Good Thursday morning. We must begin with sad news from yesterday.
The billionaire daughter of the Publix Super Markets founder has died after having early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, the company announced Wednesday. Carol Jenkins Barnett was 65.
Barnett died Tuesday night at her home in Lakeland, Florida, Publix said in a news release. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016.
Barnett was one of seven children of Publix founder George W. Jenkins, who died in 1996. According to Forbes magazine, her net worth was estimated this year at $2.1 billion.
Barnett began working as a cashier at Publix in 1972, eventually serving on its board of directors for 33 years, the company said. She was known in Lakeland — where Publix is based — for her philanthropic work, including financial support for the United Way, the founding of Bonnet Springs Park in Lakeland, a pavilion for women and children at Lakeland Regional Health and many other organizations.
“The Publix family is deeply saddened by the loss of a great humanitarian and community advocate,” said Publix CEO Todd Jones. “Carol had a generous heart and compassionate soul. Her efforts will continue to improve the lives of others for generations.”
Barnett is survived by her husband, two sons and three grandchildren. A memorial service is planned for Saturday in Lakeland.
Dominic Calabro, Florida TaxWatch mourn Carol Jenkins Barnett — FTW President and CEO Calabro issued a statement Wednesday praising Barnett’s philanthropic work and offering his condolences to her family. Barnett had deep connections to FTW. In addition to serving as a former vice-chair, her father, George Jenkins, was one of Florida TaxWatch’s six founders and her husband, Barney Barnett, is a past chair. “Carol’s philanthropic work emphasized the paramount importance of early childhood learning and she dedicated her life to bettering the education of youth in Florida. Her advocacy and philanthropy had a direct positive impact on the children of Florida and the taxpayers of this great state,” Calabro said.
After that sad news, here are a couple of items to cheer you up.
— Tom Brady is Sports Illustrated’s 2021 Sportsperson of the Year: It’s not the first time. Brady, often referred to as the GOAT (greatest of all time), won the nod for the first time 16 years ago. Since then, he’s amassed seven Super Bowl titles, including the most recent one last year leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Before that, he spent 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, where he helped the team win 17 division titles — including 11 consecutive — play in 13 AFC championship games and nine Super Bowls and win six Super Bowls. He was just 25 when he claimed his first Sportsperson of the Year title. Now he’s 44 and still showing fans he can dominate on the gridiron, playing with and against players much younger. Read more about why Brady stays at it in this rundown from the Tampa Bay Times.
— Rock out this Christmas with 2021’s best new holiday jams: Tired of the same tired Jingle Bells? A.V. Club has you covered with a dozen new holiday-themed tunes to jazz up your holiday spirit. You can go with a fresh take on a classic sound with Chase Cohl’s “Christmastime And You” or get classy and a bit romantic with José James’ jazzy “Christmas In New York.” Feeling nostalgic for the previous Christmas music-free ABBA? They’re on the list. Or infuse a bit of poppy country into the mix with Pistol Annies’ “Snow Globe.” The supergroup includes Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley. Also on the list is Brian Fallon’s fingerpicking guitar rendition of Joan Baez’s “Virgin Mary Had One Son,” which A.V. Club describes as a “form of barroom Americana that allows Fallon to better showcase his whiskey-and-honey croon.” See the rest of the list here, complete with music videos for each song.
Former Chief Deputy Attorney General Patricia “Trish” Conners has joined Stearns Weaver Miller’s Tallahassee office as a shareholder in the firm’s Antitrust, Competition & Consumer Protection group.
Conners is a renowned litigator and creative legal strategist specializing in antitrust and competition policy and enforcement. Her experience also includes exposure to a wide variety of government and regulatory matters.
For 36 years, she served in various senior executive positions in the Florida Attorney General’s Office, including as Chief Deputy. In this role, she supervised over 1,100 employees and engaged in a wide array of matters, representing the State of Florida on both sides of the “v.”
As Deputy Attorney General for Enforcement, she oversaw the Office’s Antitrust and Complex Enforcement, Civil Rights, Consumer Protection, False Claims, and Lemon Law Arbitration Divisions. She has extensive experience advising seven Florida Attorneys General on various enforcement, litigation, and policy issues.
During her tenure, Conners regularly interacted with opposing counsel, private plaintiffs’ counsel, other state attorneys general and counterparts at the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Department of Justice and European agencies. She also served as a mentor to dozens of young lawyers and support staff.
In October 2020, the Florida Attorney General’s Office established the “Trish Conners Award,” presented annually “to recognize the [Office of Attorney General] lawyer who exemplifies excellence, professionalism, and demonstrated dedication to the mission of the Department of Legal Affairs.”
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@POTUS: Today, I signed an executive order directing the federal government to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
—@SenRickScott: Now imagine if (Joe) Biden would have done the right thing and called for the @Olympics to be moved out of Communist China? When America acts, the world follows.@POTUS is wasting his position with weakness and appeasement toward the world’s dictators.
—@GovRonDeSantis: Florida has some of the best cancer care centers in the nation. I’m proud of @FLCaseyDeSantis for fighting for cancer patients. In Florida, we are proposing historic funding for cancer research and care.
