Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.11.21

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Florida politics and Sunburn — perfect together.

Good Thursday morning.

Today is a day to honor and thank the millions of military veterans who dedicated themselves to the preservation and furtherance of this great nation. Sprinkled throughout today’s edition are several blurbs and links highlighting Florida’s focus on veterans.

To all those who served our nation, thank you.

In addition to that content, here are some non-veteran issues for your radar:

🏛Meet the man who made Jan. 6 possible: No, not Donald Trump. An excerpt from Jonathan Karl’s book, Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show, published in the Atlantic, introduces readers to Johnny McEntee, Trump’s late-term head of the Presidential Personnel Office who rose from Trump’s body guy to a top administration official for no other reason than he blindly supported the President. The department, Karl notes, was often compared to the East German Stasi or Gestapo for its relentless goal of sniffing out traitors (more often perceived than in reality) within the administration. The loyalty led to massive administration turnover, at the insistence of often unqualified young hires to replace them. The result was a team void of real qualifications in things like legal advice or historical context that supported and promoted Trump’s assertion the election had been stolen. Read more here.

👨‍👩‍👧The parental revolution Dems would be wise to acknowledge: When Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, it shocked many. But those who were noticing parental outrage saw the writing on the wall. As POLITICO writer Michael Kruse details, public education was at the forefront of that election, and likely will be going forward. Parents who typically align with Democrats, voted GOP this year if for no other reason than they were fed up with how COVID-19 policies affected their children and their education. Looking forward to the midterms next year, Republicans created a playbook in Virginia that could find broad success moving forward — they tapped into parental outrage while Dems refused to budget.

👮‍♀️Police hurt thousands of teens every year, many of them Black girls: Roughly one in five use-of-force incidents involving kids 17 and under in six large police departments nationwide targeted Black girls. The Marshall Project, a nonprofit journalism group that focuses on criminal justice, identified 4,000 total incidents. Nearly 800 involved Black girls and teens, while just 120 cases targeted White girls and teens. In New Orleans, every girl involved in a use-of-force incident was Black. Similar results held in Chicago, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Columbus and Portland, where girls who experienced use-of-force were disproportionately Black. The report highlights several examples, including a young Black girl who was struck by a car while riding her bike, only to be handcuffed and pepper-sprayed by officers when she didn’t want to be questioned about the accident. Other examples include a 9-year-old girl in Rochester, New York, who was pepper-sprayed as she sat handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser crying for her father and the now-infamous incident in which a teenage girl at a Texas pool party was wrestled to the ground by a police officer.

🍴Where’s all that COVID plastic headed?: The ocean. Rivers. Streams. Lakes. Eventually, beaches. That’s where. A new study from the Nanjing University’s School of Atmospheric Sciences and UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography finds more than 8 million tons of pandemic-associated plastic waste have been generated globally, with more than 25,000 tons entering the global ocean. Within three to four years, a significant portion of ocean plastic debris is expected to make its way onto either beaches or the seabed. That’s fueled in part by the increase in single-use plastics spurred by the pandemic through things like straws, plastic cutlery, masks and gloves. Read more here.

📖His name is George Floyd: The Washington Post biography of Floyd is coming May 17. The book, by award-winning Post reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa, places Floyd’s narrative “within the larger context of America’s deeply troubled history of institutional racism” and reveals how “systemic racism shaped George Floyd’s life and legacy,” according to the Post. It evaluates Floyd’s family roots in the tobacco fields of North Carolina and ongoing struggles with inequality in housing, education, health care, criminal justice and policing, and further goes on to evaluate how his tragic experiences ignited a global movement. Publisher Viking also released the book cover, a simple and somber eggshell background with the title in large black font and a subhead: “One Man’s Life and The Struggle For Racial Justice.”

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

@JoeBiden: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is a historic investment in our nation’s public infrastructure. We will rebuild our roads and bridges, provide clean drinking water, expand broadband access, invest in clean energy, and create good-paying jobs across the country.

@MarcoRubio: Two months ago, I warned that forcing the economy to conform to ever-changing progressive social goals would lead to the inflation of the 1970s, because it tries to do everything at once without creating real value to support it all

@ValDemings: When billions flow to Florida from the bipartisan infrastructure bill — creating jobs and lowering prices in every corner of our state — just remember that Marco Rubio voted against it, because he can’t stand up and deliver for working people.

@SecDef: Ahead of this #VeteransDay, I want to thank all those who have come before us. From the bottom of my heart to our Veterans: thank you, and your brave families, for the service you rendered in uniform. We honor you. And we remember you always.

Tweet, tweet:

@Goni_Lessan: A 7-year-old outside of CVS told me the brain scraping COVID swab test hurt more than the Pfizer vaccine he just got. His 8-yr-old sister said after 20 seconds, her arm didn’t hurt. Now I feel wimpy for panicking and sweating through my shirt when I got my first shot in March.

@Redistrict: FL’s Senate Rs release four draft congressional maps. Bizarre: these maps shore up #FL27 Rep. Maria Salazar (R), but otherwise are barely gerrymanders. By my count, these maps break down 16-12 Trump-Biden, vs. 15-12 today. Is this a head fake?

— DAYS UNTIL —

Miami at FSU — 2; Special Session on vaccine mandates begins — 4; ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 7; ‘Hawkeye’ premieres — 13; FSU vs. UF — 16; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 20; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 26; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 29; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 29; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 41; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 48; Private sector employees must be fully vaccinated or tested weekly — 54; CES 2022 begins — 55; NFL season ends — 59; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 61; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Election — 61; Special Elections in Senate District 33, House District 88 & 94 — 61; Florida TaxWatch’s 2022 State of the Taxpayer Day — 62; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 64; NFL playoffs begin — 65; XXIV Olympic Winter Games begins — 85; Super Bowl LVI — 94; Daytona 500 — 101; CPAC begins — 105; St. Pete Grand Prix — 106; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 113; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 176; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 197; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 203; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 239; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 251; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 330; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 365; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 368; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 400; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 463; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 624. ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 708; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 988.



— TOP STORY —

Thousands lay flowers at Tomb of the Unknowns to mark its centennial” via Fredrick Kunkle of The Washington Post — Thousands of people joined a solemn procession at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday, following a path trod for decades by only the Old Guard, to lay flowers and pay respect to the nation’s military dead at the Tomb of the Unknowns in honor of its centennial. The line moved at a steady pace and the row of flowers, the stems arrayed side by side, along with slips of paper and small U.S. flags, rose steadily higher as a uniformed sentinel of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as the Old Guard, kept precise, ritualistic vigil on the eastern side of the massive stone crypt overlooking the cemetery and the nation’s capital. The event was one of several to commemorate the establishment of the tomb 100 years ago.

