s commitments after that date,” she said in a letter to congressional leaders on Tuesday morning. Senate Majority Leader Schumer on Tuesday attempted to pass a debt-limit increase with just a majority vote, which would have allowed Democrats to raise the ceiling on their own. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell objected, blocking the legislative maneuver and extending a high-stakes showdown in the Senate.

Rick Scott blasts ‘botched withdrawal’ from Afghanistan in Senate hearing” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — “The President has blamed everyone but himself for the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Scott said as he interrogated architects of the Afghanistan endgame during Tuesday’s meeting of the Armed Services Committee. The bulk of Scott’s inquiry focused on rhetorical questions and heated harangues toward Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. “When in the history of this country did we ever have a plan to take our military out before our civilians?” Scott asked. “There’s American citizens who are still there,” he continued. “Why would you propose a plan that didn’t get all American citizens out? Have we ever done that before?” Austin noted that “all citizens” typically aren’t evacuated at the end of a U.S. military operation.

Republicans post another attack on Stephanie Murphy” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Republicans launched another attack ad against U.S. Rep. Murphy, with the real subject being GOP opposition to the $3.5 trillion budget plan House Democrats are preparing to push. The Winter Park Democrat, for now, is a no vote on the package. Murphy said she has concerns about the bill’s spending and tax levels and the lack of specificity in much of the bill, which House leaders still are hammering out. Democratic leadership hopes she’s a soft no, looking to negotiate concessions as co-chair of the Blue Dog Coalition, a caucus of fiscally moderate Democrats. Republicans are a hard no.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Afghan refugees could resettle in South Florida soon” via Brooke Baitinger of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In the coming months, South Florida may be an unlikely landing place for an unknown number of Afghan refugees who fled the Taliban regime. According to local refugee assistance organizers it’s more common for Afghan refugees to resettle in areas with more affordable housing and more robust public transportation. Since Biden’s administration more than doubled the refugee cap to 125,000 starting Oct. 1, the organizers say they do anticipate some refugees resettling here. They’re ramping up their services with volunteers to support any families who may arrive. Refugee Assistance Alliance is beefing up services and training a team of volunteers who will help refugees learn about U.S. banking, credit, health care, schools and legal systems.


South Beach crime the ‘No. 1 issue’ in election. Is it perception or reality?” via Martin Vassolo and Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — Crime is the theme of the city’s Nov. 2 election, during which voters will choose whether to reelect a two-term mayor determined to break the city’s world-famous party scene, select two new commissioners and vote on a nonbinding ballot question that asks whether bars should be forced to close three hours earlier, at 2 a.m. Following an unruly spring break and the murders of two tourists, some candidates and incumbents are calling for stricter laws, stricter enforcement, and a blanket of police at night in South Beach. A year before COVID-19 closures interrupted tourism and commerce on the million-dollar sandbar, violent crime went down nearly 14.6% citywide.

Anna Maria Island expected to be most affected area in country by changes to flood insurance” via Derek Gilliam of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — When the federal government implements changes to the National Flood Insurance Program at the beginning of October, Anna Maria Island will be the most impacted in the country. More residences there than in any other ZIP code in America will see rate hikes of more than $1,200 per year on the barrier island at the southern tip of Tampa Bay. That number will only go up in coming years. Local real estate experts said impacts to Anna Maria Island and other affluent locations are not likely to be immediate nor large since many of the homeowners on these barrier islands have the means to absorb the financial hit.

Flood insurance increases are set to take effect in October, with Southwest Florida among the areas most impacted.

Four key dates in the search for Lee Schools new superintendent” via Rachel Fradette of the Fort Myers News-Press — Ken Savage, serving in the interim until the school board selects its next superintendent, was appointed by the school board in June. With a search firm managing the job posting and candidate recruitment, the Lee County school board has narrowed the timeline to fill the position. This week, the firm started meeting with community members and stakeholders to develop a profile for the job to be shared in its search.

