Good Monday morning.
First in Sunburn — Adrian Lukis, the former Chief of Staff to Gov. Ron DeSantis, is joining top lobbying firm Ballard Partners.
“Adrian’s recent experience at the highest levels of Florida state government significantly expands the depth of our firm’s formidable expertise in the state Capitol,” said firm founder and President Brian Ballard.
“His long-standing reputation, as well as his unique experience working closely with Gov. DeSantis, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House, will make him an invaluable partner and adviser for our firm’s clients.”
Lukis has been a top adviser to DeSantis since he was a candidate for Governor three years ago. During his tenure in the administration, Lukis managed the Executive Office of the Governor and all executive branch agencies under the Governor’s leadership.
He was elevated from Deputy to head Chief of Staff in March; however, he didn’t plan to stay long-term because of his young family. He left the position in September.
Before rising through the ranks in the Governor’s Office, Lukis was a high-level staffer to former House Speaker José Oliva. He formerly served as Deputy Staff Director in the Florida House of Representatives and as an attorney for the House Economic Affairs Committee.
Lukis is a graduate of Florida State University, where he earned his undergraduate and law degrees. He worked as a corporate and business law attorney before reentering state government.
“I am delighted to join Ballard Partners and to be working with the firm’s unparalleled team in Tallahassee,” Lukis said.
You may not know her name, but you know her if you watch any sports on television.
Florida DraftKings’ customers received a targeted text/video message from Jessie “Make. It. Reign.” Coffield on behalf of Florida Education Champions this weekend, with a reminder to return their petition by mail to support their effort to bring competition in sports betting to Florida, with all tax revenues supplementing the Florida Educational Enhancement Trust Fund.
Registered Florida voters can request a personalized petition be mailed to them through many digital portals that connect to an FEC landing page, and as Jessie says, all they have to do is sign, date and return it, postage-paid, to “Make It Reign … in Florida.”
Clever play in leveraging the power of DraftKings’ national brand and millions upon millions of dollars in television advertising to add extra power to the petition-phase effort. We’re told to stay tuned for more to come this week.
To watch the video, click on the image below:
According to polling released Friday by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, voters believe the state is headed in the right direction and think DeSantis deserves a second term.
The poll, conducted by Cherry Communications, found that 48% of Florida voters think the state is headed in the “right direction” compared to 42% who said it was on the “wrong track.”
Men were more likely to adopt the positive outlook, while the inverse was true for women. The Florida Chamber noted that Hispanic voters said the state was headed in the right direction by a 26-point margin, 57%-31%.
“Florida is moving in the right direction, and we need to keep the momentum going,” Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson said. “As we just recently addressed Florida’s future at our Florida Chamber Foundation Annual Meeting and Future of Florida Forum, there’s no better time to unite the business community for good to ensure the right things continue to happen.”
The six-point advantage for “right direction” carries over to the Governor’s race, the poll shows. Regardless of the opponent, DeSantis retains a strong position in his as-yet-unlaunched reelection campaign.
If his foil is Democratic former Governor and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, the incumbent would win a second term with a 7% margin. If Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried wins the Democratic nomination, the spread grows to 9%.
The Governor’s showing comes as Florida voters rate jobs and the economy as their top issue — it topped the list due to its strong support among men and Republicans. COVID-19 ranks No. 2, with women and Democrats listing it as their top issue.
The Florida Chamber poll was conducted on Oct. 17-25 by Cherry Communications during live telephone interviews of likely voters. The sample size included 246 Democrats, 254 Republicans and 108 independents. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.
First in Sunburn — Vic Torres endorses Annette Taddeo for Governor — The Taddeo for Governor campaign released its first wave of endorsements Monday. Democratic Sen. Torres joins former Reps. JC Planas and Cindy Lerner in endorsing Taddeo. “Our state has many challenges, and this Governor has put Floridians in harm’s way,” Torres said in a statement Monday. “We need a Democratic nominee who will offer the clearest contrast and I know the best candidate to do that is my good friend and colleague, Senator Annette Taddeo. Annette embodies the American dream and has fought against all odds her entire life. Annette has the experience, ethics and leadership to lead our state as Governor and I am proud to endorse her campaign for Governor.”
Spotted at the Governor’s Mansion Saturday for Halloween festivities with the First Family — Secretary Laurel Lee and former Sen. Tom Lee, Secretary Todd Inman and Anne Duncan, Chris Emmanuel, Cody Farrell, Larry Keefe, Stephanie Kopelousos, Alex Kelly, Trey and Tara Price, Christina Pushaw, Chris and Gina Spencer, Meredith Stanfield, Ray Treadwell, Mike Yaworsky, Skyler and Lindsey Zander.
Public affairs firm RedRock Strategies expanded its Florida footprint with the addition of Greg Ungru and Skylar Swanson.
“Both Greg and Skylar’s dynamic skillsets and dedication to winning are a welcomed addition to the RedRock Florida team,” said Kayla Lott, RedRock’s Senior Strategist. “As we continue to grow in Florida, having Greg’s extensive political experience and Skylar’s digital expertise on the team will help us continue to help our clients and friends be successful.
“RedRock Strategies has built a national presence in the public affairs, digital, and political consulting spaces for over two decades by defining what it takes to win. I look forward to working with Skylar and Greg to expand our Florida footprint and help our clients get from where they are, to where they want to be.”
Ungru has more than two decades of experience in The Process. The Ohio State University alum and current Florida State University MBA candidate served under four Governors, holding leadership positions in the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and Department of Economic Opportunity as well as Marsy’s Law for Florida, LeadingAge Florida, the Florida Sports Foundation and the Republican Party of Florida.
Swanson started her career in then-Rep. Keith Perry’s legislative office later moved over to the campaign side where she served as Fundraising Director for his 2016 and 2018 Senate campaigns. The FSU alum and current University of Florida graduate student then worked as Communications Director in the House Majority Office, and in 2020 she joined Attorney General Ashley Moody’s communications team.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@RonBrownstein: 1 big reminder from Fox Virginia Gov poll: there’s no escaping Prez’ shadow in modern US politics. If Biden’s approval really is just 43% w/Virginia voters Tues, it’ll be long night for (Terry) McAuliffe. If it’s 43% on 11/22, it will be brutal for Ds. That’s why bolstering (Joe) Biden is their job one.
—@WalshFreedom: It’s Trump’s Party. If you don’t support Donald Trump, you have no future in this Republican Party. None. No whining. It is what it is.
—@NumbersMuncher: The “Let’s Go Brandon” stuff is stupid, childish nonsense you see among teens trying to speak in code. The Southwest pilot was an idiot for saying it and knew full well what he was doing. Everyone on the right and left on here are losing their minds over the dumbest stuff.
—@Deggans: I’m wondering about existing school vaccine mandates for mumps, measles, polio. At some point, those were all new drugs, as well. If DeSantis had been Florida’s Governor when the polio vaccine was rolled out, would he have opposed children taking that, too?