Thousands pay respect, show gratitude at the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknowns. Image via AP.

DEP announces free admission to Florida State Parks on Veterans Day” via Florida Department of Environmental Protection — The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is proud to continue a long-standing tradition of offering free admission to Florida State Parks for all visitors on Veterans Day on Thursday in gratitude for the courageous men and women who served in the nation’s armed forces. “I salute all those who have sacrificed to protect our freedoms and way of life,” said DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton. Additionally, veterans enjoy a year-round 25% discount on state parks’ annual entrance passes. Veterans who have service-related injuries, as well as surviving spouses and parents of veterans who died in combat, also receive a free lifetime pass that waives the entry fee to all state parks.

Veterans Day becomes Veterans Week under House Resolution” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Proposed by Rep. Michelle Salzman, the Resolution designates Nov. 7-13 as Veterans Week in Florida. Salzman pitched the idea in the 2020 Legislative Session. “The idea that we are celebrating Veterans all week is a win for both our veterans and our community,” Salzman said in a news release. A veteran herself, Salzman said there are a variety of ways to celebrate veterans throughout the week. Floridians can shop at a veteran-owned business or simply promote veterans on social media, she suggested. The proclamation comes as Florida works to distinguish itself as the most military-friendly state in the nation. Lawmakers have proposed various measures under Ron DeSantis‘ leadership, including efforts to improve veteran career and educational opportunities.

Veterans Affairs wait times get spotlight ahead of federal holiday” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — A former state lawmaker is using Veterans Day to draw attention to veterans’ issues, including delayed medical treatment at Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers. Jimmie Smith led a vehicle caravan Wednesday around a VA Medical Center in Gainesville as part of a national campaign calling for more accountability. “We need to raise awareness of the fact that there are literally veterans dying from lack of care because of canceled or delayed appointments,” Smith said. The holiday demonstrations come as hundreds of thousands of veterans remain on a waitlist for VA medical treatment. Smith, who now serves as director of Concerned Veterans for America in Florida, described the system as broken. He hopes the events shine a brighter light on the issue.

— STATEWIDE —

Here is how much Ron DeSantis’ Texas border mission cost Florida taxpayers” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — Florida spent more than half a million dollars to send law enforcement officers to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas over the summer, a mission that was spearheaded by DeSantis, a frequent critic of President Joe Biden’s immigration policies. The cost of the mission, in total $570,988, covered the salaries of dozens of state personnel, their travel costs, as well as supplies and equipment used during a weekslong stint at the border. DeSantis’ office initially said the state would seek reimbursements for the costs. But it appears Florida taxpayers will end up footing the bill for the mission, which Democrats have called a political stunt aimed at bolstering the Governor’s national stature.

How much did Ron DeSantis’ Texas border ploy cost Florida? Nearly $600K.

‘Grave concerns’: Joseph Ladapo’s medical license OK’d in two days” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — Ladapo, the unorthodox surgeon general of DeSantis, whose employment at the University of Florida was fast-tracked with the help of a powerful donor, also got his new Florida medical license application approved in record time. Records show it only took the Florida Board of Medicine two days to approve Ladapo’s 10-page online application, a process that normally takes 2-6 months. All 15 members of the Board of Medicine are appointed by the Governor. The UF College of Medicine’s top administrators helped Ladapo through the application process in two weeks after getting word that he had the backing of Board of Trustees Chair Mori Hosseini, a GOP megadonor and adviser to DeSantis. Faculty have complained that the rushed process also sidestepped the normal process for approving tenure.

Tweet, tweet — @TinaPoksky: To summarize: @FLSurgeonGen FL license rushed in 2 days; questions about actually treating COVID patients at UCLA; UF faculty position fast-tracked; associated with Frontline Dr’s — fringe medical group; questions vax and masks; DISRESPECTED me — best we can [email protected]

Florida election supervisors question need for new $6 million election police force” via Christopher Heath of WFTV — In November 2020, while much of the rest of the country was still sorting out ballots and trying to figure out who won, Florida was calling it a night. The state’s election system performed so well that state leaders, including DeSantis, said it should be a model for the rest of the country. Now, DeSantis wants to go even further, proposing a $6 million new law enforcement agency to investigate election fraud. “I would be curious to know how is this $6 million going to be justified? Is there really that much election crime being committed?” Hays said. So far, no legislation has been filed to create or pay for this new agency; however, lawmakers are not scheduled to be back in Regular Session until 2022.

Medicaid modernization will take hundreds of millions and require more staff” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Florida’s health care regulation agency is setting the stage for an expensive rebuild of the computer systems that bind the state’s multibillion-dollar Medicaid program even though state legislators have not agreed to pay for it. The Agency for Health Care Administration has dropped three different invitations to negotiate with vendors to update the state’s antiquated Medicaid management information systems and is expecting responses on the three requests by early- to mid-December. Now all the agency needs is the Florida Legislature to approve its legislative budget request for $117.8 million, so it can pay the vendors for the needed work. It’s a number that one top House Republican already suggested may be “excessive.”

— DATELINE TALLY —

DeSantis announces over $1 billion in education budget recommendations” via Katherine Lewin of Ocala Star-Banner — DeSantis announced his office is working on over $1 billion in education budget recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year during a news conference at Jacksonville Classical Academy Wednesday. “We’ve invested in increasing teacher pay. We’ve invested in early learning. We’ve expanded school choice,” DeSantis said. “We’ve invested in vocational and technical education, and we really want to be able to keep that momentum going.” DeSantis said that the per-student funding will be the highest it’s ever been if his recommendation is passed in the Legislature. $600 million to continue to boost teacher pay to reach a minimum starting teacher salary of $47,500. Also included: The second round of $1,000 bonus payments for some teachers and principals.

Ron DeSantis seeks to pump another $1 billion into education, including more teacher bonuses. Image via Facebook.

Democrats battle to repeal trans sports ban, but the political climate might not be in their favor” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Beginning this year, Florida law bans transgender women and girls from women’s and girls’ sports, but an effort is underway to force the Legislature to reconsider the ban. Rep. Kristen Aston Arrington last month filed a companion bill (HB 6065) to Sen. Gary Farmer’s SB 212 that seeks to repeal the transgender sports ban resulting from one of the last Session’s most contentious debates. The law, championed by DeSantis and passed largely along party lines, means athletes are eligible for sports teams based on the gender they were assigned at birth or near the time of birth. LBGTQ advocates regard the law as further stigmatizing those who identify with a gender other than the one assigned at birth.

