Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 12.6.21

Sunburn Orange Tally (8)
Get ready for an espresso shot of Florida politics and policy.

Good Monday morning.

It’s #LoveMyNewspaper Day!!!

For the seventh year in a row, we ask you to post something nice about your favorite newspaper(s), reporters, editors, photogs, graphics, etc., tag them and use the #LoveMyNewspaper hashtag.

This tradition started in 2015, trending nationally every year, and it’s never been more important. So, stop what you’re doing and get that tweet or post up now.

‘Tis the season to be nice and thankful, after all.

#LoveMyNewspaper: Give some love today for old-school newsprint and your favorite reporters.

Here are some other holiday thoughts on my mind:

🍪A cookie a day: There are many things associated with the Christmas season — Santa, Christmas lights, charity, family gatherings, so much shopping — and cookies are among some of the favorites. Whether it’s putting together scrumptious bags for teachers or just making sure the house is stocked with plenty of yummy treats, cookies are about as synonymous with the holidays as a turkey is to Thanksgiving. Thankfully, the New York Times has you covered, with a cookie recipe for every day of the month leading up to Christmas Day. Recipes include a fudgy peppermint brownie cookie, classics like a chewy gingerbread cookie, a tart minty lime bar, and a homey and rich peanut butter cookie, among other delights. The interactive list includes mouth-watering photos of each cookie, along with recipes for each.

🏡Not so Home Alone: More than three decades after the iconic classic Home Alone hit the big screen starring young Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, featuring his misadventures in being forgotten at home and defending the family residence against ruthless burglars, people are still flocking to the real-life house in the Chicago suburb of Winnetka. The red-brick Georgian home looks just like you remember from the movie, minus a couple of details. The circular driveway, which Home Alone fans will remember as the spot where Kevin McCallister was missed during a family headcount, is now gone. So too is the on-site treehouse, a prop that was taken down after filming. Movie fans still take a trip to the property to gawk at cinema history, particularly around the holidays. But if you happen to find yourself nearby and want to take a gander, do be courteous. A real-life family, not the McCallisters, live there and are shielded from onlookers by merely a wrought iron gate.

⛸Your handy guide to every sport at the Winter Olympics: Love the Winter games? We sure do. That’s why this New York Times guide ahead of the February Games is a must-bookmark. It includes a guide to every sport — from alpine skiing to speedskating — including who is competing, how the sport works and who might score some Olympic Gold. The rundown also includes information about the previous Games, clips from past competitions, and tidbits about must-see moments. So, it serves not just as a guide for what’s to come, but some fun bits of trivia that might come in handy while watching with friends and family.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@JoyAnnReid: Gotta say; of all the things that shook my core this week, Amy Coney Barrett’s cold-blooded calculations about how convenient it would be to cast off a child born via uninvited trauma after nine months of anxiety and psychic horror was probably the most disturbing. Who is she???

@GwenGraham: Very sad news. Senator (Bob) Dole served with my Dad. Even in disagreement, they respected each other. I was honored to know him. Rest In Peace, Sir.

@ChrisSprowls: For decades, Bob Dole demonstrated that adversity & hardship are not barriers to greatness. A war hero from humble roots in Kansas, he rose to the highest levels of power in the U.S. Senate. His tireless work on behalf of all Americans left our country a better & stronger place.

@ArdianZika: I’m saddened by the passing of former U.S. Senator Bob Dole. A great American hero! A fearless leader who was a voice for the voiceless, for many in Europe. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones. … When Sen. Bob Dole came to Kosovo in 1990, I was 10 yrs old. I asked my parents who he was. They responded with excitement, “a tall American who wants to protect us.” @NYT Article (nyti.ms/3DDgtRL) “About 10,000 people chanting ”freedom, freedom!” and ”U.S.A., U.S.A.!”

@MaryEllenKlas: Is anyone at @GovRonDeSantis news conference going to ask him about what he’s doing, if anything, to strengthen the testing protocol to keep Florida open in the face of new variants?

@MDixon55: It’s clear why Dems wanted @valdemings to run for Gov or Senate or whatever she wanted. She stole show tonight so far

@MDixon55: .@Annette_Taddeo had by far biggest presence. She was only candidate there. Rest had surrogates “You get the real candidate” she opened with This is at college/high school dem meeting at Leadership Blue

@ShevrinJones: Shout out to @MarcusDixonSFL, Rep. @AngieNixon, and everyone who worked to make @FlaDems #LeadershipBlue weekend a huge success. Great job!

@Fineout: Since @TimTebow is 34 now he’s also eligible to run for Governor or U.S. Senator

Tweet, tweet:

— DAYS UNTIL —

Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 1; ‘Sex and the City’ revival premieres — 3; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 4; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 4; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 16; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 23; Private sector employees must be fully vaccinated or tested weekly — 29; final season of ‘This Is Us’ begins — 29; CES 2022 begins — 30; Ken Welch’s inauguration as St. Petersburg Mayor — 31; NFL season ends — 34; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 36; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Election — 36; Special Elections in Senate District 33, House District 88 & 94 — 36; Florida Chamber’s 2022 Legislative Fly-In and Reception — 36; Florida TaxWatch’s 2022 State of the Taxpayer Day — 37; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 39; NFL playoffs begin — 40; ‘Ozark’ final season begins — 46; ‘Billions’ begins — 48; XXIV Olympic Winter Games begins — 60; Super Bowl LVI — 69; ‘The Walking Dead’ final season part two begins — 76; Daytona 500 — 76; CPAC begins — 80; St. Pete Grand Prix — 81; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 87; The Oscars — 113; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 156; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 175; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 178; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 215; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 226; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 270; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 305; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 340; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 343; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 375; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 438; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 599. ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 683; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 963.

— TOP STORY —

Hard Rock suspends sports betting app in face of second court ruling against Seminole Tribe” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — The Seminole Tribe’s Hard Rock Sportsbook on Saturday morning announced it is immediately suspending its Florida operation as a result of an appellate court ruling that rejected its request to continue online sports betting as it pursues an appeal of a lower court decision. “Due to yesterday’s appellate court decision, the Hard Rock Sportsbook mobile app will temporarily suspend accepting new bets and deposits,’’ the Hard Rock Sportsbook stated on Twitter. “Player information and account funds are safe and secure, and the app will remain online for easy withdrawals via all payment methods.” Gary Bitner, the Tribe’s spokesperson, said in a statement to the Miami Herald Saturday that “account balances for all current players will be refunded as requested.”

