Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.15.21

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

Good Monday morning.

Jordan Elsbury is joining Ballard Partners as the Managing Partner of the firm’s Jacksonville office.

In 2015, fresh out of Southeastern Louisiana University, Elsbury was coming up through the ranks of Louisiana politics when he took a chance on Lenny Curry’s first campaign for Jacksonville Mayor.

Like a few alums of the campaign, Elsbury stayed on to work for the administration, first as director of appointments, then in intergovernmental affairs, and finally as Chief of Staff.

Congrats: After leaving the Jacksonville Mayor’s office, Ballard Partners quickly snagged Jordan Elsbury.

During his tenure, Elsbury led the administration through the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic and secured the successful passage of one of the most extensive infrastructure programs in city history. Elsbury also spearheaded Curry’s other policy and legislative victories, including over a billion dollars of economic development projects.

The Mayor’s Office announced earlier this month that Elsbury would leave the position, effective Nov. 12. Ballard Partners, one of the top lobbying firms in the state and the country, snapped him up immediately.

“Jordan’s preeminent public service at the highest levels in the city of Jacksonville will make him an indispensable asset to our firm’s clients in Florida’s most populous city,” firm founder and President Brian Ballard said. “Jordan’s leadership of our firm’s Jacksonville office will make Ballard Partners the unparalleled government relations firm in the city.”

Elsbury added, “I am honored to join Ballard Partners, and am looking forward to expanding the firm’s capabilities in Jacksonville and working with its exceptionally talented and effective team in Tallahassee.”

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The Junior League of Tallahassee (JLT) is launching its 6th Annual Little Black Dress Initiative campaign on Monday at a local coffee shop.

The Initiative, which runs from Nov. 15-19, raises awareness about local food insecurity and money for programs and organizations fighting it in Leon County. JLT members raised more than $70,000 at last year’s initiative, according to the organization.

Learn how little black dresses will help feed Leon County children. Image via Junior League of Tallahassee.

During the campaign’s five days, JLT members and initiative advocates wear the same black dress or outfit with a button that reads “Ask me About my Dress” or “Ask me About my Outfit.” When asked, participants share information about the food insecurity many Leon County children face and how to donate, said JLT President-elect Becca Piers in a video promoting the event.

“One in three kids in Leon County don’t know where their next meal will come from,” Piers said

Money raised during the event either supports JLT programs, like its Mighty Meals project that provides meals to local school children during spring break or goes to other local organizations fighting food insecurity, like Capital City Youth Services.

The initiative is launching Monday at 7:30 a.m. at RedEye Coffee Midtown on Thomasville Road. JLT is seeking donations for the Initiative on its website.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@KyleGriffinFL: The U.S. administered almost 10 million vaccine doses in the last week, the most since late May, according to the White House.

Thread:

@EricTopol: Why should every adult get a 3rd shot (booster) when eligible (6 months after 1°💉)? 1. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial, the gold standard for assessing efficacy, showed restoration of efficacy to 95.6%, in >10,000 participants across all age groups

@BuckSexton: People in my building in NYC are getting very fussy about everyone wearing masks in the elevator, presumably because they want to wait a few minutes until they sit in a packed bar or restaurant where nobody is masked (Anthony) Fauci has driven millions deep into mental illness territory

@POTUS: Under my predecessor, infrastructure week was an empty promise. Now, we’re going to make an infrastructure decade a reality.

Thread:

@IleanaGarciaUSA: Tomorrow-Nov15 in Cuba Socialism|Communism will once again show its true colors for the world to see, once again, many governments will look the other way. WE WILL NOT! The American Flag will once again wave in Cuba as a symbol of #hope and #freedom #soscuba #patriayvida #15nCuba

Tweet, tweet:

@TeacherMerlin: Let me be clear, @ShevrinJones has been a Guest Speaker in my classroom. I asked the Senator if he would come talk to my class and his answer was, “yes.” No excuses, no I’m busy, just that he would love to. It was phenomenal. He actually makes time for people and shows up!

Tweet, tweet:

— DAYS UNTIL —

ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 3; ‘Hawkeye’ premieres — 9; FSU vs. UF — 12; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 16; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 22; ‘Sex and the City’ revival premieres — 24; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 25; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 25; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 37; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 44; Private sector employees must be fully vaccinated or tested weekly — 50; final season of ‘This Is Us’ begins — 50; CES 2022 begins — 51; NFL season ends — 55; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 57; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Election — 57; Special Elections in Senate District 33, House District 88 & 94 — 57; Florida TaxWatch’s 2022 State of the Taxpayer Day — 58; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 60; NFL playoffs begin — 61; XXIV Olympic Winter Games begins — 81; Super Bowl LVI — 90; Daytona 500 — 97; CPAC begins — 101; St. Pete Grand Prix — 102; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 108; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 175; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 196; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 200; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 236; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 247; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 326; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 361; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 364; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 396; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 459; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 620. ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 704; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 984.

