Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.18.21

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

Good Monday morning.

She’s running.

Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo is set to formally announce her candidacy for the 2022 Governor’s race Monday during a news conference in Tallahassee.

Taddeo joins a Democratic Primary field that already includes U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a former Governor, and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. Taddeo would be the 10th Democrat to file paperwork in the Democratic Primary, as Democrats attempt to oust first-term Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Will Sen. Annette Taddeo be the 10th Democrat to join the Florida Governor’s race? Photo via Colin Hackley.

Taddeo is holding a news conference at 9:15 a.m. outside the R.A. Gray Building, home to the Department of State, where she’s expected to make her run official.

In May, Taddeo confirmed she was weighing a possible run for Governor. In the months since, Taddeo has increasingly directed criticism toward Gov. DeSantis and ramped up her fundraising operation. Her PC also brought on additional staff in early October.

Taddeo served as the Democratic Lieutenant Governor candidate in 2014. That year, Crist was the Democratic nominee for Governor. The Democrats lost by one point to former Gov. Rick Scott.

Taddeo’s decision to enter the race will now pit her against her former running mate.

She has served in the Senate since winning a 2017 Special Election for the Senate District 40 seat. In 2018, she earned reelection to her first full term.

—”South Florida Democrat Annette Taddeo poised to enter Florida Governor’s race” via John Kennedy of The Palm Beach Post


Fried has made three new major hires in her campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Cramer Verde will serve as political director for Fried’s campaign. Fried is also hiring Drew Godinich as her communications director and Nwabufo “Obi” Umunna as a campaign adviser.

“I’m incredibly proud of the diverse, talented team we are building here to take Florida back and bring fresh, new ideas to the capital,” Fried said in a statement announcing the moves.

Nikki Fried brings in some heavy hitters.

“Florida deserves leadership that is accountable to the people — not to the corrupt, entrenched special interests that have dominated Tallahassee for decades. Our team will deliver that change.”

Verde is a previous political director for LULAC Florida and was a regional political director for the Joe BidenKamala Harris presidential ticket in 2020.

Godinich joins Fried’s team following a stint as the deputy communications director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He also worked as a senior communications adviser during Shontel Brown‘s run for U.S. House in Ohio.

During the 2020 presidential election, Godinich served as the western states communications director for Mike Bloomberg‘s team.

Umunna is a graduate of the University of Florida Levin College of Law. During the 2020 cycle, Umunna worked as the North Florida political director for Biden. He was also a consultant during Andrew Gillum‘s 2018 gubernatorial bid, which saw Gillum come up just short against DeSantis.

—“Why Democrats need Nikki Fried to win back lost ground in Miami-Dade County.


A new ‘State of Emergency’ is here!

This week, hosts Jared Moskowitz and I welcome Rep. Jay Trumbull, the Bay County native who serves in Panhandle’s House District 6. Trumbull is also House Appropriations Chair for the 2022 Legislative Session, which is expected to craft a whopping $100 billion budget — the largest in the state’s history.

Hear us talk about the challenge of hosting a podcast in a hospital waiting room, as my wife Michelle awaited surgery. Jay discusses the progress in rebuilding the Panhandle three years after Hurricane Michael and how the region will be coming back better. We also touch on Florida’s unprecedented growth, the need for more services and discretionary money, and having a billion-dollar rainy day reserve for unforeseen circumstances (like a pandemic).

Jay Trumbull drops in on a new State of Emergency.

Jay also gives us a glimpse into the frenzy of budget meeting time and working across the aisle with Democrats (and the impact they have through budgets), as well as having fond memories of lawmakers from the other party (like Rep. Ramon Alexander).

We also look at the most exciting part of the budgetary process — eight days of sprinkles!

For the perfect drive time listen, check out the new episode: Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts and Spotify.


The 25th Annual Phil Galvano Golf Classic, hosted by former Senate President Bill Galvano and family, was held at The Resort at Longboat Key Club in Longboat Key this weekend.

Over the last 25 years, the annual charity event has raised approximately $12 million to benefit the students and teachers at Manatee County public schools through the work of the Manatee Education Foundation. This year, in addition to a spirited round of golf at the Ron Garl-designed Links on Longboat Course, the event also featured a special high wire performance by the world-famous Nik Wallenda.

Spotted at the event: Gov. DeSantis, CFO Jimmy Patronis, Commissioner Richard Corcoran, Secretary of State Laurel Lee and former Senate President Tom Lee, former Senate President Andy Gardiner, former House Speaker Dean Cannon, Reps. Fiona McFarland, Will Robinson, Bob Rommell, Seminole Tribe Chairman Marcellus Osceola and Bill Osceola, Dan Malasky and Adam Smith from the Tampa Bay Bucs, and Manatee County Commissioners George Kruse and Carol Whitmore.


Sunrise Consulting Group announced Monday that Andrew Kalel is joining the firm as a government affairs consultant.

Kalel started in the new role on Oct. 1, filling the position vacated by Sam Wagoner. He has worked in and around state government for the better part of a decade, most recently as legislative affairs director for a set of criminal justice state offices.

Kalel launched his career in state government as an undergraduate in college, holding positions with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, in the Secretary’s office of the Florida Lottery, and as a court-appointed auditor for the Justice Administrative Commission.

In these roles, he was exposed to executive decision-makers and the workflow process of large state agencies with multimillion-dollar budgets impacting everyday Floridians. He also interned for the Florida Sheriffs Association, the House of Representatives, and with Security First Insurance Company, a top-five Florida-based property insurance company.

Andrew Kalel gets a new gig at Sunrise Consulting.

After college, Kalel leveraged his knowledge of state government to work in the private sector in a project management position under Jason Gonzalez at Shutts & Bowen. There he supported large government affairs projects for the firm by liaising with the Executive Office of the Governor, as well as assisting with tracking legislation and gathering and analyzing political research.

He holds both an insurance adjuster and broker license and has experience working as a catastrophe adjuster after Hurricane Matthew, and as a daily claims adjuster. He continues to stay abreast of insurance public policy, and emerging industry trends.

Kalel will work out of Sunrise Consulting’s Tallahassee office.


@WhiteHouse: The cost of the Build Back Better Agenda is $0. The President’s plan won’t add to our national deficit, and no one making under $400,000 per year will see their taxes go up a single penny. It’s fully paid for by ensuring big corporations and the very wealthy pay their fair share.

@Jim_Jordan: Christmas presents were never late when President (Donald) Trump was in charge.

@RepValDemings: I hope that every American will join me in prayer and thanks for all that our law enforcement officers do to keep us safe. #PoliceWeek

@MaxNordau: From “she was told to falsify data” to “Florida openly did something that had nothing to do with (Rebekah) Jones” For #BlueAnon, Jones is just a Rorschach test for whatever they think DeSantis is doing wrong.

Tweet, tweet:

@MaryEllenKlas: @SenJanetCruz pointedly asks @HealthyFla: “As a state, are we playing a Squid Game here, where only the strong survive? We’re working toward herd immunity rather than try to save as many lives as possible. It seems like we’re trying to save as many businesses as possible.”

@Angie_Dixon: I’m looking forward to the Jaguars winning the rest of the season! Mark my words.

Tweet, tweet:


’Dune’ premieres — 4; ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ returns — 6; World Series Game 1 — 8; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 9; Florida TaxWatch’s annual meeting begins — 9; Georgia at UF — 12; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 15; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Primary — 15; The Blue Angels 75th anniversary show — 18; Disney’s ’Eternals’ premieres — 18; ’Yellowstone’ Season 4 begins — 20; ’Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 21; U.S. to lift restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers — 21; Miami at FSU — 24; ‘Hawkeye’ premieres — 27; ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 31; FSU vs. UF — 40; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 44; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 50; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 53; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 60; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 65; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 72; CES 2022 begins — 79; NFL season ends — 83; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 85; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 85; Florida TaxWatch’s 2022 State of the Taxpayer Day — 86; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 88; NFL playoffs begin — 89; Super Bowl LVI — 118; Daytona 500 — 125; St. Pete Grand Prix — 132; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 137; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 159; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 203; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 221; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 227; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 263; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 275; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 354; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 382; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 389.