Tweet, tweet:

Jeff Brandes calls for investigation into Seminole Tribe over petition blocking, intimidation” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Sen. Brandes is calling for an investigation into the Seminole Tribe and its vendors after accusations it is trying to strongarm its way to blocking rival constitutional amendments. Brandes, who was the lone holdout in the Senate in May when the Legislature ratified the 2021 Gaming Compact between Florida and the Seminole Tribe, issued his call after reports that the Tribe and its allies were paying operatives to bully, intimidate and harass Florida voters in an attempt to stymie ballot initiatives against gaming expansion.


— STATEWIDE —

Ron DeSantis orders flags half-staff for Naval Air Station Pensacola Remembrance Day — On Dec. 6, 2019, an act of terrorism at Naval Air Station Pensacola took the lives of three U.S. Navy sailors and injured others. On Sunday, DeSantis signed a Proclamation directing the flags of the United States and the State of Florida to be half-staff at all local and state buildings, installations, and grounds throughout the State of Florida from sunrise to sunset Monday.

Ashley Moody announces statewide retail crime task force during Polk visit” via Rebecca Lee of The Lakeland Ledger — Moody announced a new statewide organized retail crime task force during a news conference at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday. Alongside Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, Moody said the team will prevent organized retail crime in Florida with an interactive database and will consist of investigators, state attorneys, local law enforcement officials, Florida Retail Federation officials and retail business representatives. Since Moody took over as Attorney General, she said her statewide prosecutors had filed nearly 60 cases involving more than 250 people suspected of organized retail theft or related crimes.

Ashley Moody rolls out a new tool to help fight retail crimes.

Florida Department of Education takes down web page with external links to LGBTQ advocacy groups” via Steve Stewart of The Florida Capital Star — After The Florida Capital Star sought comment from officials about a web page with hyper-links to LGBTQ advocacy groups on the Florida Department of Education website, the web page was removed. FDOE officials said the content on the web page was under review. At least one Florida school district was using the resources on the FDOE web page as justification for certain LGBTQ school activities. When asked to provide the school policies that support advocacy of LGBTQ issues in middle schools, the Leon County School District provided a link to the FDOE web page.

How the Florida prison system stole kids’ Christmas cards” via Alex Deluca of the Miami New Times — Though it was only August, Matthew Johnson penned a holiday greeting card on lined paper to his 7-year-old daughter, who lives about 500 miles away. He dotted the “i” in her name with a small heart, called her his “lighthouse,” and wished her and her mother “Happy Holidays!” The nearly four-month lead time was carefully orchestrated by Florida Cares to ensure hundreds of children like Alice the opportunity to receive a physical holiday card from their incarcerated parent — perhaps for the last time. As of yesterday, controversial changes to Florida Department of Corrections policy went into effect; henceforth, most incoming routine mail will be digitized.

The professors at the heart of a free speech controversy are seeking an injunction against UF” via WUSF — Alleging violations of First Amendment rights, six University of Florida professors asked a federal judge to issue an injunction against a policy at the center of a controversy about faculty members serving as expert witnesses. Attorneys for the professors filed a motion for a preliminary injunction as part of a lawsuit filed last month against the university. The controversy has drawn national attention since a disclosure that the university blocked political-science professors Sharon Austin, Michael McDonald and Daniel Smith from serving as expert witnesses for groups challenging a new state elections law. The three filed the First Amendment lawsuit and were later joined by three other faculty members.

$1.8B in additional Medicaid funds headed to many Florida hospitals” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Hospitals across the state will begin receiving their share of $1.8 billion in additional Medicaid funds under a new Medicaid supplemental financing initiative called the Hospital Directed Payment Program. No facility will receive more than Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, the state’s largest provider of Medicaid services. It will collect more than $208 million in so-called DPP funds, a budget spreadsheet shows. Jackson netted an increase of more than $138 million in supplemental DPP funds, after accounting for the funds the hospital contributed to help finance the program. The $1.8 billion in payments will be made through the state’s Medicaid managed-care system.

Spotted — At the Governor’s Mansion for a holiday reception in conjunction with the Florida GOP’s quarterly meeting: Gov. Ron and First Lady Casey DeSantis, CFO Jimmy Patronis, Sen. Joe Gruters, Rep. Tom Fabrizio, Jackson County Commissioner Jim Peacock, Tavarus City Commissioner Walter Price, Sarasota County Commissioner Christian Ziegler, Sewell’s Point Vice Mayor James Campo, Erika Benfield, Helen Ferre, Rene Garcia, Ben Gibson, Jason Gonzalez, Bill Helmich, Caitlin Murray, Clint Pate, Genera Peck, Evan Power 4and Melissa Power.

— DATELINE TALLY —

Insurance Summit: Citizens Property Insurance to push ‘depopulation’ plan in 2022 Legislative Session” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — At the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Insurance Summit, Citizens Chief of Communications Christine Ashburn told Personal Insurance Federation of Florida President Michael Carlson that the state-backed insurer is pushing for a handful of changes in the 2022 Legislative Session that could accelerate the depopulation effort. Citizens runs a policy clearinghouse for private insurers to make offers to pick up policies, but current law allows homeowners to refuse the switch for any reason. Ashburn said the insurer is crafting legislation that will make policyholders ineligible for coverage through Citizens if a private insurer offers them a policy that costs less than 20% more than the rate offered by Citizens.

Jimmy Patronis outlines the state of insurance in Florida at the Chamber’s Annual Insurance Summit. Image via Facebook.

Bill allowing camera enforcement in school safety zones speeds ahead” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Florida communities are one step closer to gaining a new tool to curb dangerous driving in school safety zones after a bill that would allow cameras and radar detection devices to enforce speed limits passed through a committee this week. The bill (SB 410), sponsored by Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, cleared the Senate Committee on Education with unanimous support Tuesday, marking the first milestone toward an overhaul of school speed zone enforcement. Sarasota Interim Police Chief Rex Troche and representatives from the Florida Police Chiefs Association and Florida PTA attended the committee meeting to show support.