Lawmaker looks to require pregnancy tests for women inmates, offer deferred sentences after childbirth” via Sen. Shevrin Jones has worked for years to increase protections for women inmates in Florida. But a tragedy in an Alachua County jail this past summer had Jones reeling and recommitted to those efforts. “To see what happened in Alachua County only goes to show that our work that we have done in the past on this issue is far from over,” Jones said. He’s referring to Erica Thompson, who gave birth after being arrested on charges of probation violation and failure to appear for a traffic violation. Thompson was six months pregnant and told staff she was expecting. She argued administrators did not take adequate precautions. She gave birth to her premature baby girl, Ava, while screaming for help. Ava was transferred to a hospital but did not survive. The incident triggered protests and calls for reform.

Lawmakers aim to expedite professional license applications for military spouses” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Professional license applications submitted by military spouses may soon get fast-tracked in Florida under a measure filed ahead of the 2022 Legislative Session. The proposal (HB 559 & SB 562) would provide military spouses who hold an out-of-state professional license with a temporary license, allowing them to resume work without delay. The state, meanwhile, would expedite the application. Sen. Janet Cruz and Rep. Christine Hunschofsky are the bill sponsors. “Military families get uprooted often, and in many of those cases, military spouses find themselves unable to work because of the wait time for their professional license registration in the new state,” Hunschofsky said.

Marie Woodson seeks to fast track veterans into health care amid staff shortages” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Rep. Woodson is proposing legislation that would streamline outgoing service members into the ranks of Florida’s medical field, a move she contends would remedy the state’s ongoing shortage of health care workers. Under the proposal (HB 131), a medically trained military veteran may work under the supervision of a licensed health care provider without subscribing to the state’s time-consuming certification process. The benefits, she contends, are twofold: Veterans transfer immediately into gainful employment and providers are afforded a deeper pool of experienced applicants. Indeed, Florida’s medical system is short-handed. What’s more, there are signs the situation will not improve without intervention. Florida may be short nearly 60,000 nurses by 2035.

—”Lawmakers call on Congress to recognize ‘epidemic of suicide’ among veterans” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

Legislative dogfight shaping up again to regulate pet sales” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Lawmakers will again target bad actors in the pet store business in the upcoming 2022 Legislative Session. A bill (HB 253) filed by Rep. Sam Killebrew would prohibit pet stores from selling dogs and cats. Stores that break the rule would face a civil penalty of $500 or double the sale price, whichever is higher. The proposal also includes a clause that would allow local governments to enforce restrictions stronger than those outlined in the bill, such as the recently approved Orange County ordinance, which prohibits the sale of rabbits in addition to cats and dogs. Animal welfare advocates have long pushed for a ban, arguing that it would stamp out underhanded business tactics in the pet industry. Some stores, derided as “puppy mills,” sell sick dogs or have undisclosed hereditary conditions that require veterinary attention.

Sam Killebrew gears up for a dogfight. Image via Colin Hackley.

Senator’s staff locked door to faith leaders, abortion rights advocates bearing petition” via Issac Morgan of the Florida Phoenix — Holding signs bearing messages about women’s reproductive rights, and shouting into bullhorns, a group of at least 15 faith leaders and advocates for abortion rights attempted to hand-deliver a letter and petition to state Sen. Danny Burgess, but his office staff locked the door. Burgess, chair of the Judiciary Committee in the state Senate, was not in the office at the time, according to his staff. A Republican, he represents parts of Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk counties in the Legislature.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Albert Balido, Anfield Consulting: Florida Waste Haulers & Recyclers Coalition

Jonathan Johnson, Lindsay Whelan, Hopping Green & Sams: Association of Florida Community Developers, Neal Land & Neighborhoods, West Villages Improvement District

Frank Mayernick, Tracy Mayernick, Rob Johnson, The Mayernick Group: Hanley Foundation

Seth McKeel, David Shepp, The Southern Group: Florida Automatic Fire Alarm Association

Ethan Merchant, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee: City of Chipley

Chris Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: Tampa Bay Rays

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Florida COVID-19 update: 1,446 cases added as number of hospital patients back on decline” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — Florida reported 1,446 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 3,664,403 confirmed COVID cases and 60,418 deaths. In the past seven days, on average, the state has added 131 deaths and 1,423 cases per day. There were 1,575 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Florida.

Big Florida businesses urged to continue plans to install COVID-19 vaccine mandate” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Meredith Plummer, a labor and employment lawyer at the Gunster law firm, said the 5th Circuit order that halted the mandate applies only to the states the court covers. “There is nothing staying the regulations here in Florida,” she said. Plummer added that “there is a definite possibility the 11th [Circuit] may come out with a similar ruling as the 5th and stay these rules … Until that happens, businesses should be preparing to implement the vaccine requirements and the testing requirement.” Before the legal maneuvering, it appears that most South Florida companies have tried to steer a narrow path by encouraging employees to get their shots instead of mandating them while imposing other safety measures in the workplace.

Experts are urging Florida businesses to continue with vaccine mandates.

How did Parents’ Bill of Rights turn into a mask mandate controversy in Florida schools?” via Florida Phoenix — The Parents’ Bill of Rights, sponsored by State Rep. Erin Grall in the 2021 Legislative Session, was criticized for its vague language and unclear boundaries. But it became a clarion call for parent power as local school boards developed COVID-19 policies impacting students. DeSantis had signed the legislation this summer and the Parents’ Bill of Rights, within months, became a major legal reference in court battles. It also became a major talking point for the Governor, who has called a special legislative session next week that includes bolstering parents’ rights to direct the education of their children. Advocates worry that the Parents’ Bill of Rights will lead to LGBTQ students getting “outed,” meaning their gender or sexuality would be non-consensually exposed. That could bring harm to students whose parents are not supportive.

Hillsborough and Pinellas counties open child COVID-19 vaccination sites for kids ages 5-11” via Justin Garcia of Creative Loafing — Children ages 5-11 can receive free Pfizer vaccinations in Hillsborough and Pinellas County this week. The CDC has approved Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for children, and the Departments of Health in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties are making moves to have the shot free and readily accessible, according to news releases sent out today. Hillsborough will begin distributing the vaccines immediately at Progress Village Park, located at 8701 Progress Blvd. The site is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, including Veterans Day. Pinellas will begin providing the pediatric COVID-19 vaccines on Friday at its clinics in St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park, Clearwater and Mid-County.

