Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.19.21

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Coffee is for closers. So is Sunburn, your morning rundown of Florida politics.

Good Tuesday morning.

Medical marijuana provider Trulieve is opening its 100th dispensary in Florida with a new store on Tennessee Street in Tallahassee.

The company is holding a grand opening event at the new location Tuesday morning. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will begin at 8:30 a.m. at 1800 W. Tennessee Street, the site of Trulieve’s 100th Florida dispensary.

“Tallahassee is where we opened our first dispensary and where we’re proud to open our 100th in Florida,” Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said.

Trulieve hits a Florida milestone in Tallahassee.

“Trulieve was the first licensee in the state of Florida approved to cultivate medical marijuana, first in the state approved to dispense, and first to open a dispensary, right here in Tallahassee. As the site of many important firsts and milestones for our company, Tallahassee has always been and will continue to be central to the Trulieve success story.”

Trulieve has opened dozens of locations throughout the state, becoming one of the leading marijuana distributors in Florida.

“This is a day of celebration, not only for Trulieve but for our communities and patients across Florida,” Rivers added.

“From day one, we’ve been driven by the opportunity to create positive economic impact, support local philanthropic organizations, and improve the everyday lives of our patients, employees and communities. Tallahassee, Gadsden County, and the surrounding communities have been instrumental to Trulieve’s story, and we’re excited to continue honoring those relationships and growing with the community.”

The 100th opening celebration comes less than two weeks after the United Way of the Big Bend honored Trulieve with its Business Partner of the Year award.

“This award is presented to one of our business partners who has gone above and beyond in their philanthropy to support the Mission, Vision and Goals of our United Way,” said United Way of the Big Bend Board Chair Jim Murdaugh.

“As the largest private employer in Gadsden County, Trulieve impacts the neighbors we serve and provides economic opportunity and growth.”


Converge Public Strategies is announcing a strategic partnership with HeraldPR to see the New York-based company operate under the Converge Public Strategies brand.

Under the deal, HeraldPR’s personnel will boost Converge Public Strategies’ broader suite of corporate communications services. Converge’s expanded communications division will be codirected by HeraldPR founder Warren Cohn and president Juda Engelmayer. Engelmayer will lead crisis and corporate communications, having worked with and built a powerhouse roster of clients across the globe.

“The opportunity to join with Converge was a win-win. No public affairs firm in the country matches their momentum. It’s a merger of HeraldPR’s public relations and communications talents with Converge’s growth trajectory nationwide and hard-won client trust,” Cohn said.

The partnership will bolster the Converge’s mainstay capabilities in issue advocacy and clients in the technology, health care, insurance, transportation, hospitality, luxury, professional services, and beauty sectors with a more robust suite of public relations services.

HeraldPR’s deep experience and a lengthy list of clients include the Gansevoort Hotel Group, beverage giant Diageo, Le Marais Steakhouse, Israel’s Foreign and Tourism Ministries, World Likud, attorneys Alan Dershowitz and Duncan Levin, New York City entertainment property Broadway Stages, Surface Media, DuJour Media Group, TransPerfect Global, The Glimpse Group, MyndVR and Alerion Aviation.

“HeraldPR’s move into Miami was a stroke of luck for all of us. Converge was looking to take its communications division to the next level and you can’t get better than HeraldPR — their track record of success and ‘whose who’ client list speaks for themselves. We can now offer world-class communications to our clients nationwide and beyond,” said Jonathan Kilman, founder and chair of Converge Public Strategies.


Tweet, tweet:

@GovRonDeSantis: @FLCaseyDeSantis is going to fight back against cancer with courage, determination, and trust in God. The outpouring of support we’ve received from across Florida and the country is heartwarming — there is light at the end of the tunnel and we’re going to get there.

@ChristinPushaw: Not sure what was more predictable: Florida’s rapidly accelerating decline in COVID … or the corresponding rapidly accelerating decline of media coverage of COVID in Florida?

@RonFilipkowski: Don Bongino announced today, “they can have the mandate, or they can have me.” Bongino, who is vaccinated, says he will quit and refuse to honor his contract with Cumulus Media, the company that carries his show on hundreds of stations, if they enforce their vaccine mandate.

@Scott_Maxwell: Welcome to the race, Senator. If you shake up this campaign the way you shook up the shady ghost-candidate races — where you called for an investigation while other state officials sat on their rears — it will be a welcome addition.

Tweet, tweet:

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@Ovillegator: As a conservative Republican filmmaker and lifelong Floridian, I want to make films in Florida, and still try — but other states lure our investors on every project. Last two movies have been in Oklahoma. Rep. (Dana) Trabulsy‘s conservative program that brings film back makes sense.


’Dune’ premieres — 3; ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ returns — 5; World Series Game 1 — 7; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 8; Florida TaxWatch’s annual meeting begins — 8; Georgia at UF — 11; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 14; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Primary — 14; The Blue Angels 75th anniversary show — 17; Disney’s ’Eternals’ premieres — 17; ’Yellowstone’ Season 4 begins — 19; ’Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 20; U.S. to lift restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers — 20; Miami at FSU — 23; ‘Hawkeye’ premieres — 26; ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 30; FSU vs. UF — 39; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 43; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 49; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 52; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 59; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 64; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 71; CES 2022 begins — 78; NFL season ends — 82; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 84; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 84; Florida TaxWatch’s 2022 State of the Taxpayer Day — 85; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 87; NFL playoffs begin — 88; Super Bowl LVI — 117; Daytona 500 — 124; St. Pete Grand Prix — 131; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 136; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 158; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 202; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 220; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 226; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 262; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 274; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 353; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 381; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 388.