— TOP STORY —

Ron DeSantis wanted to get tough on employer vaccine mandates. Legislators reined him in” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — When DeSantis called for a Special Session to penalize companies that require employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19, Sen. Aaron Bean, who has spent much of his 17-year legislative career working on health care issues, knew the idea was going to have problems. “I want to stand for freedom,’’ said Bean. “But there’s also the argument that if I own a small company, and I have underlying health conditions, and I want to make sure all those that interact with me are safe, are vaccinated, who are we to tell that small-business owner what they can’t do?” Bean and other legislators were hearing from Florida businesses that they didn’t want to be told what they couldn’t do any more than they wanted the federal government to tell them what they had to do to keep their workplaces safe. Legislators first tried to persuade the Governor the issue could best be handled in the regular legislative session, but DeSantis, who was battling the federal government on mask mandates in schools and positioning to go to war over the federal government’s vaccine mandates, wanted to demonstrate the state was pushing back in a more high-profile way.

Ron DeSantis wants to go all-out; lawmakers want to hold back just a little. Image via AP.

Federal appeals court halts Joe Biden administration’s vaccine requirement, delivering policy a major blow” via Eli Rosenberg and Ann E. Marimow of The Washington Post — A federal appeals court in New Orleans has halted the Biden administration’s vaccine or testing requirement for private businesses, delivering another political setback to one of the White House’s signature public health policies. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued the ruling Friday after temporarily halting the mandate last weekend in response to lawsuits filed by Republican-aligned businesses and legal groups. They said they believed that the ruling imposed a financial burden on businesses and potentially violated the Constitution’s commerce clause. The New Orleans-based 5th Circuit is considered one of the country’s most conservative appeals courts.

— SPECIAL SESSION —

Lawmakers consider COVID-19 rules for businesses despite legal hurdles” via Mary Ellen Klas, Ana Ceballos and Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald — Florida legislators will convene a weeklong special session Monday to pass new regulations on businesses that require employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19. The proposals do not ban vaccination requirements but will impose five new exemptions for employees who don’t want a vaccination, all but one of which mirrors a federal rule. Under the proposed HB 1 and SB 2, businesses may require employees to be vaccinated as long as they offer certain opt-outs. The state has found more than 100 employers who have imposed vaccine requirements or laid off employees for not getting vaccinated. For those businesses, the law will not be retroactive, and those companies will face no sanctions.

Florida considers whether to ban vaccine mandates for businesses. for Image via AP.

Lawmakers drop vaccine mandate from bill providing first responder disability, death payouts” via Fresh Take Florida — Florida lawmakers are considering legislation to provide disability or death payments for first responders infected during the pandemic; but not before rewriting the bill to avoid limiting payments to ones who were vaccinated if employers required it. The changes to the legislation, eliminating an entire section dealing with mandatory vaccinations, reflect the national debate over whether governments can require vaccinations for first responders. Since April last year, about 60 Florida law enforcement officers have died from COVID-19. The close-contact nature of policing leaves little room for social distancing, and DeSantis has worked to prevent local departments from instituting vaccine mandates.

Florida business interests flag concerns with vaccine mandate bans” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Florida business interests are starting to raise red flags over a bill that would discourage companies from requiring their employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Three days before lawmakers are slated to meet in a Special Session, a statewide nursing home association said the Legislature should consider altering the proposal (HB 1 and SB 2) to carve long-term care providers out of the vaccine mandate ban. In a statement Friday, Leading Age Florida CEO Steve Bahmer said nursing homes must comply with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid rules that require staff at health care facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid to be vaccinated as a condition of receiving federal health care dollars.

—”Florida Chiropractic Society backs ban on vaccine mandates” via Florida Politics

— DATELINE TALLY —

DeSantis says critical media coverage of COVID-19 surge has ‘been deadly’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Governor made the claim in an interview on Fox News: “Well, I think in some respects it’s been deadly to people how the media has been,” saying that the media “attacked” him for opening state-run monoclonal therapy sites. “When we had our summer spike, I rolled out 25 monoclonal antibody clinics,” DeSantis said. “But yet when I did that, the media attacked me. They attacked the treatment because they were trying to score political points. So, it’s all about their partisan narratives.” DeSantis groused that the media would “absolve” Governors in other states with COVID-19 spikes, but said he was happy to be in the position he’s in. “So, it’s all politics. I’m glad I am a target.”

Ron DeSantis’ latest visit to Fox News has him criticizing the media’s ‘deadly coverage.’

‘Once in a generation’: Shevrin Jones to attend Biden’s infrastructure bill signing” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Sen. Jones is set to attend Biden’s signing of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Monday at the White House. Jones called the bill a “once in a generation” piece of legislation. “The bipartisan infrastructure package is a historic, once-in-a-generation investment in our people and the future of Florida,” Jones said in a statement. In early November, Congress approved a $1 trillion package of road and other infrastructure projects after Democrats resolved a monthslong standoff between progressives and moderates. The federal legislation would provide Florida with nearly $16 billion in state formula funds for highways, bridges and transit over the next five years.

Assignment editors — House Minority Co-Leader Evan Jenne, Policy Chair Rep. Fentrice Driskell and Senate Democratic Leader Pro Tempore Bobby Powell will hold a media availability, 10 a.m., Zoom link here. This event will also be livestreamed on The Florida Channel.

Florida kicks off ‘recycling week’ — The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and The Florida Recycling Partnership Foundation celebrates “Florida Recycles Week” today through Friday to raise awareness about individuals’ actions to increase recycling habits and reduce waste. Day One starts at 11 a.m. Eastern time with a free webinar: “Take the Pledge” It’s America Recycles Day! Zoom link here. To take the pledge, visit FloridaRecycles.org. Presented by Keep Florida Beautiful and sponsored by Coca-Cola Beverage Florida. For more info, go to flrecycles.org or contact Keyna Cory, [email protected], (850) 728-1054.

