Good Tuesday morning.
Let’s begin the day with some major news in the public affairs industry.
Sachs Media will today announce its plan for succession of ownership and operation of the firm to five senior partners in a multi-year process that is underway now.
Founder and CEO Ron Sachs and President and Senior Partner Michelle Ubben will entrust five younger partners — Lisa Garcia, Herbie Thiele, Ryan Cohn, Drew Piers, and Karen Cyphers — with the company’s next era of ownership and operation. Each has been with the firm for nearly 10 years or longer.
The leadership duo invested in these talented individuals as they grew the business with a diverse staff of professionals who consider the rhino their mascot for its strength and ability to break through — giving rise to the tagline that Sachs Media is “The Breakthrough Agency (™).”
Over the years, Sachs and Ubben were repeatedly courted with merger and acquisition interest from larger national companies but always resisted those efforts in the interest of remaining independent.
In 2017, with a focus on the future of the company, Sachs and Ubben named the five veteran executives as partners. They set in motion a seamless way to smartly advance those talented five friends into a next generation of leadership for the company.
“Unlike the popular television series ‘Succession,’ this one has no cutthroat aspect to it,” said Sachs. “Instead, this is a natural process that involves love, trust, respect, and appreciation for these five wonderful friends’ many contributions to our success and growth. I’m healthy, and I’m not retiring — but these great people have earned the right to run this company.”
Added Ubben: “We have always been a family at work — seeking excellence in all that we do for every client and doing it with people we truly and deeply care about. This is the best and most natural direction for our future — a transition to our work family.”
Sachs and Ubben have chosen a path forward that ensures Sachs Media will continue to be a relevant giant in its work for public, private, and nonprofit sector clients. The pair will continue to serve as CEO and President respectively — and next year, Sachs will become chair of the firm and Ubben its CEO as the other partners ascend into collaboratively directing the business.
Read the full story about the Sachs Media succession plan here.
One of the top firms on Capitol Hill is heading to the City of Seven Hills.
Ballard Partners announced Tuesday that it would set up shop in Istanbul, Turkey and that former Amb. Matt Bryza — the firm’s most recent hire — had been tapped to lead the office. Former U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, who leads Ballard Partners’ D.C. office, will serve as Special Adviser to the firm’s contingent in Turkey.
“Ambassador Bryza has had a distinguished and lengthy diplomatic career in Turkey and throughout the region and is uniquely qualified to open our office in Turkey,” said Brian Ballard, the firm’s president and founder. “Robert’s experience as one of Congress’ top experts on Turkish domestic and foreign affairs makes him the perfect partner with Ambassador Bryza in Istanbul.”
The firm said establishing a presence in Turkey will help it connect its extensive U.S. clientele with Turkish companies to foster new business partnerships.
Bryza has more than two decades of experience in diplomacy. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan from February 2011 to January 2012. From 2005 to 2009, he served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia and Director on the National Security Council Staff at the White House, responsible for the South Caucasus, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, and Eurasian energy.
Ballard Partners’ office in Turkey will be its second international location. In 2020, the Florida-based governmental affairs firm opened an office in Tel Aviv, Israel. It is also the lead lobbying and public relations firm for several national governments, most recently taking on a contract to handle communications and lobbying for Guatemala.
Another poll shows U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist far in front of the competition in the Democratic Primary for Governor.
Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategic Consulting asked 400 likely Democratic Primary voters who they were backing in the three-way race and found Crist with 44% support. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, whose campaign is undergoing a “restructuring,” was 17 points behind at 27%.
The third major candidate, Sen. Annette Taddeo, was the pick for just 3% of those polled. More than a quarter of primary voters said they were undecided six months out from the election.
Mason-Dixon also previewed the General Election, asking 625 voters across who’d they’d pick in a potential head-to-head against Gov. Ron DeSantis.
No matter his opponent, DeSantis is in a strong position. He holds an 8-point lead over Crist at 51%-43%, an 11% lead over Fried at 53%-42%, and a 16-point lead over Taddeo at 53%-37%.
When it comes to name recognition, DeSantis was by far the best-known candidate in the field, with 86% of those polled saying they had heard the Governor’s name. Crist was recognized by two-thirds of those surveyed, followed by Fried at 34% and Taddeo at 11%.
Still, recognition does not equal favorability. Of those who knew the incumbent, 37% said they weren’t fans, leaving him with a plus-12 favorability rating. Fried and Taddeo were also positive, earning a plus-6 and a plus 3, respectively. Crist, meanwhile, was underwater by 3 points.
The Mason-Dixon poll was conducted Feb. 7-10. The General Election results have a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points. The Democratic Primary results have a margin of error of plus or minus five percentage points.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
Happy valentines pic.twitter.com/Ho6zvjjA7o
— Manuel Oliver (@manueloliver00) February 14, 2022
—@POTUS: The ads during last night’s Super Bowl were clear: The future of the auto industry is electric. My Administration is making historic investments in electric vehicles and is building a nationwide network of EV chargers — creating good-paying, union jobs.
—@Freedlander: Seems like the two big A1 stories today — that (Donald) Trump is basically selling anything he can for cash, and that he secretly tried to take sensitive government documents with him to his hotel — may converge at some point
—@Igorbobic: Rick Scott blocks quick passage of postal reform bill, which passed in the House via broad bipartisan vote. (Chuck) Schumer is pissed, calling it “regrettable and sad”
I stand with immigrants as I fight to support policies that will make them feel safe and welcomed in our community.
Billboards like this one will be displayed in Miami for the next few days to spread love and support to immigrants in our community. #ToImmigrantsWithLove pic.twitter.com/KumnBbCh4P
— Senator Annette Taddeo (She/Her/Ella) (@SenatorTaddeo) February 14, 2022
—@ArekSarkissian: In the realm of “bringing it in for a landing,” sounds like we’re getting there. @, as health budget chair, also brought up the $$$ for nursing homes in the proposed House budget.