—@ElectProject: Last-minute costume change this year: I’m going as an academic exercising their free speech. Very scary to some folks, apparently
22 years later and still nerdy AF 🤣 pic.twitter.com/b5ZsOgn3D2
— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani 🔨 (@AnnaForFlorida) October 31, 2021
Happy #Halloween! #theresnoplacelikehome pic.twitter.com/IkNT1M796w
— Adam Hattersley (@HattersleyforFL) October 31, 2021
— DAYS UNTIL —
St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 1; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Primary — 1; The Blue Angels 75th anniversary show — 4; Disney’s ’Eternals’ premieres — 4; ’Yellowstone’ Season 4 begins — 5; ’Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 7; U.S. to lift restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers — 7; Miami at FSU — 10; ‘Hawkeye’ premieres — 13; Special Session on vaccine mandates begins — 14; ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 17; FSU vs. UF — 26; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 30; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 36; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 39; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 46; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 51; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 58; CES 2022 begins — 65; NFL season ends — 69; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 71; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Election — 71; Special Elections in Senate District 33, House District 88 & 94 — 71; Florida TaxWatch’s 2022 State of the Taxpayer Day — 72; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 74; NFL playoffs begin — 75; XXIV Olympic Winter Games begins — 95; Super Bowl LVI — 104; Daytona 500 — 111; St. Pete Grand Prix — 118; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 124; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 187; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 207; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 213; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 249; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 261; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 340; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 368; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 375; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 410; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 473; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 627. ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 718.
“Florida bars state professors from testifying in voting rights case” via Michael Wines of The New York Times — Three University of Florida professors have been barred from assisting plaintiffs in a lawsuit to overturn the state’s new law restricting voting rights, lawyers said in a federal court filing. The ban is an extraordinary limit on speech that raises questions of academic freedom and First Amendment rights. University officials told the three that because the school was a state institution, participating in a lawsuit against the state “is adverse to UF’s interests” and could not be permitted. In their filing, the lawyers sought to question DeSantis on whether he was involved in the decision. The university’s refusal to allow the professors to testify was a marked turnabout for the University of Florida. A spokeswoman for the university, Hessy Fernandez, defended the prohibitions, saying: “The university did not deny the First Amendment rights or academic freedom” of the professors. “Rather, the university denied requests of these full-time employees to undertake outside paid work that is adverse to the university’s interests as a state of Florida institution.”
“UF professors could testify in voting rights case if they are unpaid, spokeswoman says” via Danielle Ivanov of The Gainesville Sun — “To be clear,” Fernandez stated, “if the professors wish to do so pro bono on their own time without using university resources, they would be free to do so.” That allowance for unpaid work was not mentioned earlier when Gary Wimsett, UF’s assistant vice president for conflicts of interest, told two of the professors that “UF will deny its employees’ requests to engage in outside activities when it determines the activities are adverse to its interests.” Wimsett’s statement does reflect a view the UF President Kent Fuchs expressed at a September Faculty Senate meeting. Fuchs reminded the group that the state government has authority over almost all areas of the university’s operation.
Nikki Fried decries UF ‘repression of First Amendment rights’ — “DeSantis has again and again shown his willingness to politicize the school we love and use it to drive his own agenda — even if that means silencing faculty who are standing up for Floridians right to express themselves freely,” the Agriculture Commissioner and candidate for Governor said in a statement. “We deserve leaders who respect our Constitution, who understand the First Amendment, and who will uphold our institutions — not tear them down in a misguided and desperate attempt to hold on to power. Florida has seen these types of discriminatory laws to restrict voting rights before. They were wrong then, and they’re wrong today. Gator Nation knows what it takes to stand up and fight.”
Debbie Wasserman Schultz calls for UF reversal on professor testimony denial — “UF’s decision to prevent its professors from speaking out in court against a state law that suppresses minority voting rights is appalling,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. “We must speak out and renounce it. If allowed to stand, the restraint of these professors’ speech will undermine every UF claim to honor academic independence and free speech. It will damage UF’s ability to recruit and retain top faculty and stifle fundraising. UF will stand out in anti-academic exile, rather than an exemplar of higher learning. My hope is that President Kent Fuchs swiftly reverses this egregious action.”
— STATEWIDE —
“In addressing Florida business leaders, Ron DeSantis takes on ‘corporate wokeness’” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — After months of getting the cold shoulder from large corporations who refused to endorse his COVID-19 policies, DeSantis had harsh things to say at the annual meeting of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, blasting what he called “the rise of corporate wokeness.” “If you’re using your power as a corporation, and you’re leveraging that to try to advance any ideology, I think it’s very dangerous for this country and I’m not just gonna sit idly by,’’ DeSantis warned as he presented the keynote speech to the audience at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress resort in Orlando. In the rambling 30-minute speech, DeSantis warned the business audience that he has no tolerance for corporations that use their influence for political messaging.
“DeSantis: Uproar over Surgeon General nominee is ‘manufactured’” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — DeSantis told a national cable television audience that uproar over his appointed Surgeon General was “manufactured” and that he had no plans to withdraw the nomination of Dr. Joseph Ladapo. On Thursday, DeSantis recorded an interview with Fox News personality Laura Ingraham, but part of it did not air until late Friday. The Governor was asked about Sen. Tina Polsky and her decision to ask Ladapo to leave her office because he refused to wear a mask even after she told him she had a serious medical condition. Polsky was diagnosed with breast cancer and this week began radiation treatment. Ladapo, who was appointed to his post in late September, later released a statement saying he refused to wear a mask because he cannot communicate clearly or effectively with a mask.
“Florida’s legacy of slow-rolling parole keeps thousands of people behind bars — some, for decades past their eligibility date” via Justin Garcia of Scalawag magazine — According to the Florida Commission on Offender Review (FCOR), the agency that administers parole, from 2015 to 2020, only 152 parole-eligible people out of 6,851 considered cases were granted parole, or less than 2% of the cases reviewed. Of those, just 86 people paroled were serving time for murder or attempted murder. The commission’s 2020 Annual Report said there were 3,959 incarcerated people who were eligible for parole that year, and 424 “releasees” actively on parole supervision. Between October 2019 and September 2020, the commission made 1,419 parole determinations and granted parole to 41 incarcerated people — about 1% of parole-eligible prisoners in Florida. Florida’s numbers are staggeringly low compared with the parole boards of neighboring Southern states, too.
— DATELINE TALLY —
“Coming soon to Tallahassee: The DeSantis anti-vaccine show” via Steve Bousquet of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — DeSantis is obviously running for something, because he called a special session the week of Nov. 15 to give employees greater protection against vaccine mandates as ordered by Biden. Republican lawmakers, relegated to extras in DeSantis’ latest one-man show, will comply, of course. They don’t have a choice. The Governor also wants to tighten the so-called parents’ bill of rights, the new law used to attack school board mask mandates in Broward, Miami-Dade and elsewhere. You notice that major societal problems that directly affect people seldom warrant Special Sessions.
To watch DeSantis’ vow (via Twitter) on vaccine mandates, click on the image below:
“DeSantis calls Special Session on COVID-19 vaccine mandates, backs off on business liability” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis formally called a Special Session to address COVID-19 vaccine mandates on employees by businesses and local governments, ordering the Legislature to convene from Nov. 15 to Nov. 19. But DeSantis backed off from stripping COVID-19 liability protections from businesses that impose vaccine mandates on their workers. A DeSantis spokeswoman said the ultimate goal is to prevent businesses from firing workers who opt against getting vaccinated, and there will be other “enforcement mechanisms” to dissuade companies from requiring vaccines in the first place.
