Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.8.21

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Here's your AM rundown of people, politics and policy in the Sunshine State.

Good Monday morning.

Let’s start the day with a major personnel note.

U.S. Sugar will announce today that Ken McDuffie has been promoted to executive vice president and Derek Pridgen has been promoted to vice president of Agricultural Operations.

In his new role, McDuffie will assist the U.S. Sugar President and CEO Robert H. Buker Jr. in all strategic and political matters and oversee U.S. Sugar’s agricultural operations. McDuffie will continue to directly oversee citrus agriculture and research, railroad operations, Rouge River Farms and industry and grower relations.

Congrats: Ken McDuffie and Derek Pridgen, moving up at U.S. Sugar.

“Under Ken’s steady leadership at the helm of our Agricultural Operations division, we have had some of the most productive crops in our Company’s 90-year history,” Buker said. “As executive vice president, Ken will take on additional responsibilities to help move our Company forward as we continue charting a course for the future.”

McDuffie, a Clewiston native, most recently served as U.S. Sugar’s senior vice president of Agricultural Operations, a position he has held since 2005. McDuffie started working at U.S. Sugar in 1992 and has held several positions with the company. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Florida State University.

“It is humbling to be able to help lead a company I have grown up admiring and have had the privilege to work for throughout my career,” McDuffie said. “U.S. Sugar is a special company, and I look forward to playing a larger role in ensuring we can continue to provide cane sugar, citrus, and fresh vegetables to customers across America.”

Pridgen, meanwhile, was promoted from U.S. Sugar’s general manager of Farm Operations. As vice president of Agricultural Operations, he will be responsible for all aspects of sugar-cane operations and will report directly to McDuffie.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@NaomiBiden: I’ll say it: this is a Big Fucking Deal

@MattGaetz: I can’t believe Republicans just gave the Democrats their socialism bill.

@JakeSherman: The bipartisan infrastructure bill was always the easier of the two parts of (Joe) Biden’s agenda. Next up: house passing BBB, (Joe) Manchin and (Kyrsten) Sinema in the Senate and then house passage again. Very interesting.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@Jenn_Bradley: Thank you, President (Kent) Fuchs, for this guidance that protects free speech and academic freedom!

@DanMartinez305: More important than ever, we need to recognize the horrible consequences of communism and remind our current and future generations of the importance of freedom we can take for granted. Thank you @SenMannyDiazJr @RepTomFabricio @AlexRizo110 @DavidBorreroFL @MiamiYRs

@JacobOgles: The more I look at the incentives deal for Rumble to come to Longboat Key, the more questions I have.

@Elmo: Elmo was so happy to talk to @DrSanjayGupta at the town hall today! Elmo learned that Elmo’s friends can get the COVID-19 vaccine now, and soon Elmo can too!

@DonMoyn: Turns out that the woke mob coming to cancel Aaron Rodgers is *checks notes* Terry Bradshaw

— DAYS UNTIL —

Miami at FSU — 5; Special Session on vaccine mandates begins — 7; ‘Hawkeye’ premieres — 16; ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 10; FSU vs. UF — 19; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 23; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 29; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 32; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 32; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 44; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 51; Private sector employees must be fully vaccinated or tested weekly — 57; CES 2022 begins — 58; NFL season ends — 62; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 64; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Election — 64; Special Elections in Senate District 33, House District 88 & 94 — 64; Florida TaxWatch’s 2022 State of the Taxpayer Day — 65; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 67; NFL playoffs begin — 68; XXIV Olympic Winter Games begins — 88; Super Bowl LVI — 97; Daytona 500 — 104; St. Pete Grand Prix — 109; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 116; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 179; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 200; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 206; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 242; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 254; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 333; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 368; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 371; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 403; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 466; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 627. ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 711; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 991.



— TOP STORY —

A court temporarily blocks Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate.” via Lauren Hirsch and Isabella Grullón Paz of The New York Times — A federal appeals panel on Saturday temporarily blocked a new coronavirus vaccine mandate for large businesses, in a sign that the Biden administration may face an uphill battle in its biggest effort yet to combat the virus among the American workforce. The stay, issued by a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Louisiana, doesn’t have an immediate impact. The first major deadline in the new rule is Dec. 5, when companies with at least 100 employees must require unvaccinated employees to wear masks indoors. Businesses have until Jan. 4 to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or start weekly testing of their workers.

Vaccine mandates get handed a legal smackdown. Image via Reuters.

— STATEWIDE —

>>>Gov. Ron DeSantis will hold a press conference with President Wilton Simpson and Speaker Chris Sprowls in Zephyrhills at 8:30 a.m.

University of Florida President Kent Fuchs reverses decision blocking professors’ testimony against state” via Douglas Hanks of The Gainesville Sun — The University of Florida’s president reversed his administration’s decision that had blocked three professors from providing expert testimony against the state in a lawsuit over voting rights. UF President Fuchs issued a statement to the university community midday Friday in which he said he had “asked UF’s Conflicts of Interest Office to reverse the decisions on recent requests by UF employees to serve as expert witnesses in litigation in which the state of Florida is a party and to approve the requests regardless of personal compensation, assuming the activity is on their own time without using university resources.”

Kent Fuchs sees the light. Image via AP.

Professors sue over conflict of interest policy despite UF’s reversing its decision” via Divya Kumar of the Miami Herald — Three University of Florida professors who were barred from testifying in a lawsuit against the state’s new voting law filed a federal lawsuit Friday alleging their First Amendment rights were violated and asking the court to strike down the school policy that led to a “stifling of faculty speech against the state.” The lawsuit came despite the university’s reversing its decision earlier Friday and allowing the three faculty members, all political science professors, to participate in the voting rights lawsuit after all as long as they did so on their own time and did not use school resources. The suit notes that the state has not “prohibited testimony by professors at public universities that favor its viewpoint.”

How a Florida university system ‘stacked’ with megadonors became ‘blatantly political’” via Jeffrey Schweers of USA Today Network — Eight years ago, then-Gov. Rick Scott convinced Bernie Machen to stay on as president of the University of Florida in the midst of the search for his replacement. In return Machen got the Legislature to approve a preeminence program and millions in state tax dollars to finance UF’s rise to Top 10 status. Now, almost a decade later, UF has achieved Machen’s goal of being among the top five public universities in the nation. But the prestige that came with climbing the mountain of U.S. News and World Report college rankings is in jeopardy over the decision to bar several professors from lending their expertise in court cases.