Happening today — The Republican Caucus of the Senate meets to officially select Sen. Kathleen Passidomo as the President-Designate for the 2022-2024 Legislative Session. Passidomo was elected to the Senate in November 2016 after serving in the Florida House since 2010. Senate President Wilton Simpson appointed her to serve as Senate Rules Committee chair for 2020-2022. During 2018-2020, she served as Republican (Majority) Leader under former Senate President Bill Galvano.

The designation ceremony begins at 3 p.m., Senate Chamber, The Capitol.

Coronavirus is not Kathleen Passidomo’s first crisis, only the most recent” via Andrew Meacham for Florida Politics — Passidomo is no stranger to crisis. On the afternoon of Feb. 14, 2018, she was in Tallahassee, laying out her budget for public schools. She was recommending more funding that would help schools detect mental health issues and connect students with help. She will never forget what happened next Valentine’s Day when someone shot up Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. One of her biggest projects actually began during the 2008 recession. The real estate crash had hit Collier County hard, erasing 14,000 construction jobs. In 2010, the same year her daughter left for college, she was elected to the House. For the next three years, she worked on legislation that would be fair to both sides. The result, the Fair Foreclosure Act of 2013, toughened requirements for lenders to prove their case for foreclosure and borrowers to prove their ability to pay.

Kathleen Passidomo is no stranger to crisis; she’s always ready to take on challenges.


Blame redistricting: Top Florida House Democrat expects ‘animalistic’ Legislative Session” via James Call of USA Today Network — While COVID-19-related restrictions and debates about abortion, guns, and voting have dominated news cycles since lawmakers adjourned in May, redistricting is at the top of many lawmakers’ agendas right now, according to House Democratic co-Leader Evan Jenne. Here’s why: “A lot of people’s political careers will hang in the balance of what comes out of those redistricting subcommittees and the Legislature as a whole,” Jenne said. Jenne expects tempers will flare once maps are drawn to accommodate population movement during the last 10 years, and a redistricting bill begins to move. He was the House Democratic whip the previous time lawmakers reapportioned the state.

Evan Jenne predicts a particularly nasty Session. Image via Colin Hackley.

Future of Florida’s abortion bill remains unclear” via Melissa Hernandez de la Cruz and Anna Wilder of Fresh Take Florida — The high-stakes court fight unfolding over the off-again, on-again abortion law newly passed in Texas threatens to throw into confusion plans by Florida lawmakers to pass a similarly restrictive law banning abortions after a physician can detect a fetal heartbeat. Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature has already failed twice to pass a so-called “heartbeat” bill in the past two years. Efforts in Florida in 2019 and 2020 died before any hearings or votes could be scheduled. The Legislature’s latest effort is a bill introduced last month by Rep. Webster Barnaby. During next year’s Legislative Session, it would be considered, even amid a national court fight over the Texas law that is still unfolding.

‘We’re all old guys, not much time left:’ Lawmakers race to compensate Dozier abuse victims” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — With the help of Sen. Darryl Rouson and Rep. Tracie Davis, former students of the former Dozier school may soon receive state compensation under newly filed legislation. They’re known collectively as the White House Boys, referring to a place on the school grounds where the abuse often took place. The bills (SB 482 & HB 161), which do not include a compensation amount, come years after an investigation uncovered rampant physical, sexual and mental abuse at the institution. Opened in 1900 in Mariana, the school housed children convicted mostly of minor offenses such as truancy or smoking, though others attended for more serious offenses.

Jason Brodeur bill could save some trees — Sanford Republican Sen. Brodeur filed a bill that would make it harder for developers to shirk local tree canopy protections. As reported by Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida, the bill (SB 518) would cinch the loopholes in state law that allows landowners to clear-cut cut lots despite local ordinances. The measure, filed Friday, is backed by the Florida League of Cities as well as tree experts and landscaping professionals. The bill comes a few years after lawmakers OK’d a property rights bill that prohibited local governments from requiring permits to remove or trim a tree that “presents a danger to persons or property.” Under SB 518, no-permit removals would only be authorized if the risk presented by the tree cannot be reduced through other industry-accepted means.

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. 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 understand better the hazards they might encounter on popular internet platforms and mobile applications.

Danny Burgess seeks an emphasis on social media literacy, Image via Colin Hackley.

‘Florida Native’ license plate shows support for local plants — or proof that you’re not a snowbird” via Brett Clarkson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It’s a proposed new specialty license plate designed to promote Florida’s incredible array of native plants. But it probably would also be used as a way for the locals to flaunt their Flo-grown status — and why not? Presale orders are being taken for a proposed new Florida specialty license plate with the words ‘Florida Native’ emblazoned on it in all caps. Proceeds from sales of the plate, featuring an image of various native Florida plants, will benefit the Florida Native Plant Society. According to the society’s website, its mission is to “promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida.”


Assignment editors: Gov DeSantis will hold a press conference at JAXPORT at 10:30 a.m. Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault will be in attendance.

‘She’s not going to be denied’: Ron DeSantis inspired by First Lady’s cancer fight” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Amid an outpouring of support for Casey DeSantis, DeSantis is calling her message inspirational. The Governor’s office announced the First Lady’s breast cancer diagnosis earlier this month. On Saturday, Casey DeSantis made her first public appearance since announcing her diagnosis, joining the Governor onstage at the Hernando County Republican Party Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner to thank supporters for their prayers and well wishes. The Governor noted a particular outpouring of support from others diagnosed with breast cancer. Many of those diagnosed are mothers.