“Lawmakers, officials resist testifying about election law” via John Haughey of The Center Square — On May 6, DeSantis signed a hotly-contested elections bill into law. DeSantis signed Senate Bill 90, adopted a week earlier by state lawmakers in a partisan vote, during a rally sponsored by Club 45 USA, a Trump fan club, and covered live as an exclusive on “Fox & Friends.” “Me signing this bill says: ‘Florida, your vote counts, your vote is going to be cast with integrity and transparency, and this is a great place for democracy,’” DeSantis said, acknowledging, again, that Florida’s 2020 election was the nation’s “gold standard” in electoral professionalism and security. Much has changed since, including, going on record to discuss how the legally-embattled SB 90 was crafted and adopted despite overwhelming citizen opposition.
Happening today — House Minority Co-leader Evan Jenne will hold a virtual news conference, 10 a.m., Zoom link here. The event will be livestreamed on The Florida Channel.
Happening today — House Democrats will host a virtual news conference to discuss the redistricting process: Jenne and Reps. Joe Geller, Kelly Skidmore and Dan Daley, 1 p.m. Zoom link here.
Happening today — The House Public Integrity and Elections Committee meets to discuss draft definitions regarding the 2018 constitutional amendment making changes to lobbying, 4 p.m., 404 House Office Building.
For your radar — With Florida facing a historic shortage of health care workers, leaders from a diverse set of affected organizations have come together under the banner of the Health Care Workforce Coalition, and today at 10:30 a.m. will hold a roundtable discussion at the Florida Health Care Association Education and Training Center that promises not just a description of the problem — but also some solutions. Everyone from nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospitals to veterans’ services and home health care organizations are struggling to hire enough nurses, nursing assistants, and other professionals. The workforce shortage is affecting their ability to meet the needs of Floridians amid COVID-19 and the state’s growing elderly population, and they’re looking to the Legislature to help address the challenges they face. The roundtable discussion will take place at the Florida Health Care Association headquarters, the state’s largest association of long-term care facilities.
“Advocates question education requirements in proposed personal care attendant rule” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — State health officials were given a list of concerns relating to a new proposed rule that would allow unlicensed staff called “personal care attendants” to work in nursing homes as the industry struggles to find the workers it needs to care for residents. Florida Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program legal advocate Lynne Hearn told Agency for Health Care Administration officials the proposed rule they published didn’t meet the requirements of the 2021 law because it doesn’t require personal care attendants to complete 16 hours of classroom education. Instead, the proposed rule requires 10 hours of classroom teaching and six hours of supervised simulation, where the candidate must exhibit competency in all areas of training.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Oscar Anderson, Tasi Hogan, The Southern Group: Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
Matt Bryan, David Daniel, Thomas Griffin, Jeff Hartley, Lisa Hurley, Jim Naff, Teye Reeves, Smith Bryan & Myers: GLP FLA
Emily Buckley, Dean Mead: Florida Ambulance Association
Chris Chaney, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Gigly
Carlecia Collins, GrayRobinson: Conservation Florida
Candice Ericks, Ericks Consultants: FLITE Center, Intero Group HIM Services
Matthew Herndon, RSA Consulting Group: David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Miracles Outreach, Tampa Bay Partnership, Tampa Theatre
Scott Jenkins, Delegal Aubuchon Consulting: New York Life Insurance Company
Timothy Keck: Mission Health Communities
Jennifer Kelly, Foley & Lardner: ACT Environmental & Infrastructure
Travis Moore, Moore Relations: ONR App
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“DeSantis can’t figure out who made COVID-19 all political” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — Nearly 1.2 million residents of the Sunshine State contracted the coronavirus over those three months, nearly a third of the total the state has seen since the pandemic began in February 2020. More than 13,000 Floridians died as the virus whipped across the state, more than 17% of the deaths the country saw during that period despite Florida having only 6.5% of the country’s population. And for DeSantis, that somehow means that it’s time to boast about what a good job the state has done. Throughout the pandemic, Florida’s case rates have been worse than the country’s 57% of the time.
“Florida posts lowest rate of COVID-19 cases per capita in nation” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Florida recorded just 12,151 new COVID-19 cases in the past week. By federal counts, which are slightly different from Florida’s tabulations but still in the same ballpark, the Sunshine State’s most recent tally of newly-confirmed cases now gives Florida the lowest per capita rate of new cases in the country. Florida’s 12,115 seven-day case tally in the federal report works out to a rate of 56 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, better than all the other 49 states. The CDC data covers a week that is one day behind the week that the Florida Department of Health reports in its Friday announcements. However, the federal data, which covers the week through Wednesday, can be used to compare states, as the CDC complies like data from all states.
—“Florida COVID-19 update: 1,711 cases added to tally, hospital patients continue decreasing” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald
“South Florida has now administered 1.25M vaccine doses as COVID-19 cases continue to fall” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — South Florida’s tri-county area has hit another benchmark in vaccine distribution, surpassing 1.25 million doses administered. Miami-Dade County has put nearly 672,000 shots in arms since vaccines became available. That number is nearly 357,000 in Broward County and around 225,000 in Palm Beach County. The number of doses administered rose 12% week-to-week in Palm Beach County and 2% in Miami-Dade. Broward’s number fell 4% week-to-week. That vaccine push has seen 94% of Miami-Dade’s population get at least one shot. Broward County has administered at least one shot to 83% of its eligible population, and Palm Beach sits at a 75% vaccination rate.
“Miami-Dade’s COVID-19 vaccination rate is very high. Here’s why you might be skeptical” via Daniel Chang and Ana Claudia Chacin of the Miami Herald — No Florida county is as well-protected against COVID-19 as Miami-Dade, where 94% of residents 12 and older had received at least one dose of vaccine as of Oct. 28. At least that’s the percentage the state health department tells the public. As of Friday, 24 Miami-Dade ZIP codes logged a mathematically impossible vaccination rate of greater than 100% of eligible residents who have received at least one dose. Florida gathers and shares the data to help guide pandemic response planning, a purpose for which some local officials say the information is useless. There are 24 Miami-Dade ZIP codes where the share of eligible residents who have received at least one dose reportedly exceeds 100%.
“In Miami-Dade, predominantly Black and low-income ZIP codes are still behind on vaccination” via Ana Claudia Chacin and Daniel Chang of the Miami Herald — Despite flaws in the Florida Department of Health’s reporting of vaccination rates for each of the 80 ZIP codes in Miami-Dade, an analysis of the data reveals trends that suggest areas with predominantly Black and low-income residents are falling behind on vaccination against COVID-19. In the nine Miami-Dade ZIP codes where more than half of residents describe themselves as non-Hispanic Black, the average vaccination rate was just 48% of the population as of Friday. Only one of the nine ZIP codes had more than 50% of their population fully vaccinated.