—@KirbyWTweets: dressing up for Halloween as a friendly amendment
— Toni Rodríguez (@tonirodriguezfl) February 14, 2022
—@ChrisLatvala: Joel Greenberg paid $7,500 to Anthony Sabatini while Seminole tax collector
—@TaraLapinski: I strongly disagree with this decision. At the end of the day, there was a positive test and there is no question in my mind that she should not be allowed to compete. Regardless of age or timing of the test/results. I believe this will leave a permanent scar on our sport.
—@BenjySarlin: The actual Sopranos ad should have been them all complaining how sports gambling is legal now and they’re broke
— DAYS UNTIL —
Discover Boating Miami International Boat Show begins — 1; season four of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ begins — 1; Synapse Florida tech summit begins — 2; ‘The Walking Dead’ final season part two begins — 5; Daytona 500 — 5; Special Election for Jacksonville City Council At-Large Group 3 — 7; Suits For Session — 8; St. Pete Grand Prix — 10; CPAC begins — 12; Joe Biden to give the State of the Union address — 14; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 17; Miami Film Festival begins — 17; the 2022 Players begins — 21; Sarasota County votes to renew the special 1-mill property tax for the school district — 21; House GOP retreat in Ponte Vedra Beach — 36; the third season of ‘Atlanta’ begins — 36; season two of ‘Bridgerton’ begins — 38; The Oscars — 40; Macbeth with Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga begin performances on Broadway — 42; Florida Chamber’s 2nd Annual Southeastern Leadership Conference on Safety, Health + Sustainability begins — 43; Grammys rescheduled in Las Vegas — 47; ‘Better Call Saul’ final season begins — 62; Magic Johnson’s Apple TV+ docuseries ‘They Call Me Magic’ begins — 66; 2022 Florida Chamber Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit — 72; ‘The Godfather’ TV series ‘The Offer’ premieres — 72; federal student loan payments will resume — 75; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 80; ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ starts on Disney+ — 99; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 101; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 107; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 144; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 157; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 175; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 199; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 234; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 269; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 272; ‘Avatar 2′ premieres — 304; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 367; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ premieres — 402; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 528; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 612; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 892.
—TOP STORY —
“Florida failed for nearly three months to pay tens of thousands of health claims for children” via Kristin Bausch of Fresh Take Florida — It was due to software glitches blamed on the corporate merger of its two largest payment vendors, officials and executives said. Families with critically ill children who relied on Medicaid-paid health providers were stranded in some cases. Payment problems panicked more families, especially as unpaid bills for nursing care and other home health services began stacking up over months with no quick resolution in sight. Executives at Sunshine State Health Plan Inc. of Tampa, Florida’s largest Medicaid payment vendor, said the payment glitches stemmed from the company’s merger on Oct. 1 with the second-largest payment vendor, WellCare of Florida Inc. Combined, Sunshine and WellCare have multi-year contracts worth $31.6 billion from the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration, according to figures from the state’s chief financial officer. It was among the most serious technology meltdowns — affecting one of the most vulnerable populations — under the administration of DeSantis since unemployment claims overwhelmed Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity early in the pandemic.
— DATELINE TALLY —
“Governor, GOP lawmakers differ on ‘critical care’ funding for Medicaid patients” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — As state legislators head into budget negotiations, both chambers have agreed to eliminate additional “critical care” funding for hospitals that treat the most Medicaid patients. Those dollars are used to give automatic rate enhancements to those hospitals. And DeSantis, in his budget recommendations, included recurring funding for the hospitals. But House budget writers didn’t just eliminate the so-called critical care fund. In addition, the House recommended removing $100 million in state money (which is matched with federal Medicaid funds) currently used to reimburse hospitals and steer the money instead to help train future nurses. All told, it’s a nearly $252 million reduction to hospital inpatient and outpatient reimbursement rates.
“Nursing home staffing reductions move through House spending panel over objections of AARP” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — A House health care spending committee agreed to move a bill that reduces the amount of time that certified nursing assistants must spend with long-term care residents from. Bryan Ávila, chair of the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, said the chamber had been generous to the nursing home industry, approving a temporary $100 million increase in rates for three months. Avila said he was aware, though, that some nursing home lobbyists were pushing the Florida Senate, which already had proposed about a 10% increase in rates for the 2022-23 budget, far more than what the House proposed, to increase rates further.
“Guns, COVID-19 and the Internet; House panel OKs ‘freedom of speech’ bill” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Over objections from some members that the bill could protect internet grifters and ‘neuter’ Florida’s health care regulatory boards, a House panel on Monday voted 12-5 to pass a bill that protects doctors’ ‘freedom of speech’ on the internet. The legislation is aimed at preventing a crackdown on doctors accused of spreading misinformation about COVID-19, a trend that has been occurring across the country and drawing scrutiny from regulators who say such actions are unethical.
“Tax break could help Disney, others move lucrative streaming productions to Florida” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — The chair of Florida’s Republican Party is moving a tax break through the state Senate that aims to make the Sunshine State a production hub of streaming content for The Walt Disney Co. or another entertainment giant. State Sen. Joe Gruters is pushing a bill that would extend a state tax incentive program to television or streaming projects that involve an investment of more than $500 million over three years. Gruters acknowledged Disney could use the proposed tax break, but he said it would be available to any large company wanting to do business in Florida. He also is pushing a bill that would offer tax incentives to film projects.
“How do lawmakers get local pet projects in the state budget? It isn’t easy or always transparent” via Diane Rado of Florida Phoenix — When lawmakers came to the Capitol in January for the 2022 Legislative Session, their annual wish list was ballooning with billions of dollars for pet projects that, if approved, could be a gold mine for local constituents. Legislators hoped to slip in as many local projects as possible in Florida’s overall 2022-23 state budget. It’s a process going on for years in the Legislature, raising questions about how much state money should be used for the pet projects that local governments could finance. By early February, the Florida Senate’s proposed local project list was at a whopping $3.87 billion for 1,788 projects, everything from local street, bridge and bike path improvements to veterans’ programs.
