Good Wednesday morning.
With today’s launch of The Panhandle 100, Extensive Enterprises Media has launched its third political newsletter in less than nine months with The 100 Companies platform.
The Panhandle 100 is a weekly newsletter and website featuring 100-word stories on topics of intrigue to those in Pensacola, Panama City and a dozen counties in between.
The inaugural issue went to nearly 25,000 readers, and though the campaign is still in progress, readers are opening the issue, and thousands are clicking through to EEM’s flagship publication, Florida Politics.
The Panhandle 100 comes nine months after Extensive Enterprises Media took over management of The Tampa Bay 100, doubling its frequency to weekly and doubling its readership to 40,000. The South FL 100 launched in December, heading out to 95,000 readers.
EEM now manages four large markets in The 100 Companies’ most successful state, including the website only The St. Pete 100.
“As I said before, I loved this 100-word newsletter format the first time it landed in my inbox,” said Peter Schorsch, president and CEO of EEM. “Apparently, Florida readers are enjoying it as much as we are. We were so happy to bring The 100 to Florida’s Panhandle, which we observed was an underserved media market.
“The 100 Companies team is so great to work with. Their design, list management and production capabilities are first-rate and make it easy for our content creators to scale quickly.”
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis has hired Caleb Spencer to manage his 2022 re-election campaign.
“Caleb Spencer has been an incredible asset as a member of the team for my 2018 campaign and then as the External Affairs Director at DFS. I’m excited to have him back on the campaign trail with me, this time as my campaign manager, where I know he’ll continue to work hard and make sure we get a big win in November,” Patronis said Tuesday.
Spencer has worked with Patronis since the 2018 cycle, serving as Patronis’ travel aide and political director during his first successful bid for CFO.
He most recently worked as the external affairs director for the Florida Department of Financial Services, overseen by Patronis. In that role, Spencer led a team of regional managers, specializing in stakeholder development, constituent services and event coordination.
Notably, Spencer helped orchestrate the ‘Year of the US&R’ events around the state. The events were part of a push by Patronis to honor Florida’s urban search and rescue teams for their efforts following the collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside. The events also saw Patronis advocate for increased equipment and training funding for US&R teams.
Spencer is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where he earned a degree in political science. He is a native of Apopka and currently lives in Tallahassee.
Another day, another five names were revealed on Florida Politics’ ninth annual list of Tampa Bay’s 25 Most Powerful Politicians.
On Day One, Florida Politics unveiled No. 25 through No. 21 on the list and published a roundup of honorable mentions. On Tuesday, Florida Politics published No. 20 through No. 16. Here’s a rundown of the second set.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Kim Overman debuted at No. 20. She earned her spot after taking over as chair of the Commission and her ascension to leadership positions on numerous boards in the county, including the Affordable Housing Advisory Board, Transportation Management Area Leadership Group, and Commission on Human Trafficking.
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco ranked No. 19, climbing up six spots from last year’s list. The ranking reflects his popularity with Pasco County voters, who have thrice elected him since his appointment to the post in 2011.
Clearwater Rep. Chris Latvala moved four spots this year on the list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians, from No. 14 to No. 18, mostly because term limits prevent him from hanging on to his seat. Don’t be fooled, though — Latvala won’t be leaving the realm of Tampa Bay politics so soon, with a Pinellas County Commission bid already in motion.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp checks in at No. 17 in this year’s ranking. Though she is no longer chair, her work on public transportation and her role in redrawing the Commission’s districts show she still holds plenty of leverage on the Commission.
Coming in at No. 16 was St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes. Though the longtime Republican lawmaker is on his way out of the Senate, his penchant for voting by principle and standing up to directives from his party’s leadership keep him on the list despite term limits ushering him out of Tallahassee.
Stay tuned Wednesday when Florida Politics will drop the names of No. 15-11 on the list of Tampa Bay’s 25 Most Powerful Politicians.
She said ‘Yes!’ — Congrats to our friend Brittany Dover, the Legislative Affairs Director for Laurel Lee and daughter of our great friend Carol Dover, on her engagement to Eddie Bass.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@MarcoRubio: The @WaltDisneyCo filmed Mulan near #Uighur genocide camps & then thanked the people who run those camps in the credits. But they are outraged that Florida schools will not be indoctrinating 5-year-olds on “gender identity.”