UF controversy is latest chapter in long conflict between politics, academic freedom” via Lawrence Mower of Florida Politics — Four of the 13 board members responsible for governing the University of Florida are major donors to Ron DeSantis’ campaign, giving a collective $661,800 the last few years. While such political participation from the school’s board of trustees is hardly new, it poses a sudden perception problem for the governing body of a university that is trying to quell concerns that political pressures are jeopardizing the academic integrity of the state’s flagship university. Those concerns grew late last month when it was learned that the University of Florida fast-tracked the hiring of DeSantis’ divisive surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, into a tenured position at the medical school.

Proposal would weaken protections for tenured faculty at Florida universities” via Divya Kumar of the Tampa Bay Times — Faculty members at several public universities in Florida are expressing concern about a proposal that would weaken employment protections for tenured professors. The draft document, said to be written by a university provost, proposes rules that would make it easier for veteran faculty members to be dismissed. It has circulated among faculty at the University of Florida, the University of South Florida, Florida State University and the University of Central Florida. Some faculty leaders contend the proposal sends a chilling message at a time when Florida’s commitment to academic freedom is under question. It comes amid revelations that University of Florida faculty members recently have been barred from serving as paid expert witnesses in lawsuits that challenge DeSantis and the Republican-led Legislature on questions like voting rights and masks in schools.

Florida, all about election integrity, can’t tell if a Republican broke an election law?” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Just days after DeSantis made a big, bold speech about “election integrity” and announced his plan to create a new state force to investigate voter fraud, his administration is still trying to figure out whether a member of his own party was eligible to run for office. Jason Mariner is a candidate running in a congressional district that leans so heavily Democratic he has virtually no chance of winning. Perhaps that’s why he might have slipped through the cracks. Under Florida’s clemency rules, he could’ve had his rights restored automatically as an ex-felon had he submitted a formal application. He didn’t.

Ron DeSantis appoints aeronautics school head, beef jerky magnate to Enterprise Florida board” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — DeSantis appointed two new members Friday to the Board of Directors for Enterprise Florida, the state’s main economic development arm. They’ll join a passel of industry and government leaders who help steer Florida’s financial future. New to the Board are Rodney Cruise, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and Troy Link, president and CEO of Link Snacks Inc., best known as the producer and marketer of Jack Link’s Beef Jerky. The appointments came without comment from the Governor. They are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

— DATELINE TALLY —

Florida gaming compact, sports betting in doubt following federal court hearing, lawyers say” via Eric Glasser of WTSP — The Seminole Indian Tribe went live with its Hard Rock Sports Betting app earlier this week, but on Friday a federal judge heard arguments that could just as quickly pull the plug. “If they were hoping to change the judge’s views or persuade the judge during oral argument, that moment has been lost,” said Sports Betting Attorney Daniel Wallach. Wallach was monitoring Friday’s court hearing in Washington, tweeting play-by-play developments of a federal case that could determine the future of Florida’s gaming compact with the Seminole Indian tribe. This Seminole Tribe went live with its sports betting app days before Judge Dabney Friedrich could even hear the case.

Legislative effort to repeal last year’s transgender athlete ban grows” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A Central Florida lawmaker is bringing back one of the last Session’s most contentious issues in the hopes that her Republican colleagues will realize excluding transgender students from girls’ athletics could draw an economic penalty. Rep. Kristen Aston Arrington last month filed a companion bill (HB 6065) to Sen. Gary Farmer’s SB 212 that seeks to repeal last year’s legislation regarding transgender athletes. That law, passed largely along party lines last Session, means athletes are eligible for sports teams based on the gender listed on birth certificates at or near the time of birth. So transgender athletes are banned from girls’ or women’s teams.

Florida considers ousting mockingbird from honorary perch” via Curt Anderson of The Associated Press — After nearly a century on its lofty perch, the northern mockingbird may be singing its last melodies as the state bird of Florida. An effort is taking flight to replace the far-ranging musical mockingbird with a bird that is more identifiable as distinctly Floridian. “Part of what we’re working to do is highlight that Florida has these incredible species and we should recognize the bird that most represents Florida,” said state Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican whose legislation would strip the mockingbird of its title. ”To me, it’s a fun conversation to have.” Suggestions for a new state bird are all over the map, but four leading contenders have emerged: the Florida scrub-jay, flamingo, osprey and roseate spoonbill. Some joke it should be the construction crane.

Jeff Brandes gives Florida the (state) bird.

Happening today — Sen. Tina Polsky and Rep. Christine Hunschofsky hold a virtual news conference on proposed “ghost gun” legislation, 10 a.m., Zoom link here.

Happening today — The Liberty County legislative delegation holds a public meeting: Sen. Loranne Ausley and Rep. Jason Shoaf, 4 p.m., Liberty County Courthouse, 10818 NW Florida 20, Bristol.

Happening today — The Calhoun County legislative delegation holds a public meeting: Sen. Ausley and Rep. Jason, 5:30 p.m. Central time, Calhoun County Extension Office, 20816 Central Ave., Blountstown.

Jennifer Jenkins’ requests for temporary injunction against Randy Fine denied, case postponed to Nov. 16” via Eric Rogers of Florida Today — A Brevard County judge declined to hear evidence Friday for a temporary injunction filed by Brevard School Board member Jenkins against Florida State Rep. Fine for alleged cyberstalking. James Earp, senior judge for the 18th Circuit Court of Florida, also declined to consider a stay on the case requested by Fine’s attorneys but granted a motion for continuance, scheduling a follow-up hearing for Nov. 16. Fine’s counsel requested the postponement citing difficulties serving the required court documents to Fine, who was in Tallahassee preparing for the upcoming special legislative session. While Jenkins’ complaint against Fine has been granted a hearing, her multiple requests for a temporary injunction have so far been denied.

Jennifer Jenkins is denied a cyberstalking injunction on Randy Fine.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Florida COVID-19 update: State surpasses 60,000 deaths, as 698 are added to toll” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — Florida on Friday surpassed 60,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, as 698 more deaths and 1,635 additional COVID-19 cases were reported to the CDC. In all, Florida has recorded at least 3,657,645 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 60,197 deaths. In the past seven days, the state has added, on average, 100 deaths and 1,488 cases per day. About 12,882,180 eligible people in Florida, 60% of the state’s population, have completed their vaccine course.