Happening today — The Walton County legislative delegation meets: Sen. George Gainer and Rep. Brad Drake, 9 a.m. Central time, South Walton Courthouse, 31 Coastal Centre Blvd., Santa Rosa Beach.

Happening today — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission meets to discuss wildlife trapping regulations, 9 a.m. Details at MyFWC.com/TrappingRules.

Happening today — The Holmes County legislative delegation meets: Gainer and Drake, noon Central time, Bonifay Kiwanis Club, 301 Harvey Ethridge St., Bonifay.

Happening today — The Hernando County legislative delegation meets Senate President Wilton Simpson; Reps. Ralph Massullo and Blaise Ingoglia, 1 p.m., Hernando County Government Center, 20 North Main St., Brooksville.

Happening today — The Franklin County legislative delegation meets: Sen. Loranne Ausley and Rep. Jason Shoaf, 2 p.m., Carabelle City Hall, 1206 Highway 98 East, Carabelle.

Happening today — The Okaloosa County legislative delegation meets: Sens. Gainer and Doug Broxson; Reps. Jayer Williamson and Patt Maney, 5:30 p.m. Central time, Okaloosa County Administrative Building, 1250 Eglin Parkway, Shalimar.

Happening today — Sen. Shevrin Jones and Rep. Michele Rayner are scheduled guests at the event “Take the Lead: A Black Political Leadership Training Series,” hosted by Equal Ground, 6:30 p.m. Zoom link here.

Happening today — Rep. Andrew Learned gives a speech to Plant City Democrats, 6:30 p.m. Register here.

Personnel note: Margo Klosterman joins The Fiorentino Group” via Florida Politics — The Fiorentino Group announced Klosterman is joining the team. She will focus on health care issues. Klosterman, who is a principal in the governmental relations and business development firm, will leverage her diverse experience for TFG, representing clients at both the local and federal levels of government. Klosterman joins Fiorentino after an extended stint in the nation’s capital. She served as the assistant vice president of Legislative and Political Affairs at Delta Dental Plans Association, the culmination of what was nearly a five-year stint with the company. She was promoted to that position from the Director of Legislative and Political Relations role.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Florida adds 10,892 COVID-19 cases, 153 deaths in past week” via Ian Hodgson of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida reported 10,892 coronavirus cases over the seven days from Nov. 26 to Dec. 2, an average of about 1,560 infections per day. That’s up 1,229 cases from last week, when weekly cases hit their lowest point since June 2020. The latest tally brings the total number of COVID-19 cases to 3,686,860 since the pandemic’s first two cases in Florida were reported 21 months ago on March 1, 2020. The state added 153 deaths since the previous report. This brings the total statewide number of pandemic deaths to 61,701.

Florida COVID-19 cases bump up slightly from last week’s low point. Image via Reuters.

COVID-19 cases rise slightly week-to-week but remain low across South Florida” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — COVID-19 case numbers rose week-to-week in all three major South Florida counties in the week following Thanksgiving. That’s the first time that’s happened in the region since early August, at the peak of this summer’s case surge. However, case numbers remain incredibly low and the week-to-week rise in cases was likely due in part due to the lower levels of testing during Thanksgiving week. The case positivity rates also rose slightly in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Each county saw its weekly case positivity rate tick up 0.2 percentage points week-to-week. Miami-Dade’s rose from 1.6% to 1.8%, while Broward’s increased from 1.9% to 2.1%. Palm Beach’s case positivity rate remained stable at 2.3%, meaning its jump of cases from 638 during Thanksgiving week to 721 this week was likely driven by a higher test volume.

More Floridians head to the COVID-19 vaccination clinics as omicron looms” via Chris Persaud of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — As news of the coronavirus’ omicron variant spread after Thanksgiving, more unvaccinated Floridians got their first shots in the following week than at any time since late August. Between Nov. 26 and Friday, 39,022 Florida residents received their first vaccine doses. That’s the most significant weekly increase since Aug. 20. About 1.9 million people are awaiting their second shots. The omicron variant has been detected in at least 10 states but not Florida yet. In total, 14,418,089 Florida residents have gotten at least one jab, covering 69% of the eligible population.

10% of Florida’s younger children got COVID-19 shots in November” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — In the first month COVID-19 vaccinations were available for grade school-age children, 10% of Florida’s children ages 5-11 received their first shot. Through Nov. 30, 157,123 Florida elementary school-age children received their first vaccination dose. In November, the first month that young children could receive the vaccine, Florida’s 10% vaccination rate was 38th highest among states, far below Vermont, where 42% of elementary school-age children got their first shot last month, and Massachusetts, where 33% did. As has been the pattern throughout the COVID-19 vaccination rollouts, people in northern states have shown far more enthusiasm for the vaccines and eagerness to receive them.

Leon County drops mask, vaccine mandates for workers amid new laws signed by DeSantis” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Leon County government informed its employees Friday afternoon that it will no longer require them to get vaccinated or wear masks following new measures enacted during last month’s special legislative session. Candice Wilson, director of the county’s Human Resources, informed the county’s 700-plus employees of the policy change. In July, the county began requiring its workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of their employment. Fourteen county employees were fired over the summer for refusing to comply with the vaccine mandate. DeSantis signed into law bills that banned mask mandates for Florida schools and other government entities.

Public school parents in Miami-Dade concerned over lag time on district’s COVID-19 dashboard” via Christina Vazquez of Local 10 — Does a parent have a right to know if there is a COVID-19 case in their child’s classroom? That question carries even more weight when considering the narrow options now available to schools in Florida to mitigate against transmission. Miami-Dade County Public Schools does have an online COVID-19 dashboard, but there is a lag in data entry. MDCPS Parents group founder Amanda Prieto stumbled upon a friction in the data, which is missing, she says, the timely posting of case numbers to reflect current conditions.