—@GovRonDeSantis: The state of Florida is governed according to the interests of the people, not according to the political posturing of corporate executives in California. We will never allow corporate influence to repeal the substantive rights of parents in our state.
—@JimmyPatronis: I’m glad @GovRonDeSantis is moving his redistricting maps forward. That’s the right thing to do. The hysteria from liberals that this is part of a vast right-wing conspiracy is hilarious. This is the democratic process after all, and the Governor is protecting Florida law by fighting gerrymandering. He continues to be a great leader — and it’s to his credit that the Free State of Florida continues to be a place that takes the law seriously.
—@BryanDGriffin: Florida: record budget surplus, no income tax, consumer-minded tax breaks coming up. This isn’t an accident — it’s the mindset and practice of our conservative state officials and will give us a fighting chance to hedge against (Joe) Biden admin’s inflation.
—@JoeMobleyJax: What? I honestly can’t tell you whether any of my teachers were gay or straight. I mean, at a certain age, I might have been able to make a guess, but for some crazy reason, my teachers taught me the subject at hand.
—@CrowleyReport: Is your Florida homeowners insurance going up? Are you having trouble getting insurance? Don’t worry @ is fighting for you — not to have to wear a mask on a plane.
I accept! https://t.co/xLK06WNSvS
— Jared MASKowitz 😷 (@JaredEMoskowitz) March 29, 2022
—@RyanBenk: The insidious ridiculousness of Ca**horne’s comments aside, a lot of people saying things like “DC is too bland for this” or “not fun enough” have obviously never heard of Crew Club.
—@Ellen_E_Clark: Got a PR email asking if I’m doing any gift guides for 4/20 and think I’m done for the week.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Grammys rescheduled in Las Vegas — 5; John Dingfelder to be replaced on Tampa City Council 一 8; MLB Opening Day — 9; ‘Better Call Saul’ final season begins — 20; Magic Johnson’s Apple TV+ docuseries ‘They Call Me Magic’ begins — 24; 2022 Florida Chamber Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit — 30; ‘The Godfather’ T.V. series ‘The Offer’ premieres — 31; 2nd half of ‘Ozark’ final season begins — 31; federal student loan payments will resume — 33; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 38; Florida TaxWatch’s Spring Meeting — 43; ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ starts on Disney+ — 57; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 59; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 65; California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold midterm Primaries — 70; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 102; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 114; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 133; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 157; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 191; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 209; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 228; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 231; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 236; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 238; ‘Avatar 2′ premieres — 263; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 327; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 343; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ premieres — 360; 2023 Session Sine Die — 403; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 486; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 570; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 850.
DeSantis vetoed the Republican Legislature’s congressional redistricting map almost as soon as the bill hit his desk Tuesday.
The Florida Legislature has now scheduled a Special Session from April 19 to 22, with the Governor expected to issue the call today. DeSantis published a seven-page message with his veto of a controversial two-map redistricting bill.
The memo, drafted by the Governor’s General Counsel Ryan Newman, repeats many of the legal issues the Governor has made against the construction of a Black minority seat in North Florida.
“The Court has interpreted the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to prohibit state legislatures from using race as the ‘predominant factor motivating [their] decision to place a significant number of voters within or without a particular district’ unless they can prove that their race-based sorting of voters serves a ‘compelling interest’ and is ’narrowly tailored to that end,’” Newman wrote.
During the redistricting process, the Governor’s Office submitted maps drawn by Newman that the Legislature did not consider. The Governor’s last submission had 20 Donald Trump districts and eight Biden districts, compared to the 18-10 split in both maps approved by the Legislature.
“‘It’s about the 30-second ads’: Joe Biden budget offers a counter to GOP midterm attacks” via Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Annie Linskey and Marianna Sotomayor of The Washington Post — Biden released a budget proposal Monday that doubled as a midterm blueprint for deflecting Republican attacks portraying Democrats as a soft-on-crime, free-spending party ahead of the November elections. The plan calls for more than $30 billion to fight crime as Republicans are seizing on left-wing demands to “defund the police.” It aims to reduce the deficit by about $1 trillion over a decade, as Republicans seek to brand them as reckless spenders and blame them for rising prices. And it aims to bolster military investments and levy a new tax on the wealthiest Americans, ideas party strategists hope will appeal to centrist and working-class voters in battleground areas.