To watch a video of Casey DeSantis’ appearance, click on the image below (via Sasso Media Group/Twitter):

—“DeSantis orders flags to half-staff in honor of Gen. Colin Powell” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

Evan Jenne: DeSantis’ political calculus is fit for 2024 bid” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Jenne is giving DeSantis props for making the right moves as he vies for reelection and The White House. “The Governor’s political calculus has been pretty accurate,” Jenne told reporters Monday. The first-term Republican Governor, who faces reelection next year, has been a rising star in the GOP and a possible front-runner in the Republican Presidential Preference Primary. However, DeSantis has steadfastly denied he’s eyeing the presidency. So far, DeSantis has done a good job holding his base together for 2022 and 2024, said Jenne, who’s now serving his seventh term in the House. He’s done a magnificent job picking wedge issues to generate support from the working class, he added.

Florida proposes spending $3.8 million more to help suffering manatees” via Elise Elder of Fresh Take Florida — The DeSantis administration is asking state lawmakers to allow it to spend nearly $4 million to help Florida’s suffering manatees, which have been dying of starvation at a frightening rate. Deaths could rise further over the upcoming winter months. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year includes $3.8 million designated as aid for manatees, the cow-size aquatic mammals that feed gracefully on Florida’s seagrasses. Those grasses have been increasingly imperiled from fertilizer runoff from yards and farms and algal blooms known as “red tide,” and the wildlife agency has proposed spending millions more next year on seagrass restoration projects near shorelines around Florida.


Florida COVID-19 update: 3,096 cases and 430 deaths. Most people died in the past 28 days” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — Florida on Monday reported to the CDC 3,096 more COVID-19 cases and 430 deaths. In all, Florida has recorded at least 3,626,142 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 58,142 deaths. Of the deaths added Monday, about 89%, occurred over the past 28 days and about 48% in the last two weeks. On average, the state has added 247 deaths and 2,357 cases per day in the past seven days. There were 2,913 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Florida.

DeSantis, in rhetorical shift, de-emphasizes promotion of COVID-19 vaccines” via Michael Moline of Florida Phoenix — With booster doses coming soon, aides to DeSantis aren’t saying whether the Governor will take advantage. “I do not have any details to share about the Governor’s personal medical decisions. As the Governor has said, each person should be able to make his or her own informed choices,” press secretary Christina Pushaw said via email last week. DeSantis was more open about his plans last winter, when he was actively promoting the then-newly available vaccines and traveling the state opening vaccination clinics. Officially, the administration encourages people to get vaccinated, but these days DeSantis spends more time fighting with the Joe Biden administration, school boards, and private businesses.

Christina Pushaw says the Governor’s possible booster shot is none of your business. Image via Colin Hackley.

Miami school says vaccinated students must stay home for 30 days to protect others, citing discredited info” via Jaclyn Peiser of The Washington Post — In April, a Miami private school made national headlines for barring teachers who got a coronavirus vaccine from interacting with students. Last week, the school made another startling declaration, but this time to the parents: If you vaccinate your child, they’ll have to stay home for 30 days after each shot. The email from Centner Academy leadership repeated misleading and false claims that vaccinated people could pass on the so-called harmful effects of the shot and have a “potential impact” on unvaccinated students and staff. David Centner, one of the school’s co-founders, said the policy is a “precautionary measure” based on “numerous anecdotal cases that have been in circulation.”

Counterterrorism unit was mistakenly on list for violating ‘vaccine passport’ ban, FDLE says” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Someone filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement about a potential violation of the state’s ban on vaccine passports, and an employee passed it along. But somehow, the FDLE itself ended up on a list of potential violators facing a $5,000-per-worker fine, the agency said Monday. That’s the explanation from an FDLE spokeswoman about how its counterterrorism unit in Jacksonville wound up as one of the more surprising entries on the list of 120 agencies and businesses. FDLE spokesperson Gretl Plessinger said, “We received notice from the Florida Department of Health that FDLE is not in violation of [the vaccine passport ban]. FDLE does not have a vaccine mandate, nor do we require disclosure of vaccination status.”

— 2022 —

How it played: Annette Taddeo jumps in Miami Herald, Miami Democrat Taddeo launches campaign to be Florida’s first Latina Governor — “Taddeo is the only Hispanic gubernatorial candidate among the top contenders, in a state where Hispanics make up nearly 27% of the population … she would be the first Latina candidate to earn a major party nomination for Florida Governor.” POLITICO Florida, Miami Democrat upends Florida Governor’s race — “Taddeo, who had been hinting at a run for months, said that ‘what ultimately pushed me over the edge’ was DeSantis’ battle with local school districts over COVID-19 policies, including his push to ban mask mandates.” News4Jax, Taddeo enters Democratic Primary — “ … entering a Democratic primary that includes Crist, who chose her as his running mate in an unsuccessful bid for Governor in 2014. ‘I’m a lifelong Democrat,’ she said in an announcement video. While she doesn’t name Crist, it could be seen as a subtle way of pointing out a major difference between them.” Orlando Sentinel, Taddeo becomes third Democrat seeking to defeat DeSantis — “Taddeo said she has ‘tremendous respect’ for Crist ‘but this race is not about Charlie or about me. This race is about the future of Florida.’” The Palm Beach Post, Taddeo enters, saying voters want a ‘fighter and a leader’ — “Taddeo said that she can unite and inspire a Democratic coalition of Black and Hispanic voters that the party needs to win.” Tampa Bay 10, Who is Taddeo? — “’ … it’s not just about making history. It’s about making a difference for others to achieve the American dream,’ she said in her campaign video.”