— Senator Jason Pizzo (@senpizzo) December 8, 2021
—@CarlosGSmith: Florida nursing homes need to be transparent and accountable. The revenue that keeps them open is OUR TAXPAYER MONEY!!!
—@fineout: Well, here we go: @GovRonDeSantis will roll out his full budget recommendations to Fla. Legislature tomorrow morning at the state Capitol. #SessionIsComing
—@VessOnSecurity: 1970: We’re going to build a global network that can withstand a nuclear war. 2021: AWS is down and my coffee machine doesn’t work.
—@ByPatForde: Louisville’s third Board of Trustees meeting in three days is at the top of the hour. The belief is that the way has been cleared for Vince Tyra to become the AD at FSU, and people may actually be able to talk about it. Our long national nightmare is approaching closure.
Our very first Tucker Carlson Christmas ornament is here just in time for the holiday season. It’s a perfect gift and last-minute addition to your Christmas tree.
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) December 8, 2021
The Jurassic Park / Home Alone crossover looks excellent https://t.co/FxfevXf7do
— Michael Moran (@TheMichaelMoran) December 7, 2021
Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 1; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 8; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 13; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 20; Private sector employees must be fully vaccinated or tested weekly — 26; final season of ‘This Is Us’ begins — 26; CES 2022 begins — 27; Ken Welch’s inauguration as St. Petersburg Mayor — 28; NFL season ends — 31; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 33; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Election — 33; Special Elections in Senate District 33, House District 88 & 94 — 33; Florida Chamber’s 2022 Legislative Fly-In and Reception — 33; Florida TaxWatch’s 2022 State of the Taxpayer Day — 34; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 36; NFL playoffs begin — 37; ‘Ozark’ final season begins — 43; ‘Billions’ begins — 45; XXIV Olympic Winter Games begins — 57; Super Bowl LVI — 66; ‘The Walking Dead’ final season part two begins — 73; Daytona 500 — 73; Special Election for Jacksonville City Council At-Large Group 3 — 75; CPAC begins — 77; St. Pete Grand Prix — 78; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 84; The Oscars — 110; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 153; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 172; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 175; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 212; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 223; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 267; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 302; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 337; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 340; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 372; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 435; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 596; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 680; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 960.
— TOP STORY —
“Ethics panel finds that Nikki Fried may have violated Florida disclosure laws” via Bianca Padró Ocasio and Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — An ethics complaint filed days after Fried filed her paperwork to run for Governor was made by Leon County Republican Chair Evan Power. In the document, he alleged Fried failed to properly disclose over $400,000 she earned as a medical marijuana lobbyist through the consulting firm Igniting Florida. Although Power claims that Fried did not disclose lobbying work for the consulting firm Colodny Fass in 2017 and 2018, the panel’s investigative report confirms that the Office of Florida Lobbyist Registration and Compensation doesn’t show Fried was registered as a lobbyist for the firm during those two years and that she did not earn any payment from them. Once probable cause has been found, the person accused of an ethics violation has a right to a public hearing or trial where evidence can be presented.
— STATEWIDE —
“Charlie Crist blames Ron DeSantis, demands probe of ‘disturbing’ UF censorship” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Crist has called on state education officials to investigate claims made in a “disturbing” new report by University of Florida professors detailing how faculty curbed race-related references in course materials and blocked, delayed or destroyed COVID-19 data out of fear of retaliation by DeSantis’ administration. Crist said Wednesday he’d sent a letter to the Florida Board of Governors and University System of Florida Chancellor Marshall M. Criser III demanding they look into the report’s charges and determine who called for the alleged censorship.
“Groups slam Florida over removal of anti-bullying resource” via The Associated Press — Advocacy groups are criticizing the Florida Department of Education for removing an anti-bullying webpage from its site, saying the decision will harm LGBTQ students. On Wednesday, a spokesman for the state education department said it removed the portal because it contained links to federal sites that “previously provided helpful guidance and information, but now are being used as platforms for advocacy.” The Southern Poverty Law Center said it was “shocked” by the decision. “These resources were a lifeline for students who identify as LGBTQ+, providing hope that Florida schools can remain a safe space where they would be treated fairly and can learn without fear,” said Scott McCoy, interim deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Judge sets hearing on claim that Seminole Tribe’s clients are blocking petition process” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times — Las Vegas Sands attorney James McKee urged Leon County Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey to order the Tribe’s clients to halt the petition-blocking immediately. The judge denied the request for a temporary injunction but set a hearing date for Friday, Dec. 10, to hear the motion to dismiss the case. The motion to dismiss was brought by clients hired by the Tribe, including Mark Jacoby, Kara Owens, and Cornerstone Solutions Florida. Dempsey set another hearing for Tuesday, Dec. 14, to hear the request from Sands for an injunction against the group’s petition activity.
“Sports betting is again illegal in Florida, but some betters still have cash in the Hard Rock Sportsbook. Here’s how to get it back” via Wells Dusenbury of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — While the Seminole Tribe has assured that “account balances for all current players will be refunded as requested,” some users this week took to social media to report difficulties in withdrawing their money. A customer service representative says there’s no dedicated phone number for the app, but the app itself has a dedicated chat feature within the app for customer service issues. The Hard Rock Sportsbook website is hardrocksportsbook.com, and the Sportsbook app has a @HardRockSB account on Twitter. A second Twitter account, intent on helping customers, is called @HardRockSBHelp. The @Hardrocksportsbook account on Facebook is described as one that “typically replies instantly” to messages submitted there. The service’s Instagram account is instagram.com/Hardrocksportsbook, where a message feature becomes available if you’re following the account.