— 2022 —

Largest federal employee union endorses Charlie Crist — The American Federation of Government Employees has endorsed Crist‘s campaign for Governor. AFGE is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers, and has a formidable presence in the Sunshine State, with nearly 294,000 active and retired federal employees living in Florida. “As former Governor and current Congressman for Florida’s 13th District, Charlie Crist has continuously shown his commitment to workers and the unions that represent them,” said AFGE District 5 National Vice President David Mollett. “With a proven AFGE voting record and voting in favor of critical labor reform policies such as the PRO Act, Crist is the clear choice for working people in Florida.” Crist celebrated the endorsement and added, “union workers are the backbone of this state and nation, and essential to Florida’s economy.”

A big get for Charlie Crist. Image via Facebook.

Wilton Simpson stacks $1.6M in October for Agriculture Commissioner bid” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Simpson is enjoying support from a variety of industries in his bid to become Florida’s 12th Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services next year. Last month, he added more than $1.6 million to his intimidating war chest, including a flood of contributions from fellow Republicans in the House. Simpson, a powerful fundraiser, holds more than $7.2 million between his campaign and four political committees: Jobs for Florida, Florida Green PAC, Florida Future and his newest, Friends of Wilton Simpson, which he launched when he announced his candidacy in September. His gains are likely to remain strong through November, in no small part due to a big fundraising event the Trilby Republican hosted on Nov. 4 at Simpson Farms.

Jason Mariner’s campaign affirms congressional eligibility” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Mariner is fully eligible to hold office in the United States House of Representatives regardless of his past felony convictions. Mariner, who won the Republican Primary Election last week in Florida’s 20th Congressional District, had his eligibility called into question because the Florida Constitution bans felons from holding office, and it is unclear whether a felon who has his voting rights restored can run for federal office. In a Mariner campaign memo, attorney David Mitchel Graham advises Mariner that his eligibility is assured because several precedent-setting federal court cases have found the U.S. Constitution spells out qualifications for members of the U.S. Housing of Representatives, and “non-felon” isn’t one of those qualifications. Further, states cannot add their own qualifications.

What happens if a Florida congressional primary ends in a tie? That’s up to interpretation” via Daniel Rivero of WLRN — With a mere five votes separating the candidates in the Democratic primary election for Florida’s 20th Congressional District, a rare question has sprung up: What if they tie? The razor-thin spread currently has political newcomer Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick leading Broward Commissioner Dale Holness after a machine and hand recount in Broward and Palm Beach counties. But on Friday, a yet-to-be-known number of ballots cast by overseas voters will be counted, along with a small number of mail-in ballots that were previously turned down due to issues with the wrong voter signing the envelope and signature mismatches. For a tied election under Florida law, candidates would have to “draw lots to determine who shall be elected to the office.”

Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan wars to primary Matt Gaetz, promising to ‘restore dignity’” via Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner — A veteran and special operations pilot during the Iraq and Afghan wars will on Thursday announce his campaign to challenge embattled Rep. Gaetz in the Republican primary, promising to “restore dignity” to the Panhandle district. Bryan Jones, a CV-22 Osprey pilot and small business owner, told us, “I feel it is time to begin a new path of service, one that will help restore dignity and honor to Florida’s 1st District — because the people of this district are good, honest, hard-working people, and they deserve a congressman who reflects their values and who will fight for their beliefs and their freedoms.”

Elise Stefanik says Amanda Makki is a ‘Woman to Watch’ — Republican House Conference Chair and E-PAC founder Stefanik announced on Wednesday that Makki earned a spot on the “Women to Watch” First Slate 2021-2022 E-PAC candidates. Stefanik championed an effort during the 2020 election cycle to elect the most GOP women to Congress in history. “Chairwoman Stafanik’s dedication to supporting women in Congress is groundbreaking. I’m thrilled to be a part of this First Slate of Women to Watch,” Makki said. “Pinellas County leadership agrees that our campaign is the best choice to flip CD 13 and I am proud to have more local endorsements than any other GOP or Democrat candidate in this race.” Makki is against the Trump-endorsed Anna Paulina Luna in the Republican Primary to succeed U.S. Rep. Crist.

Mike Zhao opens HD 50 campaign with $114K, including $50K in self-funding” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Zhao opened his campaign for the open seat in House District 50 with a $114,000 first-month post to his campaign fund, including $64,000 he raised from more than 420 individual donors. Zhao is an Orlando businessman and a national activist for Asian American rights. His opening list of supporters suggests his campaign has tapped his national base. Incumbent Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia is running for the Senate instead of reelection. With the seat opening, Zhao is one of four Republicans vying, along with union organizer Angel Perry of Orlando, Canaveral Port Authority Board Member Robyn Hattaway of Merritt Island, and lawyer Christopher Wright of Orlando.

Lindsay Cross reaches $83K raised with $7.5K October haul” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Cross, an environmental scientist, has raised $83,207 since launching her campaign for House District 68 in June. Cross, who is the only candidate in the race to succeed Rep. Ben Diamond, collected $7,510 in October. Her affiliated political committee, Moving Florida Forward, reported no donations in October. The St. Petersburg Democrat reported 53 donors last month, including three $1,000 drops from the Florida Cow PAC and Ruth’s List Florida, which previously endorsed her campaign. Cross also received a $100 donation from Pinellas County Commissioner Rene Flowers, who announced her endorsement early this month. Cross’ campaign spent $1,413 in October, primarily on consulting services. Cross’ political committee spent $330 on legal and administrative expenses.

Kelly Skidmore HD 81 defense adds $22K in October with help from medical, pharma, legal sectors” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Rep. Skidmore added $22,000 last month to defend her Florida House seat representing District 81. Much of it came from the medical sector and law firms, lobbyists and consulting groups. Skidmore held just over $53,000 on Oct. 31. Nearly all of that came through her campaign. Her political committee, Floridians for Early Education, has added only $1,500 since she won office in November. The PC could become more active once another candidate enters the race. So far, Skidmore is unopposed. Several pharmaceutical companies and groups chipped in with $1,000 donations.

Tweet, tweet:

—“Dana Trabulsy raised nearly $18K in October, crossing $60K for HD 84 reelection campaign” via Ryan Nicol

Kristin Dozier will not seek fourth term on Leon County Commission” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — After more than a decade on the Leon County Commission, Dozier will not seek a fourth term. Outspoken and never afraid to send public meetings into a deep discussion on policy and issues, Dozier said her decision to leave the District 5 seat she’s held since 2010 was a tough one, but it was time for fresh faces to lead in public office. She announced Wednesday afternoon during Women Wednesday, a weekly gathering of women to support collaboration, growth and opportunities in women-owned business and entrepreneurship. David Hawkins and Jeromee Kalub-Fitz Conner have filed for the 2022 election for Dozier’s seat.