As kids start getting shots, Florida hits a new milestone.

—“Alachua County COVID-19 vaccinations continue to rise as residents await pediatric doses” via Danielle Ivanov of The Gainesville Sun

—“Polk’s COVID-19 cases lowest in more than a year” via Gary White of The Lakeland Ledger

—”Doctors Hospital of Sarasota has no COVID-19 patients for the first time since pandemic began” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Don’t tell Ron DeSantis this — “Halifax Health employees, volunteers who don’t get COVID-19 vaccine will be terminated” via Nikki Ross of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Halifax Health employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4 or they will be terminated. This comes after the Biden administration released rules Thursday requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for health care workers. “It is my sincere hope that every team member will comply with this vaccination mandate,” said President and CEO Jeff Feasel in the email. “Each one of you is a valued member of the Halifax Health family and we do not want to lose you.”

Masks no longer required in Miami-Dade County buildings, Mayor announces” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — Masks will no longer be required in Miami-Dade County buildings, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Friday. In a tweet about the reversal, Cava said it is due to “enormous progress we have made against the Delta variant, and in consultation with our Chief Medical Officer.” Cava had reinstated the mask mandate in July and urged businesses to do the same due to a spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths, which was later recognized as Florida’s third wave. Another factor in the change, Cava said, was that Miami-Dade’s seven-day COVID-19 positivity has stayed at or near 2%. She also said hospitalizations have “sharply declined.”

Mask opt-out rules begin Monday for Palm Beach County public schools” via Brooke Baitinger and Arlene Borenstein-Zuluaga of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Students in Palm Beach County can go to school with or without masks depending on their parents’ wishes starting this Monday. The move came after a ruling Friday by Division of Administrative Hearings Deputy Chief Judge Brian A. Newman where he decided a group of school districts failed to prove that the Florida Health Department’s emergency rule, which allows parents to opt their child out of quarantining or wearing a mask, illegally overstepped its legislative authority. In a letter, the school district still strongly encouraged children to wear a facial covering while indoors. However, it directed parents wanting an opt-out to send in a signed note to their student’s first-period teacher.

Broward voters overwhelmingly support school mask and vaccine mandates, poll shows” via Daniel Figueroa of Florida Politics — Broward County voters overwhelmingly support mask and vaccine mandates in schools along with other COVID-19 mitigation efforts. According to a new poll, about 75% of respondents support mask mandates at the high school and middle school levels. Elementary school mask mandates received 74% support. And nearly 88% of respondents said they support current vaccine requirements, while 70% said they support adding COVID-19 vaccines to the list of vaccines required to attend Broward public schools. Another 81% support the CDC recommendation to quarantine students exposed to COVID-19 for 14 days. The poll also shows 68% of respondents think DeSantis has done a poor job of handling COVID-19 in schools.

Doctors meet in Ocala to discuss COVID-19 immunity, alternative treatments, ivermectin” via Cindy Swirko of The Gainesville Sun — An alternative message of COVID-19 vaccinations and treatments to that of government agencies came through loud and clear at a Saturday summit at which doctors who dispute the data, mandates and other actions were greeted with standing ovations. The Florida Summit on COVID-19 was held at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala and included doctors from throughout the U.S. who discussed the vaccines, natural immunity in those who previously had the virus, vaccine mandates and related topics. The theme of the summit could be summed up by part of the talk of Dr. Heather Gessling, “I don’t think at this point that we may be able to trust these agencies.” Several of the doctors who spoke have drawn criticism for pushing misinformation.

Alternatives to vaccine mandates are stubbornly not going away. Image via AP.

Sarasota CEO expects vaccine mandate to ‘cost company millions’ as PGT prepares to comply” via Derek Gilliam of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Jeff Jackson runs one of Sarasota County’s largest companies, and while he plans to comply with a sweeping mandate that will require all companies with more than 100 employees to have them vaccinated or mandate weekly tests proving employees do not have COVID-19, he doesn’t appear happy about it. “We will not require our team members to be vaccinated to work at PGT Innovations,” Jackson said in a written statement to the Herald-Tribune. “We will encourage and make it as easy as possible for our team members to get vaccinated, but we will not require it.”

Protesters gather in Viera to decry vaccine mandates for employers” via Tyler Vazquez of Florida Today — A small sea of red shirts and American flags could be seen marching along Judge Fran Jameson Parkway Friday as protesters turned out to show their opposition to new federal vaccine requirements. Around 200 people protested outside the Brevard County Government Center in Viera. The new rules for companies with more than 100 employees will take effect Jan. 4. Already the measure has drawn lawsuits from Republican state governments across the country, including Florida. The rally decried the mandate. Many in attendance engaged in chants of “Let’s go, Brandon” with some carrying signs to that effect. Others held signs that said, “No medical mandate,” “Say no to mandates” and “No vaccine mandates.”

‘Overwhelmed’: Influenza rampant at FSU and FAMU as experts point to flu vaccine hesitancy” via Christopher Cann and Dejania Oliver of the Tallahassee Democrat — Tallahassee higher education campuses and hospitals are seeing large numbers of students and others suffering from influenza. Experts, many of whom have warned about a severe flu season for months, say this is the result of a return to normalcy and lessening of safety precautions taken while COVID-19 numbers were at its highest. At FSU, the school’s health center is full of sick students. Meanwhile, at FAMU there were 102 positive flu cases reported from the university’s community site on Wednesday alone.

— 2022 —

Gloomy landscape for Democrats in midterms as Biden’s approval drops to 38% in poll” via Susan Page and Rick Rouan of USA Today — A poll found that Biden‘s support cratered among the independent voters who delivered his margin of victory over Donald Trump one year ago. Biden and his party are poised for a rebound, advocates argue, after the House passed a $1.2 trillion “hard” infrastructure bill late Friday, sending the signature measure to Biden’s desk for his signature. An encouraging economic report released Friday morning showed stronger-than-expected job growth. The survey illuminates the size of the hole Democrats need to dig out of as they look toward the elections in one year that will determine control of Congress and shape the second two years of Biden’s term.