Annie Betancourt endorses Charlie Crist for Governor — Former Rep. Betancourt endorsed U.S. Rep. Crist in the Democratic Primary for Governor on Monday. “No one knows Florida better than Charlie Crist; as our former Education Commissioner, Attorney General, and Governor, he’s the most prepared person in this race to take on DeSantis and create a Florida that truly works for everyone. That’s why I’m proud to lend him my support as he becomes our next Governor,” said Betancourt, the first Cuban American Democrat elected to the state Legislature. Betancourt joins dozens of local, state, and community elected officials and leaders in endorsing Crist, who most recently earned endorsements from 2018 Lt. Gov. nominee Chris King and Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam. Crist faces Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Sen. Annette Taddeo in the Primary.

Annie Betancourt goes all-in for Charlie Crist.

Carlos Giménez adds $309K in Q3 to defend CD 26” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Giménez’s reelection campaign for Florida’s 26th Congressional District added more than $309,000 last quarter, with gifts coming across several major business sectors with significant presences in South Florida. Giménez’s financial reports show his campaign had nearly $847,000 on hand as of Sept. 30. The campaign spent about $263,000 between July 1 and Sept. 30 and owed Giménez $70,000. Two political newcomers have registered to run against him next year: Democrat Juan Paredes and fellow Republican Jeremiah Schaffer. The Federal Elections Commission has yet to post fundraising reports for Paredes. Schaffer has raised just over $12,000 so far, including a $10,500 self-loan and $1,510 in individual contributions last quarter.

Randolph Bracy picks up $107K for race in tightening CD 10” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Sen. Bracy‘s congressional campaign raised $107,000 in the third quarter of 2021 as a crowded field appeared to tighten around the presumed front-runner in Florida’s 10th Congressional District. Bracy’s third quarter campaign cash haul was only second-best among Democrats and barely. Generation-Z progressive activist Maxwell Alejandro Frost walked away with the third quarter, raising $169,000 through a CD 10 Democratic Primary campaign with high-profile community appearances and sophisticated internet grassroots fundraising. Frost’s haul topped even Bracy’s kickoff effort when he raised $165,000 in the second quarter of 2021.

Maxwell Alejandro Frost’s surprisingly effective fundraising wins the CD 10 money race in Q3. Image via Instagram.

Kamia Brown picks up support from Audrey Gibson in SD 11 contest” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Sen. Gibson is backing Rep. Brown for Senate District 11 in Orange County, Brown announced Monday. The endorsement is another major pickup for Brown, who previously announced the backing of Sens. Lori Berman, Shevrin Jones, and Victor Torres. “From legislative assistant to state Representative, Kamia Brown has worked diligently on a policy that positively impacts her community and similar communities across the state,” Gibson said. Gibson’s nod also is an apparent disappointment for Democratic Rep. Geraldine Thompson, Brown’s new and formidable opponent in the 2022 SD 11 Democratic Primary. Thompson had invoked Gibson‘s name as a kindred lawmaker when Thompson announced her SD 11 candidacy two weeks ago.

Evan Jenne makes case for prompt Special Election” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Jenne questioned Monday why DeSantis has yet to call a Special Election to fill three forthcoming vacancies in South Florida legislative districts. Jenne, speaking to reporters via Zoom, suggested Republicans have little to lose in the elections. The Legislature, he stressed, will remain in Republican control if the seats are filled again by Democratic lawmakers. “You don’t get anything by holding them back,” Jenne said of the Democratic-leaning districts. “We are still a small minority, facing a large majority. That doesn’t change with those seats.” The Special Elections will replace three lawmakers, Rep. Bobby DuBose and Sen. Perry Thurston and Rep. Omari Hardy.


Coronavirus cases rise in the northern U.S. amid lower temperatures.” via Daniel E. Slotnik of The New York Times — Even as the coronavirus wave driven by the Delta variant is receding in much of the United States, many counties across the country’s northernmost regions are experiencing rising cases as colder weather arrives. The top five states in new daily cases per capita are led by Alaska, logging the highest daily average: 125 cases per 100,000 people. The following four states, with at least 67 cases per 100,000 people, are Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and Idaho. Cases are at least trending downward or holding steady in those states. Most experts don’t expect another catastrophic winter wave, but they warn Americans not to let their guard down.

Racial disparities may be emerging in breakthrough infections. We must track them better.” via Oni Blackstock, Alexandra Skinner and Julia Raifman of The Washington Post — The pandemic has repeatedly exposed the role of structural racism in driving troubling racial health inequities in the United States. Black, Latino and Indigenous Americans have been more likely than their White and Asian counterparts to be exposed to COVID-19, to face obstacles to accessing testing or vaccines, and to get sick and die from the disease. Now, a new inequity may be emerging: While vaccines remain effective for reducing cases and severe disease for everyone, vaccinated Black, Latino and Pacific Islander people appear more likely to experience breakthrough infections.

Republicans hail Delta’s vaccination policy — even as it goes further than Joe Biden’s” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — For the second time in a week, Republicans who have criticized Biden’s vaccine-or-testing mandate are favorably citing a policy that looks suspiciously like it and is actually tougher. Last week, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson pointed out that Fox’s own policy wasn’t technically a vaccine mandate, in that it allowed for a testing alternative. Now, it involves conservatives praising Delta Air Lines. Over the weekend, Sen. Ted Cruz and others hailed Delta’s vaccination policy as proof that you don’t need mandates. Unlike the other major airlines, Delta has held out on mandating the vaccine for its employees, and CEO Ed Bastian recently announced that it had obtained a 90% vaccination rate.