—TALLY 2 —
“Countering critical race theory opposition, Randolph Bracy pushes emancipation history bill” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — While critical race theory remains a hot topic, Sen. Bracy on Monday touted his Emancipation Day bill as the kind of Black history legislation Florida needs and the Legislature will get behind. “I believe it pushed back on the (anti) critical race theory agenda proposal that is moving through the Legislature,” said Bracy. “I think it’s very important that children know their history, especially the history of Emancipation Day in Florida.” Bracy argued the Republican outrage and legislation being pushed to oppose critical race theory, which he and others say isn’t even being taught in Florida, is just an election-year strategy for Republicans to energize their political base. “It is ridiculous,” he said.
“House panel advances veteran suicide prevention pilot program” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee advanced a bill Monday that would establish a pilot program in Florida to address veteran suicide. The bill (HB 1315) tasks the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) with providing suicide prevention training to veteran service organizations. The training, the bill says, would emphasize crisis counseling tailored to the unique needs of veterans. Rep. Ben Diamond is the bill sponsor. The Committee advanced the bill unanimously. On average, more than 500 veterans commit suicide each year in Florida. “Our veterans are struggling with a series of mental health challenges and are plagued by a suicide rate that is significantly higher than our non-veteran population,” Diamond told members.
“Tax passes for homes damaged in catastrophes clear first House hurdle” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Floridians whose homes were damaged to the point of uninhabitability could receive passes on paying property taxes until they move back in, thanks to a proposal advancing in the House. Rep. Marie Woodson’s bill, HB 71, received unanimous approval Monday from the House Local Administration and Veteran Affairs Subcommittee. It still has two more committees to clear before a floor vote. If passed and signed into law, the bill would allow homeowners whose dwellings were rendered uninhabitable by natural or man-made disasters for at least 30 days to apply for tax abatements from their local governments.
“Anna Eskamani, Dianne Hart join health officials to oppose Joseph Ladapo confirmation” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Reps. Eskamani and Hart joined doctors and health care advocates Monday afternoon to oppose the appointment of Dr. Ladapo as the state’s Surgeon General. In a discussion hosted by Protect Our Care Florida and For Our Future, the speakers slammed the controversial appointee, who has come under fire for his stances on COVID-19 issues, including masking, vaccines, hydroxychloroquine and testing. “Our state is making headlines and is again the laughingstock of the country because of the ill-suited nominee to lead our state’s health department,” Hart said. “Dr. Ladapo is already doing the job of our Surgeon General, and he’s not doing it well,” Eskamani said.
“Bill revisiting Baker Act, Marchman Act policies clears House committee” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee OK’d a bill Monday that would tweak the state’s Baker Act and Marksman Act laws. Under the bill (HB 1277), police who order an involuntary examination must include emergency contact information in their report and reach out to the contact if someone is admitted, unless the person requests otherwise. The bill would also stiffen penalties against someone who gives false information while seeking an involuntary admission of someone else. Penalties under the bill include up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Rep. Ralph Massullo is the bill sponsor. The Committee advanced the bill unanimously with no questions and little debate.
“Activists oppose environmental funding bill as land acquisition measures progress” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — A slate of environment and land acquisition bills passed from their first House committee Monday, but not all with unanimous support. Three bills considered in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee Monday afternoon would bolster Florida’s efforts to preserve land through conservation, water projects and more. One bill (HB 603), filed by Rep. Melony Bell, would provide consistent money to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for designing or constructing projects that protect, restore or enhance Central Florida’s headwaters.
“Bill giving voters choice to reshape Alachua County Commission passes second committee” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics — A bill allowing voters to decide whether to amend Alachua County’s charter to change who their County Commissioners represent passed its second committee Monday unanimously. HB 1493, sponsored by Rep. Chuck Clemons, passed the House Public Integrity and Elections Committee. The legislation would place a ballot initiative in front of Alachua County voters in 2022 to change the county’s five Commissioners from at-large seats to single-member districts. Instead of representing the whole district, each Commissioner would only represent voters within the boundaries of their district.
“Elizabeth Fetterhoff’s campaign paid $12K to political fundraising firm founded by her husband” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO — Republican Rep. Fetterhoff’s campaign and a separate political committee over the past three months paid nearly $12,000 to a fundraising firm founded by her and her husband, a situation that can create the perception of turning “political contributions into personal profit.” Fetterhoff, a second term lawmaker from Deland, founded FWD Consulting Group in April 2021 with her husband, John Ward. It has no website or real online presence, but since November has started serving as the chief fundraising firm for both her campaign and an aligned political committee.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Leslie Dughi, Karl Rasmussen, Metz Husband & Daughton: Consumer Data Industry Association, Florida Portable Building Manufacturers Association, Teachers Insurance & Annuity Association
Natalie Fausel, Anfield Consulting: Resiliency Florida, St. Lucie County
Justin Hill, StateLinx: Binti
Alan Suskey, Michael Johnston, Shumaker Advisors Florida: City of Madeira Beach, Gracepoint Wellness
Lori Killinger, Lewis Longman & Walker: Le Magnifique
Paul Mitchell, David Hagen, Monte Stevens, The Southern Group: ClubCorp Holdings, Michael Development
Margaret Timmins, Timmins Consulting: National Association of College Stores
Andrea Tovar, Corcoran Partners: Tampa Bay Chamber
Melissa Villar: NORML Tallahassee
Melissa Wyllie: Florida Trust for Historic Preservation
—FOR YOUR RADAR —
Valentine’s Day might be over, but love is still in the air.
One of the state’s largest unions, SEIU Florida, hosts its inaugural Workers’ Appreciation Day at the Capitol on Tuesday. The theme: “Labor of Love.”
Workers’ Appreciation Day will see union leaders and members at the Capitol, gathering to honor Florida workers and call on lawmakers to continue supporting them with worker-friendly legislation.
“So many hardworking Floridians — from front-line workers, teachers and janitors to bus drivers, fast food workers, and physical laborers — endure brutal conditions and put their bodies and lives on the line every day to provide for their families and serve our communities,” said SEIU Florida Executive Director Alyssa Cundari Roelans.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned firsthand that our health care, education, and daily needs are dependent on working Floridians. We wanted to take this opportunity to show our appreciation for all workers and to the legislators who support us.”
Roelans will be in Tallahassee for the event alongside members such as Rhonda Miller, a bus driver with Palm Beach County Schools, and Teresa Greene, an adjunct professor at Valencia College.