—“Jon Bon Jovi cancels Miami Beach concert after testing positive for COVID-19” via Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald
“‘It’s a personal choice’: DoD civilians, contractors protest COVID-19 vaccine mandate” via Jim Thompson of the Northwest Florida Daily News — A mix of local Department of Defense civilian workers and military contractor employees spent hours Thursday morning along Eglin Parkway protesting federal mandates that require them to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or have an approved exemption. At midmorning Thursday, about two dozen people stood between Gardner Drive and Cherokee Road in Shalimar waving signs with slogans opposing the mandates. Several participants revealed frustration with what they see as bureaucratic bungling surrounding the mandates, particularly with regard to basic communication from the DoD and employers on deadlines for vaccination and the processing of requests for exemptions on the allowable spiritual or health grounds.
“Duval Schools lifts its mask requirement as COVID-19 rates dip in Jacksonville” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — Starting Monday, students attending Duval County Public Schools and employees will no longer be required to wear masks on campus. That’s because the city’s COVID-19 positivity rate has finally dipped low enough to categorize Duval County’s transmission status as “moderate” instead of “substantial” or “high.” Dr. Sunil Joshi, President of the Duval County Medical Society Foundation, said he would’ve preferred to see the district’s mask policy stay in place until community spread decreased even further. Duval County’s positivity percentage dipped weeks ago, but the average number of new cases took longer to achieve.
“With masks optional at most Florida schools, some students with disabilities feel cast aside” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — JJ Holmes, who has cerebral palsy, cannot both wear a face mask and use his communication device. Because COVID-19 poses heightened risks to his health, his doctor said everyone around him at school should wear a mask to keep him safe while he uses his iPad in class, according to his mother, Alison Holmes. But Seminole schools do not require masks, so the 11th grader has not been at Lake Mary High School this year. He and his mother argue the Seminole school district is violating federal law by refusing to require masks, as some districts did when COVID-19 cases surged in August. Falling COVID-19 caseloads give his mother hope JJ might be able to return to campus in January. But another surge in cases, which experts say is possible, could alter their plans.
— TUES’ ELECTIONS —
“11 Democrats on ballot to replace late US Rep. Hastings” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press — Some candidates running to replace Hastings are saying it’s a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to represent the diverse South Florida district. In this case, that’s hardly an exaggeration. Eleven Democrats are on the ballot in Tuesday’s Primary Special Election, including state Rep. Omari Hardy, who was 3 years old when Hastings was elected in 1992. Hastings was the longest-serving member of Florida’s congressional delegation before he died in April after suffering from pancreatic cancer. Turnout is expected to be low on Tuesday, and it’s conceivable the next U.S. House member to represent the district can win the primary with 10% of the vote.
—”EMILY’s List endorses Barbara Sharief in CD 20 Special Election” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics
“Miami Mayor seeks second term as he raises national profile” via Adriana Gomez Licon of ABC News 10 — Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is hoping to easily secure a second term Tuesday, with his reelection campaign showing he can raise millions as he seeks to elevate his profile at a national level. Suarez gained name recognition for launching an effort to lure technology investors to the city at the beginning of the year. Analysts say Suarez was astute to seize a moment when some investors were looking to move to South Florida for tax reasons and looser COVID-19 restrictions during the pandemic. The Mayor has been more than willing to assist. In December, when someone tweeted about moving Silicon Valley to Miami, Suarez replied, “How can I help?” The effect his tech push has had on migration and job creation is still unclear as census numbers do not yet include data for 2021.
—”Eight candidates, some very familiar to voters, vie for two Miami Beach Commission seats” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics
“Proposed 2 a.m. liquor ban will damage Miami Beach economy for years to come” via Hank Fishkind of the Miami Herald — The city of Fort Lauderdale, some 40 years ago, decided it wanted to do away with being a Spring Break destination, raising many of the same concerns that Miami Beach officials have when they talk about wanting to shut the Party down in their city. Fort Lauderdale successfully erased its name off the lists of top Spring Break destinations, but they also invited localized economic depression for 25 years. Eventually, the beach was redeveloped, but it took over decades for the economy to spring back. Miami Beach is inching toward the same fate. The 2 a.m. alcohol ban is a bad idea at an even worse time. We are in the midst of a very fragile economic recovery from the pandemic. An alcohol ban will undoubtedly have a devastating impact on the hospitality industry.
—”Miami Beach group opposing 2 a.m. alcohol rollback debuts ad highlighting leaked Mayor call” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics
—”Orlando City Commissioner Robert Stuart faces tough challenge from Nicolette Springer” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics
—”Orlando City Commissioners trying to keep the band together” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics
—”Lisset Hanewicz, Tom Mullins race for District 4 amid hefty funding, partisan overtones” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics
“Have Manatee voters soured on public school funding? Tuesday tax vote will tell the tale” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — School boards across the state and nation have faced hordes of angry critics, slamming policies on COVID-19 protocols and other issues. But are voters as a whole ready to defund the schools? A test may come Tuesday when voters in Manatee County, a place Trump won with more than 57% of the vote, decide whether to renew a property tax supporting public schools. Manatee County voters in 2018 first passed the 1-mill tax, but by a razor-thin margin with 51.39% in favor of the levy. That was a margin of 1,564 votes out of 56,370 cast. So, can it survive in the current political climate? School Board Chair Charlie Kennedy thinks so.
— 2022 —
“Marco Rubio urges GOP-Big Business divorce” via Alayna Treene and Sarah Mucha of Axios — Rubio will call for Republicans to break up with Big Business when he addresses the National Conservatism Conference on Monday. Rubio is seeking re-election in one of the most high-profile and expensive races of the 2022 cycle. He’s using this speech to differentiate himself from traditional economic conservatism by branding himself as a leading proponent of the working class. “There would be a lot less craziness in America’s corporations if the people voting their shares were actually firefighters and teachers, rather than their union bosses or Wall Street,” Rubio will say.
“Progressives fear compromise could jeopardize midterm hopes” via Max Greenwood and Tal Axelrod of The Hill — Progressives are fretting over the pared-back framework of Democrats’ massive social policy and climate bill, warning that it won’t be enough to motivate the Party’s liberal base ahead of the 2022 midterms. Still smarting from seeing the package whittled down from $6 trillion to $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion, liberals say the final result is not enough to push the progressive grassroots to the polls next year after top priorities were left on the cutting room floor. Many progressives are still lining up behind the framework, in some cases begrudgingly, believing that failing to pass anything at all would be politically self-destructive.
“Florida Democrats anxious as Ron DeSantis seems unbeatable” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — A year before the Florida gubernatorial election, the Republican Governor has nearly $60 million in the bank. The GOP is on the cusp of becoming the state’s majority party after erasing Democrats’ enormous voter registration advantage. The Democratic field is splintering and support for President Joe Biden has collapsed in the state. It’s a situation that has alarmed Democrats, who fear that Florida’s days as a battleground state are over and that national donors will write off their candidates.
“Roger Stone threatens to run against DeSantis for not conducting election audit” via Natalie Colarossi of Newsweek —Stone, a longtime ally and former adviser to Donald Trump, said he would mull a bid for office in Florida as a Libertarian candidate, according to a social media post shared on Twitter. “If Florida Governor Ron DeSantis does not order an audit of the 2020 election to expose the fact that there are over 1 million phantom voters on the Florida voter rolls in the Sunshine State I may be forced to seek the Libertarian party nomination for Governor Florida in 2022,” Stone wrote.
