Good Thursday morning.
Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo has been as coy about his vaccination status as he has been cagey with everything else related to COVID-19.
The good doctor has made a name for himself by advocating for the inverse of accepted medical advice on testing, masking and vaccines.
Given his many contrarian op-eds, one wonders whether Harvard — which requires vaccines for all faculty and staff, by the way — still wants to claim him as an alum. In essence, he is to Harvard Medical School what Gov. Ron DeSantis is to Harvard law.
The latest question mark comes after he refused to wear a mask when meeting with Sen. Tina Polsky, who was recently diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer.
It would have been a cinch to comply with her request. Doing so would have been consistent with the medical advice Ladapo gave in the past. And, as Senate President Wilton Simpson said Wednesday, it’s just good manners.
Yet simple tasks may as well be herculean labors for Ladapo, who can’t manage to answer a yes or no question about whether he’s gotten the jab.
Thankfully, that mystery will be solved before Christmas as UF Health announced Wednesday that it will abide by the Joe Biden administration’s employer vaccine mandate.
The health system covers two-thirds of Ladapo’s paycheck — $262,000 — due to his joint appointment to a UF College of Medicine post.
Under UF Health’s policy, Ladapo has until Dec. 8 to either get the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot or both doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.
So, it would seem the same price spikes found in the real property market also apply to the hill he’s trying to die on — time to see if he can afford it.
Almost a scoop — DeSantis has not officially filed for reelection, although a rollout of his 2022 plans is imminent, sources inside his juggernaut campaign say.
But just because DeSantis isn’t an official candidate doesn’t mean the chess-boarding isn’t underway.
Look for the well-regarded Generra Peck to be campaign manager, err, actually she may not get that exact title, but she is expected to run day-to-day operations for DeSantis ’22.
Peck is president of Pathway Public Affairs, where DeSantis senior adviser Phil Cox is a partner.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting and Future of Florida Forum continues today, with a slate of speakers focused on how the business community can home in on strategies to make Florida a Top 10 economy in the world.
Day One featured a jam-packed agenda that included talks from three of the top elected officials in the state — CFO Jimmy Patronis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Senate President Simpson — as well as updates and policy dives from some of the state’s foremost business leaders.
On Thursday, the Forum continues with panels on the future of higher education, workplace safety, transportation, space exploration, racial equity and rural economic development.
Each segment will drive home ways businesses can engage in the Florida Chamber’s Six Pillars Framework and help accomplish the 39 goals of the Florida 2030 Blueprint — the Chamber’s cornerstone research project on growing the economy.
But the highlight of the day comes shortly after noon when DeSantis is expected to take the stage to deliver a keynote on his vision for Florida’s future. House Speaker Chris Sprowls will follow with a talk on workforce reform.
Before the event wraps with a “Magic Close,” courtesy of comedian Mark Robinson, Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson will summarize the information-dense, two-day event, answering the question on most business leaders’ minds: “Where do we go from here?”
“Jimmy Patronis outlines 2022 priorities at Future of Florida Forum” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Patronis will focus on funding for first responders and cracking down on pesky scam calls during the upcoming Session. The Panama City Republican recounted the fight to secure COVID-19 liability protections for businesses. Heading into Session, Patronis said it was “important that we get the economy up and running in as many ways as possible.” “One of our top priorities is to make sure (first responders) have the support they need to do their job in order to protect our communities,” he said. Specifically, his office will seek a $10 million appropriation to purchase equipment and provide more training to urban search and rescue teams. Patronis also highlighted the work to spread the word about the state’s unclaimed property website.
“Future of Florida Forum: Wilton Simpson highlights education, environmental policy as keys to Florida’s economic success” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Simpson said Florida’s economy had weathered the pandemic due to smart decisions at the state level, well before COVID-19 entered the lexicon. The Trilby Republican credited the Legislature’s focus on education — including “school choice” vouchers and funding for trade education programs. “Your state Legislature has spent a disproportionate amount of time on education. We don’t get a lot of credit for that, but we currently have the No. 1 university and college education system in the country, four years in a row,” Simpson said. “What does 15-20 years from now look like? If we have the best education facilities — university, college and K-12 systems — we will be the best place to do business by far,” he said.
“Future of Florida Forum: Child care staffing crisis could cripple economic comeback” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — As the job market and economy inches toward normalcy, child care centers are struggling to make ends meet. Rep. Vance Aloupis and Children’s Nest Day Schools President Tripp Crouch said that should worry business leaders and lawmakers as much as it does parents. “If the pandemic showed us anything, it shows that early learning is also about the worker … 85% of child care centers closed their doors across Miami-Dade County at the height of the pandemic, leaving moms and dads struggling to find (a) place to put their children so that they can be on the front lines fighting COVID. And the challenges have only increased,” Aloupis told the crowd. Crouch said the biggest challenge is finding teachers to put in classrooms.
“Future of Florida Forum: Chamber emphasizes kids health, welfare” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — The Florida Chamber is emphasizing the improvement of children’s health and welfare status in the next eight years. “What we believe, in the next 10 years if we do the right things in Florida, we can grow to the 10th largest economy in the world by 2030. We are going to have 4 million more people and 2 million more jobs,” said Wilson. “And you can ask me all morning, ‘How are we going to do that?’ What do we need to do in education and roads and jobs and technology and RFT and international trade and water and the environment? We can have that conversation.”
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@DaniellaMicaela: Leaving meeting with WH officials, Sen. Joe Manchin said this on prospects for a deal: “It’s really up to the rest of the caucus.” He later said: “Everyone has to participate.” All Sen. Kyrsten Sinema would say is they are “doing great, making prog.”
— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) October 27, 2021
—@MaryEllenKlas: .@ President Mark Wilson boasts: ‘We’re very nonpartisan, and we’re very pro-business … In 2018 elections and the 2020 elections, the @‘s team invested more in Florida politics than our national Chamber did nationally.’
—@MaryEllenKlas: Day One of the @ annual conference, and I did not hear any of these words: COVID, vaccines, mandate, special Session. What I did hear often: workforce & growth woes, supply chain worries, call for manufacturing & marketing aggressiveness and property insurance concerns …
—@NPR: The mental health crisis among children is now a national emergency, top pediatric health experts are warning. In 2020, mental health ER visits rose by 24% for kids ages 5 to 11, and 31% for those 12-17.
—@Jcp717: The comedy highlight of today was when some dipshit with no medical training tried to tell me that I should follow the advice of a few doctors in Scandinavia instead of listening to the pediatrician that has treated my children for almost 11 years.
—@StefKunkel: At this point, I’ll take another lockdown: filling my 20-gal premium gas tank over supply chain issues is painful.
This partnership continues to work & produce positive outcomes.