— STATEWIDE —

Protest on the street and in writing show continued concern at UF over academic freedom” via John Henderson of The Gainesville Sun — University of Florida students and faculty held a protest on Friday, saying their battle with university administration over “academic freedom and free speech” is far from over. The university has come under intense criticism after its initial decision to block three professors from providing expert testimony against the state in a lawsuit over voting rights. On Nov. 5, UF President Kent Fuchs reversed his administration’s decision that had blocked the professors from providing expert testimony in a federal court challenge involving an elections law that was a top priority of DeSantis. The protesters argued that there are still serious unresolved issues.

University of Florida faculty and students protest the school’s conflict of interest policy.

Insurance Commissioner orders 4.9% cut in workers’ comp rates effective Jan. 1” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier approved an average 4.9% rate reduction in workers’ compensation costs effective Jan. 1, the office said in a prepared release. Moreover, Altmaier announced the National Council on Compensation Insurance also withdrew its request to levy up to an additional $20 million on employers’ policies to monetize a catastrophic fund for workers’ compensation claims. The 4.9% reduction in rates is driven by strong underwriting profits, NCCI told Florida Office of Insurance Regulation staff at a public meeting on the rate filing. The National Council on Compensation Insurance reviews premium levels on behalf of most Florida insurance companies.

Cops find respect, warm welcome, more money in Florida” via Kerry J. Byrne of The New York Post — Lakeland mounted a social media campaign targeting NYC cops earlier this year, and in April, dispatched a delegation to recruit in Times Square. Fourteen former Finest moved to Lakeland in the past year, 12 of them wooed over the past two months thanks to the recruiting trip. The respect accorded cops in Florida “was an eye-opener,” former NYPD cop Matthew Spoto said at a September news conference after heeding Lakeland’s call of duty. In New York, “it was almost like I was ashamed to be a law enforcement officer,” he said. NYPD officers start out earning $42,500 per year. The minimum PD salary in Lakeland is $53,000 following a pay raise earlier this year.

Disney’s political paradigm shift” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist — The conventional wisdom in Florida when it comes to gambling is that Disney opposes it because it threatens the company’s family-friendly image. As Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek pointed out to investors during an earnings call, that’s all about to change. Chapek says that Disney has conducted extensive research on the issue and found that changing attitudes view gambling differently than before. Potential sports betting licensing partnerships could prove to be a multibillion-dollar windfall for Disney, having no negative impact on Disney’s brand image overall, Chapek says. “It’s driven by the consumer, particularly the younger consumer that will replenish the sports fans over time and their desire to have gambling as part of their sports experience.”

Will Disney dive into the sports gambling pool?

Media registration open for 2021 National Summit on Education — ExcelinEd’s 2021 National Summit on Education will be Nov. 18-19 at Disney’s Coronado Springs in Lake Buena Vista. The education forum features a keynote address by Gov. Jeb Bush, with educators from across the country and internationally to develop strategies to improve education. Media can contact Joe Follick at [email protected] for free registration. For others who haven’t registered, visit the ExcelinEd website.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Young Floridians and Hispanics saw the greatest increase in COVID-19 vaccinations as thousands died” via Cindy Krischer Goodman, Spencer Norris and David Schutz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — With nearly 2,500 people a week in Florida dying during the peak of the delta wave, the groups most devastated saw the most significant increase in COVID-19 vaccinations. Two of the groups most hesitant to be vaccinated, 25-to-44-year-olds and the Hispanic population, led the state in new vaccinations while the delta wave took its toll on the state. The trend became especially apparent in South Florida, where younger people and minorities flocked to vaccination sites in August at even higher rates than the state as a whole. Overall, 49.7% of all Floridians are vaccinated for COVID-19, compared with 58.5% of the country’s total population. Children 5 to 11 began getting their first shots this week.

Delta is forcing more young people to get the jab.

South Florida COVID-19 cases decline, vaccination percentages drop as kids become eligible” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — South Florida COVID-19 case positivity rates fell to another record low over the last week. Just 1.7% of tests in Miami-Dade County came back positive Nov. 5-11, the report said. The rate was 2.2% and 2.5% in Broward and Palm Beach counties, respectively, continuing an encouraging downward trend that began in early August. In two of the three counties, Broward and Palm Beach, the number of weekly cases also shrank, albeit at a smaller rate than in weeks prior, indicating they are close to bottoming out and possibly reaching endemic status. Such may be the case in Miami-Dade, where there were 25 more cases than the week prior.

‘We should have a choice’: Employees protest Ascension Sacred Heart vaccine mandate” via the Northwest Florida Daily News — Ascension Sacred Heart employees from across Northwest Florida took to the streets to Friday protest the health care network’s newly implemented COVID-19 vaccination requirement. About 100 employees, family members, and supporters lined the street outside Ascension Sacred Heart Emerald Coast in Miramar Beach, waving signs with messages such as “No jab. No job” and “Ascension fires heroes.” A similar demonstration played out at Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola. Ascension announced its vaccination requirement for associates on July 27 and gave a Nov. 12 deadline for employees to comply.