Delta’s vaccination policy gets thumbs-up from the GOP, despite being stricter than Joe Biden’s. Image via AP.


Re-employment assistance program slowly re-approaching workable rhythm” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Florida’s re-employment assistance program is easing back toward more normal levels of claims, problem cases, and overall functionality. The trust fund to cover claims is back over $1 billion. The unemployment level is back down to 5%. The number of unemployment compensation claims is close to pre-pandemic levels. Nearly 90% of adjudicated claims, those where payments were being held up due to issues, have been resolved. And the CONNECT online application system overhaul and modernization is on track to meet its 2023 deadline. Those were the messages delivered Monday to the Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism by Adrienne Johnston.

Now hiring: Amazon looking for 10,500 Florida workers for $15-an-hour seasonal jobs” via Rob Wile of the Miami Herald — Amazon announced Monday it has begun hiring for 10,500 seasonal jobs in Florida. The e-commerce giant’s website shows currently available positions in South Florida start at $15 per hour and tops out at $17.50. The seasonal roles come in addition to the 8,000 full- and part-time operations jobs the company had previously announced for Florida this year. “We are proud to be offering a huge range of full-time, part-time, and now seasonal jobs with great pay and benefits,” Alicia Boler Davis, senior vice president, Global Customer Fulfillment, said in a statement.


Powell, former Secretary of State and military leader, dies at 84” via Bradley Graham of The Washington Post — Powell, who helped guide the U.S. military to victory in the 1991 Persian Gulf War as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then struggled a decade later over the U.S. invasion of Iraq as a beleaguered secretary of state under President George W. Bush, died Oct. 18 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. He was 84. The cause was complications from COVID-19, said his assistant, Peggy Cifrino. She said Powell, who was fully vaccinated, had Parkinson’s disease and multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer that can impair the body’s ability to fight infection.

RIP: The country loses a trailblazing leader. Image via AP.

U.K. COVID-19 surge sparks call for probe into delta plus mutation” via Yueqi Yang of Bloomberg — Former U.S. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb called for “urgent research” into a mutation of the delta variant, known as delta plus, following a surge in COVID-19 cases in the U.K. “We need urgent research to figure out if this delta plus is more transmissible, has partial immune evasion,” Gottlieb said in a tweet. “There’s no clear indication that it’s considerably more transmissible, but we should work to more quickly characterize these and other new variants. We have the tools.” Gottlieb’s comments come as the U.K. reported the highest daily jump in new cases on Sunday since mid-July around when Prime Boris Johnson authorized the removal of most COVID-19-related restrictions in what was dubbed “Freedom Day.”

Now hiring: Amazon looking for 10,500 Florida workers for $15-an-hour seasonal jobs” via Rob Wile of the Miami Herald — Amazon announced Monday it has begun hiring for 10,500 seasonal jobs in Florida. The e-commerce giant’s website shows currently available positions in South Florida start at $15 per hour and tops out at $17.50. The seasonal roles come in addition to the 8,000 full- and part-time operations jobs the company had previously announced for Florida this year. “We are proud to be offering a huge range of full-time, part-time, and now seasonal jobs with great pay and benefits,” Alicia Boler Davis, senior vice president, Global Customer Fulfillment, said in a statement.


GOP sees opening as Biden copes with pre-Christmas inflation, supply-chain issues” via Gabriel T. Rubin and Catherine Lucey of The Wall Street Journal — The White House is wrestling with supply-chain issues and elevated inflation ahead of the winter holiday shopping season, two economic problems that Republicans say the administration’s policies would exacerbate, driving up the risk of empty store shelves and higher holiday prices. With just over a month to go before the holiday shopping season unofficially starts the day after Thanksgiving, the Biden administration seeks ways to ease the bottlenecks in the strained supply chain while acknowledging that they might not be able to resolve all those pressures immediately. The administration has touted the moves by the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to move to operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as a step in the right direction.

Joe Biden faces a tough holiday season Image via Bloomberg.


As Donald Trump thunders about last election, Republicans worry about the next one” via Jeremy W. Peters of The New York Times — The GOP’s ambitions of ending unified Democratic control in Washington in 2022 are colliding with a considerable force that can sway tens of millions of votes: 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. The former President’s fixation on disproved conspiracy theories is frustrating to many in his party who see it as needlessly divisive at a time when Republicans feel they are poised to take back the House of Representatives and perhaps the Senate in the 2022 midterm elections. They worry he could cost Republicans otherwise winnable seats.

Donald Trump fights the last battle, while Republicans look to the next one. Image via AP.

‘Trump’s website hacked’ by ‘Turkish and Muslim hacktivist’ warning ‘do not be like those who forgot Allah’” via Israel Salas-Rodriguez of The U.S. Sun — Trump‘s website was reportedly hacked by a Turkish and Muslim Hacktivist, who warned: “Do not be like those who forgot Allah.” On Monday, Hacker RootAyyildiz took credit for the earlier hacking of the former President’s website. The message, written in Turkish, said: “Do not be like those who forgot Allah, so Allah made them forget themselves. Here they really went astray.” At the end of the note, a photo of the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Abdul Hamid II, was also placed with a footer note saying: “We are the ones who stopped the tanks with their bare hands on the night of July 15.”