COVID-19 cases in Florida continue to dive but deaths continue to pile up” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Florida is very close to a low point in weekly counts of new COVID-19 cases not seen since before the delta variant emerged but deaths from the summer surge continue to pile up in numbers rarely seen before the summer of 2021. Florida’s latest COVID-19 Weekly Situation Report records a seven-day increase of just 18,807 new cases statewide in the week ending Thursday. That total is in the range Florida was tabulating each week in late May, June, and the first report in July, back when Florida’s coronavirus crisis appeared to be over. While the latest report confirms the dramatic downward trend of new cases, now reaching pre-summer surge levels, the lagging wave of death reports remains high, exposing the grim results of the summer surge.

COVID-19 cases drop as deaths continue to climb. Image via AP.


Florida law enforcement requests more time from lawmakers to apply for PTSD workers’ comp” via WFLA — Police chiefs and sheriffs from across the Sunshine State are calling on lawmakers to allow more time for their officers to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits when it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Police say the limited period has made it near impossible for officers to qualify. Clearwater Police Chief Daniel Slaughter said the number of officers suffering from post-traumatic stress is greatly underestimated. Only three years ago PTSD was added as a recognized line of duty injury covered by workers’ comp. Still, many are slipping through the cracks. Walton County Sheriff Michael Atkinson told state lawmakers of a deputy sheriff who had survived a shootout.

Lawmakers look to make it easier to declare boats ‘derelict’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — After moving forward with a bill last Session cracking down on derelict boats, Sen. Travis Hutson and Rep. Tyler Sirois are back with legislation giving state officials additional tools to deal with the issue. The new bills (SB 494, HB 323) allow the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) or law enforcement agencies to declare a boat “derelict” if it is “tied to an unlawful or unpermitted mooring or other structure.” The legislation also adds a provision clarifies a portion of state law that allows officials to set up zones within a spring to restrict boat speed and the mooring, beaching or grounding of boats. The new language states those zones may be set up whenever “substantial, competent evidence shows that demonstrable harm has been caused by vessel activity” in that spring.

Travis Hutson and Tayler Sirois are looking to clean up derelict boats.

Danny Burgess proposes teaching social media literacy in Florida schools” via Gary White of The Ledger — Students in Florida’s public schools would devote attention to social media in the classroom if a bill proposed by a Polk County legislator gains traction next year. Sen. Danny Burgess, a Zephyrhills Republican, filed a bill Wednesday that would require public schools to include “social media literacy” in their curriculum. Burgess, a father of three children under age 10, said he wants students to gain a better awareness of the hazards they might encounter on popular internet platforms and mobile applications.

Happening today — House Minority Co-leader Evan Jenne is hosting a media availability, 9 a.m. Zoom link here. The Florida Channel will also livestream the event.

Happening today — The Senate Reapportionment Committee discusses redistricting, 10 a.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.

Happening today — Sen. Darryl Rouson and Rep. Tracie Davis host a media event to address victims of abuse at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and the Florida School for Boys at Okeechobee, 11 a.m., Fourth Floor, The Capitol.

Happening today:

—“Florida confirms flaws with handling of child welfare complaints following USA Today story” via Suzanne Hirt of The Gainesville Sun

Parkland Commissioner Jordan Isrow joins Government Law Group” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Isrow has joined the newly-formed Government Law Group (GLG) as a partner. Isrow won the election for the District 2 seat on the Parkland Commission in Nov. 2020. He earned his J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law before beginning a career as an attorney. He’ll now join GLG, which lawyers Keith Poliakoff and Neil Schiller founded earlier this year. “From his time as general counsel to his significant experience litigating in state and federal court, to his role as Commissioner for the city of Parkland, Jordan brings a wealth of experience and wide-ranging perspectives to Government Law Group and its clients,” said Keith Poliakoff, founding partner of Government Law Group.

Rest in peace‘Bill’ Hager, former Boca City Council member and state Rep, dies at age 74” via Dale King of The Boca Raton Tribune — A memorial service will be held Monday morning in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, for Hager, a former member of the Boca Raton City Council and eight-year member of the Florida House of Representatives from the Boca-Delray area, who died Wednesday, Oct. 13 at Sanford Health in Fargo, North Dakota. His lengthy career included jobs as a teacher, an expert trial witness and a lawyer. He arrived in Boca Raton in 1990 and, 12 years later, won a term on the City Council. He would continue to serve on that board for six years and was Deputy Mayor in 2004 and 2005. He served eight years in the Florida House of Representatives, beginning as the rep from District 87 and continuing in the realigned District 89. His service spanned the period from 2010 to 2018.


Assignment editors: Gov DeSantis will hold a press conference at American Aviation Flight Academy in Brooksville. 8:45 a.m. Ed. Commissioner Richard Corcoran and Senate President Wilton Simpson are expected to attend.

Ron DeSantis suspends debt collections for unemployment overpayments ‘indefinitely’” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Facing criticism over the latest unemployment debacle, DeSantis ordered the state’s jobless agency not to send Floridians to debt collectors if they’ve been issued an “overpayment” notice for their unemployment claims. In the last several months, thousands of Floridians who filed for unemployment benefits have been mailed notices from the Department of Economic Opportunity stating they must pay back sometimes thousands of dollars or face being sent to debt collectors. The notices have been stressful for Floridians because the papers seldom say why the recipient owes the state money or how the amount was calculated. Sometimes the notices are sent out after the deadline to appeal them.

Ron DeSantis keeps unemployment overpayments from going to collections. Image via Jimmy Patronis/Twitter.

—“DeSantis offers state ports to help end supply-chain crisis” via CBS Miami

—“DeSantis blasts ‘bad juju’ with proposals to ‘snoop’ into bank transactions, miles driven” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

—”DeSantis announces $5.8M investment in Immokalee Technical College” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

—”DeSantis announces $1.7 million North Port infrastructure grant” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Inflation, employment pains on watch as Florida continues besting economic projections” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The Sunshine State is still in recovery mode, says Florida’s top economist, even if the state continues to overperform economic projections. The latest Long-Range Financial Outlook report increased prior general revenue estimates by more than $1 billion a year through the 2024-25 fiscal year. For the current fiscal year, the general revenue estimate increased $2.3 billion up to $36.3 billion. Amy Baker, the coordinator of the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research, told senators a series of factors keep Florida’s economic recovery unbalanced even as top-line figures repeatedly overperform expectations. Despite the declining rate by which Florida outpaces recovery expectations, the state continues to outperform the nation on GDP, personal income and job creation.

Critics question proposed ban on Florida Bar investigating sitting constitutional officers” via Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel — Critics are questioning a proposal from the Florida Bar that would ban the organization from investigating complaints against sitting constitutional officers. The Florida Supreme Court has final consideration over the amendment, which Bar staff argue is a clarification, not a change, to a situation where the Bar currently has no jurisdiction. The Bar’s Board of Governors signed off on the measure in July after it sailed through a committee on disciplinary procedures unanimously. Critics question the proposal’s timing, which comes months after Ashley Moody was publicly chided for joining a Texas lawsuit challenging Biden’s win in the 2020 election, leading some to call for her disbarment.

Happening today — The Foundation of Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity host the two-day Florida Cyber Forum with Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, Attorney General Moody, and Rep. Mike Giallombardo, 11:30 a.m. Port Tampa Bay, 1101 Channelside Drive, Tampa.