White House raises concern over rise in Orange County COVID-19 cases as Florida’s new case, positivity sees slight uptick” via the Orlando Sentinel — The White House’s latest coronavirus report shows Orange County as a “rapid riser county,” the only county listed as such in Florida. This comes as the Florida Department of Health also reported 10,892 new coronavirus cases this week among Florida residents, bringing the cumulative total to 3,697,523. With 153 more fatalities on record over the last week, 61,701 Florida residents have died. This week’s 35 deaths reflect a decrease from the 44 reported last week. However, the state reported seeing a slight uptick in newly reported cases over the last week. The number of weekly cases increased slightly compared to the previous week’s 9,663.

Orange County’s COVID-19 rates have caught the eye of the White House. Image via AP.

Pandemic shines light on question: Have we let our Guard down in Florida?” via James Call of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The Florida National Guard: The country’s oldest organized state militia and maybe its most overworked. A bipartisan push from state Sen. Tom Wright and state Rep. Dan Daley asks Congress and the National Guard Bureau to increase the number of troops in the state’s National Guard. In the past year and a half, the men and women who serve part-time in the Guard have cleaned up after hurricanes, set up testing sites and field hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, patrolled during protests, supplemented U.S. military forces in Africa, and aided Texas authorities along the border with Mexico.

Family of ‘Sofia’ files $100m federal lawsuit against teachers, Brevard School Board” via Eric Rogers of Florida Today — The family of Sofia Bezerra, a 7-year-old girl with Down syndrome who came home from school with a mask tied to her face, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the girl’s teachers and the Brevard County School Board, according to court filings. The child’s parents, Jeffrey Steel and Shirley Bezerra Steel, are demanding $100 million in the suit, court documents showed. The suit also named Brevard Superintendent Mark Mullins and three individual members of the Brevard School Board: Chairwoman Misty BelfordCheryl McDougall and Jennifer Jenkins.

Tampa dad sues Addison Davis over $8K bill for public records request” via Daniel Figueroa IV of Florida Politics — Blake Warner, a 38-year-old father of a Mitchell Elementary Student, says he submitted a public records request on Oct. 26 for the district to “please produce all documents, emails, notes, etc., between school board employees (including attorneys and school board members) that are in regards to mask-mandates.” The requests’ time frame is “October 2019 to present.” Hillsborough Schools says the request produced 70,000 pages. Court records show Warner asked to view the records in-person for free, which is also allowed under state law. However, that only applies after records have been pulled and redacted. They would also have to be printed for in-person viewing. And state law says records custodians can charge additional fees for printed pages.

University of Florida art projects to encourage COVID-19 vaccine confidence” via Jenny Rogers of The Gainesville Sun — Where traditional communication fails, art prevails. After partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of Florida called upon students, faculty and staff to submit proposals for art projects encouraging COVID-19 vaccine confidence on campus. “Art can resonate with people in ways that a government or a scientific statement may not be able to,” said Natalie Rella, the communications and social media coordinator of the Center for Arts in Medicine and leader of the initiative.

— 2022 —

Florida Democrats come together to plot strategy in uphill 2022 election campaign” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — Florida Democrats have suffered crushing down-ballot losses in the last two election cycles, and next year, they need a win — badly. But in 2022, it won’t be easy. That reality was palpable as Democrats huddled at an Orlando hotel for the Florida Democratic Party’s annual Leadership Blue conference. The party wants to use 2022 to end a long-running streak of disastrous election cycles that have left Democrats demoralized and without any real power at nearly every level of government in Florida. There is growing consensus that the party has a messaging problem, as it faces Republicans who are flush with cash and who, for the first time in modern history, has a slight voter registration advantage over Democrats.

Top Democrats met in Orlando this weekend to set a strategy for a rough 2022. Image via Twitter.

Florida Democrats, in person for first time during pandemic, look for winning 2022 message” via Mark Harper of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Monica Readus, president of the Democratic Women’s Club of Florida, said meeting in-person has been a source of inspiration. She said that Florida Democrats aren’t giving up, pointing to the 2020 election where two Republican-held Senate seats in Georgia were flipped to Democrats. “Look what happened in Georgia. I think it gave us a really good playbook, and so folks aren’t really worried about who’s doing what, who’s getting credit, and all that stuff. We don’t care. We’re just going to roll up our sleeves and do the work together.” “The work” for Democrats starts with turning around that voter registration trend. U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy offered up another possible message for Democrats. “A good campaign slogan for 2022 might be as direct as what you said, ‘Dems, don’t get screwed.'”

Tweet, tweet:

@AnaCeballos: A tidbit in the story: Nearly the entire Senate Democratic caucus skipped the Democratic Party’s annual conference due to a conflict with a previously scheduled event. Which one? Vegas fundraiser, baby

Spotted — At the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas for a Senate Victory fundraiser: Lauren Book, Jason Pizzo, Matt Blair, Jacqui Carmona, Eli Nortelus, Christian Ulvert, Kayla vanWieringen and Tim Wagner.

Spotted — At a Bradenton fundraiser for Senate President Wilton Simpson’s Ag Commissioner campaign: Former Senate President Bill Galvano (who hosted the event in his law office), former Sen. Pat Neal, and Kathy Simpson.

Evan Shields to exit HD 100 field, shift to HD 107” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Miami-Dade Democratic Party Treasurer Shields will compete for the House District 107 seat next cycle. He made the announcement Thursday after the House released two potential redistricting plans ahead of the 2022 elections. Shields had originally filed for House District 100 to succeed term-limited Rep. Joe Geller. The newly-redrawn HD 107 would sit solely in Miami-Dade County in both proposed House plans. “Florida is the world’s 15th largest economy, yet Miami-Dade County continues to be one of the most unaffordable metropolitan areas in the United States for working families,” Shields said in a written statement announcing his intention to swap races. Rep. Christopher Benjamin represents HD 107 as currently drawn. But the two House plans appear to put Benjamin’s home in House District 105 to the north.