Bonus: we made friends with a few goats🐐 pic.twitter.com/5Hyhs5c4fD
— Christian Minor (@chris_minor10) October 27, 2021
Non-vampires be like: https://t.co/ljoQKlZigV
— Vulture Vampire Veek: We’re loca (@vulture) October 27, 2021
— DAYS UNTIL —
Georgia at UF — 2; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 5; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Primary — 5; The Blue Angels 75th anniversary show — 8; Disney’s ’Eternals’ premieres — 8; ’Yellowstone’ Season 4 begins — 10; ’Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 11; U.S. to lift restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers — 11; Miami at FSU — 14; ‘Hawkeye’ premieres — 17; ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 21; FSU vs. UF — 30; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 34; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 40; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 43; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 50; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 55; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 62; CES 2022 begins — 69; NFL season ends — 73; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 75; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 75; Florida TaxWatch’s 2022 State of the Taxpayer Day — 76; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 78; NFL playoffs begin — 79; XXIV Olympic Winter Games begins — 99; Super Bowl LVI — 108; Daytona 500 — 115; St. Pete Grand Prix — 122; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 128; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 191; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 211; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 217; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 253; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 265; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 344; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 372; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 379; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 414; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 477; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 631. ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 722.
“Florida Surgeon General Joe Ladapo was rushed into UF College of Medicine job, emails show” via Jeffrey Schweers and Danielle Ivanov of the USA Today Network — Top brass at the University of Florida fast-tracked the hiring of Ladapo, knowing that DeSantis was eyeing him for the position of Surgeon General, emails show. The whirlwind courtship lasted two weeks from start to finish, as the college’s deans ‘Zoom’ed and vetted Ladapo, found a place for him in the college’s internal medicine division and sent him the job application link. “As we discussed, I would like to introduce you to Joe, who we are interested in recruiting to UF Health and potential FL Surgeon General position,” Dr. David Nelson, senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of UF Health, told his leadership team in a Sept. 3 email. “I don’t think anyone who interviewed him knew he was going to be appointed to this,” DeSantis said. “It wasn’t anything we had done, and obviously, we wanted to see how that shaped out before we formally offered him.”
— STATEWIDE —
>>>Gov. DeSantis will hold a press conference at 10:00 a.m. at the Florida Air Museum in Lakeland.
“Tina Polsky said she’s gotten support … and threats since run-in with Ladapo” via Wendy Rhodes of The Palm Beach Post — After a showdown last week that ended with state Sen. Polsky asking unmasked Dr. Ladapo to leave her office, Polsky is hoping for bipartisan support to bring awareness to breast cancer issues. To that end, Polsky, who was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer the second week of September, said she has tried to schedule a meeting with Florida’s first lady, Casey DeSantis, who on Oct. 4 announced that she, too, has breast cancer. Attacks came after Polsky was called out on social media for being in the presence of two Democratic colleagues without a mask on the same day as the thwarted meeting with Ladapo.
“‘Have some manners’: Simpson doubles down on Ladapo admonishment” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Simpson stood behind his public rebuke of Florida Surgeon General Ladapo, saying “(H)e should have some manners.” Simpson did not say whether the Florida Senate would confirm Ladapo, DeSantis’ choice to run the Florida Department of Health. Lawmakers are expected to vote on that confirmation in the upcoming Session beginning in January. But Simpson said his initial reaction to a now nationally debated gaffe is fair. “We don’t have a mask mandate in the Florida Senate or a vaccine mandate or anything else,” Simpson told Florida Politics. “But what I said was, ‘(Y)ou are going to treat Senators with respect.’”
“Nikki Fried to Ron DeSantis: Withdraw Surgeon General nomination” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Fried is calling on DeSantis to nix the nomination of Ladapo. “I hope you will do right by the people of Florida in withdrawing Dr. Ladapo from consideration,” Fried wrote in a letter to DeSantis. The incident aside, Fried pointed to other areas of concern and characterized Ladapo as a promoter of “misinformation.” … Fried also blasted Ladapo over a recent fee change to medical marijuana grow licenses. The change, she says, is discriminatory.
— Forrest Saunders (@FBSaunders) October 27, 2021
Patronis hosts banking roundtable to bash Joe Biden’s ‘IRS power grab’ — Patronis held a roundtable discussion with the Florida Bankers Association, legislators, Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) Commissioner Russell Weigel, and the Kissimmee/Osceola Chamber of Commerce on the Biden administration’s proposal to report certain banking transactions above $10,000 to the IRS. “I’ve been very clear that Florida will not comply with this government overreach,” Patronis said. “This is a gross violation of Floridians’ privacy when it comes to their personal bank accounts — plain and simple — and I will not stand for it … we continue fighting to make sure this extreme power grab does not become law. If it does, we’ll see the IRS in court because Florida will not comply.”
— DATELINE TALLY —
“Personnel note: DeSantis taps Savannah Kelly Jefferson to be external affairs director” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Jefferson has joined DeSantis‘ administration as external affairs director. Jefferson took up the role earlier this month after DeSantis’ prior external affairs director, Mara Gambineri, left the Governor’s Office to rejoin the Department of Environmental Protection. Before joining the DeSantis administration, Jefferson had since January been communications director at the Florida Hospital Administration, a hospital advocacy organization. There she served under President and CEO Mary Mayhew, who was DeSantis’ Secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration until September 2020. Before her time at FHA, Jefferson spent three years at Volunteer Florida.
“Simpson: Special Session discussion underway, details coming possibly by Friday” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — DeSantis‘ push for a Special Session in November to pass new laws dealing with vaccine mandates is still a work in progress. Simpson said Wednesday he does anticipate lawmakers will meet in a Special Session, but he did not provide exact details, including when it will be held or what legislation will ultimately be considered. He couldn’t even say for sure if legislative leaders would officially call lawmakers back to The Capitol or if the call comes from DeSantis himself. “I think we will know all of that by the end of the week, who will proclaim (the Special Session) and what the content will be,” said Simpson.
“Carolinas on their mind: VISIT FLORIDA sees new rivals for vacationers” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — North Carolina and South Carolina are catching more and more vacationers. They have much of the same offerings as Florida, and some Florida lacks, like mountains. According to a new survey of would-be vacationers conducted by VISIT FLORIDA, the Carolinas now are the top other-choice behind Florida. That came as a bit of a surprise to some when VISIT FLORIDA’s annual integrated marketing effectiveness study was presented Wednesday to the agency’s Marketing Council. The Carolinas combined as the No. 2 destination, as planned by 23% of vacationers, and a possible trip by 33%. VISIT FLORIDA didn’t differentiate between the two states. Some of the strengths might have led vacationers to give the Carolinas a try during the COVID-19 pandemic. And maybe they liked it.