Roger Stone said he’ll run for Governor just to draw votes away from DeSantis unless the Governor pledges not to run for President in 2024” via Kelsey Vlamis of Yahoo News — Stone, a longtime ally of Trump, said he will run for Governor of Florida just to siphon votes away from DeSantis unless DeSantis commits to not running for President in 2024. “I believe that Gov. DeSantis, assuming he’s going to run for reelection, should pledge to the people of Florida that he will fill out all four years of a second term,” Stone said. In September, DeSantis said any “speculation” that he plans to run for President in 2024 is “purely manufactured.”

Roger Stone plans to be a spoiler in Florida unless Ron DeSantis stops the talk of 2024. Image via AP.

Charlie Crist says DeSantis creating ‘culture of fear’ over voting rights, free speech” via Sam Sachs of WFLA — In a panel on voting rights and censorship, U.S. Rep. Crist pushed back on what he calls the ‘culture of fear’ that DeSantis is creating as Governor of Florida. The Congressman and Democratic gubernatorial candidate also leveled attacks at DeSantis’s six appointees on the university’s board of trustees over politicizing and censoring free speech at the university. Crist questioned DeSantis’s change of tune after the state reported it had its most secure election in history during the 2020 races. Crist was joined by a panel of speakers, all concerned about the way the state government and university had acted, and called for leaders to walk back the censorship on campus.

Assignment editorsCrist will participate in events as part of a Puerto Rican small business tour alongside Osceola Clerk of Courts Kelvin Soto. Crist will visit with local small-business owners to learn more about their needs and how Florida can create a strong post-COVID-19 economy, 10 a.m., Kissimmee. RSVP to [email protected] for location.

Rick Scott to GOP hopefuls: Get Donald Trump’s support, but go beyond that” via Annie Bryan of POLITICO — Sen. Scott signaled Sunday morning that GOP candidates should vie for an endorsement from Trump ahead of the 2022 midterms; but that his endorsement is not enough to win. “You’d be foolish not to want and accept Donald Trump’s endorsement,” he said, ”but you’re going to win not because somebody endorses you.” GOP strategists and Senate Republicans are giddy at the idea of continuing red flips in 2022. In particular, Glenn Youngkin’s stunning win in Virginia‘s gubernatorial race was seen as inspiring GOP midterm hopefuls to follow suit. Scott advocated campaigning on the issues.

Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick grows lead to 5 votes over Dale Holness after recount” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Cherfilus-McCormick and Holness sat alone in the Broward elections office as a manual recount began, their two chairs spaced more feet apart than the number of votes separating them. They watched as their attorneys and Broward County elections officials completed a manual recount in the razor-thin Democratic primary to replace longtime U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, who died in April. Cherfilus-McCormick, a health care executive, ended the recount with a five-vote lead over Holness, a Broward County Commissioner. There were slightly more than 49,000 votes cast in the election for 11 candidates. Cherfilus-McCormick has 11,662 votes to Holness’ 11,657 votes. But the race isn’t over yet.

Rosalind Osgood about to resign from Broward School Board to run for Florida Senate. DeSantis gets to pick replacement.” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Osgood, chair of the Broward School Board, faces an imminent deadline to submit her resignation in order to move forward with her candidacy for Florida Senate. She said Thursday she plans to submit her resignation letter by the end of the day Friday. It would take effect in four months. The resignation, required under the Florida resign-to-run law, is irrevocable. DeSantis, whose policies are the antithesis of Osgood’s, would get to appoint her replacement to the District 5 School Board seat. Board members pick their chair.

Rosalind Osgood seeks a promotion, Ron DeSantis could name her replacement. Image via Facebook.

—”Major changes coming to Pinellas County’s House delegation in 2022” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times

DeSantis says Republicans outnumber Democrats in Florida for the first time in history” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — DeSantis said registered Republicans have surpassed Democrats in Florida for the first time in the state’s history, although official numbers aren’t available yet. “Today, and it’ll probably be fully publicized very soon, today for the first time in the history of Florida we’ve now overtaken Democrats,” DeSantis said. “There are more registered Republicans in Florida than Democrats.” DeSantis appears to be basing his claim on internal Republican Party of Florida numbers. Florida GOP Chair Joe Gruters said the party’s internal numbers indicate it is now ahead of Democrats in voter registration, but that likely won’t be reflected in public data released by the Florida Division of Elections until December.

Democrats pushback as Republicans claim new voter majority in Florida” via Daniel Figueroa of Florida Politics — The Florida Democratic Party is pushing back against Republican claims that red voters now outnumber the blue in Florida. In a news release Friday, Democrats accused the Republican Party of Florida of “playing shell games.” “These are nothing more than attempts by Republicans to get a news release and a headline, when in fact the numbers show other patterns, including a disproportionate number of Democrats being reclassified as inactive,” Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz said. The release said any uptick in registered Republicans is due to Department of Motor Vehicles registrations rather than voter registration efforts. It also accused Republicans of purging voter rolls by moving eligible registered Democrats from active to inactive status.

— CORONA NATION —

Biden vaccine mandates face first test with federal workers” via The Associated Press — Biden is pushing forward with a massive plan to require millions of private-sector employees to get vaccinated by early next year. But first, he has to make sure workers in his own federal government get the shot. About 4 million federal workers are to be vaccinated by Nov. 22 under the President’s executive order. Some employees, like those at the White House, are nearly all vaccinated. But the rates are lower at other federal agencies, particularly those related to law enforcement and intelligence. And some resistant workers are digging in, filing lawsuits and protesting what they say is unfair overreach by the White House. The upcoming deadline is the first test of Biden’s push to compel people to get vaccinated.

Joe Biden’s federal vaccine mandate faces its first stress test. Image via AP.

Nearing Monday coronavirus vaccine deadline, thousands of federal workers seek religious exemptions to avoid shots” via Lisa Rein, Ian Duncan and Alex Horton of The Washington Post — With a Monday deadline looming, high percentages of federal workers are reporting they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. But tens of thousands of holdouts have requested exemptions on religious grounds, complicating Biden’s sweeping mandate to get the country’s largest employer back to normal operations. Federal agencies have yet to act on the requests piling into managers’ inboxes from vaccine resisters seeking accommodations that would allow them to continue their jobs unvaccinated. The number of religious objectors ranges from a little more than 60 people at the Education Department to many thousands among the 38,000-strong workforce at the Bureau of Prisons.