Happening tonight:

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Happening Tuesday:

Happening next week:


— CORONA NATION —

Joe Biden’s free at-home test promise could come with added costs” via David Lim and Rachel Levy of POLITICO — The Biden administration is selling a key part of its pandemic strategy as free at-home COVID-19 tests for all. The reality may be far different, adding hurdles for Americans who buy over-the-counter tests and potentially increasing test costs to the health care system. The administration wants to require private health insurers to reimburse customers who buy rapid tests that have been in short supply in many parts of the U.S. and cost more than they’re sold for abroad. One popular test, by Abbott, costs about $24 for a box of two tests, but many other countries subsidize at-home tests or provide them for free.

Free at-home testing is anything but. Image via AP.

The most-vaccinated big counties in America are beating the worst of the coronavirus” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — In the densely populated areas in which we’ve approached overwhelming adoption of the vaccines, the death rates are often a fraction of the national average — a significantly greater gap than between the most-vaccinated and least-vaccinated states. While the most-vaccinated states are significantly, incontrovertibly and increasingly better off than the less-vaccinated states, the difference is even starker at the county and city level and even as many of these highly vaccinated counties also happen to be the most densely populated.

— CORONA ECONOMICS —

Inflation causing financial strain for nearly half of U.S. households, poll finds” via Taylor Telford of The Washington Post — As prices creep higher for food, gasoline, and other necessities, nearly half of U.S. households say they are feeling the financial strain. Roughly 45% of households are being hurt by price increases. About 1 in 10 said that hardship was severe enough to affect their standard of living, while 35% described the hardship as “moderate.” The effects were most acute in lower-income households, with 71% of those making less than $40,000 a year saying they experienced hardship, compared with 47% for middle-income households and 29% of those considered upper-income.

— MORE CORONA —

Omicron is spreading more than twice as quickly as the delta variant in South Africa, scientists report.” via Apoorva Mandavilli of The New York Times — Underscoring increasing concerns about omicron, scientists in South Africa said on Friday that the newest coronavirus variant appeared to spread more than twice as quickly as delta, which had been considered the most contagious version of the virus. The researchers said that the omicron’s rapid spread results from a combination of contagiousness and an ability to dodge the body’s immune defenses. But the contribution of each factor is not yet certain. Researchers reported that the new variant may partly dodge immunity gained from a previous infection. It’s still unclear whether, or to what degree, omicron may evade protection conferred by the vaccines.

In South Africa, omicron is now outpacing delta. Image via AP.

Pandemic reveals distortions in ways we experience time” via Alison Snyder of Axios — The pandemic’s global effects on how people experience time could provide new insights into the brain’s ability to perceive and predict time — a fundamental feature of life. The mechanisms at the shortest and longest time scales are better understood than those behind the minutes, hours, and weeks that tick by in between. It’s those time scales that frame the pandemic experience. One study conducted in April 2020 found more than 80% of participants felt that time was distorted. For about half of the people in the study — those who were older felt socially isolated or stressed or had fewer tasks to accomplish — time slowed down. But it passed more quickly for those who tended to be younger and more socially satisfied.

— PRESIDENTIAL —

After success in seating federal judges, Joe Biden hits resistance” via Carl Hulse of The New York Times — After early success in nominating and confirming federal judges, President Biden and Senate Democrats have begun to encounter stiffer Republican resistance to their efforts to reshape the courts. Tennessee Republicans have raised objections to Biden’s pick for an influential appeals court there, and a circuit court candidate is likely to need every Democratic vote to win confirmation in a coming floor showdown. The obstacles threaten to slow or halt a little-noticed winning streak for the Biden administration on Capitol Hill, where the White House has set a rapid pace in filling vacancies on the federal bench.

Joe Biden’s judicial winning streak hits a snag. Image via Reuters.

How Stephanie Murphy, a holdout on Biden’s agenda, helped savage it” via Emily Cochrane of The New York Times — Rep. Murphy, a Winter Park Democrat who toggles between allying herself with party leaders and vexing them with her objections, has established herself as part of a group of rank-and-file moderate and liberal lawmakers who, empowered by Democrats’ razor-thin majority in the House, can have a major influence on what happens there. Their maneuvering on Biden’s social policy bill was not just a break with tradition in the chamber, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi has presided over a mostly top-down operation, but an early sign of a generational shift underway for a caucus led by octogenarians.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Bob Dole — war hero, Senator, presidential candidate, Kansan — dies at 98” via Jake Thompson, Steve Kraske, Bryan Lowry and Jonathan Shorman of the Miami Herald — Dole, a son of the Kansas Dust Bowl who survived a crippling barrage of Nazi fire on an Italian hillside to lead his party in the U.S. Senate, but who fell short of his highest ambition, the presidency, died Sunday. He was 98. Proud, uncommonly driven and possessed of a dark, self-effacing wit, Dole went to Washington a rock-hard Great Plains conservative but evolved into a pragmatic master of legislative compromise. He voted against Medicare as a young House member in the 1960s but worked with Democratic Sen. George McGovern a decade later to protect food stamps. He was a driving force behind the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

RIP: Bob Dole was one of the greatest among The Greatest Generation. Image via AP.

Where Dole liked to spend time in South Florida when he was a political powerhouse” via the Miami Herald — Dole, during his political prime, was a frequent visitor to Bal Harbour, just north of Surfside and Miami Beach, where he stayed at wife Elizabeth Dole’s condo at the Sea View. A look back at past coverage of his visits chronicled in the archives of the Miami Herald.

“‘She’s home now’: Three-day celebration of late U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek’s life begins in Miami” via Isaiah Smalls and Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald — The three-day celebration of Meek’s life began Sunday afternoon with a viewing inside the high school auditorium, which had been adorned with American flags, palm trees and flowers. The viewing was the first opportunity for the public to pay respects to Meek, who died on Nov. 28 at 95. “This was a woman who was a demonstration of what public service is supposed to be: tough, smart, loving and exceedingly loyal to no end,” said U.S. Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart. Elected officials of both parties were there to pay tribute, including Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, County Commissioners Audrey Edmonson and Kionne McGhee and Mario Díaz-Balart’s brother, former Miami Congressman Lincoln Díaz-Balart.

Happening today — U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and Tampa-area labor leaders hold a news conference on infrastructure, 10:15 a.m., IBEW Local 915 Apprenticeship Training Facility, 5621 Harney Road, Tampa.