This elected leader worked remotely during COVID-19. Now he may get fired.” via Lisa J. Huriash and Brittany Wallman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A 73-year-old elected official who worried about contracting COVID-19 faces losing his job because he only showed up virtually for business during the pandemic. Miramar city leaders expect to vote Monday whether to fire Commissioner Winston F. Barnes, concluding that leaders “may punish its own members for misconduct.” Officials said he can be fired because he broke the city’s rules by not attending Commission meetings in person for three months. Barnes’ lawyer, Keith Poliakoff, says the city has no authority to oust him. It’s the voters who put Barnes in office, not his fellow elected officials. And only Florida’s Governor has the power to remove an elected official from office, the lawyer says.

— 2022 —

Worries in top suburban battleground about Democrats’ spending show Biden’s midterm challenge” via John McCormick of The Wall Street Journal — Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District was the nation’s most competitive on average over the past three presidential elections. Former President Barack Obama won it by eight-tenths of a point in 2012; former President Donald Trump carried it by one point in 2016; Biden won it in 2020 by two-tenths of a point. Rep. Susie Lee, the congresswoman for the 3rd District since 2019, is one of 70 House Democrats being targeted by national Republicans. She won the district by three points in 2020, a narrower victory than in her first bid in 2018 amid lower turnout. William McCurdy II, a Clark County Commissioner who recently served as chair of the state’s Democratic Party, said he expects the Party’s prospects will improve if some of the President’s agenda is passed.

Nevada has been a bellwether for Democrats in swing states. Image via WSJ.

Val Demings rips Marco Rubio for skipping 14 Senate hearings amid GOP boycotts” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — U.S. Sen. Rubio has missed as many as 14 Senate hearings over the past two months, a practice the Republican was criticized for six years ago as he launched a bid for the presidency. But many of his absences since September have been part of either a GOP boycott of the Small Business Committee or a pledge to not vote for any of Biden’s State Department nominees. U.S. Rep. Demings, his likely opponent in next year’s U.S. Senate race, blasted Rubio’s absenteeism. Rubio did not appear at nine Foreign Relations hearings since Sept. 22, most of which focused on Biden nominations. Rubio has so far opposed all of Biden’s nominees to the State Department.

Charlie Crist adds 11 Miami-Dade County endorsements” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Crist collected support from 11 Miami-Dade community leaders Friday. They join seven others from the county who previously endorsed Crist, and hundreds of elected and community leaders from across the state who have thrown their weight behind his 2022 gubernatorial campaign. They include Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, Bay Harbor Islands Mayor Josh Fuller, North Bay Village Mayor Brent Latham, Bay Harbor Islands Commissioners Stephanie Bruder and Bob Yaffe, former Surfside Vice Mayor Barry Cohen, former Surfside Commissioner Dan Gielchinsky and North Miami Beach Commissioners Daniela Jean, McKenzie Fleurimond and Paule Vellard.

Florida law enforcement union endorses Wilton Simpson for Agriculture Commissioner” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Florida Police Benevolent Association endorsed Senate President Simpson for Agriculture Commissioner, the group announced. “As our Senate President, you insist that the men and women of law enforcement and corrections be treated with the utmost respect,” reads a letter to Simpson from FPBA President John “Kaz“ Kazanjian. The FPBA boasts more than 30,000 members statewide and a greater level of influence among law-and-order voters. Simpson tweeted he’s proud to have the union’s support. In September, Simpson, a Trilby Republican, officially filed for Agriculture Commissioner, a post the professional farmer has long expressed interest in holding.

First in Sunburn Ben Diamond taps longtime Democratic staffer Jena Kingery as CD 13 campaign managerKingery joins the Diamond campaign from Tallahassee-based political consulting firm ENH Industries, where she worked with Florida House Victory, People Over Profits, Julie Jenkins for State House, and Javier Fernandez for State Senate. “FL-13 is one of the most important Congressional races in the country, and I am confident Jena has the experience to lead our campaign to victory next November,” Diamond said. “She has been with our campaign since Day One, and I am thrilled to have her on our team in this new role.” Kingery previously served as the Chief Legislative Aide to Sen. Janet Cruz, Deputy campaign manager for Sean Shaw in his 2018 Attorney General Campaign, and the Deputy Compliance Director at the Florida Democratic Party.

Alan Cohn ‘strongly considering’ run in re-imagined CD 15” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Cohn said he is “strongly considering” a bid for Florida’s 15th Congressional District. That’s based on draft redistricting maps showing the district with a Democratic tilt. Cohn won the Democratic nomination in CD 15 before losing to Republican Scott Franklin in November. But based on the draft maps, most expect Franklin, a first-term Congressman based in Lakeland, to run in the re-imagined Florida’s 28th Congressional District. An MCI Maps analysis shows the new CD 28, as imagined in four drafts published by the Florida Senate Reapportionment Committee, would lean right.

Redistricting could draw Alan Cohn into the race to unseat Scott Franklin.

First in Sunburn Florida firefighters’ union endorses Blaise Ingoglia for Senate — The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Florida Chapter is endorsing Rep. Ingoglia in his bid for Senate District 10, which covers Hernando, Citrus and portions of Pasco counties. In the announcement, union leaders said the Spring Hill Republican is a champion for wages, benefits, working conditions, health and safety, and pensions. Florida Professional Firefighters District 10 Vice President Derrick Ryan said Ingoglia will “continue to honorably serve the citizens of Florida, and the interests of the men and women employed in the Fire and Emergency Medical Services.”