Vaccine refusals in intelligence agencies raise GOP concerns” via Nomaan Merchant of The Associated Press — Thousands of intelligence officers could soon face dismissal for failing to comply with the U.S. government’s vaccine mandate, leading Republican lawmakers to raise concerns about removing employees from agencies critical to national security. Overall, the percentage of intelligence personnel who have been vaccinated is higher than for the American public, 97% at the CIA, for instance. But there are lower percentages in some of the 18-agency intelligence community of approximately 100,000 people. Several intelligence agencies had at least 20% of their workforce unvaccinated as of late October. In some agencies, as many as 40% are unvaccinated.

—“California’s COVID-19 case rate now twice Florida’s” via the Tribune News Service

The U.S. is finally reopening its land border to Canadians — but Canada’s rules are likely to deter many” via Amanda Coletta of The Washington Post — On Monday, for the first time in more than 19 months, fully vaccinated Canadians will be allowed to cross the U.S. land border for such nonessential purposes as tourism or family visits. Although the reopening is being cheered in the tight-knit communities that straddle the 5,500-mile border and by the Canadian snowbirds who prefer to drive South to warmer climates, few are expecting an immediate flood of tourists. That’s in part because those entering Canada must present a negative coronavirus molecular test result within 72 hours of arrival. Lawmakers, businesses and residents say the costly requirement, some tests are $200, will deter the day-trippers, shoppers and families for which their economies have yearned.

— CORONA ECONOMICS —

The economy is actually pretty good. Here’s why Biden has had difficulty selling that.” via Catherine Rampell of The Washington Post — U.S. employers added 531,000 jobs on net in October, significantly higher than each of the previous two months. Those months’ figures have just been revised upward, too. Job gains in October were widespread, with growth across leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, manufacturing, and transportation and warehousing. The impact of the COVID-19 delta variant seems to be fading. We still have a jobs deficit relative to the level of employment when the pandemic recession began, but we’re digging out of it. The unemployment rate, which comes from a different survey, has ticked down again, to 4.6%. The unemployment rate, which comes from a different survey, has ticked down again, to 4.6%.

The economy is pretty good, but not everyone believes that. Image via AP.

Trapped in a pandemic funk: Millions of Americans can’t shake a gloomy outlook” via Jack Healy, Audra D.S. Burch and Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — Despite many signals that things are improving, the stock market is hitting record highs, hiring is accelerating sharply with 531,000 jobs added in October, workers are earning more, and COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are dropping from their autumn peaks, many Americans seem stuck in a pandemic hangover of pessimism. Voters who supported Biden said they had grown dispirited about his ability to muscle through campaign pledges to address climate change, voting rights and economic fairness while also confronting rising prices and other disruptions to daily life exacerbated by the pandemic.

Help really wanted: No degree, work experience or background checks” via Lauren Weber and Chip Cutter of The Wall Street Journal — U.S. companies are downsizing the hiring process. Beauty product retailer The Body Shop is dropping educational requirements and background checks for job applicants. United Parcel Service Inc. is making some job offers in as little as 10 minutes. CVS Health Inc. no longer requires college graduates to submit their grades. In a labor market where job openings outnumber applicants, companies are brainstorming how to get more candidates in the door and to the floor. The hiring overhaul signals a potentially broad rethink of job qualifications, a change that could help millions of people enter jobs previously out of reach.

With cases piling up, an eviction crisis unfolds step by step” via Sophie Kasakove of The New York Times — It is not the sudden surge of evictions that tenants and advocates feared after the Supreme Court ruled in August that Biden’s extension of the eviction moratorium was unconstitutional. Instead, what’s emerging is a more gradual eviction crisis that is increasingly hitting communities across the country, especially those where the distribution of federal rental assistance has been slow, and where tenants have few protections. Experts say, the available numbers dramatically undercount the number of tenants being forced from their homes either through court-ordered evictions or informal ones, especially as rising rents make seeking new tenants increasingly profitable for landlords.

‘The system is rigged’: Cruise lines have little to fear legally from COVID-19 deaths” via the Tribune News Service — The cruise line industry faces a wave of lawsuits from passengers and their families saying they or their loved ones contracted COVID-19 on a ship, resulting in either death or severe illness. Yet maritime and corporate law make it difficult to extract significant damages from cruise lines. Even after a series of coronavirus outbreaks at sea and a growing number of lawsuits, the industry’s biggest players face little serious threat, legal experts say. Multibillion-dollar cruise companies are not worried about the potential financial effect of such lawsuits, even if they end up losing many of the cases, said Ross Klein, a sociology professor and cruise industry expert at St. John’s College at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

—“Holland America brings new ship to mark first return to Florida since pandemic halt” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel

Peloton feels the burn as Americans head back to the gym” via Aaron Gregg and Hamza Shaban of The Washington Post — The pandemic created skyrocketing fortunes for a cadre of fitness-minded companies, and few benefited more from the stay-at-home era than Peloton. But the underlying question, will it last, was tested Friday in dramatic fashion as the company’s shares shed more than a third of their value amid diminishing sales and subscriptions forecasts. The stock slumped 35.4%, to $55.64, after Peloton slashed nearly $1 billion off its revenue projections. It now expects $4.4 billion to $4.8 billion in sales for the year ending June 30, 2022. The maker of connected exercise equipment also tempered its profit outlook. In August, the company cut 20% off the price of its signature bike, to $1,495, but it hasn’t been enough to maintain the highflying sales of 2020.

Peloton and home exercise are feeling the post-pandemic pinch. Image via Bloomberg.

Seller’s regret? Pandemic led to spike in home prices, including one sold by DeSantis” via Fresh Take Florida — Count DeSantis among homeowners with seller’s regret? The waterfront home near Jacksonville that DeSantis owned for nearly a decade until selling it after he moved into Florida’s Governor’s mansion has climbed in value by an estimated 50% since the deal. That means DeSantis effectively lost $232,000 by selling it just a year before the pandemic caused housing prices to surge across the United States. The home’s new owners in Ponte Vedra Beach said they were enjoying their good fortune and didn’t even know they were buying the Governor’s house until months after the deal closed. DeSantis lives with his wife and children in the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee and does not currently own any property.