They and other members will be bringing Valentine’s Day energy via hand-delivered greetings and treats, both to show their thanks and call on lawmakers to keep “showing their love” for Florida’s essential workers.
The festivities begin at 11 a.m. in the South Plaza of the Capitol Complex.
It’s Gator Day at the Florida Capitol. — Students, alumni and top advocates will be out in their orange and blue to champion the gator good, celebrate the recent accomplishments of the Top 5 public university, and share all about the unique programs and research happening at UF. Be on the lookout for sightings of UF mascots Albert and Alberta, head football coach Billy Napier, and President Kent Fuchs, among others. The official Gator Day celebration will occur at 11 a.m. in the Capitol Courtyard.
The Stanley Cup is coming to town — While the Tampa Bay Lightning prep for their faceoff with the New Jersey Devils, their most prized possession will be touring the Capitol. For the second year in a row, lawmakers, the Governor, the Cabinet will get a close-up look at the Stanley Cup. The first stop for the 3-foot-tall, 35-pound trophy is the House. It’s scheduled to show up during the chamber’s 2:30 p.m. session and will spend the rest of the afternoon traveling from one end of the Capitol to the other. In the evening, it’ll be at Eve on Adams for a 6 p.m. reception. To get in the room, send an RSVP to RSA Consulting’s Kaitlyn Bailey Owen. The morning after will see the Senate get the royal treatment — expect to see a lot of black and blue at the Capitol between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
— The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Subcommittee meets to consider HB 121, from Reps. Webster Barnaby and Tyler Sirois, to boost laws against animal cruelty, 8 a.m., Room 404 of the House Office Building.
— The House State Administration and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider HB 619, from Rep. Anthony Rodriguez, to mandate that iron and steel used in public-works projects must be produced in the United States, 8 a.m., Room 212 of the Knott Building.
— The House Tourism, Infrastructure and Energy Subcommittee meets to consider HB 737, from Rep. David Borrero, which instructs the Public Service Commission to craft rules for adding electric vehicle charging stations, 8 a.m., Reed Hall of the House Office Building.
— The Senate Rules Committee meets to consider SB 224, from Sen. Joe Gruters, to allow local governments to restrict smoking on beaches and in public parks, 10 a.m., Room 412 of the Knott Building.
— The House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider HB 379, from Rep. Linda Chaney, to create the crime of indecent battery for touching people on the breasts, genitals or buttocks without consent, 10:30 a.m., Morris Hall of the House Office Building.
— The House will convene for a floor Session to consider HB 5, prohibiting doctors from performing abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The bill, from Reps. Erin Grall and Jenna Persons-Mulicka, is similar to a Mississippi law under consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court, 2:30 p.m., House Chamber.
— The Senate Special Order Calendar Group meets, 15 minutes after the Rules Committee, Room 401 of the Senate Office Building.
— GOV. CLUB MENU —
White bean and Bradley’s sausage soup; mixed garden salad with dressings; Granny Smith apple slaw; heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad; pressed Cuban sandwiches; pecan-crusted salmon with balsamic glaze; creamy chickpea curry; jasmine rice; eggplant Parmesan and cupcakes for dessert.
“Parkland dad climbs crane near White House in protest as activists urge Joe Biden to take action on gun violence” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Patricia Oliver, the mother of Joaquin Oliver, who was one of the students killed on Valentine’s Day 2018, appeared on CNN. She said her husband scaled a crane in Washington, D.C., because “he’s representing Joaquin in a way to be heard” even though he risked arrest. Officials escorted Oliver down from the crane, images showing him being taken away. But by Monday afternoon, he had been freed, his wife tweeted. “My amor has been released from custody and is on his way to me now,” she wrote, telling him she loves him.
“On fourth Parkland anniversary, Florida Democrats highlight GOP-stalled gun safety measures” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — On the fourth anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida Democrats argue gun control reform is still needed, but point to Republicans standing in the way. In a news conference Monday, members of the House Democratic Caucus said not enough is being done to safeguard residents from another mass shooting. “Our duty first and foremost is to make sure that every Floridian has the freedom to be healthy, prosperous and safe, and the safety of our children cannot be more Paramount,” said Rep. Fentrice Driskell. So far, however, every gun-related bill this Session seems dead on arrival. Not one has seen a single committee hearing since being introduced.
“Jimmy Patronis lauds ‘freedom convoy,’ blasts ‘mandate mafia’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Patronis issued a proclamation Monday in support of the Canadian “freedom convoy.” This is the latest example of state leadership siding with the protesting truck drivers as they exercise “their right to demand personal freedom and opposition to repression.” Patronis recognized “efforts to peacefully protest and oppose Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s vaccine mandate.” Florida would be happy to be the new home for any Canadian truckers who are ready to divest themselves of citizenship over vaccine rules, Patronis said. “From first responders to health care heroes and now even truckers, these front-line heroes have been hard at work since Day One of the pandemic, and now they’re under attack by the mandate mafia, at home and abroad,” Patronis said.
—@MacStipanovich: Wouldn’t the Canadian trucker protests be illegal in Free Florida under a recently enacted law that you supported?
“Judge delays Joel Greenberg sentencing date for 3rd time” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — A federal judge on Monday agreed to delay again the sentencing date for Greenberg, who pleaded guilty to sex trafficking and other crimes last May, after a request by his attorney. Greenberg’s sentencing was scheduled for March 29, but U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell wrote in his order “that a further continuance of [Greenberg’s] sentencing is in the interest of justice.” Presnell also ordered the U.S. Attorney’s Office to file a status report on the case by May 13. However, he granted prosecutors’ request that the government’s status report be sealed from the public while they continue their investigations into other cases. During an October hearing, federal prosecutors said Greenberg was working with them and has led them to pursue further investigations.