Assignment editors — Congressman Crist will join the Tampa Bay Venezuelan advocacy group, Venezuela USA Foundation, to discuss the challenges facing Venezuelans fleeing the Nicolás Maduro regime, 3 p.m., Crist St. Pete District Office, 696 1st Ave. North, Suite 203, St. Petersburg. Later, Crist will meet with NBA legend Magic Johnson and community leaders to discuss Johnson’s Simply Healthcare initiative to expand access to quality health care to low-income residents, 4 p.m., Tropicana Field, Lot 1, 16th Street side, St. Petersburg.
“Dozens of Florida congressional candidates fail to turn in mandatory financial reports” via Corbin Bolies of Florida Politics — Mandatory reports that would reveal key details about the personal wealth of scores of political challengers running for Florida’s congressional seats are missing from government files on Capitol Hill. The missing paperwork means voters have few clues so far about where these candidates have earned their money, where they invested, or to whom they owe personal debts. It was supposed to be submitted to the Capitol in Washington. Seven of the candidates were running for the vacant seat in Florida’s 20th Congressional District in the southeast. The rest were candidates for next year’s elections.
Assignment editors — Rev. Don Tolliver, community leaders and members of the anti-corruption organization RepresentUS are hosting Gerry’s Partisan Pizza Truck, part of a two-week food truck tour of key states where lawmakers are in charge of the redistricting process, 1:15 p.m., Florida Capitol Complex Courtyard.
— CORONA NATION —
“Delta surge of COVID-19 recedes, leaving winter challenge ahead” via Jon Kamp and Brianna Abbott of The Wall Street Journal — The delta wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is past its peak, with new cases, hospitalizations and deaths declining in most states. The approaching holidays and winter months will test whether the U.S. can sustain that momentum. New COVID-19 case numbers in the U.S. are close to levels recorded near this time last year, with a seven-day average of about 72,000 a day. But the trajectory is the opposite. Last fall, cases were rising while hospitalizations and deaths, trailing indicators, were starting to follow. Now all those metrics are improving significantly at the national level. The seven-day new case average was down about 16% from the week prior.
“How does a pandemic start winding down? You’re looking at it.” via Joel Achenbach and Yasmeen Abutaleb of The Washington Post — The pandemic isn’t over. But new cases nationally have dropped below 75,000 a day, less than half the number in August. The pandemic appears to be winding down in the United States in a thousand subtle ways, but without any singular milestone or a cymbal-crashing announcement of freedom from the virus. Infectious-disease experts and Biden administration officials are not about to make any definitive predictions about when the pandemic might end. With most people vaccinated and infection rates dropping, the United States has entered a new phase of the pandemic in which people are adapting to the persistent presence of an endemic but usually nonlethal pathogen.
“CDC says unvaccinated foreign travelers under 18 don’t need to quarantine on arrival” via Rachel Pannett of The Washington Post — Foreign-national children who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus will not need to self-quarantine for seven days upon arrival in the United States. The CDC issued an amended order clarifying its position Saturday after some international travelers raised concerns about their children needing to self-quarantine for that long under new rules that will apply once a travel ban on visitors from 33 countries is lifted on Nov. 8. The United States is lifting travel restrictions that have meant most foreign nationals who have been in the United Kingdom, several European Union countries, Brazil or China in the previous 14 days are not permitted to enter the United States.
“Vaccination offers more protection against COVID-19 than prior infection, a CDC study suggests.” via Benjamin Mueller of The New York Times — A new study by the CDC suggests that vaccination provides stronger and more reliable protection against the coronavirus than a past infection does. Unvaccinated people who had previously recovered from a coronavirus infection were five times as likely to get COVID-19 as people who had received vaccine shots. The study looked at how many hospitalized patients were indeed infected with the coronavirus. The odds of testing positive for the virus were considerably higher among unvaccinated, previously infected patients than among vaccinated people.
“FDA delays decision on Moderna coronavirus vaccine for adolescents to evaluate myocarditis risk, company says” via Laurie McGinley of The Washington Post — The Food and Drug Administration is delaying a decision on whether to make Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine available to adolescents because the agency needs more time to evaluate if the shot increases the risk of a rare cardiac side effect. Moderna said in a news release the FDA indicated it will take until at least January to complete the review of Moderna’s application for use in 12- to 17-year-olds. The agency told the vaccine maker it needed more time to analyze emerging international data on the risk of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that in rare instances occurs after vaccination.
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“Companies mull ending government contracts over vaccine mandate” via Hailey Fuchs and Natasha Korecki of POLITICO — Objections among certain vendors over Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors are reaching an inflection point. As the deadline for workforce vaccination approaches, some trucking companies are mulling whether to end their work with the federal government altogether. In an interview, the American Trucking Associations’ Executive Vice President for Advocacy Bill Sullivan said some companies might simply decide that the mandate’s cost is not worth the government’s checks. He noted that if companies drop their contracts, it may be harder to get certain foods to troops, transport fuel for military vehicles, or even deploy the National Guard. Sullivan’s remarks are among the sharpest warnings yet from the business community about the residual impacts of the vaccine mandate.
“Supermarkets play supply-chain ‘whack-a-mole’ to keep products on shelves” via Jaewon Kang of The Wall Street Journal — Supermarket chains are revamping their operations to navigate persistent product shortages, expanding storage space and curbing discounts to make sure they don’t run out. Companies are planning for shortages of popular brands of food and staples to continue for months and managers are trying to keep up as different products run short from week to week. Food retailers are buying extra inventory whenever they can, ordering items months earlier than usual. Some retailers are withdrawing discounts to reduce demand. Consumers typically find it easier to substitute products or switch brands when there isn’t a huge promotion going on.
“More cargo at Florida ports? Truck driver shortage could bring challenges” via Paul Nutcher of The Ledger — Florida ports have the capacity for cargo, but a shortage of truck drivers could create a logistics challenge throughout Florida. Last week, after Gov. DeSantis made statements publicly about port capacity in the Sunshine State, industry insiders said that a decade-long truck driver shortage could bottleneck freight at Florida’s ports just as cargo ships anchored off the Pacific Coast are now waiting to be emptied. Tra Williams, owner and CEO of FleetForce Driving School in Winter Haven, welcomed the Governor’s comments but said more cargo will likely highlight the need to train more drivers.
— MORE CORONA —
“More than 4,996,000 people have died from the coronavirus worldwide” via Chris Alcantara, Youjin Shin, Leslie Shapiro, Adam Taylor and Armand Emamdjomeh of The Washington Post — The coronavirus is on the cusp of having killed at least 5 million people since it first emerged in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. Nearly a quarter-billion cases of the coronavirus have been reported. Despite the rollout of vaccines, global health experts warn that the pandemic is set to continue. Vaccines have blunted the worst impact of the pandemic in many countries, though their distribution has been marked by inequities that mean they have not stopped the virus’s spread.