— MORE CORONA —

U.S. cancels multimillion-dollar deal with coronavirus vaccine maker whose plant ruined Johnson & Johnson doses” via Andrew Jeong of The Washington Post — The federal government has canceled a deal worth $628 million with Emergent BioSolutions, the Maryland-based vaccine manufacturer that was a vanguard of the Trump administration’s program to rapidly produce vaccines to counter the coronavirus pandemic. The cancellation comes after Emergent’s manufacturing facilities in Baltimore were found to have produced millions of contaminated vaccine doses this spring, prompting a monthslong shutdown. Emergent will forgo about $180 million due to the contract’s termination, the company said. As part of its coronavirus efforts, the federal government had invested in building additional capacity at two of the firm’s sites.

Emergent BioSolutions screws the pooch on a big deal with the government. Image via AP.

COVID-19 killed my brother and sister a week apart. It didn’t have to happen.” via Michele Genthon for The Washington Post — When the call came that my brother and sister were both in the hospital, I said, “COVID.” It was a statement, not a question. I knew. Despite our begging and cajoling, they had both refused the vaccines. We waited for the inevitable. We prayed, hoping for a miracle, knowing there would not be one. My siblings no longer need masks. They have gone home, but not to the home they sought from their hospital beds. My brother and sister lived full lives, but I know they could have been with us longer had they been vaccinated.


— PRESIDENTIAL —

After months of setbacks, Biden finally gets long-sought win on infrastructure” via Sean Sullivan, Marianna Sotomayor and Tyler Pager of The Washington Post — Late Friday, Biden helped clinch passage of a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, stepping up his pressure on House Democrats after months of standing back from the debate. Spurred in part by the humbling electoral losses, Biden made personal edits to a written statement aimed at forging compromise and publicly and privately urged members to vote for the measure all amid a flurry of phone calls with Nancy Pelosi. The long-sought legislative win came hours after a positive jobs report and encouraging news about an experimental drug to treat COVID-19, capping the most topsy-turvy week of Biden’s presidency.

Democrats finally get their act together enough to give Joe Biden a much-needed win. Image via AP.

—“What’s in the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package” via Heather Long of The Washington Post

Biden gets his ‘infrastructure week,’ crossing another goal off Trump’s to-do list” via Matt Viser of The Washington Post — Biden entered office determined to rip to shreds most everything that his predecessor put in place. His advisers kept lists of Trump’s policies, and how they could immediately and methodically undo as many of them as possible and, on his first day in office, he did just that. But there were also subtle areas of overlap, and over the past three months, Biden has also demonstrated a willingness, and ability, to carry out some of the policies Trump could not. First, he withdrew from Afghanistan. He has pressed for the paid family leave benefits and prescription drug changes that Trump called for but never managed to implement. And on Saturday, Biden beamed at his biggest legislative accomplishment, one that Trump had chased but never achieved.

Biden angrily defends DOJ plans for $450K migrant separation payouts” via Mary Kay Linge of the New York Post — Biden flared in anger Saturday as he spoke in favor of his administration’s plan to award $450,000 payments to migrants separated from their families after illegally crossing the U.S. border, three days after he called a report on the payouts “garbage.” The Biden administration has been negotiating legal settlements with the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups that could shower up to $1 million per family on asylum-seekers who were separated at the border under Trump’s “zero-tolerance” illegal immigration policy.

Biden sent 70 secret night flights of migrants from border to Florida” via Anna Giaritelli of The Washington Examiner — More than 70 flights transporting migrants from the southern border to Jacksonville have landed in the dark of night in recent months as the Biden administration struggles to empty overflowing border facilities. It is the first time the state of Florida has disclosed the number of confirmed flights arriving in the state since the summer. DeSantis‘ office has scrambled in recent weeks to uncover who is facilitating the mystery flights landing in northern Florida daily, but the Biden administration has refused to disclose any information, one official said. The Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Health and Human Services will not tell the state of Florida who is overseeing the flights, the names of those on the flights, or where the migrants are being taken.

Under the cover of night, Joe Biden sends hundreds of migrants on a down-low trip to Florida. Image via Washington Examiner.

Biden may tap strategic reserve amid rising fuel prices, Jennifer Granholm says” via Connor O’Brien and Ben Lefebvre of POLITICO — Granholm said Biden is “looking at all of the tools that he has” to address high prices at the pump, including tapping into U.S. oil reserves. She also warned that home heating prices will be more expensive than the same period last year. “Yes, this is going to happen,” Granholm said. “It will be more expensive this year than last year.” Though Presidents have little to no control over gas prices, Republicans are increasingly hammering Biden for the rise at the pump, sensing that inflation is a political winner for them.

— D.C. MATTERS —

How a $1 trillion infrastructure bill survived an intraparty brawl” via Jonathan Weisman and Carl Hulse of The New York Times — Ultimately it happened because faction-on-faction intransigence slowly turned to member-to-member cooperation — all in the service of what should have been an easy task, spending money on projects with obvious, bipartisan appeal. The contortions it took for the House to pass a bill that had cleared the Senate in August with bipartisan bonhomie underscored just how factionalized the party has become, how powerful each of those factions are in the Democrats’ razor-thin majority — and how difficult it will be over the next year to maintain that majority. “It is incredibly hard to run a place with such narrow majorities, but what compounds it is, there’s no overlap” within the factions, said Rep. Brad Sherman, a 24-year veteran Democrat from Southern California.

So, how did Democrats pull this off, anyway? Image via AP.

—”Who won what in the bipartisan infrastructure deal” via Michelle Cottle of The New York Times

Assignment editors — Sen. Scott will hold a roundtable meeting with port, business and retail leaders to discuss the supply chain challenges, 2:30 p.m., One East 11th St. #600, Riviera Beach. RSVP to [email protected]

John Rutherford seeks stronger protections against oil drilling” via Sheldon Gardner of The St. Augustine Record — Proposed federal legislation would strengthen protections against oil drilling and seismic testing off Florida’s coast. On Oct. 25, Congressman Rutherford, who represents most of St. Johns County, introduced in the House H.R. 5707, the Preserving Recreation, Oceans, Tourism, Environment, and Coastal Towns in Florida Act. The act would prevent drilling and seismic testing off the coast of Florida, by creating “a drilling moratorium in the South Atlantic and the Straits of Florida and extends until 2032 the existing drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico.” Rutherford said having the measure come up for review in 10 years allows for ongoing discussion.