Trump sues National Archives, Jan. 6 committee to block records request” via Zachary Basu of Axios — Trump filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block the National Archives from releasing White House records to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, citing executive privilege. It’s the latest escalation in Trump’s campaign to disrupt the committee’s sweeping probe into the circumstances surrounding Jan. 6, including his actions and communications leading up to the Capitol attack. Trump has already attempted to assert executive privilege to block former aides from testifying, despite subpoenas issued by the committee.

Donald Trump attacks the National Archives. Image via the National Archives.


Supreme Court will consider fast track appeal of Texas abortion law” via Kevin Breuninger of CNBC — The Supreme Court agreed to a request from abortion-rights advocates and providers to quickly consider taking up their challenge of a restrictive Texas law that bans most abortions after as early as six weeks of pregnancy. The petitioners last month had submitted the unusual request for the Supreme Court to hear the case before final judgment in lower courts. If the court agrees to consider the case on an expedited basis, it could accept briefs, hear arguments and deliver a ruling much faster than if the case had to wind through the normal court channels. The high court directed the respondents in the case to file a response by noon on Thursday. That’s the same time Texas is due to file its reply in a separate challenge of the law.

The Supreme Court may hear an expedited appeal of the Texas anti-abortion law. Image via AP.

FBI in Haiti after 16 American missionaries visiting an orphanage kidnapped by gang” via Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald — The abduction of 16 American missionaries and one Canadian in Haiti by a notorious armed gang known for extorting businesses and ransoming kidnapped victims catapulted the Caribbean nation’s insecurity crisis into the global spotlight Sunday as FBI agents arrived in Port-au-Prince to help with negotiations to liberate the hostages. FBI agents arrived on an aircraft chartered by the U.S. government hours after reports confirmed that 17 Christian missionaries, including five children had been taken hostage Saturday in the area of La Tremblay in Ganthier, just east of the capital. A State Department official, confirming the kidnappings, said the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State.

Judge approves final sentencing delay for Joel Greenberg” via Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel — Greenberg’s sentencing will be postponed until next year as he continues to cooperate with federal authorities, though it will be the final delay in the case, a federal judge ruled Monday. During a hearing at the federal courthouse in Orlando, federal prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Gregory A. Presnell they needed more time because the information they are getting from Greenberg has led them to pursue multiple investigations. The prosecutor told the judge he anticipates this will be their final request for a postponement after one was granted in July.


Workers’ Comp fraud sting nets 13 arrests — Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis on Monday announced that a three-day sting in Manatee County resulted in the arrest of 13 individuals for workers’ compensation fraud. The sting was a joint effort of Patronis’ Division of Investigative and Forensic Services as well as the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Manatee County Code Enforcement, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and National Insurance Crime Bureau. All individuals were booked into the Manatee County Jail. If convicted on all charges, individuals face up to five years in prison. “As CFO, I remain committed to fighting fraud and ensuring that criminals who break the law are brought to justice. Unlicensed activity leaves Florida homeowners susceptible to fraud, and contractors who operate without the proper workers’ compensation coverage put their employees at risk,” Patronis said.

Parkland families reach $25 million settlement with school district” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The families of 52 people killed, injured or traumatized during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High have reached a $25 million settlement with the Broward School District, the lawyer for the families confirmed Monday. While the terms have been reached, the settlement agreement is still being drafted, said attorney David Brill. The largest payments will go to the 17 families whose children or spouses were killed, and they will each receive an equal amount. Brill would not provide further detail on amounts or how the money will be divided. The settlement could end a 3 1/2-year battle between the school district and family members of victims.

Slain South Florida woman’s family questions actions of Orange County Sheriff’s Office” via The Associated Press — The Orange County Sheriff’s Office has released a heavily redacted report on its response to the disappearance of a college student who was found dead. The young woman’s family says it only reinforces their belief that deputies failed to react quickly enough when she vanished. The Sheriff’s Office blacked out much of its four-page report into the Sept. 24 disappearance of Miya Marcano. “The incident report lacks critical details,” the family’s attorney Daryl Washington said on Sunday. Sheriff John Mina has said that in the hours after Marcano vanished, deputies didn’t have enough evidence to detain her suspected killer, Armando Caballero, and she was likely already dead.

Leaked audio: Miami Beach Mayor’s private meeting with developers about South Beach entertainment district” via Michael Majchrowicz of the Miami New Times — On Sep. 13, 2021, then-Miami Beach Commission candidate Fabian Basabe tells New Times, he joined a Zoom call with more than 30 people, including the city’s sitting Mayor, Dan Gelber, City Manager Alina Hudak, and former Mayor Phillip Levine. Basabe recorded audio of the meeting and edited it down to the roughly nine minutes when Gelber and Levine were speaking. Gelber has publicly stated that he wants to see Ocean Drive transformed into an art deco cultural district. On the recording, Levine encouraged contributions to a PAC to support future Commission candidates who would pledge to greenlight Ocean Drive projects supported by Gelber and his administration.

To hear the audio, click on the image below:

Feds probe Miami investment firm over millions linked to suspected Venezuelan kleptocrats” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — Born in Japan and raised in Europe, Justin Lowe epitomizes the suave international businessman. A graduate of the London School of Economics who speaks four languages, Lowe lives with his Argentine wife, a jewelry designer, in an art-decorated high-rise condo overlooking Miami’s hip waterfront enclave, Coconut Grove. Although he has a more prosaic background, Mark Coffey also knows his way around the high-stakes investment world. Quintessentially Southern, he hails from Hickory, North Carolina, a city known for its classic American furniture makers, where Coffey attended a small liberal arts college.