State reports 2,576 new cases, increases death count by one” via David Schutz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida reported 2,576 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday as the seven-day average dropped to its lowest point since July 5. The state also increased its death count by one. Florida counts deaths by the day they occur, not the day they are reported, and it can take two weeks or more for a death to be reflected in the data. The seven-day average for deaths was 186 on Saturday, unchanged for the third day in a row. There have been 3,623,046 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, and at least 57,712 Floridians have died since the start of the pandemic. As of Wednesday, 3,153 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Florida, a 24.9% decrease from the previous week.

For 105 days, COVID-19’s death toll in Florida counties went missing” via Ian Hodgson of the Tampa Bay Times — On June 4, state officials switched to weekly reports and started withholding data once available to the public. Instead of including county deaths in its weekly reports, the state directed the public to find that information via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the CDC relied on Florida’s online portal of COVID-19 data — which the state also took down in June. The number of people dying in each Florida county went missing from June 4 through Sept. 17. Now that data is available, and it shows how many people died in Tampa Bay: A total of 4,437 residents in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Manatee, Polk, Hernando and Citrus counties died over four months.

For 105 days, Floridians had no idea how many of their neighbors were dying of COVID-19. Image via AP.

DeSantis: Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate is divisive” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — DeSantis lashed out Friday against Biden, characterizing the forthcoming federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate as a harmful and divisive ultimatum. Speaking in Naples, the Republican Governor rebuked the order and questioned Biden’s calls for unity. With livelihoods of roughly 100 million Americans hanging in the balance, the nation’s high political tensions, he suggested, are no surprise. DeSantis’ tirade marks the latest dust-up between the 2024 presidential prospect and the Democratic leader. The pair have repeatedly locked horns over an array of issues, including vaccine mandates and the border crisis. Biden’s plans will affect millions of Americans, including health care workers, federal contractors, and two-thirds of the private sector.

State withholds Leon County School Board salaries over mask policy” via Ana Goñi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat — Richard Corcoran withheld the salaries of all Leon County School Board members Friday, even though the district walked back its COVID-19-induced mask rule this week. In a letter to the district, Corcoran said that even though parents have the ultimate authority on whether their child wears a mask to school under the new local policy, it also requires asymptomatic children to wear a mask if they wish to return to school during the seven-day quarantine period. That, he said, does not comply with the state’s own new emergency rule. The department is withholding about $17,000 altogether each month.

State readies sanctions to Alachua County Public Schools over classroom mask mandate” via Gershon Harrell of The Gainesville Sun — Alachua County Public Schools leaders remain steadfast on not withdrawing their masking policy and argue the district is in compliance with the Florida Department of Health’s Emergency rule allowing parents to decide whether their student should wear a face covering. The district responded to the state in a letter sent Thursday, 48 hours after the state Commissioner sent his letter to the district, documenting the yearly salary for each board member, which is $40,287. Collectively the five board members make $201,435, the letter reads.

DeSantis may strip lawsuit protection from businesses requiring COVID-19 vaccinations” via Michael Moline of Florida Phoenix — DeSantis is considering asking the Legislature to allow employees to sue bosses who require them to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and to remove the state’s litigation shield from businesses that require them of workers and customers. “If a business forces somebody to do this, then that employee, if there’s anything that happens negative as a result of that coercion, you know, they should be able to go in and then sue and get compensation, get damages for that,” the governor said. The governor argued that vaccine mandates are misguided because the shots are no guarantee against infection and may not be necessary for people who acquire resistance through infections.

DeSantis touts pandemic policies during speech to Sarasota GOP” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — As Florida emerges from another brutal wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, DeSantis fired up a GOP crowd in Sarasota Friday with a strident defense of his less restrictive approach to the pandemic, declaring: “We stand here in Florida as the focal point of freedom in this country.” Speaking to a crowd of nearly 700 at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota, DeSantis portrayed his battle against public health mandates aimed at fighting COVID-19 as an effort to protect individual liberties. The governor cited the example of America’s Founding Fathers, saying they knew “the minute you give up a little freedom, you’re basically giving up all your freedom.”

Florida ‘vaccine passport’ law could generate millions in fines, but confusion about it reigns” via Steven Lemongello and David Fleshler of the Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun-Sentinel — DeSantis has been warning governments, organizations and businesses that the state would impose fines for violating its ban on COVID-19 “vaccine passports.” But in the past week, the state not only revealed just how steep fines would be but also the wide net of its potential targets. The Department of Health levied a $3.57 million fine on Leon County on Tuesday for its employee vaccine requirement. Leon was just one of the 120 entities, ranging from local governments to small businesses to arts centers, which could face fines ranging from $65,000 a week for a North Florida yoga business to $100 million for a Harry Styles concert in Orlando.

Floridians embrace COVID-19 antibody treatment” via the Tribune News Service — It isn’t just people who are unvaccinated using Florida’s 25 monoclonal antibody treatment clinics. About 45% of the more than 135,000 people who have received the COVID-19 treatment were fully vaccinated, state officials estimate. In parts of the state with higher vaccination rates, such as Miami-Dade County, the percentage has been vaccinated people with breakthrough cases, and mild symptoms need to get monoclonal antibody treatment? The question of who should be prioritized is drawing debate in the medical community. The pricy drug cocktail is free to patients but costs taxpayers about $2,100 per dose. The treatment is lifesaving for at-risk people who aren’t vaccinated, reducing the chance of hospitalization by as much as 70%.

Florida is warming up to monoclonal antibody treatments.

Resident deaths, nursing home staffing shortages up” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — A new AARP report shows a grim assessment of Florida’s nursing homes. The COVID-19 Nursing Home Dashboard Report found that resident deaths spiked 22% over four weeks, and staffing shortages continue to mount. With 289 resident deaths reported during the four-week period ending Sept. 19, Florida ranked first in the nation in the number of nursing home residents who died from COVID-19 during that time span. Florida’s total represents 14% of the 2,131 COVID-19 nursing home deaths nationwide during that four-week period.

Threats, shouts and black flags: Anger about face masks leads to tense school board meetings” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Anger about face masks turned Orange County School Board meetings into tense affairs in recent months, with shouts of “Y’all are Nazis!” hurled at board members, a black pirate flag unfurled by a man at the speaker’s podium, and guns, knives and tasers confiscated from those trying to enter the board room. At other Central Florida school board meetings, crowds booed, heckled and shouted and police, now stationed in greater numbers in some board rooms, removed the most unruly from the chambers. A Brevard County school board member made national news this week after describing publicly how protesters harassed her and told her she needed to “beg for mercy.” “We’re in a really tough time right now,” said Angie Gallo, a member of the Orange School Board.

Judge wary of ordering Palm Beach Gardens hospital to give ivermectin to COVID-19 patient” via Jane Musgrave of The Palm Beach Post — A Palm Beach County judge Friday struggled with the question of whether he has the power to order Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center to give a grievously ill Loxahatchee woman a drug that hasn’t been approved for use to treat people with COVID-19. While attorneys representing Tamara Drock’s husband said other judges in Florida had ordered the use of the parasite-fighting drug ivermectin over hospitals’ objections, Circuit Judge James Nutt said state law is unclear. Further, he said, allowing judges to countermand doctors’ decisions could set a dangerous precedent.

— 2022 —

What Bridget Ziegler is reading — “Moms for Liberty has turned ‘parental rights’ into a rallying cry for conservative parents” via Tim Craig of The Washington Post — The three-dozen women who showed up at the Brevard County school board meeting last week wore identical “Moms for Liberty” T-shirts, declaring they don’t “CO-PARENT with the GOVERNMENT.” The organization is channeling a powerful frustration among conservative mothers, who feel increasingly sidelined by school administrators and teachers. And their targets are sprawling. A Moms for Liberty chapter in Tennessee questioned whether a textbook that included a photograph of two sea horses mating was too risqué for elementary schools.

Moms for Liberty have the new call to arms for conservative parents.