“Mobile unemployment claim access, eviction forgiveness on Janet Cruz legislative wish list” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — At least one lawmaker wants to ensure Floridians can file unemployment claims from their smartphones and be forgiven for evictions that happened during the pandemic. Sen. Cruz filed a bill (SB 682) Wednesday that would require the Department of Economic Opportunity to make the state unemployment portal accessible through mobile devices. The measure would build on an overhaul the Legislature and DeSantis approved this year after the portal crashed under the weight of hundreds of thousands of jobless Floridians during the initial brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. A year and a half since the start of the pandemic and with employment levels recovering, some Floridians still have trouble accessing the unemployment portal.
Happening today — The Osceola County legislative delegation holds a public meeting: Sen. Victor Torres; Reps. Kristen Arrington, Fred Hawkins and Josie Tomkow, 9 a.m., Osceola County Administration Building, Commission Chamber, 1 Courthouse Square, Kissimmee.
Kellie Ralston named Bonefish & Tarpon Trust vice president for Conservation and Public Policy — Since 2015, Ralston has served as the Southeast Fisheries Policy Director for the American Sportfishing Association. Before that, she worked at Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Florida House, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) is a conservation organization based in Miami to conserve bonefish, tarpon and permit — through science-based conservation, education and advocacy. “We are excited to welcome Kellie to our team,” said BTT President and CEO Jim McDuffie. “Her knowledge, experience and leadership will have an immediate impact on BTT’s efforts to conserve coastal habitats, improve water quality, and strengthen fisheries management.”
Planned Parenthood Florida adds three diverse board members — Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida (PPSENFL) added three new members to its Board of Directors: Erica Rodriguez Merrell, a longtime feminist advocate and bookseller, who served on the board of Southern Independent Booksellers Association (SIBA); staffing and human relations professional Dellesa Kirk-Johnson, president of the consulting firm Fox & Reid Global Group; and Christine Curtis, a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, editor and director of communications in the business and nonprofit sectors. “This diverse group of new board members brings valuable skills, leadership and experience to help us achieve our mission of providing affordable and compassionate reproductive health care services and to educate the community in all areas of responsible human sexuality,” said PPSENFL President and CEO Lillian Tamayo.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Brian Ballard, Christina Brodeur, Ballard Partners: Feeding Florida
Robert Beck, Tanya Jackson, PinPoint Results: Quest
Laura Boehmer, Michelle Grimsley, David Shepp, Monte Stevens, The Southern Group: City of Bradenton
Kari Hebrank, Carlton Fields: Vetted Security Solutions
Doug Holder, Robert Schenck, The Legis Group: GTH-GA, Heart Gallery of Florida
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“Florida COVID-19 update: 1,887 cases added, number of hospital patients trends down” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — Florida reported 1,887 COVID-19 cases and no new deaths on Tuesday. The Florida Department of Health will most likely add more deaths to Tuesday’s total, increasing it from zero. The state has done this in the past when it has added cases and deaths to previous days during the pandemic. In all, Florida has recorded at least 3,643,191 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 58,933 deaths. On average, the state has added 113 deaths and 1,765 cases per day in the past seven days. There were 2,254 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Florida.
“Florida bucks Biden, strips federal aid from mask mandate schools” via Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO — The Florida Department of Education this week stripped local school boards of federal aid money over their masking policy, directly defying the Biden administration, which cautioned the state against the sanctions. Florida officials yanked the federal grant money for Alachua and Broward counties that was meant to offset penalties for enacting a local mask mandate just one day after the U.S. Department of Education warned that the move would violate requirements in federal law, a clear sign that the state and feds are still at odds over COVID-19 policies. The move by the state signals that there’s no conclusion in the fight between DeSantis and local school districts that have attempted to implement mask requirements.
“Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Carlee Simon ‘appalled’ by state withholding money” via Cindy Swirko of The Gainesville Sun — Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Simon said she is appalled that the state is withholding money for school board member salaries and for programs over masking mandates. “I have already contacted staff at the U.S. Department of Education to let them know of this development,” Simon said in a statement. The Florida department did not reply Wednesday to a request for a response to Simon’s statement. The district learned Wednesday morning that the state had deducted $164,505 from its October allocation. About $16,786 of that is the monthly salary of school board members.
“COVID-19 state of emergency to end in Orange County, Mayor Jerry Demings says” via Ryan Gillespie and Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Demings allowed his state-of-emergency order to expire Wednesday afternoon, but county workers will still be required to wear facial coverings inside government facilities though unvaccinated employees won’t face mandatory weekly virus testing. “Thankfully, due to the high number of vaccinated residents and wearing of masks and other safety measures, our numbers have plummeted,” he said. The decision comes as the positivity rate has dived below 5% for 17 straight days, hovering at about 3.5% over the past two weeks.
“Victor Torres, Osceola County Sheriff Marco Lopez clash over vaccines” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The cultural-political divide over COVID-19 vaccine mandates sparked a skirmish Wednesday morning at the Osceola County Legislative Delegation meeting between two Democrats who drew opposite views from similar backgrounds. Sen. Torres, a retired New York City Transit Police officer and former Marine, and Osceola County Sheriff Lopez, a former Marine, clashed after Torres debated the Sheriff’s decision not to require deputies to get vaccinated. Not counting occasional awkward moments when public speakers demanded such things as election audits, the exchange between Torres and Lopez provided the only testy moment Wednesday. The lawmakers heard pleas from local officials and citizens for cleanup of Lake Tohopekaliga, support for home rule, affordable housing assistance, and local projects such as 10th Avenue in Saint Cloud.
— 2022 —
For your radar — Speaking to reporters at NRSC headquarters Tuesday night, Chair Rick Scott presented findings from a battleground poll conducted in nearly 200 suburban counties across the country by GOP firm OnMessage Inc. (Sept. 27-30; 1,200 LVs; +/-2.8%). The poll found Biden’s approval rating at 45%, while 53% disapproved. Republicans also led the generic ballot, 43%-39%. Scott laid out his three keys to winning back the Senate majority: hold and grow support from working-class voters, continue growth among Hispanic voters, and reverse the suburban slide by emphasizing issues like inflation and education.
“Police reformers stay skeptical of Val Demings, but other progressives back her Senate run” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — In 2020, U.S. Rep. Demings took some heat from progressives and police reform advocates when her name was floated as Biden’s running mate, mainly over her record as Orlando police chief. A year later, some of that skepticism remains about the Orlando Democrat. But now, her campaign to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio next year and an increased focus on health care and economic issues have most progressive groups generally positive about her. Progressive activists were wary of Demings in part due to allegations of excessive force during her tenure.
“Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried want Florida’s new Surgeon General gone” via Robbie Gaffney of WFSU — Crist and Fried condemn DeSantis‘s newly appointed Surgeon General Ladapo. Both want Florida senators to deny Ladapo’s confirmation. During an online news conference today, Crist pointed to Ladapo’s rewriting of a Florida Department of Health rule, making it explicit that parents, not school districts, have the right to opt their child out of masking. “Dr. Ladapo has made it clear that he was appointed not to help our state battle this public health crisis but to be an ill-informed political tool for the governor of Florida,” Crist said. Fried wants DeSantis to make a new appointment for Surgeon General. Crist wants Ladapo to resign.