Tina Polsky to shift to SD 34, setting up possible Democratic primary” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Draft maps re-envisioning the Florida Senate landscape are already bringing political consequences. Sen. Polsky announced Friday she will likely run in the re-imagined Senate District 34 and leave Senate District 29 behind. She was one of three incumbent Senators seeking re-election whose home was drawn out of their own Senate districts. Incidentally, she lives in a community that would be in Senate District 31, represented by Sen. Lori Berman, a Democrat and ally. But she is running for Farmer’s seat. But this puts her running in the same district as Sen. Gary Farmer, a Democrat. For Polsky’s part, she hopes more changes to the maps are underway and that a primary could be avoided. She has concerns about how the draft maps divide Boca Raton into two Senate districts. She hopes to see matters rectified as the process continues.

—”Lauren Book fundraising dips in October, spending ramps up to defend Senate seat” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics

—“Jennifer Wilson leads October fundraising in HD 66 race” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

—”Alex Rizo posts banner fundraising with help from charter school builders, first responders” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

—”Robin Bartleman’s adds $10,500 for HD 104 re-election” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics

— CORONA NATION —

On podcasts and radio, misleading COVID-19 talk goes unchecked” via Tiffany Hsu and Marc Tracy of The New York Times — On a recent episode of his podcast, Rick Wiles, a pastor and self-described “citizen reporter,” endorsed a conspiracy theory: that COVID-19 vaccines were the product of a “global coup d’état by the most evil cabal of people in the history of mankind.” “It’s an egg that hatches into a synthetic parasite and grows inside your body,” Wiles said on his Oct. 13 episode. “This is like a sci-fi nightmare, and it’s happening in front of us.” Wiles belongs to a group of hosts who have made false or misleading statements about COVID-19 and effective treatments for it. Audio industry executives appear less likely than their counterparts in social media to try to check dangerous speech.

You wouldn’t believe what Rick Wiles and other talk show hosts are saying about COVID-19 vaccines. Image via Newsweek.

— CORONA ECONOMICS —

Inflation emerges as defining economic challenge of Biden presidency, with no obvious solution at hand” via Jeff Stein and Heather Long of The Washington Post — America is emerging from the pandemic facing its most significant inflationary spike in decades, as startling and persistent price hikes threaten to undermine the recovery, while posing an entirely new kind of economic challenge to the Biden presidency. Policymakers are facing the devilish and unfamiliar quandary of booming consumer demand and dramatic supply disruptions combining to push higher the cost of necessities such as food, gas and housing. The more than 6% jump in prices recorded in October relative to last year has strained the budgets of millions of American families, complicated investment decisions for businesses across the country and created major political challenges for the White House.

Will inflation deflate Joe Biden’s presidency?

Are Americans starting to embrace one-earner households again?” via Henry Olsen of The Washington Post — Americans quitting their jobs at a pace never seen before despite record job openings have left many economists scratching their heads. Conventional analyses pin the discrepancy on a host of concerns, such as lack of child care and lingering fear of COVID-19. Many Americans may simply not want to run in the rat race anymore — and are opting for single-earner families instead. The overall labor force participation rate is down from a pre-pandemic 63.4% to 61.6% today. American businesses have benefited massively from the move toward two-earner couples. If the recent employment data signal that trend is reversing, the economic restructuring we will experience may be traumatic.

— MORE CORONA —

Real-world data on the safety of COVID-19 shots for young children is just weeks away” via Rachel M. Pearson of The Washington Post — A recent poll shows a third of parents of 5-to-11-year-olds are waiting to see more data on the COVID-19 vaccine before choosing to vaccinate their children. Such parents won’t need to wait long: With the White House projecting that 900,000 kids in this age group will have their first vaccine this week, we will soon have enough information to detect even very rare vaccine side effects. Unvaccinated kids remain at risk of hospitalization and death from COVID, so I want all my pediatric patients to get vaccinated as soon as possible. But if you are a “wait and see” parent, you should have the information you need by February.

Soon we will get hard data on COVID-19 vaccines for children. Image via AP.

The year America’s hair fell out” via Amanda Mull of The Atlantic — Only a few months into the pandemic, around the same time when I first thought I might be losing either my hair or my mind, people whose hair was indeed falling out by the handful started to come forward. They showed up in Facebook groups about hair loss, in subreddits dedicated to regrowth, and in the waiting rooms of dermatologists and hair restoration clinics. First, there were a few, but then there were thousands. Some of them had COVID-19, but others, like me, had not. Any kind of intense physical or emotional stress can push as much as 70% of your hair into the “telogen” phase of its growth cycle, which halts those strands’ growth and disconnects them from their blood supply to conserve resources for more essential bodily processes. That, in time, knocks them straight off your head.


— PRESIDENTIAL —

Biden approval hits new low as economic discontent rises, Post-ABC poll finds” via Dan Balz, Scott Clement and Emily Guskin of The Washington Post — Majorities of Americans support Biden’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package and a pending bill that would spend nearly $2 trillion on social programs and climate initiatives. Yet despite the backing for these measures, Biden’s approval rating has ticked down to a new low, driven largely by more negative views among Democrats and independents. Overall, the survey offers a set of harsh judgments about the President’s performance and the state of the economy. Together, they send a stark warning to Democrats about their prospects in the 2022 midterm contests.

Much of Joe Biden’s loss of support was among independents. Image via AP.