For your radarFacebook places new restrictions on ad targeting” via Elena Schneider of POLITICO — Meta, the parent company of Facebook, announced that it would place further limits on ad targeting on its platform, eliminating the ability to target based on users’ interactions with content related to health, race and ethnicity, political affiliation, religion and sexual orientation. The changes will go into effect on Jan. 19, 2022, when it will no longer allow new ads to use those additional targeting tools. The change will be fully implemented by March 17, 2022, at which point ads that were already running using those targets will no longer be allowed.

— CORONA NATION —

Coronavirus infections rise in Northern states, Mountain West, as holidays near” via Carolyn Y. Johnson, Joel Achenbach and Jacqueline Dupree of The Washington Post — The late summer and early autumn easing of the nation’s burden of new coronavirus infections has come to a halt over the past two weeks. Dramatic drops in caseloads in the Deep South, including the high-population states of Florida and Texas, have been offset by increases in the Mountain West and the northern tier of the country. Twenty-four states have seen at least a 5% increase in cases over the past two weeks, led by New Hampshire with a 63% increase, Vermont with 50%, New Mexico with 48%, Minnesota with 42%, and Nebraska with 37%. Having eased for two months, the aggregate national caseload began ticking up after hitting a low of about 69,000 new cases a day in late October. On Tuesday, that average topped 75,000.

(Un)happy holidays: COVID-19 is on the rise in some parts of the country. Image via Reuters.

Joe Biden called for widespread mandates. His VA is navigating its own minefields.” via Natasha Korecki of POLITICO — Biden vowed this fall to make a sizable dent in the unvaccinated population by mandating that federal employees receive the COVID-19 vaccination. One month after the first agency hit its deadline for workforce vaccination, it’s made major strides, but tens of thousands of employees have yet to comply. A month after the initial deadline to show proof of vaccination, the VA now says that 90% of all of its 422,000 workers have either uploaded their validation or sought a religious or health exemption. The persistence of a (at least) 10% unvaccinated pool of VA workers represents a narrow but troubling gap that has been seen after similar vaccine mandates were instituted for government contractors and large private businesses.

‘Strong’ start to child vaccination effort, but challenges loom” via The Associated Press — The campaign to vaccinate elementary school-age children in the U.S. is off to a strong start, health officials said Wednesday, but experts say there are signs that it will be difficult to sustain the initial momentum. About 900,000 kids aged 5 to 11 will have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in their first week of eligibility, providing the first glimpse at the pace of the school-aged vaccination campaign. “We’re off to a very strong start,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients during a briefing with reporters. Final clearance for the shots was granted by federal regulators on Nov. 2, with the first doses to kids beginning in some locations the following day.

Vaccine requirements come with very real political risks. But they’re still worth pursuing.” via Leana S. Wen of The Washington Post — For months, I have been making the case that vaccine requirements are necessary to reduce the spread of the coronavirus that has already claimed more than 755,000 American lives. We hold our individual freedom as sacrosanct, but the freedom to remain unvaccinated stops when people choose to be in public settings where they could infect others with a deadly disease. Many disagree with this viewpoint. Biden’s vaccination requirement for businesses with more than 100 employees is the latest pandemic measure to face intense backlash, with states and businesses filing lawsuits to stop the OSHA from implementing the rule.

— CORONA ECONOMICS —

Legal battle over Biden’s vax-or-test mandate for businesses is just beginning” via Ann E. Marimow and Eli Rosenberg of The Washington Post — The legal battle over the Biden administration’s coronavirus vaccination or testing requirements for private businesses is falling along the country’s sharp political fault lines, with Republican-led states, conservative legal groups and sympathetic employers lining up most forcefully to try to block the rules. Opponents celebrated a court ruling on Saturday that would temporarily halt the policy. The Louisiana-based federal appeals court that issued Saturday’s order is now considering whether to halt the new rule more permanently, which requires companies with more than 100 employees to either mandate vaccinations or require weekly coronavirus testing and masks for those who work on-site or in-person with others.

The legal battle over vaccine mandates is just beginning. Image via AP.

Prices climbed 6.2% in October compared with last year, the largest increase in 30 years, as inflation strains economy” via Rachel Siegel, Andrew Van Dam and Laura Reiley of The Washington Post — Prices rose 6.2% in October compared with a year ago, the largest annual increase in about 30 years, as rising inflation complicates the political agenda for the White House and policymakers’ road map for the economy heading into the end of the year. The growth in October prices was driven by soaring energy prices and ongoing supply chain backlogs, such as those in the used-car market. Gasoline prices are up 49.6% from a year earlier, and higher energy costs are pushing up the prices of just about every other good, economists say, and pinching an already strained supply chain.

Heavy burden for consumers as holidays near: Soaring prices” via The Associated Press — A worsening surge of inflation for such bedrock necessities as food, rent, autos and heating oil is setting Americans up for a financially difficult Thanksgiving and holiday shopping season. Prices for U.S. consumers jumped 6.2% in October compared with a year earlier, leaving families facing their highest inflation rate since 1990, the Labor Department said Wednesday. From September to October, prices jumped 0.9%. Inflation is eroding the strong gains in wages and salaries that have flowed to America’s workers in recent months, creating a political threat to the Biden administration and congressional Democrats and intensifying pressure on the Federal Reserve as it considers how fast to withdraw its efforts to boost the economy.

— MORE CORONA —

Pfizer CEO says people who spread vaccine disinformation are ‘criminals’” via Timothy Bella of The Washington Post — Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Tuesday that people who spread disinformation about coronavirus vaccines are “criminals.” Bourla, in an interview with the Atlantic Council think tank, said a “very small” group has been responsible for spreading vaccine disinformation to the millions who remain hesitant about getting vaccinated. “Those people are criminals,” he said to Atlantic Council CEO Frederick Kempe. “They’re not bad people. They’re criminals because they have literally cost millions of lives.” More than three-quarters of adults in the United States either believe or are not sure about at least one false statement about the coronavirus, COVID-19 or the coronavirus vaccines.

Albert Bourla believes misinformation should come with jail time. Image via Bloomberg.