“‘Never been to Iowa’: Ron DeSantis downplays 2024 speculation” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis says he’s hearing talk about running in 2024, but as he has said before, his eyes are on re-election in November. DeSantis discussed the “buzz” around his presidential potential and discounted his role in creating that interest. “People have this merchandise with ’24. It’s not my merchandise,” DeSantis said. “It’s totally organic.” DeSantis noted that at least some of these superfans didn’t realize he had a re-election campaign to run, before disclaiming interest in running for President by saying he hadn’t been to early states in the selection process.
“DeSantis calls Biden ‘doddering, quasi-senile President’” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis says Florida is leading the free world, not Biden. Speaking during a segment on Fox News recorded Tuesday afternoon, the Governor challenged Biden’s fitness to lead and called him “out of control.” The COVID-19 pandemic and DeSantis’ response launched him into the national spotlight, fueling his rise as a 2024 Republican contender. When asked whether Democrats nationally should view him as a threat, DeSantis said Florida had succeeded (so far) in its fight against the Democratic President. Noting a lawsuit DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody announced Tuesday morning to challenge the federal mask mandate on airplanes, DeSantis said Florida had led the charge against overreach from Biden.
“DeSantis, Republicans talk like they’re divorcing big business. Are they?” via Emily L. Mahoney and Langston Taylor of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis could have been talking about a Democrat or the media. But his verbal offensive earlier this month was aimed instead at one of the most reliable and generous GOP donors in Florida: Disney. It’s now common for Republicans to criticize big business or call out individual companies, particularly ones that oppose laws passed by Republican-led legislatures, hold diversity training deemed “woke,” or removed Trump and allies from social media platforms. A review of thousands of campaign contributions shows they will heavily fund their 2022 campaigns.
“Former reporter Casey DeSantis blasts lying ‘legacy’ media in fundraising pitch” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — First Lady DeSantis was a familiar face on Jacksonville airwaves, with stints on two mainstream newscasts in the years before her husband ran for Governor. On Tuesday, the former member of the media attacked “legacy outlets” and the “perpetual lying and distortion” they purportedly promulgate. “It never ceases to amaze me just how corrupt our corporate media has become. The days of fact-finding and truth-telling are long gone. Instead, the media engages in blatant lies and deception to advance their partisan agenda,” the email from the Governor’s re-election campaign read. “Gov. DeSantis can hardly go a day without needing to correct the record on the false reporting from legacy outlets. They care more about engaging in liberal activism aimed at stopping our Governor than they do about the well-being of Floridians.”
“Alexis Calatayud announces campaign to succeed former boss Vance Aloupis in HD 115” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Mere hours after Florida Politics broke the news that incumbent Rep. Aloupis will not seek a third term representing House District 115, a potential successor has arisen, and she’s a former high-ranking staffer of his. Her name is Calatayud. She’s a 28-year-old Cuban American and a lifelong member of the GOP. She’s also the current director of policy and programs at the Florida Department of Education, meaning she carries expertise likely to resonate with voters who previously backed Aloupis for his support of early education initiatives. Before working in legislative affairs at the FLDOE, Calatayud ran both of Aloupis’ campaigns for HD 115 during the 2018 and 2020 election cycles. Between elections, Calatayud served as Aloupis’ legislative aide.
— STATEWIDE —
“DeSantis says state’s top cop had ‘long run’ but now is time for change” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — DeSantis brushed aside questions on the departure of the state’s top cop and whether he was dissatisfied with the job that Rick Swearingen was doing as Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). Swearingen last week announced he was retiring in September, but then Monday, abruptly changed his departure date to May 1. Swearingen, who had overseen FDLE for the past eight years, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, where his agency had several items go before the Governor and the Cabinet. “I think he’s faithfully served the state for decades, and we very much appreciate it,” DeSantis said when asked by reporters about his impending departure.
“Parental Rights in Education may look different in different parts of the state: DeSantis” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis told a national radio audience Tuesday that the controversial Parental Rights in Education bill may be enforced differently in various parts of the state. During an appearance on the Guy Benson Show, DeSantis asserted that the application of the law would stem from a “combination between the state Board of Education and local school boards.” Meanwhile, “you may see some parts of the state could come to a little bit different conclusions depending on the years on some of that stuff,” DeSantis told Benson. The Governor did not speculate on what “some of that stuff” might be.