— CRISIS —

Former Palm Beach County GOP leader pleads guilty in Capitol riot” via Jane Musgrave of The Palm Beach Post — With a picture showing her sitting in a broken window of the U.S. Capitol as a mob overran police on Jan. 6, a former Palm Beach County Commission candidate on Wednesday pleaded guilty to her role in the attack. Jody Tagaris, once a player in the county’s Republican Party, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violent entry and disorderly conduct on capitol grounds. She faces a maximum of six months in jail and a possible $5,000 fine when sentenced on Feb. 16.

Jody Tagaris pleads out for her part in The Capitol riot.

Fearing a repeat of Jan. 6, Congress eyes changes to electoral count law” via Luke Broadwater and Nick Corasaniti of The New York Times — Members of the select congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol are pressing to overhaul the complex and little-known law that former President Donald Trump and his allies tried to use to overturn the 2020 election, arguing that the ambiguity of the statute puts democracy itself at risk. The push to rewrite the Electoral Count Act of 1887, enacted more than a century ago in the wake of another bitterly disputed Presidential election, has taken on new urgency in recent weeks. Trump and his allies, using a warped interpretation of the law, sought to persuade Vice President Mike Pence to throw out legitimate results when Congress met in a joint session on Jan. 6 to conduct its official count of electoral votes.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Donald Trump media partner says it has lined up $1B in capital” via The Associated Press — Trump’s new social media company and its special purpose acquisition company partner say the partner has agreements for $1 billion in capital from institutional investors. In October, the former President launched his new company, Trump Media & Technology Group. He unveiled plans for a new messaging app called “Truth Social” to rival Twitter and the other social media platforms that banned him following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. TMTG’s plan is to become a publicly listed company through a merger with the publicly traded Digital World Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company whose sole purpose is to acquire a private company and take it public.

Donald Trump’s social media startup claims $1 billion in seed money.

Trump could pocket $100 million in deal for money-losing D.C. hotel” via Jonathan O’Connell and David A. Fahrenthold of The Washington Post — When Trump offered to spend $200 million overhauling one of Washington’s most treasured historic buildings into a luxury hotel a decade ago, competitors and critics scoffed. Trump, they asserted, could never operate a hotel profitably after paying so much. It turns out they were right. The hotel posted millions in losses over four years. But the former president’s company recently signed a contract to sell its lease of the historic Old Post Office Pavilion to Miami-based investment firm CGI Merchant. One of the people said the price was $375 million, which would eclipse the previous record for hotel sales in Washington. Experts say that price would also net Trump a hefty profit, probably $100 million or more.

Trump faces flurry of investigations beyond Jan. 6 probe” via Michael Sisak, Kate Brumback and Jill Colvin of The Associated Press — As Trump’s lawyers try to block the White House from releasing records to the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, the former president faces a flurry of other investigations that could come to a head in the coming weeks and the new year. That includes two major state criminal investigations, one in New York and one in Georgia, and lawsuits concerning sexual assault allegations, a fight over an inheritance, and questions of whether he should be held personally liable for inciting the insurrection. Trump is no longer shielded by the protections against indictment enjoyed by sitting Presidents. And any charges could affect both his businesses and his future political prospects as he mulls running for a second term.

Trump attacks media and Mark Milley in foul-mouthed Mar-a-Lago speech” via Martin Pengelly of The Guardian — In remarks to diners at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Saturday night, Trump called the American media “crooked ba**ards” and Gen Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, a “fu**ing idiot.” The meandering, foul-mouthed speech to Turning Point USA, a group for young conservatives, was streamed by Jack Posobiec, a rightwing blogger and provocateur. The insult to the press recalled barbs while Trump was in power, including calling reporters and editors “fake news” and the “enemy of the people”, attacks many in the media regarded as dangerous, inviting political violence.

Tweet, tweet:


— LOCAL NOTES —

Jacksonville City Council President hired business owner after helping her get city grant” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Two months after Jacksonville City Council President Sam Newby won support for a $25,000 grant awarded to a bridal shop, he hired the owner of the business to be his executive assistant while she also continues to run the Gown and Garter store. In September, the City Council approved the $25,000 grant from American Rescue Plan money intended to help the business recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Newby said this week he would never have advocated for that grant if he had known that his executive council assistant at the time would leave for another job, creating a vacancy he needed to fill in November. Wilcox started working for him two weeks ago, replacing his former executive assistant Tracy McGeathey who began working Nov. 15 for the Jacksonville Transportation Authority.

Sam Newby wrangles some cash for a local business, then hires its owner for his staff.

Ex-Jacksonville Councilors Katrina Brown, Reggie Brown Brown lose fraud-sentence appeals” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — Bids by former Jacksonville City Council members Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown to challenge their fraud convictions have been rejected by a federal appeals court. “After a thorough review of the record and the parties’ briefs, and with the benefit of oral argument, we find that the appellants’ arguments lack merit,” a three-judge panel for the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded last month. The judges upheld prison sentences the former lawmakers are serving — 33 months for Katrina Brown and 18 months for Reggie Brown.

Despite Surfside tower collapse, buyers snap up condos along Miami’s coast” via Rebecca San Juan of the Miami Herald — Miami’s coastline condominiums drew a stampede of buyers in the three months after the June high-rise tower collapse in Surfside, exemplifying the condo market’s resilience despite the tragedy. Third quarter condo sales figures for the eight beachfront communities showed a sharp increase of buyers’ closed purchases along the coast, seemingly undeterred by the collapse. Compared to the same quarter last year, almost double the number of buyers bought properties in Fisher Island, South Beach, Mid-Beach, North Beach, Surfside, Bal Harbour, Sunny Isles Beach, and North Miami Beach, according to sales data from the Miami Association of Realtors.