DeSantis appoints David Hall to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation Board of Directors — Hall, of Port St. Lucie, is a broker associate with Coldwell Banker Realty. He is a Florida Realtors Board of Directors member, serving on the Attainable and Workforce Housing Committee. Hall is the Immediate past chair of Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Lucie, Indian River & Okeechobee, a past president of the Realtor Association of St. Lucie, and a member of the Florida Housing Coalition. He attended the Florida Institute of Technology. The appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.
— DATELINE TALLY —
“First Lady Casey DeSantis asks lawmakers for $100M in cancer funding, shares her cancer story” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — First Lady DeSantis announced Tuesday that Gov. DeSantis is recommending $100 million in Florida’s 2022-23 budget to fund cancer treatment and research. She spoke at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa alongside Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo and representatives from the center. She is currently undergoing treatment at the center for a breast cancer diagnosis her husband shared with the public Oct. 4. “This comes near and dear, close to my heart, literally and figuratively,” she said. “This is something that has affected our family, something that we, unfortunately, have had to learn a lot about.” Her endorsement of cancer research is just the latest of the many causes she has supported, though her past efforts haven’t come from such a deeply personal experience.
Assignment editors — Gov. DeSantis will hold a news conference, 10 a.m., Cabinet Meeting Room. RSVP to [email protected].
“Aaron Bean bill would let prosecutors work to reverse wrongful convictions” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Sen. Bean filed the Senate version (SB 1200) of legislation that would allow prosecutors to file motions to vacate or set aside judgments in case of error. A hearing would have to be set in 90 days, and counsel would be appointed if the defendant lacked the resources to hire a lawyer. In the case of “clear and convincing” evidence of innocence, the judge could vacate the verdict. If the judge refused to reverse the conviction, the prosecutor could appeal that decision. In the event of a crime with a victim, that victim’s family would have the right to be at all hearings and get a notice from the prosecuting attorney.
—”Following Michigan school shooting, it’s raining gun control legislation in Tallahassee” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics
“Palm Beach County legislative delegation rejects proposal to incorporate Indian Trail district” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Members of the Palm Beach County legislative delegation voted against a local bill Wednesday that could have allowed voters in the Indian Trail Improvement District to incorporate the area and become Palm Beach County’s 40th municipality. Republican Rep. Rick Roth was backing a push for incorporation for the third straight year. Wednesday’s vote would not have finalized incorporation. Instead, lawmakers were voting on a local bill, which would have been heard by the full Legislature in the 2022 Session. If OK’d by the full Legislature, that bill would have put the issue to a vote, allowing residents to decide the issue.
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“Florida COVID-19 update: 1,886 new cases added to state tally, more in the hospital” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — Florida reported 1,886 COVID-19 cases and no new deaths Tuesday, according to Wednesday’s report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Florida Department of Health will most likely add deaths to the total. The state has done this in the past when it has added cases and deaths to previous days during the pandemic. In all, Florida has recorded at least 3,705,899 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 61,789 deaths. About 13,322,353 eligible Floridians — 62% of the state’s population — have either received both shots of a two-dose vaccine or completed Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine. There were 1,478 people hospitalized for COVID-19, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Wednesday report. This data is reported from 231 Florida hospitals.
“Low vaccination rate among children in Florida concerns some pediatricians” via Senait Gebregiorgis of WFLA — Less than 10% of children between ages five to 11 in Florida are vaccinated. An estimated 1.6 million children in that age group live in the Sunshine State. Data released by the Department of Health on Dec. 3 shows 9%, or 158,017 of 5- to 11-year-old children, are vaccinated. “Certainly, it’s not as good as I had hoped it would be,” said Dr. Candice Jones, a pediatrician in Orlando. In early November, the vaccine became available to children after the FDA and CDC said it was safe. A vaccination event held at Sanford Civic Center in Seminole County on Monday, Dec. 6, was open to anyone eligible for a vaccine, but most people who showed up were parents with their children between ages 5 and 11.
“Want ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment? UF Health study may be for you” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — The University of Florida Health is looking for up to 200 people who are willing to participate in a national study aimed at learning whether three currently available over-the-counter drugs can help people manage COVID-19 symptoms and prevent hospitalizations. Initially, the university and One Florida + Clinic Research Network will be studying the effectiveness of fluticasone, an inhaled steroid commonly used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; fluvoxamine, a drug prescribed to treat depression; and ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug in the form of a pill prescribed to treat people with infections caused by some parasitic worms. Study volunteers must be at least 30 years old, have tested positive for COVID-19 and have suffered, for less than seven days, from two or more mild COVID-19 symptoms.