Republican Governor ‘Frenemies’ compete for national limelight” via Michael Smith and Jonathan Levin of Bloomberg Quint — It only took a few hours for DeSantis to deliver his rejoinder this week to Texas Governor Greg Abbott. On Monday evening, Abbott had used his executive powers to ban employers from mandating COVID-19 shots, and half a day later, DeSantis was floating new legislation to effectively do the same. It’s a tit-for-tat that’s been playing out for months between the best-known Republican governors in the U.S. and potential presidential candidates in 2024. Abbott and DeSantis, both lawyers by trade, have followed similar political playbooks over the past few years when it comes to showing their conservative bona fides, from banning mask mandates in schools, to calling for harsh clampdowns on undocumented immigrants.

Dems find their anti-Marco Rubio warrior in Val Demings” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO — A panicked question gripped Florida Democratic insiders this summer as Biden’s approval numbers began to fade and eyes turned toward the midterm election horizon: Where’s Demings? For months, Demings seemed nowhere to be found, eschewing local press and small political events typical for this election off-year and avoiding the national media glare in Washington. Now Demings has an answer for her whereabouts: She was campaigning almost exclusively on Facebook, growing an army of small-dollar donors across the nation on her way to raising a staggering $8.5 million in the most recent fundraising quarter. $2.4 million more than Rubio reported and more than any Senate challenger in the country between July and October.

Taddeo unveils new staff for political committee” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Fight Back Florida has hired some high-powered talent: Jackie Lee, senior adviser. Her resume includes leadership roles for both Obama’s election and reelection campaigns, successful campaigns for constitutional amendments to stop gerrymandering and to restore felons’ voting rights. Allison Clark, senior campaign coordinator. Her bragging rights include a campaign defeating a 16-year-incumbent in the Hillsborough State Attorney’s race and founding Black & Blu Research. Millie Raphael, senior coalitions adviser. She founded Progress for Florida, which helped Crystal Wagar become Miami Shores’ first Black female Mayor. Stephanie Bromfield, senior coalitions advisory. She is an outreach consultant credited with key wins in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, including Daniella Levine Cava.

Charlie Crist talks about legalizing marijuana, community development in Pensacola visit” via Alex Miller of the Pensacola News Journal — Crist closed out his weeklong “Justice for All” tour Friday in Pensacola’s Belmont-DeVilliers neighborhood, where he met with local Black leaders and business owners. Topics discussed ranged from engaging younger voters to supporting public education to ensuring safe voting conditions. “I could be anywhere in Florida today. I’m not anywhere in Florida today. I’m right here with you,” said Crist, who is currently the Democratic Congressman representing Pinellas County, during the Pensacola campaign stop. The former Republican governor who switched parties in 2012 has been touring the state to promote his “Justice for All” plan in a bid to return to the governor’s mansion.

Eric Lynn finishes September with most cash on hand in CD 13 race” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Lynn will enter October with the most cash on hand among all six candidates racing for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Lynn, a former national security adviser to President Barack Obama, currently has $634,528 in available spending money, a total boosted by $140,371 left over from the previous campaigning. Since entering the race in May, Lynn has raised $589,417, the second-highest total of the race’s candidates. Lynn collected $220,593 in Q3. The candidate has kept spending relatively restrained, only dishing out $95,260 so far.

Race for Hastings’ Florida seat turns into muddled mess. And there may be a repeat in 2022” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — But many observers and some of the candidates themselves are steeling themselves for the likelihood that the election won’t garner a huge turnout — and that the large number of challengers means the votes will be split between almost a dozen hopefuls. The lead candidate could wind up winning by a few hundred votes. That leaves open the real possibility that any candidate who loses by a small margin will mount a challenge in the August 2022 Democratic primary. Other candidates who sat out the crowded race this time could also jump into the 2022 contest when the voter turnout will likely be much larger.

Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida endorses Omari Hardy in CD 20” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida (DPCF) is backing Hardy in the closing weeks of the Democratic Primary in Florida’s 20th Congressional District. Hardy is one of 11 Democrats running for the party’s nomination in the Nov. 2 Special Election to replace the late U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings. Hardy left his post in the Florida House halfway into his first term to enter the CD 20 contest and has positioned himself along the field’s left flank. That earned the attention of DPCF President Carolina Ampudia and Campaigns Chair Mike Bonacolta.

Ileana Garcia nears $300K for SD 37 defense, challenger Janelle Perez opens with $178K” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Incumbent Sen. Garcia came close in September to reaching $300,000 raised to defend her seat representing Senate District 37. Her opponent, Perez, reported raising about $178,000 in her first full month in the race, but her campaign says she has much more pending transfer from her canceled congressional bid. Garcia added more than $47,000 last month between her campaign proper and political committee, No More Socialism. About a quarter of that gain was from the legal, lobbying and government affairs sector.

—“Fred Hawkins pulls in $50K for HD 42 reelection” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Republican Jay J. Rodriguez enters HD 49 contest” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Rodriguez, a longtime conservative radio talk show host in Orlando and Republican Puerto Rican activist on a national basis, has filed to run in House District 49, seeking a matchup with Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith. Rodriguez entered the contest mincing no words about Smith, a leader of the House progressive Democrats and founder of the Legislative Progressive Caucus. Rodriguez accused him of doing nothing except pursuing progressive bills that have no chance in the Florida Legislature. “We gotta get the radical progressives out of Tallahassee,” Rodriguez said. Rodriguez wants to promote more infrastructure spending, particularly in HD 49, where he said some of the roads “have potholes the size of craters.”

—”Angel Perry draws another union endorsement in HD 50 contest” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

—”Jennifer Wilson launches HD 66 race with $23K self-funding” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

First on #FlaPol — “Nick Duran won’t seek fourth term in Florida House” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Rep. Duran is declining to run for reelection next year, opting against a fourth and final term representing parts of Miami-Dade County. Duran announced his decision Friday morning in a statement sent to his House colleagues. “As we approach the 2022 Legislative Session, I wanted to share with you — who I serve with so proudly — that this upcoming session will be my last as a member of the Florida House of Representatives.” Duran confirmed he will complete his third term in the House, which he earned with a 6-point win last November. That will take him through next year’s Legislative Session.

—”Demi Busatta Cabrera hits fundraising record for the second month in a row” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics

Michael Grieco adds $14K in September for HD 113 reelection, opponent nil” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Rep. Grieco had his best fundraising month this election cycle in September, when he took in nearly $14,000 from a mixture of donors, including law firms, agriculture groups, political committees and beer businesses. A Democrat and Miami Beach-based criminal defense lawyer, Grieco now holds just over $38,000 to defend his House District 113 seat next year. His sole opponent, Republican Antonio Byrdsong, has less than $23 in a campaign that has been fully self-funded since its August launch. Grieco’s biggest gains last month came from the law, lobbying and government relations sector. Grieco spent just $41 last month on general bookkeeping costs.

Happening tonight:


MeanwhileJacksonville race for Mayor in 2023 has already raised $5 million: ‘It’s bonkers’” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — The election of the next Jacksonville Mayor is 17 months away; but, supporters of declared and potential candidates have already pumped $5 million into the race. “It’s bonkers,” said Michael Binder, director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF. The feverish fundraising heated up even more in September when City Council member LeAnna Cumber‘s exploration of a run collected $962,000 in the first month for her Jax First political committee. Jax Chamber CEO Daniel Davis, who has not officially announced, has amassed the biggest stash. His Building a Better Economy political committee raked in $2.75 million from January through the end of September.

Michelle McGovern adds $24.5K in Palm Beach County Commission race, edges Matt Willhite” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — McGovern raised $24,500 in September, narrowly topping Willhite in the Palm Beach County Commission District 6 seat. Willhite brought in just over $24,100 during September. The two are competing in a four-person field to succeed term-limited Commissioner Melissa McKinlay. Sylvia L. Sharps is also running as a Democrat, while Sara Baxter is competing as a Republican. McGovern had collected more cash than Willhite since April when both candidates entered the contest. But Willhite retains an overall cash lead thanks to the money he brought over from previous House runs via his political committee, Floridians for Public Safety.