Pharmaceutical industry likely to shatter its lobbying record as it works to shape Democrats’ spending bill” via Yeganeh Torbati and Jonathan O’Connell of The Washington Post — A massive, monthslong advertising, lobbying and political donation blitz has been undertaken by the pharmaceutical industry and its allies to kill a Democratic proposal to lower the cost of prescription drugs by empowering the federal government to negotiate their prices. That provision to control drug prices became a focal point of the $1.75 trillion spending package Democrats are trying to move through Washington. The measure was in, then out, then watered down, going through a fierce ping-pong of backroom negotiations that is likely to continue once the Senate considers the bill in coming weeks. Pharmaceutical industry lobbyists defended their effort, alleging that the Democrats’ proposal would stifle research. They also said many other groups poured millions of dollars into the other side of the debate.

— CRISIS —

Jan. 6 committee warns Trump DOJ official he must cooperate with investigation or it will move aggressively against him” via Jacqueline Alemany of The Washington Post — The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol warned former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark that it will take more aggressive steps to compel his testimony after he refused to answer questions Friday during a closed-door interview with the panel. Chair Bennie G. Thompson said Clark has “a very short time to reconsider and cooperate fully” before the committee moves to “take strong measures to hold him accountable to meet his obligation.” Thompson did not specify what those measures would be, but the committee last month moved to hold Stephen Bannon in criminal contempt for failing to cooperate with its subpoena.

Congress gives Jeffrey Clark an ultimatum — testify or pay the consequences.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

U.S. judge appears set to reject Trump bid to block records requested by Jan. 6 committee” via Spencer S. Hsu of The Washington Post — A federal judge appeared ready to side with Congress and the Biden White House against Trump’s effort to block the release of hundreds of pages of White House records sought by a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan said she might curb some “unbelievably broad” requests for records about Trump’s activities and communications leading up to the attempt by rioting Trump supporters as lawmakers met to confirm the 2020 presidential election, such as polling and campaign communication dating to April.

Donald Trump to get a big ‘no’ on his request to keep his papers private. Image via AP.

Georgia grand jury looms in Trump inquiry” via Danny Hakim and Richard Fausset of The New York Times — An Atlanta district attorney is moving toward convening a special grand jury in her criminal investigation of election interference by the former President and his allies. The prosecutor, Fani Willis of Fulton County, opened her inquiry in February and her office has been consulting with the House committee, whose evidence could be of considerable value to her investigation. But her progress has been slowed in part by the delays in the panel’s fact-gathering. Her inquiry is seen by legal experts as potentially perilous for the former President, given the myriad interactions he and his allies had with Georgia officials.

St. Pete Trump supporter still refuses to pay on election bet, could now face jail time” via Daniel Figueroa of Florida Politics — According to Pinellas County Court records, Sean Hynes, a St. Pete resident, and Jeffery Costa, who lives in Georgia, made an Election Day wager. Hynes said Trump would win, while Costa put his money on Biden. But after Biden was declared the winner, Hynes refused to pay, believing the results would be overturned. When Hynes continued to refuse payment, Costa took him to court. Costa asked for the initial $100, plus $250 in court costs and $300 in interest. In March, a court order settled the matter, reducing court costs and waving interest. It ordered Hynes to pay Costa $207.50 by Oct. 9.

— LOCAL NOTES —

Destin Councilwoman Prebble Ramswell is suspended from office four weeks after felony arrest” via Tom McLaughlin of Northwest Florida Daily News — Nearly four weeks after she was arrested for official misconduct, battery on a law enforcement officer and a violation of Florida’s Sunshine Law, Destin City Councilwoman Ramswell has been suspended from office. DeSantis issued an executive order Thursday to make the suspension official. “It is in the best interests of the residents of the City of Destin and the citizens of the State of Florida, that Prebble Quinn Ramswell be immediately suspended from the public office which she now holds,” Executive Order No. 21-239 said.

Ron DeSantis gives Prebble Ramswell the boot.

Following whistleblower complaint, Jacksonville inspector general put on leave” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Lisa Green, the inspector general who investigates allegations of waste, fraud and abuse at Jacksonville City Hall, has been placed on administrative leave. Green is the subject of a whistleblower complaint recently filed by the No. 2 in her own office, Andrew McFarlane, the office’s chief of investigations. That complaint, which I obtained, accuses Green of “haphazard management” and fostering a toxic atmosphere in the office marked by favoritism and dysfunction. The decision to place Green on leave is connected to that complaint, which, since it was filed days ago, has created a brewing controversy. Electronics were removed from Green’s office Friday afternoon, officials said. McFarlane has also been placed on leave.

Criminal investigation launched into Eckerd Connects. How did we get here?” via Liz Crawford of WTSP — The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office announced a criminal investigation into allegations of child abuse and neglect that they say kids under the care of Eckerd Connects Community Alternatives suffered. Eckerd has about 60 to 70 kids who are considered to be under a night-to-night status, meaning the kids don’t have a regular placement and are moved around on a nightly basis. Of those kids, the sheriff’s office says it learned about six a night have been sleeping on cots and under desks at Eckerd’s administrative office in Largo without clean clothes, toiletries, hot meals or clean shower facilities. Earlier this week, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) announced Eckerd Connects will stop providing child welfare services in the Bay area within the next year.

State launches emergency bid to find new foster care agency for Pinellas, Pasco” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — With less than two months to find a new foster care agency for Pinellas and Pasco counties, the Florida Department of Children and Families late on Friday opened up bidding for the $80 million contract under emergency terms. The department will accept bids from agencies for a five-year contract to serve as the lead child welfare agency in the two counties. The deadline to apply is Nov. 12. The contracts are typically awarded to nonprofit groups that work in the social services arena. DCF has until the end of the year to find a new lead agency after Secretary Shevaun Harris told Eckerd Connects on Monday that its contract would not be renewed.

Audubon Florida to Citrus County: Don’t weaken waterfront setback rules” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — Florida Audubon is sounding the alarm at the prospect of the Citrus County Commission backing a plan to significantly reduce waterfront setbacks for homes. Citrus Commissioners have an 8 a.m. Tuesday workshop to discuss setbacks, which have been an on-and-off debate for several years. The county requires homes, porches, swimming pools, and the like to be built 50 feet from the water’s edge, or 35 feet with a berm or swale to prevent runoff directly into the lake, river or canal. “Now is not the time for Citrus County to loosen the requirements in its code to more easily allow development closer to the water in the county’s coastal areas,” Charles Lee, advocacy coordinator with Florida Audubon said. “Please reject proposals to weaken this code.”