‘Thank you, Brandon’ is just embarrassing” via Kaitlyn Tiffany of The Atlantic — People who don’t like Biden picked up “Let’s go, Brandon” and immediately ran the joke into the ground. People who do like Biden started fighting it on social media as if the phrase were the latest and greatest threat to democracy, and social media were the place where great threats to democracy should be fought. This is political discourse in the Twitter era. The clearest precedent for “Thank you, Brandon” began in 2009 with “Thanks, Obama,” the catchphrase uttered most often by Tea Party personalities and boys I went to high school with. Already, of course, #ThankYouBrandon is being co-opted by sarcastic Republicans as a sequel to “Thanks, Obama.”

— D.C. MATTERS —

Cuban government, dissidents head toward Monday confrontation” via Karen DeYoung of The Washington Post — The Biden administration has described the dissident movement as the tip of a turning point in Cuba. It sparked unprecedented peaceful demonstrations by thousands on July 11 that were violently put down by Cuban security and led to hundreds of arrests. Biden has held off on unveiling his long-awaited policy toward Cuba as he considers “the best way forward.” He and other officials have indicated that the Cuban government’s response to the Monday march will play a role in how the administration proceeds. Measures already drafted include a reauthorization of remittances, and U.S. citizen travel to Cuba in both cases more than the paltry amount Trump allowed but less than authorized under Obama.

How Cuban protests are handled will influence the response by the White House. Image via AP.

Exiles march in solidarity in Miami as crackdown intensifies ahead of Monday protest in Cuba” via Nora Gámez Torres of the Miami Herald — Cubans in several cities worldwide have organized demonstrations in solidarity with the Cuban people and the young artists and activists of Archiepiélago, the group that called the march. In Miami, hundreds of cars carrying Cuban flags and signs with the slogans “Patria y Vida” and “SOS Cuba” set off in a caravan in the morning from Tamiami Park in a gesture of support for the Cubans of the island and the Nov. 15 march. “It is our duty to be here,” said Carolina López, a Cuban exile participating in the caravan. The Assembly of the Cuban Resistance estimates that more than a thousand cars participated in the caravan that was expected to end at the Freedom Tower.

Cubans in Orlando get ready to participate in worldwide #15NCuba protest” via Daniela Vivas Labrador of the Orlando Sentinel

— CRISIS —

GOP leaders say little to condemn violent political rhetoric” via Jill Colvin of The Associated Press — In the past week, Republican Rep. Paul Gosar tweeted a video showing a character with his face killing a figure with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s face. Several of the 13 House Republicans who backed a bipartisan infrastructure bill said they faced threats after their vote. In one profanity-laced voicemail, a caller labeled Rep. Fred Upton a “traitor” and wished death for the Michigan Republican, his family and staff. The response from Republican leaders? Silence. One of the nation’s two major political parties appears increasingly tolerant of at least some persistent level of violence in American discourse, or at least willing to turn a blind eye to it. Rep. Liz Cheney said Gosar should be censured “for his continued indefensible activities.” And she blasted House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy for his silence on the matter.

Paul Gosar’s video depicting him murdering Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was met by silence from Republicans.

73-year-old Sarasota County man convicted of threatening three members of Congress” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Frank Anthony Pezzuto, who lives in unincorporated Sarasota County between South Venice and Englewood, was found guilty of “transmitting in interstate commerce a communication containing a threat to injure the person of another,” following a two-day trial in the U.S. District Court, Tampa Middle District. The verdict was released Monday. Pezzuto is a registered Democrat, as are the three U.S. representatives he is convicted of threatening. Court documents from the case show that on Jan. 25, 2020, Pezzuto called the office of U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell and left the message: “Hello Mr. Swalwell, I’m coming to kill you.” Then, on Jan. 30, 2020, he threatened U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff. Finally, on Feb. 3, 2020, he called the office of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar and threatened her life.

Rep. Adam Schiff: Steve Bannon’s indictment will ‘without a doubt’ lead others to comply with Jan. 6 panel” via Myah Ward of POLITICO — Rep. Schiff on Sunday said the Justice Department’s move to charge Bannon with contempt of Congress will “without a doubt” sway others to cooperate with the Jan. 6 select committee’s subpoenas. “And indeed, even before the Justice Department acted, it influenced other witnesses who were not going to be Steve Bannon,” Schiff said. The DOJ charged Bannon, a former top adviser to Trump, with two counts of contempt of Congress on Friday. The House referred Bannon to the department for prosecution last month after he refused to provide documents and testimony to investigators looking into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Emails reveal new details of Donald Trump White House interference in CDC COVID-19 planning” via Erin Banco of POLITICO — New emails and documents released by a congressional committee investigating the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic show the extent to which top White House officials interfered in the CDC’s efforts to warn Americans about COVID-19. The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis has conducted interviews over the last several months about how Trump and his closest confidants, including former White House adviser Scott Atlas and son-in-law Jared Kushner, tried to steer the course of the federal response, sidestepping the interagency process.

Donald Trump’s stonewalling made COVID-19 much worse than need be. Image via AP.

Republicans aren’t ready for Trump-style ‘fraud’ claims in GOP primaries” via Douglas Heye of The Washington Post — Months after the Electoral College vote was certified and Biden inaugurated, Republicans are still being forced to look backward to 2020. Attempts by Trump’s acolytes to audit or overturn results in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Texas and Wisconsin continue, and the former President urges these on. What the GOP may not realize, though, is how this new trend could easily backfire on the Party, if candidates start falsely insisting that caucuses and primaries, as well as general elections, have been stolen from them.