— 2022 —
“Hispanic voters now evenly split between parties, WSJ poll finds” via Aaron Zitner of The Wall Street Journal — The nation’s large and diverse group of Hispanic voters is showing signs of dividing its support between Democrats and Republicans more evenly than in recent elections, a new Wall Street Journal poll finds, a troubling development for the Democratic Party, which has long counted on outsize Hispanic support. One year after giving Democratic House candidates more than 60% of their vote, the survey found that Hispanic voters are evenly split in their choice for Congress. Asked which party they would back if the election were today, 37% of Hispanic voters said they would support the Republican congressional candidate and 37% said they would favor the Democrat, with 22% undecided.
“Crist surpasses $5M raised for Governor’s race” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Crist has surpassed $5 million raised since launching his 2022 gubernatorial campaign, a landmark crossed after raising more than $607,000 in November, his campaign announced Wednesday. The St. Petersburg Democrat’s fundraising haul brings his campaign to $3.54 million cash on hand. More than 21,000 individual donors have contributed to either his campaign or affiliated political committee, Friends of Charlie Crist. “From my hometown of St. Pete to the Panhandle and the Keys, I am humbled to see that our campaign’s message of a Florida for all Floridians is connecting with millions of our fellow neighbors looking for change and a path forward,” Crist said.
“After spate of Miami school shooting threats, gun safety group Giffords PAC to endorse Val Demings” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Gun safety group Giffords PAC plans to endorse Democratic U.S. Rep. Demings‘ 2022 campaign to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio during the unveiling of a gun violence memorial at Bayfront Park in Miami next week. The group’s namesake, former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, will join Demings, former Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, and Giffords PAC Executive Director Peter Ambler in speaking at the Dec. 13 event, which will take place about a week after a spate of local school shooting threats took place across Miami-Dade County. The memorial is part of Giffords PAC’s nationwide effort to spread awareness about gun violence and will feature 3,000 vases representing each Floridian who died in a shooting last year, a press note from the group said.
“Spencer Roach predicts DeSantis will beat Donald Trump for President” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Are members of the Legislature in Trump’s home state done with his ambitions? State Rep. Roach, a North Fort Myers Republican, openly scoffed on Twitter at Trump’s statement saying he would defeat DeSantis in a Presidential Primary. “I’ll be the first to go on record here,” Roach tweeted. “1. Trump will not run in ‘24. 2. DeSantis runs for President regardless. 3. DeSantis would win in a Presidential primary against Trump.” Roach elaborated to Florida Politics, saying the Florida Governor simply represents where the GOP is going, not where it has already been.
“Janet Cruz to kickoff reelection campaign with Val Demings, Kathy Castor” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Sen. Cruz will kick off her reelection campaign on Dec. 11, with a little help from U.S. Reps. Demings and Castor. Cruz, a Tampa Democrat, has served Senate District 18 since 2018. So far, she is the only candidate filed to run for the district. Her campaign kickoff is noon at Sal Y Mar, Aloft Hotel. Hillsborough County Commissioners Harry Cohen, Pat Kemp and Kim Overman, as well as Tampa City Council member Guido Maniscalco and former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, will also be on hand to support Cruz.
“Erin Grall to hold fundraiser in Vero Beach next week” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Grall will hold a fundraiser next week as her campaign for her final term in the House — or possibly another contest — ramps up. According to an event invite from the third-term Republican’s political committee, Friends of Erin Grall, the fundraiser is slated for Dec. 13 from 5 p.m. to p.m. at the Quail Valley River Club in Vero Beach. The invite lists a miles-long host committee. Her only 2022 opponent, Vero Beach Mayor Robbie Brackett, is listed on the host committee for Monday’s fundraiser, which may indicate Grall is considering a run for higher office, possibly for the state Senate.
“Orlando Lamas announces $150K raised for HD 111 bid ahead of official fundraising report” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Lamas, a Hialeah-born-and-raised architect and general contractor, is running to succeed Republican Rep. Bryan Avila, who reaches term limits next year and is running for the Miami-Dade County Commission. Lamas’ campaign reported raising nearly $118,000 through Oct. 31, including at least $40,500 of his own money. As such, Lamas is claiming to have raised more than $32,000 in November — more than double his best single-month gain since April. His campaign has yet to file its official fundraising report from last month.
— CORONA NATION —
“‘It’s a sore spot’: Why officials are raising questions about Joe Biden’s vaccine donations” via Erin Banco of POLITICO — When Biden entered office, he promised the U.S. would become a leader in the effort to vaccinate the world, carrying out a campaign divorced from politics to ship millions of doses to countries in need to help end the pandemic. His aides have pledged from the podium and in front of lawmakers that the administration would not use the vaccine to curry diplomatic favors the way Russia and China have. The U.S. discussed with Myanmar officials the possibility of sending vaccine doses for months and representatives from both countries have met to talk about the vaccine in Washington and at the U.S. embassy in Yangon, Myanmar. The discussions around vaccine delivery to Myanmar raise questions about whether officials are factoring in political considerations in that process.
“Senate rejects Biden’s vaccine mandate for businesses” via The Associated Press — The vote was 52-48. The Democratic-led House is unlikely to take the measure up, which means the mandate would stand, though courts have put it on hold for now. Still, the vote gave Senators a chance to voice opposition to a policy that they say has sparked fears back home from businesses and from unvaccinated constituents who worry about losing their jobs should the rule go into effect. Lawmakers can invalidate certain federal agency regulations if a joint resolution is approved by both houses of Congress and signed by the President, or if Congress overrides a presidential veto. That’s unlikely to happen in this case. Republicans said they are supportive of the vaccine, but that the mandate amounts to government overreach.