“Florida’s citrus industry facing worst crop in more than 75 years” via Greg Fox of WESH — It’s the backbone of Florida agriculture and the bright orange face of the Sunshine State. But the citrus industry is facing its worst crop in more than 75 years. Devastating freezes, followed by disease and burgeoning real estate development, threaten to bury local businesses. The Asian citrus psyllid, an insect that’s been ravaging Florida citrus since 2005, is spreading a bacteria revealed in spotty-colored leaves, smaller, less-tasty fruit. Fifteen years ago, Florida was doing about 245 million boxes a year of just oranges. Now, it’s down to about 47 million.
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“‘What we have in Florida is inadequate:’ State’s COVID-19 monitoring system leaves public blind to new variants” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Two years into the pandemic, Florida’s monitoring system for COVID-19 has left the public blind to the arrival of highly contagious variants. Florida sends only a tiny fraction of all positive COVID-19 tests to labs for genetic sequencing to learn their strain of coronavirus, only 1% over the entire pandemic. While hospitals, universities, public and private health labs sequence samples from patients to learn which variants are present, Florida lacks a comprehensive and cohesive system to analyze and share data. Scientists say better detection and communication would give Florida’s counties a chance to act as highly infectious strains becomes more prevalent.
“DCPS drops mask requirement for visitors, employees. Tell us what you think.” via Marilyn Parker of News 4 Jax — Duval County Public Schools on Friday said it was once again changing its COVID-19 mitigation strategies due to a falling case count in the community. “While students, staff, and visitors are strongly encouraged to wear a face mask, there is no longer any requirement for anyone to do so,” the district wrote on its website. “Previously, school visitors and employees working with students were required to wear a face covering.” The district added that restrictions on capacity at arts and athletic venues have also been lifted. It said it will continue cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
“Masks no longer mandatory for adults at Miami-Dade County public schools” via CBS Miami — Miami-Dade County Public Schools officials announced Saturday that starting Monday, the use of masks is no longer mandatory for adults. The use of masks is still encouraged for students, employees, visitors, contractors, and volunteers. In December, Miami-Dade schools revised their COVID-19 protocols as the number of cases increased in the county. Then Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced that beginning Monday, Jan. 6, all adults entering schools, bus drivers, and bus attendants had to wear masks.
“Democrats eye key Governors’ races as backstop against GOP” via Thomas Beaumont of The Associated Press — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers was in a familiar spot earlier this month when Republican legislators sent him a bill that would have banned anti-racist teachings in schools. For the 66th time since taking office in 2019, he pulled out his veto pen. The rejection was the latest reminder of the crucial role Evers and a select group of fellow Democratic governors play in some of the most politically divided states. They are the only backstop against a wave of GOP-backed legislation targeting everything from abortion rights and school curricula to access to voting.
“Latino voters are becoming more open to conservative ideas and less swayed by the left” via Alfonso Aguilar of the Miami Herald — Democrats are quickly losing their apparent grip over the Latino vote, as recent elections and polls suggest a growing shift by Hispanics toward the GOP. A survey released last month even showed that in a potential rematch between Trump and Biden in 2024, 43% of Hispanics would vote for Trump, while 44% would support Biden. This dramatic change in voter preference demonstrates the Hispanic electorate has become more independent, increasingly open to conservative ideas, and less likely to be swayed by the radical identity politics of the left.
“Anna Paulina Luna: Individual accused of attacking opponent’s fiance is not at all affiliated with campaign” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Luna told Florida Politics that Gage Huber, who Audrey Henson accused of attacking her fiance, Andrew, is not associated with her campaign in any way. Earlier Sunday evening, Henson accused “an adviser” of Luna’s campaign of attacking her fiance at a pool party in a video posted to her Twitter account. “This is unacceptable behavior at any place or time, but this kind of nonsense falls in line with patterns from her and her campaign.” Henson alleged Huber hit and shoved her fiance into a pool, almost hitting his head on the cement. Henson wrote that although her fiance was not severely hurt, the incident resulted in property damage.
“Ralph Massullo holds $2 million cash for Senate bid, with boost from hefty self-loan” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Rep. Massullo is sitting on $2 million in cash for his Senate run. That comes from money the Lecanto Republican raised through his campaign account and a political committee backing his candidacy. In January, his Better Lives for Floridians committee pulled in $70,000 in new donations. Subtracting fairly minimal expenses, the Committee closed the month with $371,647 in the bank.
“Joe Harding will seek re-election in HD 24” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Rep. Harding will run in House District 24 this year. Harding said he had already purchased and moved to a new home in Ocala. His shift in residency, which will be reflected in new financial disclosures, eliminate the prospect of Harding facing Rep. Chuck Clemons in a Republican Primary this year. But Harding said redistricting is not the reason for the move. The Williston native said he’s moved to Marion County to be closer to his workplace. He’s a director of a home health agency based in Ocala. The change in residency was happening before redistricting took place. His new home is in a part of the Ocala area situated in the new HD 24 and his existing House District 22.
“Jennifer Wilson shifts campaign from HD 66 to HD 59” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Wilson announced she will continue her campaign to succeed Rep. Nick DiCeglie by running in House District 59. Wilson was previously in the race for House District 66. But with redistricting shifting district boundaries, she has now entered to run for HD 59, which proposed maps show covers the middle chunk of Pinellas County. She launched her initial campaign for HD 66 in early September and has amassed more than $111,0000 in funding. In the race for HD 66, Wilson faced former prosecutor Berny Jacques and technical lead at MacDill Air Force Base Alen Tomczak in the Republican Primary.
“Republican Danny Alvarez enters race for new House District 69” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Alvarez announced his candidacy Monday for the newly drawn Florida House District 69. Alvarez, a Tampa-based lawyer, has filed to run for the recently proposed east Hillsborough County seat. In announcing his candidacy, Alvarez said he is running “to build on our state’s record of results and defend the principles and values enshrined in our Constitution.” Alvarez is a U.S. Army veteran and serves as an adjunct business law professor at the University of Tampa.
“Peggy Gossett-Seidman files as Republican in open HD 91 race” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Highland Beach Town Commissioner Gossett-Seidman has filed for a House run in proposed House District 91. The decision came days after Rep. Emily Slosberg-King announced she would not seek another term. Gossett-Siedman, a Republican, won election to municipal government in 2018 and has lived in South Palm Beach County since 1989. “I will continue Florida’s commitment to investing in infrastructure, education and public safety. We must and will be proactive in solving our state’s most pressing issues and protecting our quality of life,” Gossett-Seidman said. Slosberg-King announced one week ago that she would not seek a fourth term in HD 91.