— PRESIDENTIAL —

Biden administration to invest another $785 million in communities hit hardest by pandemic” via Akilah Johnson of The Washington Post — The Biden administration plans to announce Wednesday that it will invest an additional $785 million into efforts to stymie the spread of the coronavirus in communities that have been hit hardest and those who are at the highest risk of death and disease, people of color, people with disabilities, and people living in rural or low-income areas. This infusion of money builds on billions of dollars invested in equity-focused programs. The pandemic hit with an unequal impact, with Black, Latino and Native American people twice as likely to die of COVID-19 as White people. But recent analysis shows that at different points in time, including this current wave of the delta variant, disparities in deaths and infections have narrowed for Black and Latino people compared to White people.

Communities hardest hit by the pandemic will get some extra relief. Image via AP.

Rising oil prices put Biden in a bind over climate pledges” via Benoit Faucon and Timothy Puko of The Wall Street Journal — Rising oil prices have handed Biden a dilemma at a politically precarious time. His administration’s ambitious agenda to stem global warming calls for a shift away from fossil fuels. Yet Biden is now urging OPEC to increase production to ease shortages and lower prices. OPEC has so far rebuffed those appeals. Some senior advisers, including National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, have proposed releasing oil from the national Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Oil industry leaders and others have seized on the issue, saying Biden is trying to push a transition to alternative energy when the world still depends on fossil fuels.

Inflation puts White House on defensive as Joe Manchin raises concerns about new spending” via Seung Min Kim, Jeff Stein and Tyler Pager of The Washington Post — The White House was forced on the defensive on Wednesday by a worse-than-expected inflation report that showed the largest annual increase in prices in three decades and triggered fresh criticisms of its legislative agenda on Capitol Hill. The pace of inflation accelerated in October compared to September, with prices rising 0.9% and more than 6% over the prior 12 months. The Biden administration has faced unexpectedly strong political headwinds by the continued rise in inflation. Polling suggests voters are frustrated over rising prices, and Sen. Manchin has pointed at rising inflation as a reason to pause on some parts of the White House’s agenda. The White House has acknowledged the challenge posed by inflationary pressures and said it is taking a range of steps to mitigate them.

Senators block most Biden ambassador nominations, while foreign crises mount” via Courtney McBride of The Wall Street Journal — Ten months into the Biden administration, the U.S. is confronting foreign policy crises and managing tricky alliances across the world. But dozens of ambassadorial posts in critical capitals remain vacant, with lesser-status diplomats leading U.S. embassies in their stead. The Senate has confirmed only a fraction of Biden’s nominees, while the President has yet to nominate ambassadors to many other countries. Foreign service officers in temporary assignments lack the status and access of a Senate-confirmed ambassador. Governments that adhere to strict protocol won’t permit diplomats below the ambassador level to meet with heads of government or foreign ministers.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Tensions rise among Republicans over infrastructure bill and whether any agreement with Biden should be tolerated” via Marianna Sotomayor, Paul Kane and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — Republicans are increasingly divided over the bipartisan infrastructure bill that will soon become law, with tensions rising among GOP members over whether the party should remain united against all aspects of Biden’s agenda or strike deals in the rare instances when there is common ground. Trump has led the call to trash the bill while deriding Republicans who voted for the measure, saying they should be “ashamed of themselves” for “helping the Democrats.” At a private event hosted by the House Republican campaign arm Monday night in Florida, Trump took time out of his speech to throw a jab at the 13 House GOP lawmakers who supported the infrastructure package.

Republicans are weighing the consequences of working with Joe Biden. Image via AP.

Assignment editors — In honor of Veterans Day, Sen. Rick Scott will join Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart for a Veterans Day Ceremony at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7721, 1 p.m., 800 Neffs Way, Naples. RSVP to [email protected].

Daughter of artist Peter Max says guardianship has cost her father $16 million” via Adam Walser of WFTS — Crist announced the introduction of his new bill, the Guardians Aren’t Above Prosecution Act; the legislation shines a light on the lack of judicial action commonly taken against bad actors who abuse and defraud vulnerable persons within a guardianship or conservatorship and spurs prosecution against those bad actors. Max is a German immigrant who became famous in the 1960s for his colorful pop art. Max now has dementia. He was put into guardianship in 2016 after a court ruled he was abused by his second wife. His daughter Libra said she has been fighting to have him freed from guardianship for several years. She said guardians and attorneys have so far spent more than $16 million of her dad’s fortune.

Judge to appoint lawyer for ex-U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown’s next fraud trial” via Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-Union — Former U.S. Rep. Brown will have a court-appointed lawyer to handle her new fraud trial unless she hires a replacement, a federal judge said Wednesday. “Nothing is preventing Ms. Brown from continuing her efforts” to hire counsel herself, U.S. Magistrate James Klindt said, but added: “With a February trial date on the horizon, this is the best course.” Klindt said he’d choose a lawyer from a list of candidates within a few days. Brown, whose 18-count conviction was vacated by an appeals court in May, has told judges she can’t afford another trial unless the government returns $42,000 that was taken from her as part of the judgment from the overturned verdict.

— CRISIS —

Prince Harry says he warned Twitter CEO of U.S. Capitol riot” via The Associated Press — Britain’s Prince Harry has sharply attacked the failure of social media companies to challenge hate online, revealing that he warned the chief executive of Twitter ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots that the site was being used to stage political unrest. Harry made the comments Tuesday in an online panel on misinformation in California. He said he made his concerns known via email to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey the day before the riot in Washington. “Jack and I were emailing each other prior to Jan. 6 where I warned him that his platform was allowing a coup to be staged,” Harry said. Harry also targeted YouTube, saying many videos spreading COVID-19 misinformation were left up despite violating the site’s policies.

We warned you: Prince Harry saw Jan. 6 coming.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Roger Stone says he’s freezing his sperm for Laura Loomer” via Anders Anglese of Newsweek — Stone has shared a bizarre social media post offering to freeze his sperm for Loomer, a far-right activist, if she wants to bear his child. Stone, who is 69, posted: “Since I don’t have a biological heir and because the freedom movement needs future warriors, I am going to freeze some of my sperm in case Laura Loomer decides to bear my child sometime in the future.” The post included a photo of the pair at a pro-Trump event, with the 28-year-old activist’s arms wrapped around Stone. His posts were on Gab, which describes itself as a “free speech network” and has become popular with conservatives blocked from mainstream social media platforms.

They make quite the pair.

— LOCAL NOTES —

Scott Maddox, Paige Carter-Smith report to federal prison camps in public corruption case” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Nearly three years after they were indicted on public corruption charges, former Tallahassee Mayor and City Commissioner Maddox and Carter-Smith have reported to prison. Maddox, sentenced to five years in prison for masterminding a bribery scheme involving vendors at City Hall, reported to the Federal Prison Camp in Talladega, Alabama. Carter-Smith, sentenced to two years, reported to the Federal Prison Camp in Marianna, which houses female inmates only. Both camps are minimum-security “satellite” facilities that sit next to medium-security federal prisons. Maddox and Carter-Smith self-reported to the prison camps on Tuesday, the deadline imposed by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle.