“Democratic challenger emerges in Attorney General race” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — A Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney is running to oust Moody in the 2022 General Election. Jim Lewis, a Democrat, is currently Moody’s sole challenger in the upcoming statewide race. The Republican incumbent filed for reelection in September. In a news release, Lewis ranked Moody among the “disciples of Donald Trump.” He lambasted Moody’s challenge of the 2020 Presidential Election results and lamented her objection to public health mandates. Like DeSantis, Moody opposes local mask and COVID-19 vaccine mandates. “Don’t Trump my Florida,” Lewis said. He previously served as an Assistant State Attorney in Orlando and as Special Prosecutor to the Statewide Grand Jury of Florida under former Gov. Bob Graham.
“Progressive PAC spends $100K on ads backing Omari Hardy in closing days of CD 20 contest” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Florida Democratic Action PAC, a group backing progressive Democratic candidates, is spending $102,000 on a new ad package supporting state Rep. Hardy with just days to go until the Nov. 2 Special Election in Florida’s 20th Congressional District. Hardy is competing in a packed Democratic Primary featuring 11 candidates running to succeed the late U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings. The new ad buy features 810 spots in total. The ad surge aims to help Hardy stand out in a large field where early turnout has lagged so far. The ads run through Monday, the day before Election Day, with the hope of boosting turnout on Tuesday.
DeSantis sets Special Elections for South Florida legislative seats after months of delays — and lawsuit” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — DeSantis acted just 12 days after the Harvard Election Law Clinic filed a lawsuit on behalf of Broward and Palm Beach County voters seeking a judge’s order compelling him to set the election dates. The vacancies have been certain since the end of July. Because the districts in question — a Broward state Senate and state House seat and a Palm Beach County state House seat — are overwhelmingly Democratic, keeping those vacant means three fewer Democrats for the 2022 Session. Under the state’s resign-to-run law, state Sen. Perry Thurston and state Reps. Bobby DuBose and Omari Hardy were required to resign from their current jobs to become candidates to fill the vacancy created by the April 6 death of Hastings. They all submitted irrevocable resignations that coincide with the General Special Election for the seat, scheduled for Jan. 11.
“Personnel note: Former SD 37 staffer Gianna Bonner named Janelle Perez campaign manager” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Perez, a Democratic candidate in Senate District 37, filled a pivotal role in her Florida Senate campaign this week with the addition of a campaign manager, Orlando native Gianna Trocino Bonner. Perez announced the hire by email Wednesday. “I am excited to welcome Gianna to the team as we fight to take back Senate District 37 and share our message of freedom, equality, and opportunity,” Perez wrote. “Gianna’s policy and grassroots organizing experience will help us connect with voters and run a campaign focused on the real issues facing our communities, like access to affordable, high-quality health care, combating the climate crisis, and supporting small businesses.”
Nothing in politics is coincidental, including this JJR pamphlet being included in this picture https://t.co/NRz97pZcLN
— Matt Dixon (@Mdixon55) October 27, 2021
“‘Threats of violence’: School boards curb public comments to calm raucous meetings” via Andrew Atterbury and Juan Perez, Jr. of POLITICO — Florida school board is considering shortening public comment to one minute per person. School leaders nationwide are beginning to eye ways to rein in public commentary at local meetings to quell raucous crowds over hot-button issues like mask mandates and critical race theory. The potential changes could add more strain between school boards and the public they serve, a domain that has emerged as a fierce culture war battleground amid the coronavirus.
— CORONA NATION —
“CDC says some immunocompromised people can get fourth COVID-19 shot” via Ivana Saric of Axios — The CDC said in updated guidelines that some immunocompromised people who have received either Pfizer or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines will be able to get a fourth shot. People over 18 who are “moderately to severely immunocompromised” and have received three doses of an mRNA vaccine may get a fourth shot at least six months after getting their third Pfizer or Moderna dose, per the CDC. For immunocompromised people, the third COVID-19 vaccine shot is classified as an “additional dose” by the CDC, and the volume given is the same as that of the first two shots. For such people, however, the fourth dose is considered a “booster,” and the volume given is only half the amount given in the first three doses.
“States placing orders for pediatric vaccine; FDA authorization expected as soon as Friday” via María Luisa Paúl, Meryl Kornfield, Andrew Jeong and Adela Suliman of The Washington Post — The FDA is aiming to grant emergency use authorization to the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 on Friday, according to federal officials familiar with the plans. While the CDC has the final say in the vaccine’s authorization for that age group, states already are gearing up to acquire the necessary doses. The Biden administration has said it has acquired enough doses to immunize every child in the 5-to-11 age group. Providers could start administering the shots by the middle of next week if the CDC recommends its use for that cohort.
“Vaccine eligibility for mood disorders underscores elevated COVID-19 risk” via Jenna Portnoy of The Washington Post — When the CDC added mood disorders to the list of conditions that put people at high risk for severe COVID-19 recently, clinicians were not surprised. The mind-body connection, they say, is long-settled research. But the scientific seal of approval is still critical: It makes millions of people eligible for booster shots based on their mental health diagnosis alone and gives vulnerable groups more reason to protect themselves. The change means it is important for people with “mood disorders, including depression, and schizophrenia spectrum disorders” to get vaccinated, with initial doses and boosters, and take preventive measures, such as masking, social distancing and hand-washing.
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“Stubborn supply chain woes are resisting Biden’s remedies” via David J. Lynch of The Washington Post — A deepening freight logjam is defying Biden’s hopes of restoring normal cargo movements, hampering the economic recovery and threatening consumers’ holiday shopping plans. Two weeks after Biden administration officials announced steps toward round-the-clock operations at the nation’s chief port complex, the backlog of ships anchored off the coast of Southern California has only grown larger. There is little sign that truckers take advantage of terminals’ extended hours to move containers off the crowded docks. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach said they would impose new daily fees on cargo carriers in a bid to clear the docks and make room for containers stuck on ships offshore.
“COVID-19 drops Port Canaveral revenue to nearly 20-year low, but tide turning” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — The 2021 fiscal year saw only two full months of cruise operations at Port Canaveral, so its total revenue was the lowest it has been in nearly two decades bringing in just shy of $34.5 million. That’s the lowest since FY 2002, the year following the 9/11 attacks, which saw the port bring in less than $32 million. Since then, revenues have continued to grow steadily on track for a record 2020 before COVID-19 hit. At least in 2020, the port was able to log nearly six full months of sailings before the industry shut down for what would amount to more than 16 months minus any business. 2020 had been on track to best the more than $106 million earned in 2019, but ended up limping to just $67 million in operating revenue.