— CORONA NATION —
“The U.S. government won’t say what ‘free’ COVID-19 tests cost” via Christine Spolar of Kaiser Health News — The four free COVID-19 rapid tests Biden promised in December for every American household have begun arriving in earnest in mailboxes and on doorsteps. A surge of COVID-19 infections spurred demand for over-the-counter antigen tests during the holidays: Clinics were overwhelmed with people seeking tests, and the few off-the-shelf brands were nearly impossible to find at pharmacies or even online via Amazon. Prices for some test kits cracked the hundred-dollar mark. U.S. contracts valued at $10,000 or more are required to be routinely posted to sam.gov or the Federal Procurement Data System. But none of the three new rapid-test contracts could be found in the online databases.
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“Inflation is everywhere, including places you might not expect” via Thomas Gryta of The Wall Street Journal — Inflation is seeping through American business, hitting companies in unexpected ways beyond higher prices for materials, shipping or wages. It is adding to legal costs for the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, driving up the bill for auto repairs at Allstate Corp., prompting people to pay less of their credit-card balances, and stoking concerns of shrinking ad spending at social-media companies. Social media companies also warned that rising costs affecting other businesses, such as freight, materials and wages, could curb advertiser spending. Companies are passing along more price increases to customers to preserve profits as inflation shows no signs of slowing down.
— MORE CORONA —
“‘We’re going back to normal’: Las Vegas visitors shed their masks” via Bailey Schulz of USA Today — As of Thursday, guests no longer need to wear a face mask while inside most Nevada businesses — including casinos. That means no more cloth muffling a cheer at a lucky blackjack hand or stifling conversation among the crowds strolling the halls of the resorts. And with the city packed for Super Bowl weekend, one of the biggest days of the year for sportsbooks, there were plenty of people to fill the air with chatter. Several visitors admitted that the state’s new masking rules took them by surprise. It was welcome news for some. Despite the new rules, 10% or so of the indoor crowds opted to keep their masks on.
“Will there be big education changes after pandemic? No, but look deeper.” via Jay Mathews of The Washington Post — The United States is full of fine people who have devoted their lives to our schools. Few, however, have had the chance to do that with as much depth and breadth as Larry Cuban, Professor Emeritus of education at Stanford University. In his new book, “Confessions of a School Reformer,” Cuban sums up what he has learned. There are surprises: The pandemic has revealed resilience in public support for schools. Also, long-term positive changes have been overlooked in our squabbles. Americans’ abiding faith in our schools overlooks the fact, Cuban said, that “events occurring outside schools shape children and youth as much if not more than the 15,000 hours they spend in classrooms and schools during their careers in age-graded schools.
“Be my valentine, but let’s buy a king-size bed and spread out” via Suzanne Kapner of The Wall Street Journal — For some couples, the solution for too much pandemic togetherness is saying good night on Valentine’s Day in a bigger bed where they don’t need to touch. After nearly two years of working from home and sharing close quarters with spouses, kids and pets, people are tossing out their full- and queen-size beds in favor of more spacious kings. Until the 1940s, most Americans were able to get enough sleep on twin or full mattresses. Mattress makers started selling larger sizes in the 1950s and 1960s. Queen beds are still the most common size in American homes, but the demand for king beds, usually about 16 inches wider than queens and around the same length, outpaced every other size during the pandemic.
— PRESIDENTIAL —
“Biden has long-term inflation plan, but voter patience short” via Josh Boak of The Associated Press — Biden came into office with a plan to fix inflation, just not the particular inflationary problem that the country now faces. He believes that a cluster of companies control too many industries, which reduces competition for both customers and workers. That leads to higher prices and lower wages in what the White House says is an average cost of $5,000 annually for U.S. families. Biden is now trying to remedy the situation with 72 distinct initiatives, everything from new rules for cellphone repairs to regulations on meatpacking to more merger reviews. Business groups dispute the fundamental premise that competition has faded, and they are prepared to challenge the administration’s new initiatives in court.
“Gun control groups press Biden to do more to stop violence” via Zeke Miller and Colleen Long of The Associated Press — Four years after 17 people were gunned down at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, families and gun control advocates are pressing Biden to do more to address gun violence. One father of a victim killed in the shooting sent an early morning tweet Monday, the anniversary of the Parkland shooting, saying that he’d climbed a 150-foot-tall (46-meter-tall) crane near the White House. Meanwhile, dozens of advocates were set to rally outside the White House and unveil a website chronicling the 47,000 gun deaths and 42,000 gun injuries in the country since Biden was inaugurated.
“First Lady Jill Biden to visit Tampa this week” via Robert Pandolfino of WFLA — First Lady Biden is scheduled to travel to Tampa on Thursday, Feb. 17. The First Lady will visit Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa on Friday, Feb 18. The First Lady is also scheduled to visit the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Miami in Opa-locka.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Democrats and Republicans stop fighting, start passing bills” via Lindsay Wise of The Wall Street Journal — In the weeks since Biden’s agenda stalled in a bitterly divided Congress, something unusual happened on Capitol Hill: Democrats and Republicans started working together. Already, bills to make the U.S. Postal Service more financially viable, boost U.S. competitiveness with China, and ban mandatory arbitration in sexual assault and harassment cases have picked up steam in Congress. Senators passed the arbitration bill by voice vote, sending it to the President’s desk without a single member of either party demanding a roll call to record yeas and nays. Legislators also announced a framework for legislation to fund the federal government through the Fiscal Year 2022 and a deal to reauthorize a landmark domestic violence bill, which lapsed in 2019.
Personnel note — MacKensie Kvalvik is transitioning out of Rep. Stephanie Murphy’s office where she served as Communications Director. Eduardo Carrizosa will be taking over temporarily as press secretary/digital director.