Scott Maddox, Paige Carter-Smith head to the big house.

Ahead of Tuesday deadline, Army Corps of Engineers touts LOSOM plan despite concerns” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Col. James Booth of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said he expects the new Lake Okeechobee regulation plan to be an improvement, despite fielding several complaints about the plan in previous weeks and months. “I do believe, and can honestly say, that LOSOM is going to be better than LORS,” Booth told the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Wednesday. “It’s going to be a vast improvement over how we’re operating today.” Still, Booth used much of his presentation time Wednesday laying out concerns he’s heard from stakeholders after the Corps unveiled eight potential models on Oct. 26. Individuals in some regions, such as the St. Lucie Estuary, worried about too much water moving into the area from Lake Okeechobee.

Endorsements, debt and old arrests: Hialeah Council candidates sprint to Nov. 16 runoff” via Jesse Lieberman of the Miami Herald — The biggest wild-card on the Nov. 16 ballot is Hialeah’s Group VI council seat contest between Calvo and Pacheco, who were separated by little more than one percentage point after votes were cast in the first round. A rehabilitation center and farm stores are among the small businesses associated with Pacheco and her husband, Daniel Pacheco. During the pandemic, four of their companies received over $500,000 combined in federal Paycheck Protection Program loans. Although the couple have donated or lent more than $17,000 to her campaign, she said the money came from her savings. Pacheco has spent the last few days explaining the loans to reporters, and discussing several arrests after the blog Political Cortadito first reported them.

Opa-locka mayor abruptly resigns during commission meeting, citing ‘corruption’” via Aaron Liebowitz of the Miami Herald — Mayor Matthew Pigatt abruptly announced his resignation during a city commission meeting Wednesday, marking the latest twist of fate for a city trying to overcome years of corruption and political chaos. Following a public comment period, Pigatt rose from his seat at the dais to deliver a prepared statement of his resignation. “I will not be a figurehead for corruption,” Pigatt said. Pigatt’s resignation was not on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting. During his statement, Pigatt made repeated references to continued corruption within the city’s government despite his best efforts to root it out. He did not provide any details.

Perks, upgrades and … sports betting? Disney brings good news for Q4” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — CEO Bob Chapek got candid with some of the company’s financials Wednesday as the company released its fourth quarter earnings that recorded $5.5 billion in revenue for the theme parks and consumer products division. Guest spending was up 30% over pre-pandemic levels. “One-third of our guests at Walt Disney World are buying the Genie Plus upgrade at $15. That’s per guest per day. And that is a very, very material increase for us in per caps, but also in margins,” Chapek said. The company is also looking to jump into the gambling industry. Disney, which owns ESPN, has done “substantial research” and doesn’t believe getting involved in the betting industry will hurt the Disney brand, he said.

Disney has a pretty good Q4, floats entry into sports betting. Image via AP.

Ocala human resource/risk management director resigns after arrest in domestic violence case” via Austin L. Miller of the Ocala Star-Banner — City of Ocala Human Resource and Risk Management Director Jared Scott Sorensen has resigned, several days after he was arrested and accused of domestic violence. City officials said the 45-year-old Ocala resident had submitted a resignation letter that City Manager Sandra Wilson received Tuesday afternoon. Wilson’s response to Sorensen: “I accept your resignation. In lieu of a two weeks’ notice, it will become effective immediately. Thanks for your 11 years of service to the city, and I wish you well in your future endeavors.”

Bizarre legal battle between Marvel chairman and his Palm Beach neighbor comes to an end” via Alexandra Clough of The Palm Beach Post — A legal battle between Marvel’s Isaac Perlmutter and his Palm Beach neighbor finally is over, following years of lawsuits and bizarre allegations of hate mail and threats. In September, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Cymonie Rowe dismissed two lawsuits against Perlmutter, Marvel Entertainment’s chair, and his wife, Laurie. In one order, Rowe ruled an eight-year lawsuit against Perlmutter by Palm Beach neighbor Harold Peerenboom was baseless, prompting Rowe to dismiss the case. In another order, Rowe tossed a lawsuit by Peerenboom claiming he was defamed by Perlmutter. The initial trigger for the rumble between the neighbors? A spat over the management of the tennis center at their island residence, the exclusive Sloan’s Curve community.

— LOCAL SALUTE —

‘Small token of appreciation’: DeFuniak Springs celebrates Veterans Day with downtown banner program” via Savannah Evanoff of the Northwest Florida Daily News — The banners hanging from 10 lamp posts on Baldwin Avenue between South Fifth Street and South 10th Street downtown were at one point dilapidated and flapping in the wind, mainly going unnoticed by those who strolled by. Chelsea Blaich, the executive director of Main Street DeFuniak Springs, said they opted to redo them for the holidays at the end of 2019. Suddenly, the community noticed. Twenty past and present servicemen and women are honored on double-sided banners through November. Blaich said her group plans to continue honoring veterans and Black History Month on the banners in the future, potentially expanding it to the lamp posts surrounding the lake yard.

Thank you for your service: Florida honors veterans in myriad ways. Image via AP.

Residents in Okaloosa, Walton counties to honor nation’s heroes” via Tony Judnich of the Northwest Florida Daily News — A parade, the unveiling of life-size statues of women veterans, live music, and several ceremonies are among the many ways that communities in Okaloosa and Walton counties will honor their military heroes on Veterans Day on Thursday. The city’s annual Veterans Day Parade is set to begin at 9 a.m. on Main Street, followed by the annual Veterans Day Ceremony at 11 a.m. in front of the Okaloosa County Veterans Memorial. The city’s 16th annual Veterans Day Ceremony starts at 11 a.m. at the John V. Lawson Amphitheater in Chipley Park on Circle Drive. HarborWalk Village will host a celebration from 4-7:30 p.m.