Brevard Supervisor of Elections Lori Scott: ‘Politics has very short memories’” via Britt Kennerly of Florida Today — Any election year, even one without a pandemic and a presidential matchup on the ballot, is busy enough for Scott. She’s proud of Brevard voters. Proud of her office’s performance year after year. Proud of the county’s spot at the head of the pack for voter turnout in Florida’s 16 largest counties. But almost a year since a contentious contest that saw Biden defeat incumbent Trump for the presidency, and with four elections coming up in the next year, she’s still busy working to quell misinformation that continues to rage nationwide over the outcome. She said her office will not conduct such an audit unless ordered to do so by DeSantis or the secretary of state. By statute, Brevard does logic and accuracy tests before every election in a public meeting, she said.


FDA panel endorses shot of J&J booster for adults” via Tina Reed of Axios — Members of the FDA’s vaccine expert panel on Friday unanimously endorsed a booster shot for adult recipients of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine at least two months after the initial dose. The advisory committee raised concerns about a dearth of data to support their decision but ultimately decided to support an additional shot for those over 18. Johnson & Johnson had asked the FDA to approve a booster shot of its one-dose COVID-19 vaccine for people 18 years and older. Already, the FDA panel endorsed boosters for Moderna recipients who are at high risk of severe COVID-19, occupational exposure to COVID-19, or are 65 years and older.

These Republicans torpedoed vaccine edicts — then slipped in the polls” via Lisa Kashinsky of POLITICO — Republican Governors crusading against vaccine mandates are facing significantly lower approval ratings on their handling of the coronavirus pandemic than their counterparts. But they’re not worried. From Florida to Texas to South Dakota, GOP governors have been on the front lines of the war against vaccine mandates, barring immunization requirements in their states and threatening to fight Biden’s federal vaccine mandate in court. Just last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott flat-out banned vaccine requirements, and DeSantis followed up by vowing to sue the Biden administration. The coronavirus approval rating drops to 42% for Governors in states with no vaccine requirements. And it takes yet another hit, dropping to just 36%, in states where governors have barred vaccine mandates.

Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states” via Jonathan Swan of Axios — U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said he’s reluctant to withhold federal funding from states that won’t enforce school mask mandates because he doesn’t want to hurt students. Cardona’s comments suggest there are limits to how far the Biden administration will go in pressuring states to adopt universal masking — or vaccine mandates. California became the first state to say vaccines will be required for in-person learning after shots for K-12 age groups are approved. Cardona also said he’s looking to Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda, and the Democrats’ push for about $2 trillion in new social spending, as ways to improve the U.S. return on investment in education compared with other nations.

States spent at least $89 million on COVID-19 vaccine lotteries. None of them worked, new research suggests.” via Erin Schumaker of POLITICO — In the spring, when Ohio announced it was holding a $1 million lottery to encourage residents to get vaccinated for COVID-19, many Governors’ ears perked up. Could incentivizing people to get shots actually work? At first, the answer seemed to be yes. In Ohio, the vaccination rate spiked 33% in May, with 119,394 people aged 16 and up receiving the vaccine the week after the lottery was announced. Research published in JAMA Health Forum on Friday suggests that none of the states’ lotteries effectively raised vaccination rates. “There’s a lot of hype around these programs, and we can’t find any evidence that they helped,” Andrew Friedson, a co-author of the research, said. That’s despite huge sums spent on these programs.

Five times as many police officers have died from COVID-19 as from gunfire since start of pandemic” via Ryan Young, Jason Morris and Ray Sanchez of CNN — The coronavirus has become the leading cause of death for officers despite law enforcement being among the first groups eligible to receive the vaccine at the end of 2020. The total stands at 476 COVID-19 related deaths since the start of the pandemic, compared to 94 from gunfire in the same period. Reasons cited for the vaccine resistance among law enforcement officers range from disinformation to distrust in the science of the vaccines. The debate mirrors growing tension nationally between unions and employers as cities and businesses seek to enforce vaccine mandates.

For police, COVID-19 is deadlier than bullets.


Uncomfortable inflation is here, and it’s changing the economy” via Heather Long of The Washington Post — One of the biggest problems with inflation right now is not the ships stuck at the Port of Los Angeles or the price of a pack of chicken thighs or even how difficult it is to nab a reasonably priced rental car. It’s what’s happening in Americans’ minds as their expectations shift about how much goods will cost going forward. News this week that U.S. inflation is running at a 13-year high of 5.4% confirmed what many Americans already know as they juggle their budgets: Food, energy and shelter costs are all rising rapidly. Workers are demanding pay increases because they can see their wages aren’t buying as much with so many everyday necessities costing more, including rent.

Inflation is starting to get uncomfortable.

Vaccine mandates stoked fears of labor shortages. But hospitals say they’re working.” via Maryl Kornfield and Annabelle Timsit of The Washington Post — Most health care systems that require vaccination have touted widespread compliance. In interviews, administrators at some of the nation’s largest hospital systems said the mandates worked: Officials said that they have very high vaccination rates they attributed to the requirement and have seen coronavirus infections and sick leaves noticeably drop. Many hospitals still lack mandates, and efforts to vaccinate every eligible staff member have lagged. Some officials fear that staff members, overwhelmed from the summer delta variant surge, could remain exposed amid a potential “twindemic” of COVID-19 and flu spikes this winter.

The great pandemic work-from-home experiment was a remarkable success” via Christopher Shea of The Washington Post — Nicholas Bloom, an economist at Stanford University, had been studying working-from-home arrangements for years before corporate America sent its white-collar employees home in droves in March 2020. He and three co-authors explored what happened when workers at a Shanghai travel company were randomly selected into a work-from-home program: It turned out they were 13% more productive. Probably the biggest surprise of the pandemic was that working from home worked so well. We didn’t find a 13% productivity increase, but we’re finding an average of 4% or so. Something like 60% of respondents say working from home has worked out “better than I expected.” Firms are astounded.


People lie about their ‘religious’ objections to vaccines. Proving it is hard.” via Dorit Reiss of The Washington Post — As states and companies implement vaccine mandates, some anti-vax workers have an answer: I can’t; it’s against my religion. When it comes to the vaccine, policymakers, employers, and courts must decide whether a person is honest in claiming that religion is why they object to the vaccines. We know that Americans game religious exemptions because they tell us. For private employers, the law is clear: Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers have to accommodate workers with religious objections to vaccine mandates unless providing an exemption places an “undue burden” on the business in question.

People lie; proving it is tough. Image via AP.

Father stresses importance of vaccination after 29-year-old son dies of flu” via Juan Sanchez of WESH — Jeb Teishman got the phone call no parent wants to get. Jeb, a retired pediatrician, had just talked to his 29-year-old son Brent Teishman, who was battling the flu. His son did not recover. Now three years after Brent’s death, Jeb, a pediatrician for more than 30 years, urges others to get the flu shot. “Brent’s legacy is my advocacy for vaccination. I am working with two different vaccine advocate organizations to get the message out that it is really important to get vaccinated,” Teishman said.


Crunch time: Joe Biden faces critical next 2 weeks for agenda” via Jonathan Lemire and Zeke Miller of The Associated Press — President Biden is entering a crucial two weeks for his ambitious agenda, racing to conclude contentious congressional negotiations ahead of both domestic deadlines and a chance to showcase his administration’s accomplishments on a global stage. Biden and his fellow Democrats are struggling to bridge intraparty divides by month’s end to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a larger social services package. The President hopes to nail down both before Air Force One lifts off for Europe on Oct. 28 for a pair of world leader summits.