“Despite ban, U.S. cruise lines hired Cuban agencies to provide ‘tourism services’ to passengers” via Norma Gámez Torres of the Miami Herald — At the height of the enthusiasm sparked by President Barack Obama’s historic restoration of relations with Cuba, several cruise lines rushed to secure a piece of the island’s untapped market under newly eased regulations promoting “people-to-people” engagement. The cruise companies knew that traveling to Cuba for tourism was illegal. So, instead of sipping mojitos at Varadero beach, Americans going to Cuba were supposed to participate in humanitarian and social impact initiatives to help Cubans gain independence from the state, the cruise lines pledged.
— CRISIS —
“Donald Trump lawyer John Eastman turns over 8,000 emails to Jan. 6 committee and withholds 11,000” via Katelyn Polantz and Chandelis Duster of CNN — A conservative lawyer who worked with then-President Trump has turned over thousands of pages of emails to the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection but is withholding thousands of others. Eastman, a law professor who helped craft Trump’s false argument that the 2020 Election was stolen, has turned over nearly 8,000 pages of emails to the Committee while holding back about 11,000 pages because it is what he calls privileged material. The House challenged Eastman’s effort in court to withhold emails the Committee had subpoenaed. Eastman still has to sort through an additional 48,000 pages.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“A new version of the Mueller report reveals that Robert Mueller declined to charge Donald Trump Jr. and Roger Stone with computer crimes” via Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier of BuzzFeed News — The Department of Justice released a new version of the Mueller report Friday afternoon that reveals for the first time that former special counsel Mueller considered charging Trump Jr. with a misdemeanor “computer intrusion” crime for accessing an anti-Trump website using a password he obtained from WikiLeaks. The new version of the report on Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election also said that Mueller declined, citing insufficient evidence, to charge Stone with crimes related to the hacking of Democratic National Committee computers and email accounts.
“Accounting firm cuts ties with Trump and retracts financial statements” via Ben Protess and William K. Rashbaum of The New York Times — Trump’s longtime accounting firm abruptly cut ties with his family business last week amid ongoing criminal and civil investigations into whether Trump illegally inflated the value of his assets, court documents show. In a letter to the Trump Organization on Feb. 9, the accounting firm notified the company of its decision and disclosed that it could no longer stand behind the annual financial statements it prepared for Trump. Mazars USA compiled the financial statements based on information the former President and his company provided. The letter instructed the Trump Organization to essentially retract the documents, known as statements of financial condition, from 2011 to 2020.
“Confirmed: Trump’s big U.S.-China trade deal was a flop” via The Washington Post editorial board — “It just doesn’t get any better than this,” Trump proclaimed in Jan. 2020 as he signed a partial trade deal with China. Trump heralded the pact as “historic” and “momentous.” He touted his deal making abilities for getting China to commit to purchasing an extra $200 billion of U.S. products in the next two years. The purchases of U.S. exports that China did make in the past two years barely got back to the amount China purchased in 2017. U.S. exporters will never get back the sales they lost, and few have seen any meaningful growth in their sales to China under the “deal.”
—LOCAL NOTES —
“Aventura City Commissioner Jonathan Evans dies after lengthy illness” via Jesse Scheckner of POLITICO Florida — Commissioner Evans died overnight after a prolonged bout with an undisclosed illness, the city announced Monday. He was 72. “Our city mourns the loss of a wonderful human being, public servant, and friend,” Aventura Mayor Enid Weisman said in a statement. “Jonathan Evans brought intellect, wit, and care to his role as a Commissioner and brightened all our lives. We will all miss him dearly.” Evans, who was elected without opposition in 2020, fell ill in November and sank into a coma soon after. Fellow Aventura Commissioner Bob Shelley cited Evans’ illness as a reason for his dropping out of the city’s mayoral race. “After seeing what is happening with Jonathan, I want to live every day to its fullest,” he wrote in a withdrawal letter to the city.
“Students, supporters protest ‘don’t say gay’ bill outside Gaither High” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Aiming to call more local attention to the nationally followed legislation, now frequently referred to as the “don’t say gay” bill, Moses May organized a Monday morning rally along the busy stretch of N Dale Mabry Highway outside his school. He hoped three or four people might show up to wave signs and support LGBTQ rights. Close to three dozen students and allies turned out. They shared a desire to make sure their voices, and their stories, do not fall victim to lawmaker actions they said were “insane,” “harmful,” and worse.
“Despite post-pandemic complications, Miami’s iconic international boat show roars back” via Mike Vogel of Florida Trend — It’s not exactly a return to normal as this week’s Discover Boating Miami International Boat Show kicks off. True, a Miami boat show is back after a pandemic hiatus last year. It expects to draw 100,000. As Sharon Day, President of Catalina Yachts, says, “We’re happy to be back to the boat-show times.” But normal? Not so much. Demand from buyers who in the pandemic came to love boating is huge. Unfortunately, supply chain issues and labor shortages are keeping manufacturers from meeting that demand. Florida companies, such as Catalina and New Smyrna Beach-based Bajio Sunglasses, will be throughout the venues. Orlando-based Correct Craft is scheduled to reveal a “never been made before” Ingenity Super Air Nautique GS22E electric boat.
“Meet the 11 applicants (so far) for USF president” via Divya Kumar of the Tampa Bay Times — The University of South Florida has released the names and resumes of 11 applicants to be the school’s next president, a group with ambitious ideas and a diverse range of experience. They come from around the world, some from higher education and others from the private sector. But none of them are likely to be front-runners as the USF presidential search committee looks nationwide for a successor to former President Steve Currall. The university’s search consultant indicated as much earlier this month, telling committee members that he’s been in touch with 50 potential “targets” for the job, many of them upper-level university leaders.
— TOP OPINION —
“Democrats: Speak to working-class discontent” via Stanley B. Greenberg of The American Prospect — America is at a perilous moment when a Trump-led Republican Party is steaming ahead to knock down every guardrail protecting free elections. Today, the Democrats’ working-class problem isn’t limited to white workers. The party is also losing support from working-class Blacks and Hispanics, a daunting 12 points off their margin since 2016. Even before last November’s election, commentators and analysts were pointing to the erosion of Democrats’ working-class support. After studying working-class voters for nearly four decades, I believe the trajectory can be shifted or reversed. But there is no room for error. The voters who have defected to Republicans are still open to voting for Democrats.