— MORE CORONA —
“Merck will share a formula for its COVID-19 pill with poor countries” via Stephanie Nolen of The New York Times — Merck has granted a royalty-free license for its promising COVID-19 pill to a United Nations-backed nonprofit in a deal that would allow the drug to be manufactured and sold cheaply in the poorest nations, where vaccines for the coronavirus are in devastatingly short supply. The agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool, an organization that makes medical treatment and technologies globally accessible, will allow companies in 105 countries to sublicense the formulation for the antiviral pill, called molnupiravir, and begin making it. Merck reported this month that the drug halved the rate of hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk COVID-19 patients who took it soon after infection in a large clinical trial.
What we are all reading — “Need for liver transplants due to heavy drinking soared during the pandemic, study finds” via Jen Christenson of CNN — The need for liver transplants because of heavy drinking soared during the pandemic. They found that the number of people who got a liver transplant or were put on a waiting list due to alcoholic hepatitis was 50% higher than predicted by pre-pandemic trends. With alcoholic hepatitis, the liver stops processing alcohol and instead creates highly toxic chemicals that trigger inflammation. The inflammation can kill off healthy liver cells, creating irreversible damage to the liver that may force the patient to get a liver transplant to survive. Alcoholic hepatitis is a condition that often develops after years of heavy drinking, but it can also develop after a short period of excess.
Everyone reading the story above and has kids is reading — “Stress during the pandemic has made basic decision-making for millennials harder, survey shows” via Keira Wingate of USA Today — Stress can be a debilitating feeling, affecting everyday life. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the percentage of Americans struggling to complete simple tasks, a new study shows. The American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” survey found that 32% of adults sometimes are so stressed they struggle to make basic decisions, such as what to wear or eat. The survey also found that millennials saw the highest percentage of such stress, at 48%. Generation Z, defined as those ages 18 to 24, reported struggling to complete daily tasks at 37%, second behind millennials.
“The real scandal about ivermectin” via James Heathers of The Atlantic — Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug, and a very good one. If you are infected with the roundworms that cause river blindness or the parasitic mites that cause scabies, it is wonderfully effective. It has also been widely promoted as a coronavirus prophylactic and treatment. This promotion has been broadly criticized as a fever dream conceived in the memetic bowels of the internet and as a convenient buttress for bad arguments against vaccination. This is not entirely fair. Perhaps 70 to 100 studies have been conducted on the use of ivermectin for treating or preventing COVID-19; several dozens of them support the hypothesis that the drug is a plague mitigant. Most problematic, the studies we are certain are unreliable happen to be the same ones that show ivermectin as most effective.
— PRESIDENTIAL —
“Biden heads abroad with most of his ambassadorial picks stranded in the Senate, stunting U.S. diplomatic efforts” via Seung Min Kim of The Washington Post — Biden is headed to a pair of global summits in Europe this week with just a handful of his ambassadors in place, as most of his picks to represent the United States abroad remain mired in messy domestic politics. To date, only four of Biden’s choices to be a U.S. Ambassador to a foreign government have been approved. The delays stem from threats by some Republican Senators, including Sen. Ted Cruz, who has been angling for a fight with the Biden administration over national security matters. That is prolonging the usually routine process of getting ambassadors formally installed, while several high-profile posts are also vacant because the White House has yet to put forward nominees for them.
“Not a trick: No White House treats for Halloween this year” via The Associated Press — Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will be in Europe on Halloween and won’t be at the White House to help hand out candy and other treats. Instead, the Pennsylvania Avenue side of the White House will be lit up in orange light to celebrate the spooky holiday, said the First Lady’s spokesperson, Michael LaRosa. It’s the Bidens’ first Halloween at the White House. “The President and First Lady will be traveling internationally during the last days of October, and will not be hosting a specific event at the White House,” LaRosa said in a statement. The Bidens will be in Rome, where the President will attend the annual Group of 20 Summit of the world’s leading rich and developing nations from Oct. 30-31.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Paid leave at risk of falling out of spending package as Biden nears deal with Joe Manchin and Kirsten Sinema” via Tony Romm and Mike DeBonis of The Washington Post — Congressional Democrats signaled they are closing in on a long-elusive deal to overhaul the nation’s health care, education, climate and tax laws, setting in motion a tenuous new plan to try to advance Biden’s broader economic agenda as soon as this week. The potential loss of the paid-leave benefits, which Manchin has opposed, left some Democrats seething. Plenty of other rifts still plagued Democrats, including a lingering dispute over a pledge to expand Medicare to offer seniors dental, vision, and hearing benefits.
“Shut out on budget bill, Republicans take shots from the sidelines” via Carl Hulse of The New York Times — The most significant legislative negotiation in years is taking place on Capitol Hill and at the White House, with key holdouts shuttling back and forth, lawmakers locked in intense private meetings and the news media providing minute-by-minute coverage of the developments. And Republicans in the House and the Senate have absolutely nothing to do with any of it. Sidelined by budget rules that give majority Democrats complete control over the social safety net bill they are trying to push through, Republicans are strictly spectators as they revel in the internal Democratic disputes, snipe at the emerging legislation, and game out how best to take advantage of the situation for next year’s crucial midterm elections.
— CRISIS —
“Jan. 6 investigators postpone push for some Donald Trump records” via Kyle Cheney of POLITICO — The Jan. 6 select committee is temporarily backing off a request for about 50 pages of Trump White House records, even though the National Archives concluded the documents were relevant to the panel’s investigation. Lawmakers and aides say they want to avoid a complicated and possibly protracted negotiation over documents related to the Capitol attack that might be legitimately shielded by executive privilege, attorney-client privilege or other reasons. House investigators intend to seek the documents later but opted to “defer” the request after talks with Biden’s White House.
“Jan. 6 committee expected to subpoena lawyer who advised Trump, Mike Pence on how to overturn election” via Jacqueline Alemany of The Washington Post — The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on The Capitol is expected to subpoena John Eastman, the pro-Trump legal scholar who outlined scenarios for denying Biden the presidency. The committee has requested documents and communications related to Eastman’s legal advice and analysis on how Trump could seek to overturn the election results and remain in office. Eastman said last week that he had not been contacted by the panel investigating the insurrection, but a person familiar with the select committee’s work disputed that claim.