Grim new developments reveal more trouble in Florida home insurance market” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida’s home insurance availability crisis continues to claim new victims, and worries are mounting that more companies could be declared insolvent as this year’s hurricane season draws near. The industry’s financial storm clouds have prompted fears of collapsing companies and the massive growth of state-owned Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the insurer of last resort. Last week, the president and CEO of Demotech, which rates the financial stability of about 50 Florida-based insurers, sent a letter to the Governor and leaders of the House and Senate imploring them to call a Special Session and enact reforms to stem financial losses and litigation. Without reforms, he said, Demotech will likely downgrade financial stability ratings of “a number” of insurers.
“VISIT FLORIDA to raise membership rates” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Dues for companies to be members with VISIT FLORIDA, the public-private tourism marketing organization, will increase later this year. That’s according to an announcement from executives with the group made during a Tuesday committee meeting. The size of the hike will depend on the type and size of the business, but most will increase by at least 20%. VISIT FLORIDA CEO Dana Young noted the organization’s membership fees hadn’t changed in 15 years, and some board members said now was the time to change the fee structure as inflation hits and the tourism industry is raising its prices anyway.
— DATELINE TALLY —
“DeSantis backs Special Session for property insurance — but likely not until after election” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — DeSantis said Tuesday that legislation to address property insurance rate increases will come before the end of the year, but it will likely have to wait until after the November elections, when a new House Speaker will take over. DeSantis spoke to reporters to announce he’s calling back lawmakers for a Special Session to pass new congressional redistricting maps after he vetoed their first attempt Tuesday. The Session will be on April 19-22, but no other issues are included in the call so far. DeSantis said he’d be open to Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson adding other matters, including property insurance reforms.
“DeSantis asks Legislature for clarity before divesting from Russian assets” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Florida’s hands are tied in divesting from Russia, the state’s top investment official told the Cabinet on Tuesday, but the Legislature could change that. Democrats, including Nikki Fried, have all called on the state to cease business with Russia over the country’s invasion of Ukraine. However, DeSantis and State Board of Administration (SBA) Interim Executive Director Lamar Taylor say Florida can’t yet legally pull its Russian investments. If Russia opens its market again, managers might withdraw assets depending on the economic situation. However, Taylor emphasized that the SBA is obligated to make financially sound decisions.
Four more bills hit Gov. DeSantis’ desk — The Governor received four bills from the Legislature on Tuesday. One was the Legislature’s congressional redistricting plan, which was swiftly met with a veto. DeSantis also received a bill (SB 236) that would raise from 5 to 9 the age through which a child in public schools can be categorized as “developmentally delayed”; a bill (SB 934) that would keep homeless individuals’ information out of the public record if those individuals seek help at a homeless shelter; and a bill (SB 1552) that would remove the Oct. 1, 2022, sunset date for the Florida Prepaid College Board’s direct-support organization. The Governor has until April 13 to act on the bills.
Happening today — Fried will hold an event celebrating Women’s History Month with proclamations to multiple outstanding women, 12:15 p.m., Cabinet Room. RSVP to [email protected]; livestreamed at Facebook.com/FDACS.
“‘Not focusing enough on my family’: Aloupis announces departure from Legislature” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Citing a desire to spend more time with his family, particularly his three young daughters, Aloupis will not seek a third term in the Florida House. In a lengthy statement confirming the decision Tuesday, Aloupis said he has “perpetually struggled” with spending time away from home. He said recent talks with his children, including one in which his 10-year-old pleaded with him, “Dad … please don’t run again,” convinced him it was time to walk away from the Legislature. Aloupis is the CEO of The Children’s Movement of Florida, a Miami-headquartered nonprofit dedicated to advocating for improved early learning opportunities.
“Chuck Clemons talks higher education in Association of Florida Colleges town hall” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics — Rep. Clemons discussed Florida’s increased higher education budget and several bills he championed this Session to improve trade education during a virtual legislative town hall with the Association of Florida Colleges (AFC) Tuesday. The AFC is a professional association that includes employees and retirees from the 28 public member institutions of the Florida College System. Clemons began his remarks by saying he understands the importance of community colleges because of his experience as a first-generation college graduate who attended a community college for part of his college career. He said the 2022 Legislative Session was fabulous for higher education, in part because of the $112.1 billion budget allocation for the higher education system. The allocation is 10% higher than last year and the largest allocation in the state’s history.