— OPINIONS —
“Ron DeSantis isn’t bluffing about his map” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Many rejoiced last week when the Florida Supreme Court rebuffed DeSantis’ unprecedented ask for an advisory opinion regarding his proposed congressional redistricting map. DeSantis’ general counsel put forth a map that would eliminate the 5th Congressional District, which protects the interests of Black voters in North Florida. Those who thought the matter was closed after the Supreme Court’s decision learned differently on Friday when DeSantis said he would not sign off on a map with a district like the current CD 5. DeSantis, who has spent the last three years sending messages on issues like masks, simply can’t afford to lose face and back down on redistricting.
“Drew Johnson: A ranked choice voting ban leaves Florida taxpayers on the hook” via Florida Politics — Senate Bill 524 is a ban on ranked choice voting, an increasingly popular system that makes elections more efficient and encourages voters to be more engaged, potentially saving local governments millions of dollars every election cycle. RCV allows voters to choose their favorite candidate and then select a second and third choice. RCV serves as an instant runoff election, eliminating post-Election Day runoffs. This is a huge benefit since runoff elections are expensive, inconvenient, frequently generate very low voter turnout, and extend the already interminable election cycle by more than two months in some places. That’s particularly important in Florida, where runoff elections are for many local elected offices when no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote.
“Education discrimination is keeping Florida from its full potential” via Sen. Danny Burgess and Rep. Nick DiCeglie for the Orlando Sentinel — More and more job openings require a four-year college degree in order to be considered as an applicant and it’s a huge barrier to finding work for many Floridians. On the whole, degree inflation is rapidly changing the economic landscape for many middle-skill jobs. More than 6 million jobs may be affected by this kind of degree inflation, meaning millions of Americans will be seen as unqualified for a job they are fully qualified to do. To push back against degree inflation and widen the pathway to work, we have introduced SB 514, the Workforce Education Requirements Act, in the Florida Senate and CS/HB 317 in the Florida House. Our legislation will authorize state employment agencies to substitute relevant work experience for post-secondary education requirements.
“Florida’s teacher shortage problems go far beyond the seven fields designated as Critical Teacher Shortage Areas this week.” via Paul Cottle of Bridge to Tomorrow — This week, the Florida State Board of Education approved a list of seven teacher certification fields. The seven are familiar to teacher shortage aficionados. But the state’s teacher shortage problems go far beyond those seven areas. During the academic year used by FLDOE staff for this year’s critical teacher shortage area analysis (2019-20), not a single teacher of Spanish graduated from any of the state’s approved teacher preparation programs. The number of elementary education teachers who graduated from those programs was 674 fewer than the number of openings for elementary teachers estimated for this year. The only field where the teacher preparation programs graduated enough new teachers to meet the demand was music.
“Amina Dubuisson: Times change, so should nursing home staffing standards” via Florida Politics — Florida has always been a forerunner in quality, innovative long-term care. We have continued to make great strides, thanks to improvements in state and federal oversight and enhanced understanding and commitment by providers. Now, with Senate Bill 804 and House Bill 1239, we have another opportunity to be a model for the nation regarding staffing in our nursing homes. It’s important to understand that it does NOT reduce the number of hours that nursing home residents receive direct care. It will simply allow skilled professionals besides CNAs to be defined as direct-care staff — so trained individuals with clinical expertise can spend productive time with residents. This will result in a higher level of quality care and quality of life.
“Alimony legislation an attack on senior women in Florida” via Chris Stanley for Villages-News — The alimony legislation that is currently being considered in the Florida House and Senate is a blatant attack on women, especially our state’s senior women. Senate Bill 1796 and House Bill 1395 seek to place an age limit on alimony by preventing persons who have “reached retirement age” from paying alimony. This means a spouse can run out the clock, waiting until “retirement age,” and then seek a divorce free of obligation from any potential alimony payments. Equally shocking are provisions in the bills that allow a person who is currently paying alimony to terminate their obligation when they reach retirement age. I implore current alimony recipients who will be affected by this change, as well as women who could be affected in the future, to make their voices heard.
— TODAY’S SUNRISE —
On the anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Democrats point out that no meaningful gun safety laws have been passed. And, they say, it’s not for lack of trying.
Also on today’s Sunrise:
— With an affordable housing crisis in full bloom, Democrats are asking where the money for it is in the budget?
— The Florida Realtors Association wants to help Hometown Heroes buy homes.
— Opponents turning up the heat on the Surgeon General’s nomination.
— 24-hour alligator hunting. What could go wrong?
To listen, click on the image below:
— OLYMPICS —
“At Winter Olympics, virus fight waged with worker sacrifices” via The Associated Press — The Olympians jet in for just a few weeks with their skis, skates, sleds and other gear. Chinese workers who cook, clean, transport, care for them and otherwise make the Winter Games tick are sequestered inside the sanitary bubble for several months. As Olympians bank memories to cherish for a lifetime, their Chinese hosts put family life on ice. The sacrifice has been made larger by its timing: the Olympic run-up overlapped with the ushering in on Feb. 1 of the Lunar New Year, the biggest and most precious annual holiday in China. As their loved ones feted the advent of the Year of the Tiger, Olympic workers hooked up with them as best they could via video calls from inside the “closed loop.”
— ALOE —
“Florida gas prices dip slightly — but don’t get used to it” via Gene Saladna of WFTV — If there’s a silver lining to Florida’s high gas prices, perhaps it’s that they fell a penny last week. But AAA says don’t be fooled — strong upward pressure remains on prices at the pump. Last Wednesday, the average gasoline price landed at $3.47 per gallon. AAA said that set a new 2022 high and was the most expensive daily average since July 2014. On Sunday, the state average saw an improvement, albeit tiny, at $3.46 per gallon. “Pump prices moved slightly lower into the weekend, but don’t be surprised if they increase again in the near future,” said AAA’s Mark Jenkins.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Best wishes to Audrey Brown of the Florida Association of Health Plans, former Reps. Mark Danish and Bobby DuBose, and top staffer Tim Sadberry.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.