Sweetwater, Miami Gardens annexations get final Miami-Dade Commission approval” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Sweetwater and Miami Gardens will expand next year to encompass additional areas, including a high-value commercial sector near Sweetwater that will nearly double the city’s size and may lower taxes for its residents. Miami-Dade Commissioners OK’d the two annexations Wednesday after fewer than 10 minutes of discussion. Commissioner Joe Martinez, the sole no vote on both, called the moves “taxation without representation,” noting neither required a vote by residents or property owners. Unless there are court challenges, the annexations become effective this month. The two-square-mile area cleared for Sweetwater to annex includes tenants of the 436-acre Beacon Lakes Industrial Park, which hosts distributing centers for Amazon, Goya Foods, UPS and John Deere.

Miami Gardens officials honor Ron Book with dedication of Hard Rock Stadium pedestrian tunnel” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Ronald L. Book Pedestrian Tunnel will be open for business during Sunday’s Miami Dolphins game after the Miami Gardens City Council OK’d a name change dedicating the tunnel to Book, an influential South Florida lobbyist. State and local leaders gathered Friday at a naming ceremony outside Hard Rock Stadium. The tunnel, which helps lead fans up to the stadium in Miami Gardens, now features a sign dedicating the stretch to Book. Book lobbied the state for millions in funding for pedestrian safety projects at Hard Rock Stadium. That work led Miami Gardens officials to honor Book with the tunnel designation.

Keys County Commissioner takes 30-day leave of absence following domestic abuse charge” via Gwen Filosa and David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — A Florida Keys county commissioner who was arrested on a domestic abuse charge earlier this week informed DeSantis Friday night that he was taking a 30-day leave of absence “to address some personal issues that warrant immediate attention.” Eddie Martinez, who represents one of the two Monroe County districts in Key West, sent DeSantis the letter hours after the Miami Herald reported that the majority of his colleagues on the County Commission wanted him to resign. Also, that same day, Martinez told a local newspaper, the Key West Citizen, that he did not batter his wife with an empty prescription pain pill bottle as he was accused by the Hialeah Police Department on Tuesday.

Eddie Martinez drops out of sight.

Cruise ships return to Key West, while city tries to navigate a new course with the industry” via Nancy Klingener of WLRN — Last November, Key West approved three new amendments to the city charter that would limit the number of people who could visit Key West by cruise ship to 1,500 a day, limit the ships that could call there to those with a capacity of 1,300 people maximum and require the city to prioritize ships with the best environmental and health safety records. Those amendments to the city charter were later overturned by the state Legislature and DeSantis. Last spring, they approved a new law that banned voter initiatives from regulating ports. The city is also talking to cruise lines about smaller ships that meet the limits that voters approved, and the Legislature overturned. And the city is trying to bring together the businesses that benefit from cruise ships with the limits’ supporters to craft a compromise.

Fort Lauderdale police chief defends unconventional side gig” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Fort Lauderdale’s new police chief has a cool but unconventional side gig: College basketball referee. Chief Larry Scirotto, who took over as chief a few months ago, was on the court refereeing a nationally televised NCAA basketball game last Monday between Notre Dame and Illinois. Critics within the police department are now questioning whether he’s playing hooky, but city officials say it’s all kosher. Scirotto has permission to moonlight as a ref as long as he’s off-duty and it doesn’t interfere with his job as chief, says City Manager Chris Lagerbloom, Scirotto’s boss.

Florida college cancels $1.2 million in student debt” via The Associated Press — Almost 1,300 students at Polk State College in Winter Haven received the good news just in time for the holidays. Students enrolled at the college between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, are eligible for debt cancellation. In addition, the debts of students who were sent to collections during that period are also being taken care of by the school. The college covered the debts with money received through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

Rising seas swamp Black, Spanish and Indigenous history in St. Johns County” via Ayurella Horn-Muller, Brendan Rivers and Danielle Uliano of WJXT — The Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center recently raised its air conditioning units 18 inches to protect them from floods. Like many in the historically Black Lincolnville neighborhood in St. Augustine, the museum is coping with more frequent and intense flooding as seas rise and hotter temperatures drive heavier storms. About 150 years ago, newly freed slaves established what’s now the Lincolnville Historic District in the marshes bounding Maria Sanchez Creek. Within 30 years, a Climate Central analysis shows more than a dozen locations throughout the neighborhood will be at risk of chronic flooding unless steps are taken to protect them.

— TOP OPINION —

Biden can do better on COVID-19” via Ross Douthat of The New York Times — The forces that have kept our vaccination rates lower than they ought to be are likewise somewhat outside the President’s ability to master. Biden can’t magically eliminate our society’s general mistrust, disconnection and paranoia. Nor can he sweep away the mix of cynicism and sincerity (fatal sincerity, in some cases) with which too many conservative politicians and media personalities have indulged anti-vaccine sentiment. But it’s possible to also hold him accountable for the things he can control or influence. His challenges aren’t unique: The United States is not the only rich nation with a lot of vaccine skepticism. And if this White House has been a victim of events, it has also cooperated in its own victimization, taking a somewhat passive approach to the changing pandemic. Alongside clear failures, there’s been a wider dearth of energy and imagination.

— OPINIONS —

The media treats Biden as badly as — or worse than — Trump. Here’s proof.” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — Artificial intelligence can now measure the negativity with precision. At my request, Forge.ai, a data analytics unit of the information company FiscalNote, combed through more than 200,000 articles from 65 news websites to do a “sentiment analysis” of coverage. Using algorithms that give weight to certain adjectives based on their placement in the story, it rated the coverage Biden received in the first 11 months of 2021 and the coverage Trump got in the first 11 months of 2020. The findings confirmed my fear. After a honeymoon of slightly positive coverage in the first three months of the year, Biden’s press for the past four months has been as bad as and for a time worse than the coverage Trump received for the same four months of 2020.

Biden must act on ‘grave threat’ as Nicolás Maduro’s Venezuela aligns with Iran and Hezbollah” via Jeb Bush in the Miami Herald — Under the illegitimate rule of Maduro, Venezuela has grown closer than ever to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Absent a robust response from President Biden to isolate both regimes from each other economically and militarily, Venezuela may become a forward operating base in the Western Hemisphere for Iranian forces to undermine U.S. national security. Over the last 18 months, there have been a series of events that the U.S. intelligence, military and diplomatic communities should consider a grave threat. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, has used the airline it controls to ferry refining equipment to Maduro’s state-controlled oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., and gold bars from Caracas to Tehran.