Naples Fire Chief Pete DiMaria withdraws retirement after final pension vote” via Omar Rodriguez Ortiz of the Naples Daily News — Naples Fire Chief Pete DiMaria said he will not retire after City Council voted 5-2 in favor of an ordinance that will allow him to collect retirement benefits while earning a salary as fire chief. DiMaria had said he would retire effective Sept. 30 after City Council did not initially approve the ordinance last month. Councilmen Ted Blankenship, Ray Christman, Paul Perry, Gary Price and Mayor Teresa Heitmann voted to approve the ordinance, while Vice Mayor Terry Hutchison and Councilman Mike McCabe voted against it.

Pete DiMaria reserved the right to change his mind. Image via Naples Daily News/USA Today.

Collier County could see record year for tourism, but ‘competition is going to be fierce’” via Laura Layden of the Naples Daily News — Collier County remains on track to see a record year in tourism. While there’s reason to celebrate, the good news comes with words of caution, as the surge in visitation and visitor spending seen so far this year isn’t sustainable, said Paul Beirnes, the county’s tourism director. He warned the Collier County Tourist Development Council as much at its monthly meeting Monday. “The reality is competition is going to be fierce,” Beirnes said.

Venice Council asks Sarasota County to designate Laurel Road widening a priority” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The vote reaffirms a position taken by the council on Sept. 14, following a proposal by developer Pat Neal and his associates with the Economic Stimulus Working Group to complete the project for about $11 million. The resolution also asks Sarasota County to allocate impact fees for the road work. Sarasota County owns Laurel Road, and collects either impact fees or mobility fees assessed on new growth to help pay for such expansions. So essentially the council’s vote is a request for the Sarasota County Commission to designate the road as a priority project and commit those fees toward the widening.


After COVID-19, we are all going to need some help” via Michele L. Norris of The Washington Post — A year ago, I wrote about covertigo, a word I proposed to describe the constellation of symptoms associated with the pandemic lockdown. Like the virus itself, covertigo has a new variant and it is marked by confusion, confoundment and deja-vu-like dread. It comes with a feeling of being stuck forever in a box without a lid. The uncertainty, the loss of control, the fear of a deadly airborne contagion have understandably fried a lot of mental circuitry. We need to assess the psychological needs of children who have been deprived of teachers, friends, classroom learning, security and solace. The mental health needs are easy to spot.


DeSantis’ brazen assault on private property rights” via Bruce Ziff of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In Florida, the freedom of anti-vaccine dissenters has been vigilantly protected, so much so that an attempt to require a store customer to show proof of vaccination exposes that store’s owner to a fine of $5,000. The right to private property is treated as sacrosanct. Except, it seems, to DeSantis. In essence, the holder of private property has a right to control the use of a given asset. A property owner might wish to make certain that anyone entering their place of business has taken steps to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on their property. However, if you attempt to do so in Florida, you will be liable for a fine of $5,000. That’s an expensive freedom: It is clearly not free.

Florida Legislature can do even more to make us resilient to climate change and sea level rise” via Jon Paul “J.P.” Brooker for the Tampa Bay Times — As the Florida Legislature begins to reconvene in Tallahassee to prepare for the upcoming January session, we need our senators and representatives to maintain their focus on resilience and to continue to make advancements that address the biggest existential threat of a generation: climate change. As Sprowls enters the last year of his leadership term, I am looking forward to working with him and I encourage him to double down on his important efforts on resilience and flooding and to continue to pave the way for Florida to be a leader on climate issues.

Now Florida is rethinking measles and mumps vaccines in schools? Where does this end?” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — It’s no surprise that some of Florida’s leading politicians are opposed to mandatory vaccines for COVID-19. But it might surprise you to learn that some of them are now questioning other vaccine mandates that have been around for decades, to combat diseases like polio, measles, and the mumps. Sen. Manny Diaz said he wanted to ‘review’ existing vaccine mandates for Florida students. Yeah, why not let the mumps and measles back into our classrooms? After all, we’re all about “choice” and “freedom” here in Florida.


Gov. DeSantis is going after the Biden administration on immigration policy.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— DeSantis appoints former U.S. Attorney Keefe to be Florida’s public safety czar — tasked with stopping alleged criminal cartels from invading.