Parade and festival, breakfast and meal deals planned for Veterans Day in Tallahassee” via the Tallahassee Democrat — Veteran Events Tally, an organization made up of volunteer veterans and citizens whose goal is to honor and respect those who are currently serving or who have served in our Nations Armed Forces, is back with the 2021 Veterans Day Parade at 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 11. The start of the 24-Hour Watch by Florida State University ROTC at the Vietnam Memorial, 463 S. Monroe St., begins at 11 a.m. Wednesday. FullPress Apparel 5K & 1 Mile Fun Run starts at 8 a.m. Thursday. The parade will start at 10:40 a.m. Thursday through downtown Tallahassee. The parade viewing area is South Monroe Street from the intersection of Tennessee Street, a right on Madison Street, and ending at Duval Street. The parade stops at 10:45 a.m. for the conclusion of 24-Hour Watch at the Vietnam Memorial 11th Hour Ceremony

—“Seven days: Veterans Day Ceremony, From Sea to Shining Sea headline patriotic week’” via the Pensacola News Journal

—“Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care sets Veterans Day events in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida” via the Northwest Florida Daily News

New military tribute in Pensacola lets residents commemorate loved ones” via Alex Miller of the Pensacola News Journal — Jill Hubbs had seen military service tribute banners before in other cities around the country, but it was not until she was sitting on a bench in Pensacola’s Veterans Memorial Park that she focused in on the nearby lampposts and thought the idea could work here. Now, friends, family members, or organizations can pay $250 to sponsor a service member they care about to be commemorated on 20-inch by 40-inch banners hung around the park. Hubbs, the general manager at WSRE and a board member for the Veterans Memorial Park Foundation of Pensacola, said the tributes are for any living, deceased, or missing-in-action service members.

— TOP OPINION —

Twenty-five years of Republican leadership is keeping Florida on top” via Rep. Paul Renner for the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida’s correction started 25 years ago this month, ending 122 consecutive years of Democrat dominance in the Florida House of Representatives. The new Republican Speaker promised that “principles of less government, fewer taxes, more freedom, and more responsibility” would guide the majority. Since that time, Republican Governors and legislative majorities honored those principles, making job prospects stronger, educational outcomes brighter, and our streets safer. Republicans cut billions in taxes, but the resulting strength of our economy still yields record tax collections. We reduced the state’s debt load and earned the best credit rating. Compare Florida with Illinois, where potential state bankruptcy looms large. Illinois Democrats’ solution is to tax their residents, so that their gluttonous government never has to go on a diet.

— OPINIONS —

Celebrate veterans through national service” via Melissa A. Sullivan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — National service breeds empathy. It places participants outside of their realm of comfort. It forces participants to consider experiences and histories apart from their myopic, tribal existence. National service challenges participants to rise to the occasion to meet their civic duty, a cause greater than the trivial differences that we permit to tear us apart. Hyperpartisanship, disinformation and lack of confidence in politicians and public institutions are increasingly eroding our faith in democracy and leading to a decline in civic participation. Like veterans, alumni of national service programs share a similar mentality. Not only does national service give participants a civic buy-in, but it also fosters an inclusive mindset.

For our veterans, let’s make a difference before it’s too late” via David Apt for the Tampa Bay Times — In recent months it’s been reported that Veterans Affairs’ hotlines and suicide prevention services across the country have recorded a significant increase in call volume. A number of these calls were reportedly triggered by veterans’ reactions to the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. How do we encourage those veterans and service members who’ve been trained to “adapt and overcome” to ask for help? Historically, that’s never been in their wheelhouse. And sadly, their physical and psychological injuries are further exacerbated by an American public who find the veterans’ experience worlds apart from their own.

Beg your pardon: Stone for Governor? Don’t laugh … yet” of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Just when you think politics can’t get any weirder comes the news that Stone wants to run for Florida Governor. Yes, the sharp-elbowed political operative and self-described dirty trickster. Ordinarily, this would be a disastrous idea. But these aren’t ordinary times. If Stone messes up DeSantis’ reelection plans, we say: Go for it. Leave no stone unturned, pun intended, and make the 2022 race more competitive. If nothing else, it will help neutralize the relentless Republican strategy to game the system, like forcing people to request mail ballots more often to make it harder to vote. Stone plays rough. DeSantis needs a dose of his own medicine.

Why did the FCC acting chair delay emergency broadband?” via Julio Fuentes for Florida Politics — Education. Health care. Employment. The COVID-19 pandemic affected them all, and taking care of a family in every respect required broadband access and technology to get through large stretches of the pandemic. You’d think the FCC and its acting chair would have pulled out all the stops to make sure that this type of service was available to as many people as possible, as soon as possible, especially when there’s a targeted federally funded program for that important purpose. But Acting FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel slammed on the brakes. Why? It turns out that Big Telecom giants wanted more time to get ready to grab a piece of the action — a lot more time. While the program was ready to go in February, it didn’t actually launch until several months later.

— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Gov. DeSantis is proposing more pay increases and bonuses for teachers.

Also on today’s Sunrise:

— Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran is praising the eradication of high-stakes testing.

— And Florida’s conservatives are giving their best shot to lure the In-N-Out fast-food chain to Florida and away from California’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Is Santa Claus coming to town? Maybe not. Blame the labor shortage.” via Katherine Bindley of The Wall Street Journal — A tight labor market has made it tough to find truck drivers, restaurant workers, and retail employees. Add to that list Santas, who are both in high demand, some bookers say, and short supply as some would-be Saint Nicks stay on the sidelines of the labor market. Working Santas are capitalizing on their scarcity value, bumping up hourly rates, and packing their schedules. Many Santas stuck to virtual appearances last year due to pandemic concerns. Now, with COVID-19 cases falling and people eager to gather for the holidays, those in the Santa industry say demand has rebounded and then some. The shortage has overwhelmed bookers, sent organizations looking for bearded volunteers, and forced some event coordinators to settle for Santa visits in mid-October.

Santa may have some extra time on his hands this year.

Snowcat Ridge, Florida’s first snow park, opens for its second season” via Patrick Connelly of the Orlando Sentinel — Snowcat Ridge, Florida’s first and only snow park, is open for its 2021-2022 season with upgrades and new offerings for guests at the Dade City attraction. Back for a second year, the park provides family and friends the opportunity to slide down a 60-foot tall, 400-foot-long snow tubing hill or play inside a 10,000-square-foot Arctic Igloo. At the bottom of the slopes is an Alpine Village with food, drinks, shopping and bonfires for warming up. New for this year, Snowcat Ridge brings guests an ice-skating ribbon and an Eskimo Outpost with private igloo rentals. During the offseason, the park added new food and drink outlets and capacity upgrades throughout the site.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, Pinellas Commissioner Pat Gerard, Florida connoisseur Craig Pittman, Ross Preville, Pierce Schuessler, and TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat. Belated best wishes to rising star Jared Williams.

___

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.



#FlaPol

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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Daniel Figueroa, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Mike Wright, and Tristan Wood.

Email: [email protected]
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