Are Americans growing warier of more government just as Biden tries to pass his big agenda” via Dan Balz of The Washington Post — A year ago, as Americans were casting their votes for President, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic had shifted attitudes toward greater support for a more robust role for government. Many Democrats believed that could be a long-lasting effect, and Biden built his domestic agenda in part around the idea that Americans were ready for big and bold. Pandemics have a history of changing the shape of societies. Working from home is one example. A warming toward government and its role in helping to alleviate the pandemic’s shocks to the well-being of families and businesses appeared to be another. Today there is some evidence that the public’s appetite for more and bigger government is not what it was last year.

Joe Biden’s agenda battle is getting more difficult. Image via AP.

Biden: ‘Democracy survived’ Capitol riot because of police” via The Associated Press — Framed by the Capitol, Biden paid tribute Saturday to fallen law enforcement officers and honored those who fought off the Jan. 6 insurrection at that very site by declaring “because of you, democracy survived.” Biden spoke at the 40th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service to remember the 491 law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in 2019 and 2020. Standing where the violent mob tried to block his own ascension to the presidency, Biden singled out the 150 officers who were injured and the five who died in the attack’s aftermath.


As Donald Trump thunders about last election, Republicans worry about the next one” via Jeremy W. Peters of The New York Times — Republicans believe they have a good shot at taking Congress next year. But there’s a catch. The GOP’s ambitions of ending unified Democratic control in Washington in 2022 are colliding with a considerable force that has the ability to sway tens of millions of votes: former President Trump’s increasingly vocal demands that members of his party remain in a permanent state of obedience, endorsing his false claims of a stolen election or risking his wrath. Trump has signaled going so far as to threaten that his voters will sit out future elections.

Trump won Florida, but online and at your door, his supporters are trying to force an audit” via Steve Contorno, Romy Ellenbogen and Allison Ross of the Tampa Bay Times — Across Florida, Trump’s most ardent supporters are scouring communities for evidence of voter fraud. They are bombarding local elections offices with calls and emails. In Tallahassee, they emblazoned their demand on a billboard. This month, the Lake County Republican Party passed a resolution demanding Florida audit its election results. A state lawmaker from the same county filed a bill that would do just that. Republican legislative leaders also aren’t embracing calls for an election review. The Speaker of the House, Chris Sprowls, has said that the election went well.

Donald Trump won Florida. He still wants an audit. Image via Bloomberg.


Biden says Justice Department should prosecute those who refuse Jan. 6 committee’s subpoenas” via Amy B. Wang of The Washington Post — Biden said Friday that the Justice Department should prosecute those who defy subpoenas from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, the most he has weighed in on possible consequences for aides of Trump who have refused to comply with the panel’s demands. “I hope the committee goes after them and holds them accountable,” Biden said when asked what should happen to those who defy subpoenas from the congressional committee. The bipartisan panel is investigating the storming of the U.S. Capitol, an attack that resulted in five deaths and left some 140 members of law enforcement injured.

Ignore a subpoena, go to jail, Joe Biden says. Image via AP.

Capitol Police officer indicted for obstructing Jan. 6 investigation” via Erin Doherty of Axios — A U.S. Capitol Police officer has been indicted on obstruction of justice charges for allegedly helping hide evidence of a participant’s involvement in the Jan. 6 riot. Officer Michael A. Riley is accused of telling the unidentified participant, referred to as “Person 1,” in the Jan. 6 riot to delete posts from Facebook, which showed them in the Capitol during the attack. Riley allegedly sent a message to the rioter saying, “I’m a Capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance [sic],” according to the indictment. Capitol Police in September recommended disciplinary action for six officers over their alleged roles in the insurrection.

Publix heiress, funder of Jan. 6 rally, gave $150,000 to GOP Attorneys General association” via Beth Reinhard, Jacqueline Alemany and Tom Hamburger of The Washington Post — A wealthy Trump donor who helped finance the rally in Washington on Jan. 6 also gave $150,000 to the nonprofit arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association, records show, funds that a person familiar with the contribution said were intended in part to promote the rally. The nonprofit organization paid for a robocall touting a march to the U.S. Capitol that afternoon to “call on Congress to stop the steal.” On Dec. 29, Julie Jenkins Fancelli, daughter of the Publix grocery store chain founder, gave the previously undisclosed contribution to RAGA’s nonprofit Rule of Law Defense Fund, or RLDF.

‘Justice for J6’ rally cost government agencies that assisted Capitol Police at least $790,000, according to estimates” via Ellie Silverman of The Washington Post — Local governments and the National Guard spent at least $792,500 to assist U.S. Capitol Police in its response to the Sept. 18 “Justice for J6” rally. This is not the total cost to taxpayers as it does not include the response of Capitol Police, the head law enforcement agency that handled security on Sept. 18 or the reinstallation of perimeter fencing. Instead, it mostly reflects the costs incurred by the D.C. police, estimated at $580,000, said Jenny Reed, the district’s director of the Office of Budget and Performance Management. Other D.C. agencies incurred costs, with the Department of Public Works spending about $19,700 and the District Department of Transportation spending a “pretty marginal” amount.


Money floods the race for control of Congress, more than a year early” via DNYUZ — A dizzying amount of money is already pouring into the battles for the House and the Senate more than a year before the 2022 elections, as Republicans are bullish on their chances to take over both chambers in the first midterm election under Biden, given the narrow margins keeping Democrats in power. The two parties’ main war chests for the House total a combined $128 million, more than double the sum at this point in the 2020 cycle and far surpassing every other previous one. Top House members are now raising $1 million or more per quarter. And more than two dozen senators and Senate candidates topped that threshold.

Tweet, tweet:

Feds probe Miami investment firm over millions linked to suspected Venezuelan kleptocrats” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — U.S. authorities have stepped up prosecutions against American and foreign businesspeople suspected of conducting corrupt transactions, especially involving government contracts. In recent years, Venezuelan government officials and businesspeople have been frequent targets for federal prosecutors. Dozens have been implicated in foreign corruption and money-laundering cases involving billions in oil revenues illegally diverted to the United States. Under U.S. law, mainly the 1970s Bank Secrecy Act, financial institutions, securities brokers and investment advisers are also required to establish programs to assess the risks of taking on new customers with suspect bankrolls.

Corrine Brown’s attorney files formal motion asking for money to be returned” via News4Jax — The attorney for Brown has filed a motion that formally requests the government return money to Brown, a request that was mentioned during last week’s hearing. The government has seized $42,272.57 from Brown, and she has also paid $1,800 in special assessments following her conviction. Brown wants the money back to help pay for her defense. Prosecutors said at the hearing that the $42,000 had already been disbursed to the victims of the fraud. Brown’s legal team argues that there’s no legal basis for the money not to be returned to Brown since her conviction has been thrown out. They say that since her conviction was thrown out, the forfeiture order, which is how they say this money was taken, is thrown out too.

Assignment editors — U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor joins the 2020 Tokyo Olympics USA Softball head coach Ken Eriksen and breast cancer survivor Kendria Daniels for media availability after a batting practice session for the upcoming annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game, 10 a.m., USF Softball Stadium, 11899 Bull Run Drive, Tampa.


Condos in crisis? Local experts anticipate law changes, insurance hikes for condo owners” via Derek Gilliam of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — In the aftermath of the Champlain Towers South condo collapse, the lack of state regulations regarding inspections of mid-rise and high-rise condo towers became clear. Only two counties in all of Florida, Broward and Miami Dade, require the recertification of buildings. Local and state governments in the rest of Florida do not currently have any requirements regarding verifying the structural integrity of condo buildings in their jurisdictions. While increased regulation is theoretical at the moment, insurance premium hikes are already happening. Some carriers decided to cancel any policy upon renewal of any condo building five stories or more.