— As the Treasury Secretary warns the U.S. could run out of cash, Sen. Scott goes full partisan and lays the blame squarely on Democrats.

— The Sunrise interview is with Charles Gallagher, the lead attorney challenging the Governor’s ban on mask mandates in public schools. Gallagher gives an update on where the case currently stands and how his clients, parents of those students, are coping as they await a ruling.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Paying for Taco Bell with Dogecoin may soon be a reality” via Olga Kharif of Bloomberg — How about paying for your Taco Bell order with Dogecoin? Or some of Whole Food’s avocado ice cream with Bitcoin. That’s the goal of a new partnership between crypto payment processor BitPay and VeriFone, one of the world’s largest providers of those little machines you use to pay via a credit card or Venmo at a checkout line. Later this year, the newest VeriFone terminals will start accepting payments for U.S. merchants from a range of cryptocurrency wallets and tokens. “We just want to give consumers options,” VeriFone CEO Mike Pulli said. “If they decide to buy a pizza with Visa or Amex or crypto, we don’t care. We just want to give them the flexibility to pay the way they want to.”

Soon, you will be able to pay for groceries with crypto.

UCF to use national award to elevate women-owned businesses” via UCF News — Through UCF’s collaboration with the Florida High Tech Corridor, the university will be implementing an initiative funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration to help support women entrepreneurship. The Corridor was selected as one of eight winners for the administration’s first Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Catalyst Competition, which recognizes model partnerships addressing the gaps for underrepresented entrepreneurs nationwide. With its $150,000 prize, the Corridor team, which includes programs at UCF, the University of South Florida, University of Florida and Florida Tech, will elevate the role of underrepresented women-owned small businesses across the 23-county region’s innovation ecosystem by enhancing the inclusivity and participation of women entrepreneurs in the SBIR program.

Survey: Orlando ranks as most LGBTQ-friendly travel destination in U.S.” via Patrick Connolly of the Orlando Sentinel — Orlando is at the top of the list for most LGBTQ-friendly travel destinations in the United States, according to research from travel website ParkSleepFly. The rankings are based on anti-discrimination scores (using data from the Human Rights Campaign), LGBTQ events, safety, hotel prices and the number of bars and clubs. The City Beautiful has 40 bars and clubs per 100,000 people, many hotels to choose from, several annual LGBTQ events — including Come Out With Pride and Disney’s Gay Days — and is considered an accepting city. The survey also considers that Central Florida has a large LGBTQ population. Orlando ranks just ahead of Palm Springs, California, with an all-gay City Council and third-place winner Fort Lauderdale, home to LGBTQ hotels and guesthouses.

Orlando is the top destination for the LGBTQ+ community.

Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ reopens on Broadway” via CBS New York — Broadway is back, and Disney’s “Aladdin” is ready to spread a little magic. The musical, based on the Oscar-winning animated movie, first opened on Broadway in 2014. “Aladdin” resumes performances again Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the New Amsterdam Theatre. “We’re getting to tell the story we’ve been telling for a long time, but now in a new way,” actor Michael James Scott, who plays the Genie, told CBS2 earlier this month. Disney’s “The Lion King” returned on Sept. 14. Disney’s “Frozen” was also running on Broadway before shows closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, but it announced in May 2020 that it would not reopen.


Happy birthday to our friend Steve Schale, as well as former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, David Bishop and Brian Graham.


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.


  • Tom

    September 29, 2021 at 7:02 am

    Interesting, no mention again of 2000 new net jobs on Florida’s space coast. New manufacturing plant announced by Gov Ron, new jobs for future satellite production plant.

  • Tom

    September 29, 2021 at 7:40 am

    Of the up to 15,000 Haitian illegals, per DHS secretary Mayorkias, up to 20% carry disease.
    Being placed in country after illegal invasion.
    Obama even said yesterday, we are a sovereign country and can’t take illegals in. What a sell out by Biden. Good for Gov Ron!

Comments are closed.


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