“U.S. spies say COVID-19’s origins will remain unclear without China’s help” via Josh Wingrove of Bloomberg — COVID-19 was probably not a biological weapon, and most U.S. analysts believe it wasn’t genetically engineered at all, but a final conclusion on the virus’s origins is impossible without cooperation from China, a declassified U.S. report says. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released its long-awaited public findings on the virus’s origins on Friday, a declassified version of the secret report submitted to Biden this summer. The intelligence community remains divided on where the outbreak began but believes two causes are plausible, that it spread through animals to humans or that it sprang from an incident at a lab in Wuhan.
“‘Bereft’: How Operation Warp Speed’s decisions left the world waiting for a vaccine” via Erin Banco, Adam Cancryn, Sarah Owermohle of POLITICO — In a series of meetings in the fall of 2020, Trump administration officials held a meeting on one of its vaccine suppliers. Maryland-based Novavax was reporting data that indicated the company was struggling to find a way to manufacture a high-quality shot consistently. And it did not yet have tests that could determine the levels of purity within each tranche. Novavax has pledged 1.35 billion doses to the world, along with the 100 million it promised the U.S. Yet in the year since then, it’s failed to successfully deliver a single dose, leaving the world’s neediest countries in limbo as it tries to convince regulators it can consistently produce a high-quality shot.
“America’s poor diet made COVID-19 much worse. Washington isn’t paying attention.” via Helena Bottemiller Evich of POLITICO — In Washington, there has been no wake-up call about the link between diet-related diseases and the pandemic. There is no national strategy. There is no systems-wide approach, even as researchers increasingly recognize that obesity is a disease driven not by lack of willpower, but a modern society and food system almost perfectly designed to encourage the overeating of empty calories. Researchers have estimated that nearly two-thirds of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. were related to obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart failure. Food and beverage companies have been closely following whether marketing crackdowns, warning labels, or other more aggressive measures could spread. So far, there isn’t much on the agenda in the U.S.
— PRESIDENTIAL —
“Biden’s job rating sinks to 42% in NBC News poll a year from midterms” via Mark Murray of NBC News — A majority of Americans now disapprove of Biden‘s job performance, while half give him low marks for competence and uniting the country. What’s more, the survey finds that 7 in 10 adults, including almost half of Democrats, believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction, as well as nearly 60% who view Biden’s stewardship of the economy negatively just nine months into his presidency. “Democrats face a country whose opinion of President Biden has turned sharply to the negative since April,” said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates. 42% of adults say they approve of Biden’s overall job as President, a decline of 7 points since August.
“How ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ became code for insulting Biden” via Colleen Long of The Associated Press — When Republican Rep. Bill Posey of Florida ended an Oct. 21 House floor speech with a fist pump and the phrase “Let’s go, Brandon!” it may have seemed cryptic and weird to many who were listening. The line has become conservative code for something far more vulgar: “F — Joe Biden.” It’s all the rage among Republicans wanting to prove their conservative credentials, a not-so-secret handshake that signals they’re in sync with the Party’s base. It started at an Oct. 2 NASCAR race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. The crowd was chanting something at first difficult to make out. The reporter suggested they were chanting “Let’s go, Brandon” to cheer the driver. But it became increasingly clear they were saying: “F — Joe Biden.”
“Southwest Airlines to investigate pilot’s purported anti-Biden chant” via Adelia Suliman of The Washington Post — Southwest Airlines is conducting an internal investigation after one of its pilots reportedly said a phrase used in right-wing circles as a stand-in for swearing at Biden over the plane’s public address system, apologizing to customers and insisting it does not condone employees sharing personal political opinions while on the job. The airline faced turbulence on social media over the weekend after an Associated Press journalist was on a flight from Houston to Albuquerque on Friday when she heard the pilot use the phrase “let’s go, Brandon,” writing that it brought on “audible gasps from some passengers.”
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Supreme Court embarks on most dramatic reckoning for abortion rights in decades” via Robert Barnes of The Washington Post — The Supreme Court will face a bramble of unsettled legal questions when it reviews Texas’s most-restrictive-in-the-nation abortion law Monday, but the inquiry itself is evidence of a changed court whose view of abortion as a constitutional right is in doubt. The court on Monday will hear two cases, one brought by abortion providers and the other by the Biden administration, to determine what role federal courts have in reviewing the law. Anti-abortion activists feel this is their chance to overturn the Roe vs. Wade decision.
“Florida could set record for Affordable Care Act insurance enrollment in 2022” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — More Americans than ever will be eligible for marketplace insurance plans through subsidies established in the American Rescue Plan. That has the Biden administration predicting that four out of five consumers will be able to find health care coverage for $10 or less per month. Florida led the nation with a record-high 2.1 million residents enrolled in federal health care marketplace plans in 2021. The increase in funding will make it easier to reach and enroll people from the state’s rural areas and minority communities, said Anne Swerlick, senior policy analyst and attorney at the Florida Policy Institute, a nonpartisan nonprofit based in Tallahassee.
“Rick Scott says to solve port crisis, treat it like post-hurricane fuel shortages” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — “If the Secretary of Transportation wanted to solve the port issue, you’d fly out to the port. You’d sit down with everybody and find out what the problem is. And then you’d go solve it. Typically, the problem is solved by some government regulation or some government red tape,” Scott said, pivoting to problems replenishing gas stations after hurricane evacuations deplete fuel stock. “When I had hurricanes in Florida, I had to make sure we didn’t run out of fuel. I was constantly on the phone with everybody involved in delivering fuel. And even though we were selling some nine times the normal amount of fuel, we didn’t run out.”
“Ander Crenshaw reaches settlement over ‘zombie campaign,’ must pay fine to FEC” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Crenshaw has reached an agreement with the Federal Elections Commission to close a so-called “zombie campaign.” Crenshaw’s longtime PAC must pay a penalty of $3,950, and Crenshaw himself must pay more than $13,000 to the U.S. Treasury. The costs are related to the potential use of campaign dollars for personal use. Crenshaw announced in 2016 he would not seek another term in Congress. Rather than close down his longtime FEC account, it was converted to a multicandidate PAC, Ander PAC. But the complaint filed in 2019 suggested that PAC’s spending included many expenses that didn’t involve politics at all. The use of defunct PACs for personal use has been referred to by critics as spending by zombie campaigns.
— CRISIS —
Must-read — “Red flags” via Hannah Allam, Devlin Barrett, Aaron C. Davis, Josh Dawsey, Amy Gardner, Shane Harris, et al. of The Washington Post — While the public may have been surprised by what happened on Jan. 6, the makings of the insurrection had been spotted at every level, from one side of the country to the other. The red flags were everywhere. Trump supporters were discussing online how to sneak guns into Washington to “overrun” police and arrest members of Congress in January. Those planning violence believed they had “orders from the President,” used code words such as “pickax” to describe guns, and posted the times and locations of four spots around the country for caravans to meet the day before the joint session. The FBI passed the information to law enforcement agencies in D.C. but did not pursue the matter.
To watch just one of the many red flags, click on the image below (via The Washington Post):
“During Jan. 6 riot, Trump attorney told Mike Pence team the Vice President’s inaction caused attack on Capitol” via Josh Dawsey, Jacqueline Alemany, Jon Swaine and Emma Brown of The Washington Post — As Vice President Pence hid from a marauding mob during the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol, an attorney for Trump emailed a top Pence aide to say that Pence had caused the violence by refusing to block certification of Trump’s election loss. The attorney, John Eastman, also continued to press for Pence to act even after Trump’s supporters had trampled through the Capitol. Greg Jacob, Pence’s chief counsel, wrote that by sending the email at that moment, Eastman “displayed a shocking lack of awareness of how those practical implications were playing out in real time.”