Left to rot: Collapsed condo born of botched construction and evidence of money laundering” via Monique O. Madan, Pat Beall, Katie Wedell, Erin Mansfield, Sudiksha Kochi and Dan Keemahill of the Tallahassee Democrat — When Champlain Towers South ascended from the beachfront 40 years ago in the quaint Miami suburb of Surfside, the new condominium gleamed with promise. Reporting reveals for the first time that early condo sales exhibit telltale signs of a money-laundering scheme. Experts said cutting corners on construction often accompanied money laundering. At Champlain South, engineers noted an incorrectly designed pool deck and improperly constructed support columns. Money laundering might have meant that some early buyers weren’t living in the condo building or concerned with its long-term maintenance.

There were years of red flags at the Champlain Towers. Image via AP.

Jay-Z group files complaint against Miami-Dade Animal Services, alleging it ignored abuser” via Rob Wile of the Miami Herald — Jay-Z’s Team ROC social justice group has filed a complaint in Miami-Dade Circuit Court against the county’s Animal Services Department, alleging it has failed to take action against a resident it accuses of abusing animals. The complaint, filed Sept. 30 against the department, asks the court to order the agency to fulfill its duties properly. The complaint alleges Miami-Dade resident Christian Souto has been “abusing his dogs and has posted a video of himself threatening people who have witnessed and complained of his misconduct,” and that Animal Services has failed to act. Team ROC, which Jay-Z’s Roc Nation record label created in 2018 to target alleged cases of injustice, also took out a full-page advertisement in Sunday’s Miami Herald announcing it was taking action.

As rents in South Florida soar out of reach, more people are finding themselves priced out — and onto the streets” via Amber Randall of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — By the end of the year, renters in South Florida will be paying an average of 40% of their income to their landlords. Already this year, rents have risen an average of 14% and are projected to grow by another 8-9% before the year is over, according to data from the CoStar Group, a provider of commercial real estate information. As rents soar out of reach, more people seeking help from local homeless prevention organizations. The Lord’s Place, a nonprofit agency in West Palm Beach that combats homelessness, has seen an increase in calls from people who have been or are about to be evicted. Since April, the agency has helped distribute more than $370,000 in rental and utility assistance.

Detained Florida youths rioted. The staff was accused of abuse. Then, pizza for everyone” via Christina Saint Louis of the Miami Herald — Around 5:30 p.m., about 20 youths had begun tossing furniture, smashing light fixtures, banging on windows and breaking open room doors. Thirteen Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies were called in to regain control of the facility. After investigating, the Department of Juvenile Justice’s Inspector General found “possibly systemic problems,” DJJ quietly replaced the operator, TrueCore Behavioral Solutions. But TrueCore is still a central player in Florida’s largely privatized juvenile justice network. It remains in charge of nine other facilities and holds contracts worth $350 million.

Brightline revamps intercity rail with speedy nose, elegant seats, no coach class” via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel — Manufactured with a sculpted nose and mid-length skirt, a Brightline train seduces with looks that are illusory in ways but have drawn flattery linked to a resurgent North American passenger rail. “No detail is too small in setting an impression,” said Michael Reininger, chief executive officer of Brightline Holdings. Learning about Brightline’s obsession with noses and skirts, or concealment panels beneath coach cars, reveals much about the private entity’s strategies. Overall, the company cares less about providing utilitarian transit for the masses and more about first- and business-class experience that happens to occur on steel wheels. Brightline executives say they are out to change habits of the traveling public. Brightline does not do economy class.

Three years after hurricane, a possible new beach in Florida” via The Associated Press — A $5.2 million allocation in March by the Federal Emergency Management Agency is helping to fund not only the rebuilding of the road, but shoring up the seaward side to protect against future storms. Commissioner Bert Boldt said the project to reconstruct 1,250 feet of road between Tom Roberts and George Vause roads is about half done after work started in June. Adjoining the asphalt are large boulders and rip rap in front of a new seawall that provides underground protection from storm surge, which in the past has carved under and destroyed the road. Boldt said the estimated completion date is in early December. There is a new beach in the making. He said an additional layer of protection is being bandied about, creating a beach in front of the road once it is complete.

Palm Beach County gets nearly $50 million for new reservoir at Palm Beach Aggregates” via Kimberly Miller of The Palm Beach Post — Tens of millions of dollars have been earmarked for Palm Beach County to buy space in a vast network of reservoirs that will hold water for aquifer recharge and protect the Lake Worth Lagoon. The $48 million allotted in this year’s state budget allows the county to take advantage of pits dug at Palm Beach Aggregates, where water storage has already been reserved by utilities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Palm Beach County did not join the counties to the south in buying space in the much-anticipated C-51 reservoir, which broke ground in March, but the state money will reserve 6,100 acre-feet, or 1.9 billion gallons, for it in an adjoining second phase of the project.

Two tourists got Legionnaires’ disease after staying at a Florida Keys resort, lawyers say” via Carli Teproff of MSN — When Marcia Blanar stayed at Hawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys during the summer, a decorative fountain surrounded by benches “was raging with active Legionella,” according to a lawsuit filed on her behalf earlier this month in Monroe County Circuit Court. Legionella, a type of bacteria, can cause Legionnaires’ disease. The disease can cause severe lung infection and is contracted by breathing in infected water, such as a spray of water. Blanar, of Maryland, “developed a fever and uncharacteristic fatigue” upon returning from her vacation, her attorney Ira Leesfield wrote in the lawsuit filed Oct. 1 in the Monroe County court. Blanar tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease shortly after her stay at the sprawling resort on Duck Key, from June 30 to July 6.

Can oysters help save Biscayne Bay? A new restoration effort aims to find out” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — A massive fish kill in summer 2020 had left the shores of Biscayne Bay chock-full of dead sea life. Some were surprises to even the most avid bay-goers, including a species long considered functionally extinct in the north bay: oysters. They have the ability to filter pollution from the water they grow in. Oyster beds are also useful tools to protect coastlines from hurricane-driven storm surge. They’re employed in restoration efforts along both of Florida’s coasts, and now in Biscayne Bay. Alberto Aran’s venture the Watershed Action Lab, intends to harness the power of the oyster. “Instead of taking 100 years for them to maybe naturally set up shop in these little pockets, we want to bring in the human element to assist them and make that maybe three or four years,” he said.

Former EMS chief who filed whistleblower lawsuit accused of certification fraud” via Rachel Heimann Mercader of the Naples Daily News — On one end is a man who has spent more than 20 years serving his community as a first responder who has had his life robbed from him after he tried to report potential fraud being committed by his employer. On the other end is a fire district that employed this man. Two weeks ago, a former emergency medical service (EMS) division chief filed a federal lawsuit against the Greater Naples Fire Rescue District, alleging he was fired for raising concerns about the apparent misuse of funds to combat COVID-19. The firing would violate the federal False Claims Act and Florida’s Public Whistleblower Act.

JAXPORT, with dubious evidence, calls JEA power lines a safety hazard” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville Port Authority officials have for months circulated a study they believe demonstrates that a series of high-voltage transmission lines that cross far above the St. Johns River are a navigational hazard to massive cargo ships that could one day use Jacksonville’s port terminals. Convincing the federal government to consider the lines a safety hazard could ultimately force JEA to raise them, bury them or move them, a risky endeavor that could cost ratepayers in Northeast Florida as much as $100 million depending on what option is selected. “With larger vessels being phased in, the transmission lines will create a safety risk that would limit the number of vessels that can enter the Jacksonville Harbor, reducing our economic competitiveness,” Eric Green, JAXPORT’s CEO, wrote.

St. Johns River report lists wetlands loss, algae nutrient among continuing problems” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — Growing wetlands losses and worsening trends for phosphorus, salinity and pesticides pose ongoing concerns for the St. Johns River near Jacksonville, scientists reported Friday in an annual compendium tracking the river’s health. The 14th Lower St. Johns River Basin “State of the River” Report noted positive trends, too. But the 372-page report seemed to deliver more bad news than good, listing more worsening conditions than improving and more indicators that researchers from four colleges considered unsatisfactory. Higher measurements of phosphorus, one of the trends the report described, are worrisome because phosphorus is a major nutrient for algae, some of which can produce toxins.