“Most Americans have heard of the omicron variant, few are very familiar” via Chris Jackson, Neil Lloyd, James Diamond, and Mallory Newall of Ipsos — According to a new poll, a large majority of Americans have heard of the new omicron coronavirus variant, but about half say they know almost nothing about it. Few Americans intend to cancel their holiday travel plans due to the new variant. While most Americans do not plan to stop socializing, three in five say they are likely to go back to or continue wearing masks. To limit the spread of the omicron variant, most Americans support local mask requirements and travel restrictions. Support for mask requirements differs significantly between Democrats and Republicans; however, both largely support issuing a travel ban.
—”State: 98% occupancy rate in hospital intensive care units, highest level yet in pandemic” via The Associated Press
—”Michigan doctor begs for more help as state tops COVID-19 hospitalization peak” via Kristen Jordan Shamus of the Detroit Free Press
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“This inflation defies the old models” via Greg Ip of The Wall Street Journal — Last April, economists thought inflation would be around 2.5% right now. Instead, it’s over 6%. Explanations come in two schools. The demand school blames Biden and the Federal Reserve for administering too much stimulus. The supply school blames pandemic-related bottlenecks and supply chains. In fact, it’s becoming clear that neither demand nor supply by itself is to blame. Rather, this inflation was made possible only by strong demand interacting with restricted supply. The U.S. hasn’t seen anything like this combination except, perhaps, in the aftermath of World War II. This makes the solution elusive: fixing supply is largely beyond the means of the White House and Fed, but treating the problem as one of only demand could damage the economy.
“From the great resignation to lying flat, workers are opting out” via Bloomberg — The Great Resignation has U.S. workers quitting their jobs in record numbers and many are staying out of the labor force. Germany, Japan, and other wealthy nations are seeing shades of the same trend. The pandemic has taken a toll, with surveys showing an increase in feelings of burnout and a deterioration in mental health in many nations. Almost half the world’s workers are considering quitting, according to a Microsoft Corp. survey. About four in 10 millennial and Gen Z respondents say they’d leave their job if asked to come back to the office full time, a global survey by advisory company Qualtrics International Inc. found — more than any other generation.
“In 2022, companies plan to give biggest raises in more than a decade” via Aaron Gregg of The Washington Post — Businesses are expected to bump up pay an average of 3.9% in 2022, according to The Conference Board report. That’s the fastest wage growth since 2008. Higher pay for new hires was the most commonly cited reason for the uptick, according to the nonprofit business group, suggesting labor shortages and high turnover across industries could be giving employees more leverage. Inflation, which is higher than it has been in about 30 years, was the second most commonly cited factor. The raises appear broad-based: “The big jump was for executives, for regular employees, and for hourly employees,” said Gad Levanon, vice president for labor markets at The Conference Board.
“Jobs gap has grown to two unemployed workers per three openings since summer” via Gabriel T. Rubin of The Wall Street Journal — There are more than 11 million job openings in the U.S., according to estimates from job-search site ZipRecruiter, based on their analysis of online job postings and government data sources. That compares with 6.9 million people who are unemployed but say they want to work. “That’s the lowest ratio of unemployed people to job openings we’ve ever seen and that is contributing to unprecedented tightness in the labor market,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist for ZipRecruiter. In October, there were 67 unemployed job seekers for every 100 open positions. Both the unemployed and workers looking for better jobs have used that to their advantage, with pay rising sharply in lower-wage industries like leisure, hospitality, and logistics.
— MORE CORONA —
“First lab results show omicron has ‘much more extensive escape’ from antibodies than previous variants” via Carolyn Y. Johnson and Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post — The first in-depth laboratory study of the omicron variant of the coronavirus offers a mixed bag of bad news and good news. The bad: This variant is extremely slippery. It eludes a great deal of the protection provided by disease-fighting antibodies. That means people who previously recovered from a bout of COVID-19 could be reinfected. And people who have been vaccinated could suffer breakthrough infections. But the findings of the study, which tested the omicron variant of the coronavirus against the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, aren’t entirely bleak. The study found that even if the power of vaccines is diminished in the face of omicron, there’s still some protection afforded against the virus. And it suggests that booster shots could be critical in the battle with the variant.
“Two years into this pandemic, the world is dangerously unprepared for the next one, report says” via Lena H. Sun of The Washington Post — Nearly two years into a coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 5 million people, every country, including the United States, remains dangerously unprepared to respond to future epidemic and pandemic threats. Researchers compiling the Global Health Security Index found insufficient capacity in every country, which they said left the world vulnerable to future health emergencies, including some that might be more devastating than COVID-19. The assessment of each country’s ability to prevent, detect and respond to health emergencies in 2021 was based on public information. Researchers also weighed other factors, such as public confidence in government.