“Misinformation online is bad in English. But it’s far worse in Spanish.” via Stephanie Valencia of The Washington Post — Social media platforms are allowing far more misinformation to spread in other languages than they are in English. But some of the scariest misinformation online is spreading right here in the United States in Spanish. Latino communities maintain strong connections across Latin America; the result is an entire continent of Spanish-language misinformation largely unchecked by the platforms. Latinos are more susceptible to misinformation simply because of how much time we are spending online. Spanish-language misinformation narratives often start on Facebook or YouTube, but then conversations or viral content move to closed WhatsApp groups where there’s less of a chance for fact-checkers to intervene.
— EPILOGUE: TRUMP —
“Trump calls out Biden administration, predicts Virginia gubernatorial race” via Kelsey Koberg of Fox News — Trump called out the Biden administration and Democratic former Virginia Gov. McAuliffe Saturday on “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” saying the Biden administration is an “embarrassment.” “I think you have to say an F and not an F+. It would be an F,” Trump said when grading the Biden administration. Trump also said he had hoped that the Biden administration would succeed because he loves the country “more than anything.” Trump said McAuliffe’s comment that parents should not be involved in their students’ education was a “tremendous mistake,” and that Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin will “do very well” in Tuesday’s election.
“Trump is right: Former Presidents can assert executive privilege” via Saikrishna Prakash for The Washington Post — President Biden and former President Trump are locked in another fierce battle, this one not involving electoral votes but rather whether a President may invoke and insist upon “executive privilege” even after he has left office, in defiance of his successor. The former President has now sued the archivist to prevent the release of his Presidential papers. At the least, Trump has sufficiently good legal arguments to keep the issue in the courts for months, if not years, which would achieve the intended effect of bringing the investigation to a crawl. The idea that Presidents may keep some governmental information secret dates back to George Washington‘s administration.
— LOCAL NOTES —
“Did drilling next door damage Surfside tower? Newly surfaced vibration data offer clues” via Sarah Blaskey, Ben Conarck, and Aaron Liebowitz of the Miami Herald — In the spring of 2016, residents of Champlain Towers South flooded complaint hotlines to fume about construction activity at the neighboring Eighty-Seven Park project that had jostled their walls, closed their pool and coated their balconies in dust. A report obtained by the Miami Herald showed that the vibrations exceeded the developers’ own target limits along Champlain South’s southern wall, including the span where the pool deck would cave into the garage below five years later. Most of the readings along the wall came in over that limit but under levels known to do significant damage.
“Expanding development near Biscayne Bay blocks options for Everglades, agency says” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Building an industrial park outside Miami-Dade’s Urban Development Boundary in South Dade could hinder Florida’s main Everglades restoration project since the proposed construction site is part of several potential plans for the restoration effort, the state’s environmental agency said Friday. Federal planners “recently identified several … alternative plans featuring project elements on this parcel designed to increase the quantity, quality and distribution of freshwater flows to Southern Biscayne Bay,” Lindsey Weaver, an administrator with Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, wrote in the Oct. 29 letter to Miami-Dade’s planning office.
“Miami travelers frustrated amid American Airlines flight cancellations, delays” via Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — More than 100 flights to and from Miami International Airport were canceled or delayed Sunday amid a wave of hundreds of Halloween weekend cancellations by American Airlines. On Sunday afternoon, 790, or 29%, of American’s operations were canceled, with 213 delays. Sixty-nine flights from Fort Lauderdale were either delayed or canceled as well. In a statement published Saturday, the company wrote that severe winds in Dallas, the airlines’ largest hub, reduced capacity by more than half, and staffing is short as employees end up out of their normal flight schedule. Proactively canceling flights creates “scheduling certainty for crews.”
“‘Symbol of resilience’: NAS Pensacola Building 633 reopens after 2019 terrorist attack” via Colin Warren-Hicks of the Pensacola News Journal — Building 633 at Naval Air Station Pensacola officially reopened Friday, almost two years after a terrorist attack inside its halls Dec. 6, 2019, forever changed the community. Admirals, high-ranking military officers and local dignitaries attended the reopening ceremony, which was intended to honor the three young sailors who lost their lives and the eight others injured in the attack. The Navy refurbished the building during its closure. The restored building now features a bronze plaque with the names and faces of the three sailors that can be seen as soon as one enters the first-floor quarterdeck.
“30A homeowner continues to fly ‘Trump Won’ banner, plans to hang ‘Let’s go, Brandon’ sign” via Jim Thompson of the Northwest Florida Daily News — The case of the “Trump Won” banner hanging down three stories of a Walton County Road 30A home in Seagrove Beach, in apparent ongoing support for Trump, will be back in front of Walton County’s code compliance magistrate on Nov. 17. And if a second politically-themed banner that Georgia businessman Marvin Peavy says he plans to hang from his house on Saturday attracts a complaint, that case will be making its separate way through the county’s code adjudication process. Code Compliance Magistrate Hayward Dykes Jr. found Peavy in violation of a section of the county’s land development code regarding signage along 30A under its local designation as a scenic corridor.
“Clara White controversy deepens, and draws attention of city inspector general” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — When five of the Clara White Mission’s six executive board members abruptly resigned from the organization in August, accusing the nonprofit’s CEO of poor leadership, they left behind a key document that provides far more detail than has been previously reported about the numerous and growing concerns that ultimately prompted the board’s leaders to walk away from one of the city’s most iconic nonprofits. The document, attached to the letter of resignation submitted by the former board President, Michelle Paul, lists several concerns and allegations against Clara White’s longtime leader, Jacksonville City Council member Ju’Coby Pittman, ranging from outright obstruction to possibly misappropriating Clara White’s resources.
“Deltona faces lawsuits for racial discrimination, sexual harassment, incest innuendo” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Deltona’s former interim City Manager Marc-Antonie Cooper, who is Black, is claiming discrimination and questioning the validity of his replacement John Peters III who won the permanent City Manager job with a 4-to-3 vote last year. “Here, an inadequate and unlawful charade of a vote was commenced to remove Dr. Cooper and terminate his position, and replace him with a White male, with no qualifications for the position.” Also suing Deltona is former human resources director Richard Adams who claimed he was fired in retaliation after he told Peters he was investigating him for sexual harassment and discrimination: “Specifically, Peters made comments toward the employee suggesting that he is a product of incest.”
“Mom banned as Orange elementary school volunteer after anonymous letter reveals OnlyFans page” via Cristóbal Reyes of the Orlando Sentinel — As a volunteer at Sand Lake Elementary where her two children attend school, Victoria Triece has spent hours helping organize class parties and assist in lab assignments in her older son’s classroom, something she said she wanted to do ever since she became a mom. But the 30-year-old is no longer part of Orange County Public Schools’ ADDition volunteer program as of Oct. 13, after she was kicked off campus when an anonymous parent told higher-ups they found her page on OnlyFans. Triece was told she would no longer be allowed to volunteer at the school on Oct. 13, though lawyers Mark NeJame and John Zielinski said she never received a formal letter of that decision.