State to audit if sea turtles, Escambia County clerk eligible for TDT funds they receive” via the Pensacola News Journal — Florida’s auditor general will take a closer look at how Escambia County spends its Tourism Development Tax dollars after questions were raised about whether the clerk’s administrative cut is appropriate and if the funds can be used on such endeavors as sea turtle monitoring. TDT funds are a percentage taken from short-term rental bookings like Airbnbs and hotels that go to the county to bolster such tourism-related efforts as marketing and infrastructure. However, some members of the Tourism Development Council have questioned whether the funds can be used for a few key expenses that could border on falling under a natural resources management umbrella.

Former SFWMD Board Member Michael Collins dies in Georgia plane crash” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Collins, a former South Florida Water Management District Governing Board member, has died after his plane crashed Wednesday morning in Georgia. Collins took off in heavy fog to head back to Florida and was the only person on board. Police say the plane clipped several trees on its way down before crashing, though authorities have not yet directly tied the foggy conditions to the crash. Former Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Collins to the SFWMD Governing Board, which helps set water policy in 16 counties across the southern portion of Florida. Collins was sworn in as a member in 1999 and served on the body for just over a decade.

RIP: Michael Collins dies in a plane crash.

Man injured on Aquatica river ride, latest in recent series of incidents” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — A 69-year-old man was taken to the hospital last month after he pulled out of the water at an Aquatica Orlando river ride, unresponsive but still breathing. The incident was one of seven times a theme park visitor was hospitalized for at least 24 hours during the past three months, according to a new quarterly state report where Florida’s largest parks self-disclose their guests’ most serious medical issues. The man was taken to Orlando Health Dr. Phillips ER following the Sept. 28 incident. The man was rescued from Roa’s Rapids, a faster version of a lazy river that reaches a maximum depth of 3 feet, 9 inches. It is unclear the man’s current status.


The only story that mattersMocking the state bird? Is replacing mockingbird birdbrained or idea whose time has come?” via Ed Killer of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Since 1927, the official state bird of Florida has been the northern mockingbird. You’re probably thinking the same thing as I am: the mockingbird, with all due respect, seems a little uninspiring. It’s time for a change. And I’m here to offer up several of my favorite musings about which bird would be a more appropriate choice to represent the Sunshine State in the winged kingdom. State Sen. Jeff Brandes agrees with me. He has filed a bill for the 2022 legislative session beginning in January to change the state bird. While Brandes’ bill names no replacement, there were previous attempts to name the scrub jay as its successor.


Voters should pick Democrat Barbara Sharief in U.S. 20 primary to succeed Alcee Hastings” via The Palm Beach Post editorial board — The Palm Beach Post believes Sharief is the best choice in the Nov. 2 Democratic primary. Her work as a Broward County Commissioner has resulted in good working relationships. Her work ethic as a candidate is also impressive and speaks well about representing district constituents. Sharief has threaded the needle on one important issue — sugar cane burning. She has vowed to push the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a comprehensive study on the effects of cane burning in the Glades while working with the sugar industry to develop alternatives to the practice.

When enough’s enough: Brevard School Board member stands up to bullies” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat — Badgering public officials, even doing it unpleasantly, is constitutionally protected speech. The targets of such attention don’t like it, but the flak is part of their jobs. The key term among the 45 words of the First Amendment is “peaceably.” Too many people think they can amplify their opinions with force. A first-year Brevard County School Board member, Jennifer Jenkins, has drawn nationwide attention for the abuse she’s received due to her support of masks in public schools. It’s not about agreeing or disagreeing with mask mandates. That’s part of her job, and Jenkins has said she has no intention of yielding to the bullies who harass her.


Democratic Sen. Taddeo wants to be Florida’s next Governor.

Also on today’s Sunrise:

— Taddeo is up against two Democratic front-runners, Fried and her former gubernatorial running mate, Crist.

— Soon after Crist made his pledge to legalize cannabis, Fried made it clear she’s not new to the call.

— And DeSantis shares concerns over dubious claims about the federal government’s attempt to track bank transactions and driver data.

— Today’s Sunrise Interview is with Taddeo, who confirms she is officially jumping into the race for Governor.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

‘The Batman’ trailer unveils Robert Pattinson in dark, violent turn” via The Associated Press — Warner Bros. has unveiled its trailer for “The Batman,” which features Pattinson’s first bone-crunching turn as a DC Comics superhero. The trailer unveiled Saturday at the DC Fandome event shows Pattinson’s Dark Knight methodically taking down bad guys despite being outnumbered and his Batsuit absorbing multiple bullets. The footage teases Batman’s dark, bleak, and violent version, with Pattinson’s voice saying about the Bat-Signal: “Fear is a tool. When the light hits the sky, it’s not just a call. It’s a warning.” The trailer teases multiple iconic characters, including Zoe Kravitz’s Catwoman, Colin Farrell as The Penguin, and Batman’s muscle car Batmobile tearing up the streets and emerging from explosions unscathed.

To watch The Batman trailer, click on the image below:

Superman changes motto to ‘truth, justice and a better tomorrow,’ says DC Chief” via Adam B. Vary of Variety — Superman is officially moving on from “the American Way.” Jim Lee, chief creative officer and publisher of DC, announced the Man of Steel’s motto will be “evolving” from the well-known mantra that he fights for “Truth, Justice and the American Way.” Superman’s new “mission statement”: “Truth, Justice and a Better Tomorrow.” The company said the decision is meant “to better reflect the storylines that we are telling across DC and to honor Superman’s incredible legacy of over 80 years of building a better world.” In reality, Superman has followed several mantras over the decades, all of which involved variations on “truth” and “justice” as central to the iconic superhero’s identity.

These types of toys will be hardest to find this holiday season” via Alix Martichoux of Nexstar Media Wire — Toymakers are feverishly trying to find containers to ship their goods while searching for new alternative routes and ports. If they can find space on planes, some choose to fly in the toys instead of relying on ships. “Hasbro has said they’re starting to feel it. Even Lego is feeling supply chain issues,” Jordan Hembrough, toy expert and host of the show “Toy Hunter,” said. Some companies are also resigning to the harsh realities that they can’t make up for delays and are leaving behind some of the holiday toys, particularly bulkier ones, in factories in China. Those larger items that are harder to transport could be the scarcest, as well as pretty much everything new to the market this year, said Hembrough.

Claws for caution: Florida’s stone-crab season kicks off, but prices are coming in high” via Phillip Valys of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Fishermen, wholesalers and seafood markets all say COVID-19′s lingering effects, such as supply-chain shortages of fuel, fishing bait, and parts for commercial fishing vessels, could spell higher claw prices. Restaurants and markets, naturally, set retail prices even higher for their menus. Amy Johnson, owner of Sea Salt Fish Market in Fort Lauderdale, says early reports from the docks on Friday morning are alarming. Johnson, who works with eight commercial crabbing vessels in the Keys, says she sees average wholesale prices at $20 per pound for medium-size claws, $30 for large, $40 for jumbos, and $45 for colossals. At the start of last season, for example, Catfish Dewey’s in Fort Lauderdale charged $35 per pound for mediums.


We hope it’s a very special birthday for (great mom) Monica Rodriguez of Ballard Partners, as well as Rep. Amber Mariano, House candidate Hillary Cassel, Tim Cerio, General Counsel of Citizens Insurance, Caitlin Conant,Marcus Jadotte, Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida, Ashley Lukis, former U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, and Alexandra Webb. Belated birthday wishes to Sen. Loranne Ausley, our dear friend Edie Ousley of Yellow Finch Strategies, former Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, former Rep. Scott Randolph, and Beth Switzer.


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. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

One comment

  • Angry

    October 18, 2021 at 9:26 am

    Florida would have been a lot better off if DeSantis had contracted and died from Covid last year.

Comments are closed.


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

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