‘Chris Christie taunts Trump for losing ” via Mike Allen of Axios — Former New Jersey Gov. Christie, lacing up for a possible presidential run in 2024, said he won’t back down from a fight with Trump, taunting his longtime friend for losing the last election. “I’ve never walked away from an argument, no matter who stood on the other side,” Christie said. This is the first hand-to-hand combat of the 2024 Republican presidential race. Many Republican candidates fear crossing Trump. But Christie relishes political combat.

— LOCAL NOTES —

Tallahassee Deputy City Manager: Amid backlash, new TPD policy not ‘written in stone’” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — New Tallahassee Police Department guidelines that govern the release of crime information are drawing criticism. But while TPD officials declared the policy as “effective immediately,” city officials say the change is not entirely set in stone. The changes to TPD’s public incident alert procedure restrict the release of information on crimes other than those that lead to deaths, life-threatening or multiple injuries, effectively reducing the number of times TPD will immediately notify the public. The department already maintains a tight leash on information, citing the victims’ rights amendment, Marsy’s Law, and that details can’t be released about cases that are “open and active” investigations.

Flagler School Board member files criminal report over Black queer memoir” via Alex Cooper of the Advocate — A white school board member in Florida has filed a criminal complaint about the book “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson, which explores the author’s experience growing up as a queer Black person. The board member claims the book’s presence in some schools in the district violates the state’s obscenity laws. Jill Woolbright, a Flagler County School Board member, filed the report with the Sheriff’s Office. The books were found in four schools in the district: two copies at Flagler Palm Coast High School, one at Matanzas High School, and one at Buddy Taylor Middle School. Administrators at Buddy Taylor Middle School had already pulled the book from its library shelves. Removing the books is required when a title is challenged, school board attorney Kristy Gavin said.

George M. Johnson’s work gets banned in school libraries. Image via Marc Averette/CC BY-SA 3.0.

New Kristen Rosen Gonzalez campaign ad claims Miami Beach Democrats endorsed her. They didn’t” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — Days before a runoff election in Miami Beach’s Group I City Commission race, Democratic Party leaders are criticizing Rosen Gonzalez for saying falsely in a political ad that the Miami Beach Democratic Club endorsed her. A Democratic former City Commissioner, Rosen Gonzalez sent voters a campaign mailer Friday saying she was “endorsed by” the local Democratic group. But that’s not true, according to Miami Beach Democratic Club President Matthew Land. Although the club has said it supports all Democrats running for office, it has also stated that it did not endorse anyone in the Group I runoff, including another Democratic candidate, Raquel Pacheco.

The Little River’s polluted flow fuels Biscayne Bay troubles. Scientists taking a deeper look” via Adriana Brasileiro of the Miami Herald — In the month before a massive fish kill in Biscayne Bay last year, an astounding amount of water flowed out of Miami’s Little River, one of the county’s most polluted waterways. The volume of water was three times higher than in any month in more than three decades. Not long after, fish and other marine life began going belly-up. The evidence of Biscayne Bay’s decline has been accumulating for years beneath the surface, but the fish kill was a stinking mess impossible for the public and political leaders to ignore. Dissolved oxygen dropped to fatal levels just about where the Little River meets the bay. That’s right where countless fish, big and small, died. Miami-Dade County has pledged to clean up the bay, starting with figuring out the biggest problems.

Miami’s Little River is among the county’s most polluted.

Money, money, money: South Florida lines up for cash from Biden’s infrastructure plan” via Susannah Bryan and Wells Dusenbury of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Billions of dollars are up for grabs, a veritable pot of gold that’s coming down the pike as part of Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan. It’s too soon to say exactly which projects will get approved, but the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is meant to funnel billions into fixing the nation’s aging highways, bridges, water pipes and sewer lines, improving public transportation options, providing high-speed internet to all and expanding our electric vehicle charging network. Florida is in line to receive $19 billion. The bill still awaits the President’s signature, but South Florida leaders are already crafting their wish lists. In Florida, 408 bridges and more than 3,564 miles of highway are in poor condition.

All aboard! Brightline Orlando-Tampa train project gets show of support from Polk County” via Dustin Wyatt of The Lakeland Ledger — Polk County residents could one day hop on a high-speed train and travel to Tampa or Orlando, avoiding I-4 traffic, if a long-envisioned plan to extend a South Florida rail line comes through. Polk leaders are hopeful it does. And as private company Florida Brightline LLC prepares to apply for a federal grant to help fund the extension, the Polk County Commission has agreed to offer a supportive hand. Calling it a “vital” program that could reduce congestion and accidents on I-4, the Commission voted Friday to send a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg endorsing funding for Brightline through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements grant program.

— TOP OPINION —

Can Reaganism rise again?” via Ross Douthat of The New York Times — For a long time, my advice to Republican politicians and policymakers has been consistent: It isn’t the 1970s or 1980s anymore. The year 2021, though, is the first time a reasonable Republican could listen to my pitch and answer, but what if history is repeating itself, and we’re back in Reagan’s world? The U.S. seems locked in a Cold War with China, crime has emerged as a major political issue, and inflation is defining Americans’ economic fears. But history doesn’t really repeat itself so neatly. Both the inflation spike and the murder surge have been mediated by pandemic conditions in ways that make them more likely to recede rapidly than their antecedents in the 70s and 80s.