“Want best protection from COVID-19 vaccine? Time of day you get it may matter, study says” via Katie Camero of the Miami Herald — A study of 2,784 health care workers from the U.K. found coronavirus antibody levels were higher in people vaccinated in the afternoon than in the morning, contrary to what past research on other shots, such as the flu vaccine, has shown. Antibody responses were also higher among people who got the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, as opposed to the AstraZeneca shot, and in women and younger people, according to the study published in the Journal of Biological Rhythms. If a period of time is guaranteed to mount an elevated immune response, researchers say they could “recommend that people who want an extra boost from the vaccine, such as older individuals or those who are immunocompromised, schedule” their shot during a certain time of day.
— PRESIDENTIAL —
“Voters pessimistic about economy, Biden’s leadership, WSJ poll finds” via Aaron Zitner of The Wall Street Journal — Voters are heading into the midterm election year in a sour mood, pessimistic about the economy and short on confidence in the leadership of Biden and his Party on the issues that concern them most, a new Wall Street Journal poll finds. The survey reveals a set of danger signs for the Democratic Party as it prepares to defend narrow majorities in the House and Senate. By a large margin, voters see economic and fiscal issues, including inflation, as the top priorities for Washington, and they view the GOP as better able to handle them.
“The Achilles’ heel of Biden’s climate plan? Coal miners.” via Noam Scheiber of The New York Times — For years, environmentalists have sought compromises with labor unions in industries reliant on fossil fuels, aware that one of the biggest obstacles to cutting carbon emissions is opposition from the unions’ members. But at least one group of workers appears far less enthusiastic about the deal-making: coal workers, who continue to regard clean-energy jobs as a major risk to their standard of living. Biden has sought to address the concerns about pay with subsidies that provide incentives for wind and solar projects to offer union-scale wages. But Phil Smith, the top lobbyist for the United Mine Workers of America, said a general skepticism toward promises of economic relief was nonetheless widespread among his members. Unfortunately for Biden, this skepticism has threatened to undermine his efforts on climate change.
“Can democracy still deliver? Biden convening global summit” via Lisa Mascaro of The Associated Press — As the President launches the administration’s inaugural Summit for Democracy, determined to show the world democracy can still work, the nation that’s been long considered a shining example is seen by various measures as a backslider. It’s an unsettling moment for the world’s leading democracy as authoritarianism grows around the globe, raising questions about the United States’ ability to lead by example and intensifying pressure on the Biden administration to not only promote democracy abroad but do more to shore it up at home. At the forum, intended for some 110 participating countries to announce new commitments for strengthening democracy, Biden plans to speak about the importance of voting rights at home.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Congress gives up on attempt to make women register for the draft after GOP outcry” via Ariana Figueroa of Florida Phoenix — A bipartisan provision in an annual defense measure that would have required all young Americans to register for the military draft has been cut following a Republican backlash. Lawmakers tried to include the provision in the $777.9 billion measure, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2022, to require all Americans ages 18 to 25, including women, to be included for registration with the Selective Service System. Even though the provision had the backing of members from both parties like Rep. Chrissy Houlahan and Michael Waltz, as well as Sen. Joni Ernst and the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Jack Reed. Republicans moved to strip the measure, arguing that women should not be forced to fight in wars.
“Rick Scott turns to an unlikely ally for help killing Build Back Better plan” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — U.S. Sen. Scott is turning to a former adversary as he continues his charge against the major spending bill the Biden administration is pushing. Florida’s former Governor sent a letter to Florida hospitals asking them to provide his office with information about the amount of Medicaid supplemental payments they receive and how the potential loss of those funds could impact their ability to treat uninsured patients. Specifically, Scott asked hospitals to provide information about Disproportionate Share Hospital payments and Low-Income Pool payments, both of which are targeted for reduction in the next decade under the proposal.
“Democrats lobby Manchin and Sinema — politely — as they try to save their priorities for the domestic policy package” via Mike DeBonis of The Washington Post — Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. has fought for months to ensure that his fellow Democrats pump hundreds of billions of federal dollars into new subsidies for home care for the elderly and disabled. But as the party’s sweeping domestic policy bill known as Build Back Better has moved through Congress, what had once been a $400 billion plan shrunk to $150 billion by the time it passed the House last month. Now, with Senate action on deck in the coming weeks and at least two key Democrats threatening further cuts, Casey is on high alert.
“Democrats bash María Elvira Salazar for hanging pictures of Fidel Castro and Nicolás Maduro in her D.C. office” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Democrats have again slammed Salazar with accusations of hypocrisy after the Republican posted a photo on Twitter in which pictures of Venezuelan President Maduro and former Cuban dictator Castro could be seen hanging in her Washington office. Salazar, one of the most outspoken members of Congress against communist and socialist regimes and ideologies, posted the photo Wednesday. “Strategy session with my legislative staff,” she wrote with an accompanying American flag emoji. “Glad to be here in DC despite the cold!” Directly above her hung six framed photographs. Salazar explained the pictures were indeed from her 35-year career as a broadcast journalist. “Is this the best criticism you have against me?” she fired back. “Nice try.”