Erik Arroyo becomes the youngest-ever Mayor of Sarasota” via Anne Snabes of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Arroyo is the city of Sarasota’s new ceremonial Mayor. At 31, he’s the youngest person to serve as the city’s Mayor. “Me standing before you today as the youngest elected official in the history of Sarasota is a testament to how inclusive and forward-thinking our city is,” he told an audience that had crowded into the City Commission chambers on Friday. Arroyo’s predecessor, Hagen Brody, nominated him as Mayor, and the Commission voted unanimously for him to assume to post. As Mayor, Arroyo will fill a ceremonial role and is responsible for running the Commission meetings. The Mayor is also often treated as a sort of spokesperson for the city.

Erik Arroyo gives Sarasota a more youthful image. Image via Facebook.

— TOP OPINION —

DeSantis distorts the facts in media broadside” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat — Online messages to voters are not usually fact-checked or held to the same standard of accuracy and fairness that a candidate’s policy positions and campaign promises should withstand. Thus, DeSantis’ team can be indulged a bit for mangling the truth in a little attack on the news media the campaign cranked out last week. Team DeSantis was just trying to fire up the Republican base by telling supporters that an incumbent Governor with more than $50 million in the bank and a nationwide following is somehow in dire peril, a year from his very-likely reelection. News coverage of DeSantis has ranged from skeptical to hostile. But it’s not much worse than how the media gang up on other Republicans close to Trump.

— OPINIONS —

Dems’ incompetence unleashes DeSantis to continue to drive a wedge between us” via the Miami Herald editorial board — The day after Democrats’ humiliating loss in the Virginia gubernatorial election, DeSantis referred to Biden as “Brandon” at an official event, a nod to a vulgar insult of the President popular among conservatives. Perhaps there’s nothing more emblematic of the defeat of Biden’s agenda on Tuesday than one of his enemies embracing the “Let’s go, Brandon” chant. Democrats and the Biden administration could be getting the strategy to undermine Florida’s young Governor all wrong. Democrats only help DeSantis when they look incapable of governing when Biden’s approval ratings continue to sink and the party for months has haggled over a spending bill that contains reforms popular with Americans, such as child care.

Florida needs a film incentive program” via Dana Trabulsy for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — When I was elected to the Florida House in November 2020, one issue that immediately attracted me was the film and television production industry. For years, I’ve seen the Georgia Peach at the end of credits and wondered why I didn’t see a Florida Orange or Palm Tree. It seemed like common sense that Florida would have a booming film and television production industry. I quickly learned of the challenges. Florida is the only state in the southeast, and one of just 17 states in the country, without a program to compete for film and television projects. Florida is at a significant competitive disadvantage. In recent years Florida has lost close to 100 major film and television projects that would have spent more than $1.5 billion in Florida, used 250,000 hotel room nights and provided 125,000 cast and crew jobs for Floridians.

Funds could heal the digital divide” via Rep. Travaris McCurdy for the Orlando Sentinel — When schools closed at the start of the pandemic, Orlando’s long-simmering digital divide exploded. Black and brown students already suffered a big gulf in home internet and computer availability. The pandemic made the impact of this divide much worse. The current surge in COVID-19 cases and student quarantines places the controversy back in the klieg lights. It’s part of the complex set of COVID-19 challenges facing the Biden administration and one they must tackle head-on. The U.S. Senate recently passed, as part of the bipartisan infrastructure package, $65 billion to build broadband networks in unconnected communities and get low-income neighborhoods connected to the networks already ubiquitously deployed in urban America.

— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —

President Biden is hailing Congress’ passage of his $1 trillion infrastructure package.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Scott remains skeptical about the true costs of the bipartisan plan.

— In her first public news conference since the announcement that she has breast cancer, First Lady Casey DeSantis announces the launch of a substance abuse education initiative for students.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Blue Angels bring together thousands at Pensacola Beach for ‘majestic’ Homecoming Air Show” via Colin Warren-Hicks of the Pensacola News Journal — A crowd of thousands enjoyed near-perfect flying weather Saturday afternoon as the Blue Angels soared across cloudless, blue skies over Pensacola Beach for the grand finale of the 75th anniversary Homecoming Air Show. The Saturday audience was noticeably larger than Friday’s turnout, with the 1,000-space lot at Casino Beach filling up completely before 9:30 a.m. Saturday, about 20 minutes earlier than Friday. The earliest arrivals Saturday came to the beach bundled in coats before sunrise to secure their spots for the U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron’s last show of the season. But by the time the Blue Angels performed at 2 p.m., the temperature was closer to a mild 65 degrees and many in the crowd were sporting shorts and T-shirts.

A near-perfect day for the Blue Angels. Image via Facebook.

Here is how much Florida says it paid to bring Michelin to Miami, Tampa and Orlando” via Carlos Frías of Miami.com — Bringing the prestigious Michelin Guide to Florida is costing the state a fraction of what California paid just two years ago. Visit Florida, the state’s marketing organization has agreed in principle to pay the restaurant rating service Michelin Guide $150,000 of its total $75 million budget over the next year to create a new Florida guide. The new guide, expected to publish in April 2022 when the Michelin Guide announces which restaurants it deemed worthy of its stars, will cover the Miami, Orlando and Tampa metro areas.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to Leah Bickley, Frank Jimenez, general counsel for Raytheon Technologies, and Emily Sitzberger. Belated happy birthday wishes to Amanda Bowen, Seminole Co. Commissioner Lee Constantine, the brilliant Eric Deggans, Pinellas Co. Commissioner Janet Long, our former colleague Danny McAuliffe, Jenny Meale Poggie, and top fundraiser Jon Stewart,

___

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


One comment

  • Tom

    November 8, 2021 at 6:46 am

    Really, Really bad polling for fibber Biden and giggles Harris,

    USA Today poll today had abysmal numbers for Joe. 38% approval for Biden. Giggles is worse, 28% approval. Just horrible effort. It gets worse.

    Congressional generic ballot, worse. 46% support Republican vs 38% Dem.

    Net 50 seat pick up coming in House of Reps.

Comments are closed.


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