“Gables Police Chief says gruesome Halloween display meant to be ‘educational’” via Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — The Coral Gables Police Department made an effort to have a bit of Halloween fun this year, but the gory attempt was met with more gasps than giggles. The department set up a fake “crime scene” on Miracle Mile, which featured yellow tape and what looks like a body covered in a tarp. The scene also prominently displayed a Coral Gables police SUV, with a limbless mannequin in a T-shirt and face gaiter tucked under the front right tire. The scene was set up for the city’s annual “Halloween on the Mile” event Saturday. It was taken down when the event ended at 8 p.m., according to a city spokeswoman. In a statement, Coral Gables Police Chief Edward Hudak Jr. said the scene meant to educate, not disturb.
“Florida activist says cop warned her not to wear condo costume to Halloween party” via Susannah Bryan of the Hastings Tribune — Imagine getting a spooky call from a cop warning you not to wear a boxy condo costume to a Halloween party. Hollywood mom Cat Uden says it happened to her. Uden has emerged in the past few months as an outspoken critic of a developer’s plan to build a 30-story condo on taxpayer-owned beachfront land south of Hollywood Boulevard. And she still plans to wear her homemade condo costume to the South Florida city’s Hollyweird Halloween downtown block party Saturday night. Police spokeswoman Deanna Bettineschi said by email that Uden needs a permit to hold a “planned protest march.”
— TOP OPINION —
What Peter Schorsch keeps reading — “Why never Trumpers should bet on DeSantis now” via Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic — In 2024, DeSantis may not be the President that Never Trumpers would choose. He’s too Trumpy for their taste. But their options are limited, and if beating Trump is their highest priority, as I think it should be, DeSantis may be their best bet. So far, DeSantis has threaded that dispiriting needle more deftly than most other Republican contenders. I strongly disagree with DeSantis on some issues and have all the policy objections you’d expect from a classical liberal. Yet I would be relieved to grant him four years in the White House if, in return, I could be assured that no Trump would ever again be President.
— OPINIONS —
“Take the win, Democrats, and don’t look back” via E.J. Dionne Jr. of The Washington Post — Celebrate victory. Explain what you’ve achieved. Defend it from attack. Change the public conversation in your favor. Build on success to make more progress. And for God’s sake, don’t moan about what might have been. President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress are on the cusp of ending their long journey through legislative hell by enacting a remarkable list of practical, progressive programs. This will confront them with a choice. They can follow the well-tested rules for champions of social change. Or they can repeat past mistakes by letting their opponents define what they have done and complain about the things left undone.
“21,000 deaths later, do-nothing DeSantis takes a COVID-19 victory lap” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Florida’s summer of suffering was also a summer of silence for DeSantis. The Governor had nearly nothing to say about his state’s lengthy run as No. 1 in the nation in COVID-19 cases, No. 1 in hospitalizations and No. 1 in deaths. Instead, the Governor held almost daily news conferences intended to burnish his Presidential bona fides among the MAGA crowd, and boost his Presidential ambitions. Through it all, the Governor pointedly ignored the elephant in the room: That Florida was the epicenter for a deadly new COVID-19 outbreak caused by the delta variant.
“Are parents who refuse to vaccinate kids for COVID-19 fueling another unhealthy trend in Florida?” via the Miami Herald editorial board — While the country is divided over COVID-19 vaccines, another ominous problem is going largely unnoticed: Routine immunizations for children, required under state law for school attendance, have fallen during the pandemic. That means fewer children immunized for diseases such as measles, polio and mumps, which have been controlled or eradicated because of vaccine mandates. Miami-Dade County has always struggled to get kids vaccinated because of its transient population and families from around the world who aren’t familiar with Florida’s vaccination schedule.
“Floridians are paying for Marco Rubio and DeSantis’ dangerous immigration policies” via Jude Derisme of the Miami Herald — Our state, in particular our state’s economy, relies on Haitian immigrants, who are overwhelmingly represented in critical industries including health care and tourism. Haitians form the bedrock of Florida’s immigrant community. That’s why it’s so disheartening to see so-called leaders like Rubio and DeSantis abandon us at such a pivotal moment. In September, DeSantis issued an executive order encouraging police officers to pull over any driver they suspect is transporting migrants into the state. It’s shameful that Haitians are subjected to policies DeSantis and his fellow Republicans would never dream of inflicting on other groups of immigrants. Rubio has followed the Governor’s lead, proving once again that he is too weak to stand up to his Party when its leaders attack immigrants.
— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —
Gov. DeSantis says the Special Session beginning Nov. 15, will among other things, fortify the parent’s bill of rights.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— Union groups are concerned that calls to pull out of OSHA during Special Session risk the health and safety of millions.
— And one journalist digs and finds more than one-third of congressional candidates across Florida have failed to file mandatory financial disclosure reports.
— Today’s Sunrise Interview is with Theresa King, President of Florida Building and Construction Trade Council, and Rich Templin, director of politics and public policy with the Florida AFL-CIO — they are both concerned about calls from Republican legislative leaders for the state to drop out of the nation’s workplace safety agency.
— We will also hear from Fresh Take Florida reporter Corbin Bolies, whose reporting uncovered dozens of Florida’s congressional candidates failing to turn in mandatory financial reports.
To listen, click on the image below:
— ALOE —
“5 ideas for what to do with all that leftover Halloween candy” via Genevieve Shaw Brown of Good Morning America — Halloween candy buyback: The Halloween Candy Buy Back website is a great tool to find out where your kids can take their extra loot. Support the troops: There are a few options for donating your candy to troops overseas. One is called Soldier’s Angels. Plug in your ZIP code on their website and find a donation location near you. Switch Witch: Parents can buy the Switch Witch toy and book to gear up for the “switch” before Halloween, or they can simply swap out the candy for healthier grist or treat a la the tooth fairy. Trade it in for Reese’s peanut butter cups: If you’re Reese’s lover and will be in New York City on Wednesday, you’re in luck. There’s an actual Reese’s vending machine that will allow you to trade the candy you don’t want for Reese’s peanut butter cup.
“Billions of pounds of pumpkin will go to the landfill after Halloween” via Perry Miller of inhabitat.com — More than 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins will be thrown out in the U.S., adding tons of waste to landfills. When we throw those pumpkins out, they decompose and release methane — a harmful greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. Is our pumpkin waste ruining the environment? It’s certainly an issue, but the U.S. Department of Energy is working on the problem by teaming up with industry experts to develop integrated biorefineries, which are facilities that can efficiently convert plant and waste material into affordable biofuels. As of right now, none of the refineries are in full operation. In the meantime, keep enjoying your pumpkins. Carve them, decorate them and — after October 31 — eat or compost them to reduce the food waste.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday belatedly to ace PR pro Allison Aubuchon, Kate DeLoach of The Southern Group, Andrew Fay, former U.S. Rep. David Jolly, Michael Kruse of POLITICO, David Tuthill, Tyler Winik, and Ivey Rooney Yarger. Celebrating today are U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, Danny Martell, Holly Moore, Jesse Panuccio of Boies Schiller Flexner, and Max Solomon.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.