“An Oath Keeper was at The Capitol riot. On Tuesday, he’s on the ballot.” via Tracey Tully of The New York Times — Edward Durfee Jr. is many things: a former Marine, a libertarian who distrusts the Federal Reserve and an active member of the far-right Oath Keepers militia who leads the group’s northern New Jersey region and was outside The Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack. He is also running for the New Jersey State Assembly as a Republican. More than 20 Oath Keepers have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack. Prosecutors have accused militia members of plotting to overturn the election by breaching the Capitol and making plans to ferry “heavy weapons” in a boat across the Potomac River into Washington. Durfee said he did not enter the Capitol during the assault, and he condemned the violence that led to several deaths.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
The answer is ‘Yes’ — “A fear grows in Trumpworld: Have we gone too conspiratorial?” via Meridith McGraw of POLITICO — For months, conspiracies about the 2020 election being stolen from Trump have fueled Republican efforts nationwide to rewrite election laws. But now, some GOP operatives and Trumpworld luminaries are worried that the truly wild conspiracists may be mucking it all up. One of Trump’s top lieutenants, Hogan Gidley, took a subtle dig at some Trump allies and put some distance between their efforts and his group’s work on election reform. Other Republicans have expressed fears that talk of “audits,” machine rigging, and foreign plots will depress voter turnout and discourage some people from seeking office.
“Trump says he’s going to Virginia ‘soon’ after Biden stumped for Terry McAuliffe” via Toria Barnhardt of Newsweek — Trump announced plans to campaign for Glenn Youngkin for Governor of Virginia less than 24 hours after Biden suggested the candidate was too embarrassed to be seen with his fellow Republican. “Chanting, ‘We love Trump’ in Arlington, VA. Thank you, Arlington, see you soon!” Trump said in a statement, referencing a moment when Biden was interrupted by the former President’s supporters onstage. His director of communication, Taylor Budowich, tweeted that the state of Virginia loves Trump and that his “MAGA movement will be delivering a major victory to Trump-endorsed businessman @GlennYoungkin.”
“America ‘on fire’: Facebook watched as Trump ignited hate” via The Associated Press — The reports of hateful and violent posts on Facebook started pouring in on the night of May 28 last year, soon after then-President Trump sent a warning on social media that looters in Minneapolis would be shot. It had been three days since Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of George Floyd. It wasn’t until after Trump posted about Floyd’s death that the reports of violence and hate speech increased “rapidly” on Facebook. Facebook’s own internal, automated controls predicted with almost 90% certainty that Trump’s message broke the tech company’s rules against inciting violence. Yet, the tech giant didn’t take any action on Trump’s message.
“9 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump outraised GOP challengers in recent filings” via Rachel Looker of USA Today — Nine House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump outraised their GOP challengers over the summer months, new federal election data shows. The incumbents are being targeted by Trump and his allies, who want to unseat them for their decision to vote with Democrats to impeach Trump for the “incitement” of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. Of the 10 House Republicans who backed Trump’s impeachment, nine are running for reelection and some are facing candidates endorsed by the ex-president. This month, Federal Election Commission totals showed the incumbents raised more money than their Republican challengers in the third quarter.
“Florida judge sends Trump lawsuit against Twitter to California” via The Associated Press — Trump’s lawsuit to get his Twitter account restored must be heard in a California court, not a Florida one, under a user agreement covering everyone on the social media platform, a federal judge ruled. U.S. District Judge Robert Scola rejected Trump’s contention that the California court requirement did not apply to him because his Twitter account was suspended during his last days as President. The requirement, known as a forum selection clause, was in force when Trump originally joined Twitter as a private citizen in 2009, Scola wrote in his order issued Wednesday.
“Kayleigh McEnany speaks at UCF” via Elaine Marraza for the Orlando Sentinel — McEnany, former White House press secretary, spoke to a group of students at the University of Central Florida campus last week. McEnany, a Tampa native, was invited by UCF’s chapter of Turning Point USA, a politically conservative group. She served as press secretary during the last year of Trump until the day he left office. Funding for McEnany’s visit came partially from UCF’s student government. The Student Government Association’s Fiscal Bill 53-06 proposed using $17,930 of Activity and Service Fee funds to help bring McEnany as a guest speaker for a crowd of 300 students at UCF.
— LOCAL NOTES —
“Will hurricane season end with a whimper? Watch La Niña, scientists warn.” via Josh Fiallo of the Tampa Bay Times — There hasn’t been much happening in the tropics since Hurricane Sam dissipated on Oct. 5. This is rare for the Atlantic in October. According to Colorado State Researcher Phil Klotzbach, it’s just the third time since 1995 the tropical Atlantic did not have a single active storm from Oct. 6 to Oct. 27. It’s also great news for Tampa Bay, which is most susceptible to tropical systems on the back end of a hurricane season that runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.
“Three Florida teens killed a classmate with a knife and a sword in a surprise attack, police say” via Jaclyn Peiser of The Washington Post — The alleged plot to kill Dwight “DJ” Grant began around Oct. 10, a week before the attack, police said. When the 17-year-old boy later charged in the killing learned that his ex-girlfriend, whom he still had an “emotional connection” with, had sex with Grant, police said he texted the 17-year-old girl saying he wanted his revenge. Police in Miramar, about 20 miles northwest of Miami, arrested three alleged assailants on Friday and Saturday. The 17-year-old boy and 16- and 17-year-old girls face charges of first-degree murder, tampering with evidence and criminal conspiracy, police said. Broward County prosecutors announced Tuesday that they plan to charge the trio as adults in the coming weeks. It is unclear who is representing the three teenagers.
“Keep searching rubble for human remains, some Surfside families urge” via Linda Robertson of the Miami Herald — The county wants permission from the judge overseeing the Surfside class-action case to clear an outdoor lot and discard debris considered less important for the engineers investigating the cause of the collapse. That material is being stored in an indoor warehouse. “It’s disgusting to think there are still human remains in there, and they’re being disrespected and just thrown away because the county said they tried hard enough,” David Rodan said, whose 28-year-old brother Moises and three cousins died in the collapse.
“New Surfside-inspired property tax exemption proposed” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The Broward County delegation backs two measures that would reduce property taxes collected on widows, widowers, blind people, and those who have lost their abodes in a disaster. Inspired by the Surfside condo collapse, Sen. Polsky and Rep. Marie Woodson have filed companion bills (SB 568 and HB 71) to ensure no one whose home was rendered uninhabitable in a disaster like the June 24 condo collapse would receive a full tax bill. DeSantis signed an executive order indefinitely suspending property tax bills for Surfside victims on July 9, but he asked for a legislative solution to the problem of providing relief to those who lose their homes through no fault of their own.
“Jane Castor announces 6K affordable housing units, more than half of 2027 goal” via Daniel Figueroa of Florida Politics — It’s been a little over two years since Castor announced her goal of having 10,000 new affordable housing units in the city by 2027, what would be the end of a second term in office. Castor announced the city is more than halfway there. Standing between two developers with ongoing projects, Castor said the city has 6,000 units built, planned, or under construction with six years to go on her promise. Castor formed her administration’s Housing Affordability team on Aug. 21, 2019, to evaluate affordable housing in the city and develop a strategy to implement new units. Since then, Castor’s office said the city had invested more than $25 million into affordable housing.