— CRISIS —
“Jan. 6 panel to move forward with contempt against Mark Meadows” via The Associated Press — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection has “no choice” but to move forward with contempt charges against Meadows now that he is no longer complying with a subpoena, the panel’s chair said Wednesday. In a letter to Meadows’ attorney, Rep. Bennie Thompson said that Meadows has already provided documents to the committee, including personal emails and texts about Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat. Yet Meadows did not show up Wednesday for a scheduled deposition after his lawyer, George Terwilliger, told the panel that he was ending his cooperation. Thompson noted in the letter that Meadows has also published a book, released this week, which discusses the Jan. 6 attack.
“Some Jan. 6 rioters may use police brutality as a defense” via Alan Feuer of The New York Times — One group of lawyers representing those accused of assaulting the police at the Capitol is planning to make a more audacious and more difficult legal claim: They say they intend to argue that the officers themselves used excessive force on Jan. 6 and that their clients merely responded, acting in defense of other people or their own defense. This approach, while in its early stages, has gathered steam in recent weeks as defense lawyers have made their way through thousands of hours of videos of the Capitol attack, some of which, they say, show acts of brutality by officers.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“Trump-backed David Perdue says he wouldn’t have certified Georgia 2020 results” via Emma Hurt of Axios — Perdue said he wouldn’t have signed the certification of the state’s 2020 election results if he had been Governor at the time. There has been no evidence widespread fraud took place in Georgia’s elections last year, and the November results were counted three times, once by hand. When Brian Kemp signed the state’s election certification, he pointed out that state law required him to do so. Perdue said he would also have called for a special session of the Legislature if he had been Governor one year ago.
“Trump tries to distance himself from Sidney Powell — whom he once wanted as special counsel” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — The second-most-infamous news conference of Trump’s failed effort to subvert the 2020 Presidential election occurred at the RNC on Nov. 19 of last year. “We’re representing President Trump, and we’re representing the Trump campaign,” former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said to kick things off. Her section of the presentation was centered on unhinged claims that the 2020 election was stolen by an international alliance of actors who subverted voting machines to flip votes to Biden. “When I finish, Powell and then Jenna Ellis will follow me. And we will present in brief the evidence that we’ve collected over the last, I guess, it is two weeks.” Ellis, who did speak later, described the crew as “an elite strike-force team that is working on behalf of the president and the campaign to make sure that our Constitution is protected.”
“People are laughing at Trump’s new company” via Rick Newman of Yahoo News — Trump’s new media company, called the Trump Media & Technology Group, may suffer the same amateurish delusions. The company recently filed an “investor presentation” with the Securities and Exchange Commission is provoking guffaws among business analysts, with laughable evasions and barely any business strategy. The oddest part of the TMTG presentation is the “technology team” listed on Slide 21. The company has apparently filled 30 important jobs already, but it only lists these team members with a first name and last initial. The Chief Technology Officer is “Josh A.” “Steve E.” is VP of Engineering. One of the senior mobile developers is “BJ.”
— LOCAL NOTES —
“Markeith Loyd should be executed for killing Orlando cop, jury says” via Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel — Loyd should be executed for killing Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton, a jury unanimously recommended Wednesday. The 12-member jury deliberated for about five hours over two days on whether Loyd should face the death penalty for Clayton’s slaying. Last month, the same jury convicted Loyd of first-degree murder for fatally shooting Clayton when she tried to arrest him at the Walmart on Princeton Street on Jan. 9, 2017, for killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon. As the verdict was read, Clayton’s family members cried silently. Loyd, 46, was removed from the courtroom after arguing with his attorneys and Circuit Judge Leticia Marques over when he will be sentenced and whether he will have another hearing to present additional evidence to the judge.
“A Florida Keys politician just resigned. Will there be an election? Here’s what’s next” via David Goodhue of Axios — Now that Eddie Martinez resigned from the Monroe County Commission in the Florida Keys, what happens next with his seat on the dais? Martinez announced Tuesday he was stepping down to address “health issues.” The decision comes a week after his Nov. 30 arrest on a domestic violence charge in Hialeah. For now, DeSantis will choose his interim successor from a pool of applicants that apply for Martinez’s District 3 seat, which covers the Old Town section of Key West. There will be a general election held next year that coincides with the regular election cycle. That is an August Primary and a November General Election. DeSantis’ appointment can run in the special election.
“Miami Beach moves to outlaw gas-powered leaf blowers by 2022, but final vote needed” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — Miami Beach Commissioners on Wednesday tentatively approved legislation that would outlaw gas-powered leaf blowers in city limits beginning in late 2022. The city administration said the ban, which needs final approval by the Commission before it can become law, would protect the environment from toxic emissions and stop disruptive noise from the gas-powered motors. A second vote could take place as soon as January. If approved, the city would launch a nine-month public education period beginning in February 2022 to familiarize residents and landscaping companies with the ordinance provisions. In November 2022, a nine-month warning period would follow, with code compliance officers issuing written warnings for violations. Full enforcement, including the issuance of fines, would take effect on Aug. 1, 2023.
“City Commission approves $28M for additions to Tallahassee International Airport” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics — The Tallahassee City Commission voted unanimously to award three contracts worth $28 million for the construction of additions to Tallahassee International Airport meant to expand to carry international flights. The contracts are for the construction of a new International Passenger Processing Facility. The addition will provide an international passenger port-of-entry and a federal inspection station for the airport, necessary improvements to accommodate international flights. Mayor John Dailey told Florida Politics the addition will be a gamer-changer. Not only could it bring international flights, but it could also open the door for international shipping from the airport. The construction project is expected to commence in March 2022. Construction is expected to take about two years.