Immigration protesters temporarily shut down PortMiami’s Biscayne Boulevard entrance” via Rob Wile of the Miami Herald — A group of immigration protesters temporarily blocked the Biscayne Boulevard entrance to PortMiami Monday afternoon, demanding Biden create a pathway to citizenship for Haitian refugees and others. Commercial port operations were not affected, a PortMiami spokesperson said. The I-395 port tunnel remained open. Bearing banners saying, “Stop Deporting Haitians” and “Kamala Harris Deliver Citizenship for Millions,” the approximately 20 protesters linked arms and lay down in front of the roadway. Police halted traffic on Biscayne between Northwest 4th and 6th streets for an undetermined period. By 3 p.m. the roadway had reopened. Many Haitians are attempting to leave the island nation amid deteriorating conditions, including the assassination of their President and another devastating earthquake.

Hollywood police officer killed in confrontation with teenage suspect” via Eileen Kelley and Joe Cavaretta of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Officer Yandy Chirino, 28, a four-year veteran of the Hollywood Police Department, died after being shot Sunday night during an altercation with a teenage suspect. Police Chief Chris O’Brien’s voice broke as he shared the news of the young officer’s death at a news conference Monday morning. Chirino had been recognized multiple times in his career and was Officer of the Month in June 2020, O’Brien said, adding that there are no words that can provide comfort for what Chirino’s family is feeling now. “Hollywood Police will stand with you in the days ahead,” he said.

Retired detective who investigated River Cops and Cocaine Cowboy murders dies at 85” via Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — Lloyd Hough, a military intelligence officer who served with the Virginia State Police before joining the Miami-Dade Police Department where he worked cases involving the Miami River Cops and the Cocaine Cowboys, died last week from lung disease and Parkinson’s Syndrome. Hough, 85, was born in Smith County, Mississippi, and spent most of his life in South Florida after the avid hunter sold his 300-acre Georgia farm two years ago. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Nikki Hough. “He absolutely loved his work and he loved his family,” Nikki, 80, said this week from her Palmetto Bay home.

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 as well as Interim Director Lorna Mejia and Enforcement Supervisor Sean Gallagher, 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 take action.

Seaquarium lease is up for county vote — but dolphin deaths, rotting fish not on agenda” via Adriana Brasileiro of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade County said there are no major issues that would get in the way of transferring the Miami Seaquarium to a new owner, even after federal regulators cited the attraction for multiple infractions that threatened the welfare of the animals. Those problems included rotting fish that made dolphins sick and practices like forcing Lolita, the 56-year-old orca, to perform head-in jumps with an injured jaw. County commissioners are scheduled to vote on a plan to allow a new operator, Cancun-based The Dolphin Company, to take over the Seaquarium, citing assurances by park managers that there are only minor problems to correct regarding animal care.

Two tourists got Legionnaires’ disease after staying at a Florida Keys resort, lawyers say” via Carli Teproff of the Miami Herald — 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 a 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.

A Coral Gables doctor’s illegal surgeries include a fatal Brazilian butt lift, state says” via David J. Neal of the Miami Herald — A Coral Gables doctor’s “failure to operate in a manner that is correct and safe” caused the death of a Brazilian butt lift surgery patient, the Florida Department of Health says. That’s in the Florida Surgeon General’s emergency restriction order (ERO) on the license of Dr. John Sampson, who the state says was “performing unauthorized plastic surgery procedures” at Seduction Cosmetic Center, 4950 SW Eighth St. Thursday’s posting of the ERO likely will be followed by an administrative complaint that starts the discipline process. Sampson’s online license profile shows no other discipline cases since the initial issuance on Oct. 13, 2014. The 64-year-old Sampson also has been licensed in Michigan, Maryland, Texas and the District of Columbia.

St. Matthew’s House homeless shelter aims to expand from 104 to 150 beds in East Naples” via Liz Freeman of the Naples Daily News — The St. Matthew’s House homeless program plans to expand its shelter in East Naples from 104 to 150 beds to help address a waiting list, shelter officials said. Collier County planners are reviewing an application to amend the shelter’s existing site plan to allow more beds and other changes. No date is set for consideration by the county Planning Commission, according to county officials. The Collier County Commission must approve the application, which would be considered six to eight weeks after a signoff by the planning board.

St. Matthew’s House is expanding.

Big orange thing on beach protects submerged oil pipes, may have busted loose in hurricane” via Kimberly Miller of the Palm Beach Post — An orange plastic tube as long as a golf cart that washed ashore on Palm Beach this past week protects underwater piping from vibrations and may have been jostled loose in the Gulf of Mexico during a hurricane. Channing Durrenberger, sales director at AIMS Composites, confirmed the equipment was made by his Houston-based company and said he will try and track down where it came from. According to Durrenberger, the tube, technically called a vortex strake, is commonly used to dampen vibrations caused by underwater currents on offshore oil pipes or natural gas pipes.

Nora: West Palm plans to recreate Wynwood vibe in northern section of city” via Alexandra Clough of the Palm Beach Post — A neglected area just north of downtown West Palm Beach is set to be transformed into a Palm Beach County version of Wynwood, the Miami district home to hip restaurants, bars, shops, and apartments. Since 2019, a local investment group has amassed 72 parcels consisting of warehouses, boarded-up buildings, and vacant land. The group calls its 12-acre land assemblage Nora, short for North Railroad Avenue, reflecting its western boundary along North Railroad Avenue, from Seventh Street north to Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard. Plans are to create a mixed-use neighborhood featuring buzzy businesses and new residences, with North Railroad Avenue serving as Nora’s Main Street.