Rick Kriseman makes the right decision on Tropicana Field developer” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — After a long, arduous RFP process, Kriseman announced he has selected a team, Midtown Development, to redevelop the Tropicana Field Site. With Kriseman’s term coming to an end, leading the selection of the redevelopment plan for the Trop will long be part of his legacy as Mayor of St. Petersburg and, of course, an essential part of the legacy of incoming Mayor Ken Welch. What this also means is that plans to transform the 86 acres into a mixed-use neighborhood will materialize because Midtown has been the only developer that could realistically get this complicated project done.

As hate crimes rise, Florida must take action” via Sarah Emmons for Florida Politics — The tide of hate is rising across the United States and we’ve seen it firsthand here in Florida. Last summer, a man pointed a gun and yelled racial slurs at a Black family in DeLand, shouting “I will kill you (N-words).” In June, a Panhandle man told a family of Asian descent to “go back where they came from,” before hurling racial slurs at them and punching one of the family members repeatedly. 2020 saw the highest total of hate crimes reported in 12 years, with a major increase in offenses targeting Black and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. And while those communities are covered under Florida’s hate crime law, many people who are targets of bias-motivated offenses remain unprotected.

— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Democrats gathered at the Orange County Convention Center over the weekend for their Leadership Blue conference.

However, that band brought in by Congressman Charlie Crist caused just too much of a stir for convention staff.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Labor shortage means you might not see Santa this year” via Augusta Saraiva of Bloomberg — Like other industries, demand for workers in this sector has surged as Americans try to return to pre-pandemic life. There are about 3,000 open positions across the country for Kriss Kringle look-a-likes at malls, homes and corporate events, according to Mitch Allen, founder of Dallas-based talent agency HireSanta. The dearth of Santas comes as the U.S. unemployment rate fell more than forecast last month. At the same time, the pool of available entertainers has declined by about 10% this year. It’s an older cohort that has been hit hard by COVID-19. More than 300 Santa entertainers have died from the virus. Many more have been scared away by the pandemic. And just like other fields, wages are rising to lure more workers. He said that pay had increased as much as 15% to $10,000 for the holiday season.

It might be a good idea to book your Santa now.

A man was ill and couldn’t hang Christmas lights at his home for a food drive. A stranger got the job done.” via Cathy Free of The Washington Post — For decades, people have come by the carload every December to the Beaverdale community in Des Moines to marvel at the outsize twinkling and blinking holiday displays and Christmas lights. When Dale and Julie Marks moved into the neighborhood three years ago, they were game to join the festivities. Last year, with the help of neighbors, holiday visitors who toured the community’s 50 houses gave about $7,500 and 1,500 pounds of food, Julie Marks said. They planned to do the same this year, but the couple were hit by health crises in September. Bob Coffey, a contractor, heard about the couple’s situation and decided to help. Coffey and his employees brought ladders, drills, duct tape, and zip ties to the Marks’ home and put up their Christmas lights.

‘Yellowstone’ Paramount Plus prequel ‘1883’ debuts first trailer” via Katie Song of Variety — “1883” follows the Dutton family as they embark on a journey through the Great Plains toward the last bastion of untamed America, offering audiences a stark retelling of western expansion and a study of one family fleeing poverty to seek a better future in America’s promised land, Montana. The trailer opens with a shootout in a field, and as it ends, John Dutton (Tim McGraw) says to two nearby men, “So y’all just sit and watch? Thanks for the help.” The trailer continues as you follow Dutton and his family attempting to travel west until they find “country’s worth the journey.” “1883” stars McGraw, Faith Hill, Sam Elliott, Billy Bob Thornton, Isabel May and LaMonica Garrett, along with series regulars Audie Rick, Marc Rissmann, Eric Nelsen and James Landry Hébert.

To view the trailer, click on the image below:

Lenny Kravitz wows at private party during Miami Art week” via Kelli Kennedy of The Associated Press — Kravitz gave a private performance Friday for a star-studded crowd that included Leonardo DiCaprio and local Latin boy band CNCO during Miami’s Art Week. The lavish party is an annual affair hosted by business mogul and art collector Wayne Boich. He and his wife also hosted a private dinner before the Richard Mille After Dark event at their waterfront estate. Venus and Serena Williams danced and sang along as Kravitz took the stage for a 75-minute concert as a yacht pulled alongside to hear the rocker. “This ain’t a concert. We’re just hanging out,” the “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” singer said, pulling Boich onstage to dance. Kravitz said he was tired of always being the subject of photos and wanted to turn the camera around for a change.

What Gary Fineout is readingLate musician Tom Petty receives posthumous Ph.D. for music” via The Associated Press — Nearly two decades after earning a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and more than four years after his death, Petty has been awarded an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Florida. During a Friday meeting, the school’s board of trustees unanimously voted to award Thomas Earl Petty a posthumous doctoral degree in music. Born and raised in Gainesville, Petty once worked as a groundskeeper at UF as he tried to make it in the music industry, but he was never enrolled. Petty died from an accidental drug overdose in October 2017. Days later, during a UF home football game, the song “I Won’t Back Down” was played at the stadium as a memorial to Petty. The song has since become a regular feature at Gators games.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to one of Southwest Florida’s finest, Vickie Brill, as well as Lara Medley Prewitt and former U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney. 

___

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.


2 comments

  • Captain Howdy

    December 6, 2021 at 7:38 am

    You can’t get rid of Captain Howdy that easy. I am Peter Schorsch’s Evil Twin. Bwa ha ha

  • Tom

    December 6, 2021 at 8:24 am

    Florida continues to lead the country as the least Covid infection state. Last 90 days have shown Florida to be the lowest.

    Compliments to Governor Ron, America’s Governor who had provided leadership compared to tyrannical blue state Govs.

    Michigan is raging, even with the blue state lockdowns. You couldn’t even boat or garden under that tyrants orders.

    Florida media like the Sentinel have bend doing hand stands trying to challenge the numbers and challenge the Governor.

    CDC and HHS have confirmed Florida’s position.

    Great news and job Governor Ron.

Comments are closed.


#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

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Ron Brackett, 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.

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