“Stellar tops off new bestbet facility in St. Johns County” via Stuart Korfhage of the Jacksonville Business Journal — Stellar recently finished “topping out” the new bestbet St. Augustine gaming facility near the Interstate 95-State Road 207 interchange. Now that the final piece of the structure has been installed, crews will turn to complete the interior of the building, Stellar said in a release. Stellar is the general contractor for the $11.6 million project, which first broke ground in July 2021. The 40,673-square-foot gaming facility will include an expansive cardroom offering traditional poker games as well as designated players games such as Ultimate Texas Hold ’em, 3 Card Poker, Fortune Pai Gow and more.
— TOP OPINION —
“What happened to American conservatism?” via David Brooks of The Atlantic — I recently went back and reread the yellowing conservatism books that I have lugged around with me over the decades. I wondered whether I’d be embarrassed or ashamed of them, knowing what conservatism has devolved into. I have to tell you that I wasn’t embarrassed; I was enthralled all over again, and I came away thinking that conservatism is truer and more profound than ever — and that to be a conservative today, you have to oppose much of what the Republican Party has come to stand for. The reasons conservatism devolved into Trumpism are many. First, race. Conservatism makes sense only when it is trying to preserve social conditions that are basically healthy. America’s racial arrangements are fundamentally unjust.
— OPINIONS —
“No, the Constitution is not ‘neutral’ on abortion” via Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post — Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart laid out the argument during the oral argument last week, urging the justices not only to uphold his state’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks but to overrule its decisions finding that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to choose. Justice Brett Kavanaugh amplified Stewart’s argument, presenting it as the position of one side but leaving little doubt how much it resonated with him. The fundamental flaw here is that the Constitution exists in no small part to protect the rights of the individual against the tyranny of the majority. The Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment exist to put some issues off-limits for majority rule. The Constitution instructs that the majority cannot force its preferred religion on the minority.
“When democracy is left stranded at the post office” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Voters who play by the rules and trust the post office should not be disenfranchised. But that’s what happened to 286 Broward residents who were silenced in recent special primary elections for Congress, which probably made a crucial difference in a Democratic race decided by five votes. Those 286 ballots did not reach the Broward elections office by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 2, even though every one was postmarked by Nov. 1 or earlier. At least two unlucky voters mailed their ballots on Oct. 21. The USPS is a public institution funded by our taxes. But it has not fully explained why ballots mailed well in advance of the election never reached their final destination about 20 miles away.
— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —
Local GOP officials voice frustration over what they see as unnecessary fires being ignited by the Republican Party of Florida chair.
Also on today’s Sunrise:
— A Leon County judge denies a request for a temporary restraining order against groups backed by the Seminole Tribe in a ballot initiative intimidation case.
— Today’s Sunrise interview is with Debbie Woods, chair of the Bay County Republican Executive Committee. Woods filed an official grievance against Florida GOP Chair Joe Gruters for his unabashed endorsement of candidate Griff Griffitts over Brian Clowdus in the Republican primary race for HD 6.
To listen, click on the image below:
— ALOE —
“Keanu Reeves still knows kung fu in new ‘Matrix’ trailer” via Lisa Respers France of CNN — Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are reprising their roles as Neo and Trinity in “The Matrix Resurrections,” the fourth installment in “The Matrix” franchise. In the latest trailer for the eagerly awaited film, the pair are shown getting into some serious action. “I still know kung fu,” Reeves, as Neo, quips after taking out an apparent bad guy. “The Matrix Resurrections” hits theaters and HBO Max on Dec. 22.
To watch the latest trailer, click on the image below:
“New UF coach’s contract: $51.8 million, bigger bonuses, planes, cars” via Fresh Take Florida — University of Florida’s new football coach, Billy Napier, will be eligible for bigger bonuses than his predecessor, up to $1.5 million, and receive two luxury cars, a stadium suite and personal use of the university’s planes under his nearly $52 million salary, seven-year contract. The contract also requires Florida to pay $3 million separately as a buyout to Napier’s former employer, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The amount will be treated as a reimbursable employee business expense, not as an additional salary for Napier, which would help limit his tax liability. Napier’s UF contract nearly triples his salary.
“Training runs: Walt Disney World Railroad begins testing stage at Magic Kingdom” via DeWayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — The Walt Disney World Railroad has been silent for years. Thanks to construction on the Tron ride in Tomorrowland, the railway that rings Magic Kingdom theme park has been closed since December 2018. But park visitors will start seeing and hearing signs of the engines’ return soon. Disney isn’t ready to holler “all aboard” for guests yet. But the park plans to start using a steam locomotive along select segments of the new track Wednesday. A return-to-service date for the public has not been announced. Cast members have used the extended downtime for repairs, maintenance, and refurbishment on the attraction, which debuted on the theme park’s opening day in 1971.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Best wishes to our friend Richard Reeves, as well as state Reps. Webster Barnaby and Rene Plasencia, Garrett Blanton, top legislative aide Beth Lerner, Kim Siomkos, and Ben Weaver.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.