Joe Henderson: What took Taddeo so long to enter the race?” via Florida Politics — Taddeo signaled for months she was thinking about entering the race. Thus, it was no surprise when that signal became official. However, she has already spotted Crist a nearly six-month head start, and it seems like Fried has been running forever. Let’s also not forget that Fried has been the only Democrat to win a statewide election since 2006. While Taddeo delayed, Crist built relationships across the state, particularly in the Panhandle counties. Taddeo clearly has some catching up to do, and the Aug. 23 Primary next year is only 10 months away. It can happen, of course, because this is Florida, and we learn to expect the unexpected.


Powell preached decency and integrity. And he was strong enough to admit he’d made mistakes.” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Powell will be seen as one of the most prominent COVID-19 deaths. The son of immigrants was the first Black U.S. Secretary of State, serving from 2001 to 2005, national security adviser from 1987 to 1989, and chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993. He led a life of achievement, dignity, patriotism and respect for service. In 2003, he made a case for war against Iraq to the United Nations, drawing on American intelligence agencies’ faulty findings on Iraq’s purported weapons of mass destruction program and standing behind its “accuracy.” “I understood the consequences of that failure and was wrong.”

After Miya Marcano’s death, Florida has a chance to make apartment dwelling safer” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Florida’s so accommodating to landlords it doesn’t even make them do inexpensive criminal background checks on maintenance workers who possess master keys giving them access to any apartment. Police think a maintenance worker at Arden Villas used his master key to sneak into Marcano’s apartment, abducting and then killing the 19-year-old before the worker later took his own life. Sen. Linda Stewart said she’s working on a proposed law that would require landlords to run background checks on workers with access to apartments, and place restrictions on hiring those with violent criminal convictions. That makes sense, which is exactly why the proposal has a difficult road ahead in Florida’s nonsensical Legislature.


Biden and DeSantis have ordered flags at half-staff in honor of former Secretary of State Powell, as he’s remembered by friends and family.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— Survivors of the Dozier School for Boys (now senior citizens) recall the horrors of their abuse.

— Lawmakers are bracing for a knockdown, drag-out Session on issues like redistricting and abortion rights.

— Ousted Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo speaks out.

— Today’s Sunrise Interview is with Florida Politics health care reporter Christine Sexton who gives the scoop on all things health care. Seriously, she will share one of the best resources for health news and information.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Disney Imagineers see a world of new possibilities in giving customers what they want” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — Theme park industry experts predicted enhanced forms of augmented reality, holograms and robotics will elevate Disney rides in the future and allow for more interactivity and customization. In the next few years, fans may even be able to log in to theme parks from home via the metaverse, a project ITEC Entertainment’s clients have already expressed interest in, said President and CEO Bill Coan of the themed amusement company. Industry experts projected that Disney’s recent history of building lands based on intellectual properties into its existing spaces would continue as Disney uses popular brands like Star Wars and Marvel and acquires others.

Disney innovations to keep customers satisfied, entertained.

Apple drops Intel in biggest MacBook Pro overhaul in years” via Mark Gurman of Bloomberg — Apple Inc. took the most aggressive step yet to strip Intel Corp. chips from its computers, announcing more powerful homegrown Mac processors alongside a total revamp of its MacBook Pro laptop computers. The company showcased the chips at an event Monday called “Unleashed,” which included its latest audio products. The new components, called the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, are 70% faster than their M1 predecessors. It also unveiled a redesigned MacBook Pro, adding larger screens, MagSafe charging, and better resolution. Apple is also upping the graphics performance for the M1 Pro and M1 Max, with 16 and 32 graphics cores, respectively.

See inside the eyewall of a major hurricane as Saildrone captures nauseating images” via Kimberly Miller of the Palm Beach Post — There’s a slice of atmosphere where the ocean meets sky that is a mystery to tropical meteorologists — a chaotic place where hurricane winds tear, 50-foot waves tower and evaporation feeds intensification. But for the first time, messages from that frothy space were transmitted to scientists from the eyewall of a Category 4 Cyclone by a specially equipped vessel floated into the path of Hurricane Sam as it tore through the Atlantic basin last month. Created by the California-based company Saildrone, the solar-powered, unmanned vehicle looks similar to a canoe but is self-righting with a lead-weighted keel and a unique wing that helps with stabilization.

Forty UF top-five banners stolen from campus” via Serra Sowers and Maya Erwin of The Independent Florida Alligator — Seventy-five banners that read “Top 5” hung at UF. Now, only 35 remain. Forty banners celebrating the school’s new national ranking have been stolen across the UF campus. Since the week of Sept. 13, the missing banners amount to a loss of almost $3,000, UF spokesperson Steve Orlando said. The double-sided, vinyl hangings are 24 inches wide and 72 inches tall. They cost about $73 each. No official complaints have been filed with the University Police Department, Orlando said. None of the bandits have come forward. Orlando attributes these thefts to excitement about the university’s new ranking.

WWE Live holiday tour returns to Amalie Arena after Christmas” via Daisy Ruth of WFLA — World Wrestling Entertainment will return to Amalie Arena for a “holiday spectacular” the day after Christmas. WWE will host a live show on Sunday, Dec. 26, at 7:30 p.m. “See your favorites from Friday Night Smackdown including Drew McIntyre and The New Day’s Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods vs. Roman Reign and The Usos and many more!” a news release from WWE says.


Celebrating today are Reps. Ramon Alexander and Brett Hage, Tiffany Carr, Hillary Cassel, WFSU-FM’s Tom Flanigan, the great Jasmyne Henderson, our friend Rick Lindstrom, and former U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross.


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.


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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
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