— OPINIONS —

The ‘psychology of regret’ helps explain why vaccine mandates work” via Adam Galinsky of The Washington Post — Vaccines are no longer experimental, but the coronavirus vaccines do involve new technology. That probably intensifies the imagined potential regret in the minds of people thinking about side effects. The psychology of regret can also help explain why coronavirus vaccine mandates have generally been so effective. Despite the many assertions that mandates would lead to mass resignations, the employees of many organizations ultimately got on board. When people don’t feel the weight of making their own choice, they aren’t as tormented by the anticipated negative outcomes of their decision.

Cops who don’t get vaccinated betray our oath to protect” via Patrick Skinner of The Washington Post — I am a fully vaccinated police officer who recently caught a breakthrough case of COVID-19. And I’ve never felt so lucky. COVID-19 was by far the leading cause of death for police officers nationwide in 2020 and it is on track to be the top killer again in 2021. Police officers are sworn to promote and protect the public good. Public health is a big part of the public good. Vaccinations are basic public health measures that have been accepted for 100 years. We can’t pick and choose what risks we will accept in this job, but we can seek to mitigate them. Police saying “We will not comply” isn’t just a threat to public health; it’s also a threat to the idea that policing must be done with the consent of those we police.

Florida Men seek aid of DeSantis” via Andy Marlette for the Pensacola News Journal — We at the Florida Men’s Freedom, Firearms, Profanity, Alcohol, Tobacco, Tattoos, Hygiene and Fertility Preservation Association are writing to seek your assistance in a serious corporate assault against the God-given liberty of our members. Frankly, it’s about time we got us a Governor who’s willing to sit up yonder in Tallahassee and use the full power of government to crack down and control small private businesses all over the rest of the state. Please attack these perpetrators of “No Shirt” policies with the same vigor and viciousness that you are attacking private sector businesses for their own COVID-19 health, safety and employee policies. Shirtless and shoeless Florida Men are counting on you to fight for our fundamental rights to do whatever the heck we want on someone else’s private property.

DeSantis’ COVID-19 record is terrible. Lawmakers should remember that at special session” via Dan Gelber for the Miami Herald — This week, DeSantis has called the Florida legislature into a special session in order to coerce his Republican majority to pass a series of measures intended to diminish the ability of private businesses and government to promote COVID-19 vaccinations. Of course, this has very little to do with the welfare of Floridians. DeSantis is making his case directly to a right-wing swath of 2024 national primary voters that he is the most anti-mask, anti-vaccine Governor in America. And to prove that point, like a modern-day pied piper, he will continue to lead our state off the cliff. I hope our legislators consider our Governor’s record on this pandemic before they blindly jump. Under DeSantis, Florida is among the nation’s and world’s leaders in COVID-19 sickness and death.

Needless Session on ‘forced injection’ is all about re-election” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — The strident rhetoric of the Session proclamation lays bare DeSantis’ true motivation. This is not how it’s supposed to work. Special sessions are reserved for crises that demand quick, undivided attention. This is all about his re-election.

A translator for City Council member Danny ‘Boston Liberty Bell’ Becton” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — City Council member Danny Becton emerged this month as a staunch opponent of removing the Confederate monument in Springfield Park, an effort Becton and his council colleagues put on ice this past week when they withdrew legislation that would have paid for the removal. For now, the monument will stay right where it is. As for Becton, he expressed grave concern about the effect of removing the monument, which would be akin, he suggested, to removing history itself. In an effort to aid the goal of mutual understanding in our civic dialogue, and to help Becton better communicate with his constituents, we’ve created a handy Danny Becton Translator that will clarify what Becton actually means when he cites well-known landmarks, attractions, cities and historical events.

— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Gov. DeSantis is set to convene a Special Session to block vaccine mandates.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— At first glance, it appears the Florida Senate’s own redistricting maps are not as gerrymandered as some feared it would be.

— Today’s Sunrise Interview is with data consultant Matt Isbell, who analyzed the first look of the staff prepared maps of the Senate Reapportionment Committee. He shares all of his hot takes — including which elected officials are in the hot seat … or without a seat.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Holiday hell: 3 in 5 Americans BANNING unvaccinated relatives from family gatherings!” via Chris Melore of StudyFinds.org — The holidays are about to get heated and politics aren’t even the main issue this time. Nearly two-thirds of vaccinated Americans are banning unvaccinated family members from their holiday gatherings this year. A survey of 2,000 U.S. residents examined how the COVID-19 vaccine has impacted people’s relationships with their loved ones ahead of the holidays this year. Two in three respondents feel they cannot go home for the holidays without getting vaccinated first. Of the 65% fully vaccinated, nearly six in 10 have reportedly cut off family members who refuse to get the vaccine. Meanwhile, 63% don’t feel comfortable inviting unvaccinated relatives to their parties.

Oh great, another thing to fight over on Thanksgiving. Image via Flickr.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are state Reps. Michael Gottlieb and Will Robinson; Wayne Bertsch, Trimmel Gomes, Evan Power, Rodney Barreto and Max Steele. Belated happy birthday wishes to Karen Cyphers of Sachs Media Group and my favorite ex-Speaker of the Florida House, Will Weatherford.

___

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]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704




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