“Florida Ethics Commission clears Ken Welch in 2018 lobbying controversy” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The Florida Ethics Commission found no probable cause Welch misused his position in 2018 when lobbying public officials on behalf of his wife. The commission cleared Welch at a meeting last Friday, less than two weeks before the St. Petersburg election in which Welch tops the ballot for Mayor. While Welch has defended his actions lobbying a nonprofit considering his wife for employment since it made headlines, the issue has dogged Welch’s mayoral campaign in some attack emails by a shadowy group, which messaged St. Pete voters highlighting the past controversy. Welch lobbied St. Pete-based R’Club Child Care, which the then-Commissioner was promoting as an option to replace a taxpayer-funded literacy program for disadvantaged children.
“Florida ethics panel moves against former Wakulla County property appraiser” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — A former Wakulla County property appraiser who was charged criminally last year for misusing his county credit card is also facing allegations from the Florida Commission on Ethics. Last week, the commission found probable cause in four allegations against Brad Harvey that he misused his position to receive unauthorized compensation, misused the Property Appraiser’s Office credit card, and two other instances of unreported income from 2017 and 2018. Harvey was arrested in April 2020 by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on charges he made almost $27,000 in fraudulent charges on his government-issued credit card and illegally paid himself more than $176,000.
“Citrus County: We’ll ask, but not commit, to buying parkland” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — Citrus County will seek to negotiate a purchase price for a 3-acre parcel in Ozello known as Pirates Cove, though any deal would require funds from an outside source. Following at times contentious debate, the board voted 3-2 Tuesday to ask George Decker’s heirs how much they want to sell the property to the county. Commissioner Jeff Kinnard, who proposed the idea, promised that any purchase would not come from the county’s general fund. County appraisals set the value at about $650,000. Kinnard said the county has about $200,000 in available park impact fees, and he anticipated seeking a state grant for the remainder.
“Seismic activity detected at Mosaic New Wales gypstack Florida DEP delays expansion plans” via Paul Nutcher of The Lakeland Ledger — With what the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is calling “non-routine subsurface acoustics” detected at Mosaic’s New Wales gypstack the agency has asked the company to hold off on moving forward with its previously approved plan to expand. The FDEP had posted a Phase III final permit for an expansion near the existing New Wales Phase II gypstack. The current gypstacks cover 704 acres, and the latest permit allows for another 231 acres on which phosphogypsum, a byproduct of making phosphate fertilizer, can be stored.
“Everglades City sewage treatment plant spills 170K gallons of wastewater” via Jake Allen of the Naples Daily News — An incident at the Everglades City Wastewater Treatment Plant caused 170,000 gallons of wastewater to be discharged from the plant on Monday and Tuesday. The plant is located on Lake Placid, which empties into Chokoloskee Bay near Everglades National Park. The plant operator notified the DEP at about 1:30 p.m. on Monday that a portion of the plant, the final aeration basin, collapsed in the center. Aeration basins are biological reactors where raw wastewater is converted into a treated mixture that can be separated into water and solids in the settling tank.
“A St. Petersburg company looks to lead the shift to private flood insurance” via Emily L. Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — In the complex and often confusing world of flood insurance, it can be difficult for homeowners to know whether they should buy policies through the federal government or from a private company. But with changes to the National Flood Insurance Program expected to push up premiums for many, the private market is gearing up for a possible mass migration to their services. Trevor Burgess is the president and CEO of Neptune Flood, a flood insurance company with headquarters in St. Petersburg, which he said is the largest private alternative to the National Flood Insurance Program.
“Ocoee commissioner criticized for calling shelter pets ‘damaged,’ stands by his view” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — An Ocoee city commissioner’s description of shelter animals as “damaged” during a public discussion of a pet-sale ordinance last week has sparked an outcry on Orange County Animal Services’ social media platforms while the agency’s kennels are swelling to capacity with dogs. Animal Services posted Commissioner Larry Brinson’s remarks on Facebook and the message quickly went viral in defense of shelter pets. Brinson, elected in 2019, voted with the 3-2 commission majority to adopt a city ordinance trumping a new county ban on retail pet sales.
Personnel note: JEA adds Paul Mitchell as VP — JEA announced Wednesday that it snagged Paul Mitchell as its new vice president of economic development. Mitchell comes to the public utility from the state’s public-private economic development arm, Enterprise Florida, where he served as vice president of business development. In that role, he oversaw efforts that resulted in the creation of more than 30,000 jobs and $6.8 billion in capital investments since 2018. He previously worked on business retention and expansion for Volusia County Economic Development. Mitchell will lead JEA’s economic development initiatives and also help the utility’s real estate team. Mitchell will assume his new role on Nov. 8, earning a salary of $190,008.
“Tallahassee City Commission passes resolution urging legislators to protect abortion rights” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics — The Tallahassee City Commission voted 3-2 Wednesday to pass a resolution asking Florida legislators to protect abortion rights and reproductive health care access in the state. Resolution No. 21-R-30 states that Mayor John Dailey and Commissioners Jeremy Matlow and Jacqueline Porter support all legal efforts to protect Florida citizens’ right to abortion and strengthen reproductive health care. The document also asks the Florida Legislature to support those efforts, but it holds no legal influence over its actions and does not directly name any legislation. Copies of the resolution will be sent to DeSantis and Senate, House, and the local delegation to the Florida Legislature. The Commission asked the city attorney to draft the resolution on Sept. 8. Matlow moved to vote on the resolution Wednesday evening.
“Tallahassee Mayor appoints Harvard Law grad to Citizens Police Review Board” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics — The Tallahassee City Council voted 5-0 to approve Daileys new appointment to the City’s Citizens Police Review Board during Wednesday’s meeting. Patrick O’Bryant will be filling a vacancy left open after Tom Napier resigned on July 17. O’Bryant is a Harvard Law graduate and practices civil litigation law in Tallahassee. Tallahassee formed the Citizens Police Review Board on Sept. 23, 2020, after a Leon County grand jury found police officers acted lawfully in the controversial shootings of Mychael Johnson, Tony McDade and Wilbon Woodard earlier that month and a summer of nationwide Black Lives Matter protests.
“Poco Vino makes a big splash with boutique wines at downtown Tallahassee opening” via Rochelle Koff of Tallahassee Democrat — Poco Vino is a new boutique wine shop and event space on Adams Street in downtown Tallahassee that has already created a lot of buzz. One reason: It’s not just a wine shop. “It’s the first true downtown retail space in, I’m estimating to be 10 years, so that’s huge,” said Elizabeth Emmanuel, CEO of the Downtown Improvement Authority in Tallahassee. Emmanuel was one of several community, business and political leaders attending Monday’s ribbon-cutting for the new shop, located in an intimate historic building that will also be a place for wine tastings, pop-up dinners with chefs from across the South, events and private parties.
— TOP OPINION —
“At long last, final justice is near for the railroaded Groveland Four” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — The state attorney for Lake County took a quiet but critical step this week toward finally and fully vindicating the four Black men falsely accused of raping a white woman in 1949. William Gladson is asking a court to dismiss the indictments and judgments against Ernest Thomas, Samuel Shepherd, Charles Greenlee and Walter Irvin, the young Black men who got railroaded by a corrupt justice system more than 70 years ago. The Legislature apologized in 2017, and the Governor and Cabinet pardoned the men in 2019. But a pardon is forgiveness for a crime committed, not a finding that the crime didn’t occur. That’s what Gladson is setting into motion, a long-overdue legal determination that the Groveland Four were falsely accused from the very start. That they were innocent.
— OPINIONS —
“‘When do we get to use the guns?’: The ongoing danger of false fraud claims” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — The death toll from Trump’s false claims about election fraud is murky, ranging from one to seven depending on how you count. Ashli Babbitt, the Air Force veteran shot as she tried to climb through a window near where members of Congress were evacuating during the riot on Jan. 6, is the one indisputable death. On Monday, the right-wing youth organization Turning Point USA had an event during which founder Charlie Kirk took questions from audience members. At one point, a bearded man asked, “when do we get to use the guns?” Members of the audience applauded.
“Biden is almost as unpopular as Trump. Unlike Trump, he has a way out.” via Jack Shafer of POLITICO — The Biden presidency has, so far, conformed to the iron law of presidential approval polling: A newly inaugurated President starts strong in the polls but inevitably drifts lower in his first term. The only unique thing about Biden’s decline is how quickly he burned through his post-inaugural popularity. Much of the current disappointment in him is the necessary price he must pay for promising a grand expansion of social programs, free community college, dental care for seniors, a path to citizenship for immigrants, for example, but failing so far to deliver. If Biden wants to sugar his ratings, he ought to synchronize his promises with his accomplishments.
“Is it asking too much to show a little common decency?” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — If you need more proof that the world is upside-down, look no further than the latest developments in the Ladapo saga. He’s the Florida Surgeon General, appointed by DeSantis but awaiting Senate confirmation. As most everyone surely knows by now, Sen. Polsky, facing Stage 1 breast cancer, asked Ladapo and his two aides to wear face coverings for a meeting in her office. When they refused, she asked them to leave. Polsky’s phone began receiving creepy voicemails from the lunatic fringe. School board members around Florida report harassment from parents furious over teaching critical race theory. Florida schools don’t teach that, but it made a nice sound bite for DeSantis, and the mob took it from there.
“Don’t make us side with anti-maskers, Broward School Board” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Those have been the watchwords since the start of this pandemic, though some groups have supplanted it with another phrase: “I did my own research.” That phrase was heard several times at a Broward School Board meeting Tuesday from members of the Broward chapter of the anti-masking group Moms for Liberty. The meeting was called because, after all the death and misery of the delta wave in Florida, Broward finally achieved less than a 3% positivity rate on COVID-19 tests in each of the last 10 days. This was the key metric by which the board would meet to decide how to go about loosening its school mask mandate. The post urges Democrats to write to the school board and demand the mandate be kept in place.
“Legislation fix needed to ensure care of children in need of specialized services” for Kurt Kelly of the Tallahassee Democrat — Established over 60 years ago, the Florida Coalition for Children advocates, before Congress and Florida government, on behalf of Florida’s abused, abandoned, neglected, and at-risk children, and supports the agencies and individuals who work on their behalf. FCC member agencies care for over 50,000 children and families in crisis each year, providing critical services and programs to this vulnerable population throughout the state, including residential and group home care, emergency shelters, residential treatment centers, foster family services and various in-home support services. For our members to continue certain duties, we need help from Tallahassee’s Congressional representation to pass legislation that supports residential programs for children in need of specialized services.
— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —
As noted above, U.S. Rep. Crist says Florida’s new Surgeon General needs to go.
Also on today’s Sunrise:
— What about Ladapo’s sterling credentials? Other doctors weigh in.
— Senate President Simpson outlines what is to come at the Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum.
— After 70 years, the families of the Black men known as the Groveland Four could see their wrongful rape convictions dropped.
— Today’s Sunrise Interview is with Gilbert King, author of “Devil in the Grove,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the Groveland Four story. He talks about racial injustice in America — and Groveland.
To listen, click on the image below:
— ALOE —
“DIY Halloween: Haunted by shortages, fans conjure up their own costumes” via Alex Janin of The Washington Post — Halloween decorations and costumes have been haunted by a backlog of container ships at U.S. ports, causing delays and shortages. This year, many consumers are resorting to do-it-yourself alternatives. They often need extra backup plans as even raw materials for their home-brew costumes grow scarce. Halloween spending is expected to reach an all-time high this year of $10.1 billion, up from $8.1 billion in 2020. Those who have been patiently waiting for Halloween costumes and decorations to come back in stock may be out of luck or facing higher prices, says Craig Austin, a professor of logistics and supply-chain management at Florida International University.
“Sometimes it takes 12-foot skeletons to bring people together for good” via Christopher Spata of the Tampa Bay Times — The thirst for the 12-foot-tall skeletons that won our nation’s dark hearts during our first pandemic Halloween has not subsided in 2021. The cult following for the giant, sold-out lawn decoration from Home Depot is evidenced by the 24,000-member-strong Facebook group devoted to owners and aspiring owners. One home on Tampa’s Davis Islands has two out front, which a skeleton-owning Seminole Heights resident described as “such a flex.” The retail price is $299, but owners tell tales of spending $600, $800, or $2,000 on a single 12-foot “skelly” they drove hundreds of miles to collect. A North Carolina man used attention around his 12-foot skeleton to raise $3,000 in St. Jude Children’s Hospital donations.
“Florida Halloween: Witches hold paddle parade in Tarpon Springs” via Heather Monahan of WFLA — It may not feel quite like fall in Florida, but that didn’t stop a group of kayakers and paddle boarders from getting in the Halloween spirit this week. The Cotee River Kayakers Club hosted a Witches and Warlocks Paddle Parade Wednesday afternoon in Tarpon Springs. About a dozen participants launched from the Tarpon Springs Splash Park around noon and headed out on the water in their kayaks or on their stand-up paddleboards. The paddlers were decked out in pointy witches’ hats, capes and wigs. Some decorated their boards with jack-o’-lanterns, spiders, and other Halloween decorations. One “witch” had a skeleton dog on the front of her paddleboard and decorated her paddle to look like a witch’s broom.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Belated best wishes to Rep. Mike Giallombardo. Best wishes to Congressman Byron Donalds. Also celebrating today is Alia Faraj-Johnson, David Childs, Jim Daughton of Metz Husband Daughton, Jonathan Foerster, the legendary Bill Pfeiffer, and Tiffany Vause, Deputy Chief of Staff at the Agency for Health Care Administration
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.