Happening today — The Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund Advisory Council meets, 1:30 p.m., The Hermitage Centre, 1801 Hermitage Blvd., Tallahassee. Call-in number: 1-888-585-9008. Meeting code: 973664296.
“Joe Harding returns Disney campaign contributions” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Rep. Harding announced Tuesday that his campaign has returned all political contributions from Disney and its affiliates in response to the entertainment giant’s public stance on HB 1557, legislation sponsored by Harding that has garnered national attention and has been dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics. Since January 2021, Disney has donated $3,000 to the first-term lawmaker in $1,000 increments — the max an entity or individual can contribute.
State university leaders endorse accreditation bill — Members of the state university system’s Board of Governors spoke in support of a bill passed this Session requiring institutions to seek accreditation from a separate accreditation board each term. BOG members have been critical of the current accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, for what they believe is undue interference, most notably when the association intervened in Florida State University’s presidential search. “There isn’t a single force, person, institution, agency — or anyone — who can get between this body and the institutions we’re responsible for governing,” said Alan Levine, who chairs the BOG’s strategic planning committee.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Biden signs bill making lynching a federal hate crime” via Amy B Wang and Felicia Sonmez of The Washington Post — Biden on Tuesday signed into law the Emmett Till Antilynching Act to make lynching a federal hate crime, in a historic first that comes after more than a century of failed efforts against racial violence. “Hundreds, hundreds of similar bills have failed to pass over the years,” Biden said at a ceremony in the Rose Garden after he signed the bill at the White House. “Several federal hate crime laws were enacted … But no federal law expressly prohibited lynching. None until today.” The new law amends the U.S. Code to designate lynching a hate crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
“COVID-19 funding inaction threatens fragile progress on racial, economic disparities” via Megan Messerly and Alice Miranda Ollstein of POLITICO — Racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths are likely to worsen if Congress does not soon approve billions in new pandemic funding. Public health experts, lawmakers, and health officials say the White House’s decision to scale back or suspend programs that provide free testing, treatments and vaccinations will disproportionately affect the tens of millions of uninsured Americans, most of whom are people of color. The congressional stalemate threatens to upend the fragile progress made since the early days of the pandemic when the federal government’s decision to make COVID-19 interventions available to everyone free of charge temporarily helped level the playing field.
“Jan. 6 panel missing roughly eight hours of Trump’s phone calls” via The Associated Press — The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol has identified a roughly eight-hour gap in official records of Trump’s phone calls as the violence unfolded and his supporters stormed the building, according to a person familiar with the probe. The gap extends from a little after 11 a.m. to about 7 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021, and involves White House calls. It’s unclear if that gap includes White House cellphones. It’s widely known that Trump had conversations on Jan. 6 with Republican lawmakers. House investigators are looking at whether the President was communicating during that time through other means, possibly through personal cellphones or some other type of communication — like a phone passed to him by an aide or a burner phone.
“Impeach Clarence Thomas? House Dems can go there, but most won’t.” via Kyle Cheney, Sarah Ferris and Nicholas Wu of POLITICO — House Democrats are outraged that Supreme Court Justice Thomas’ wife pressed top White House officials to overturn the 2020 election. Yet they’re not ready to talk about the most tangible step they can take: impeachment. Several insisted Thomas should resign or recuse himself from anything to do with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and other litigation that may reach the high court in the coming months. Instead, Democrats said they want more details about exactly what happened before settling on a potential punishment or remedy.
— LOCAL NOTES: N. FL —
“Nassau County comes out clean in audit” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — The controversy over the Nassau County attorney gave way to the nuts and bolts of county governance this week as the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners received a presentation on its latest audit. “It looks real good, by the way,” Clerk of Court John Crawford said. It indeed appeared good news for Commissioners who may have needed some, given the last couple of weeks. “The results were very positive,” said Ryan Tucker of the Purvis Gray firm’s Tallahassee office. “Ron (Whitesides) handles the Board of County Commissioners audit, and then my team, his team’s out of Gainesville, my team handles the constitutional officers. Tucker went over the county’s compliance with specific state laws on financial behavior, which he said the county appeared to handle without issues.
“Leon County lawsuit, LGBTQ guide spurred crackdown on speech in classroom, legislators say” via Ana Goñi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat — Legislation that became a national flashpoint over how to handle LGBTQ identity in schools had its beginning, in part, in a lawsuit filed by parents of a Tallahassee teen. The mother of a former Leon County Schools student also was a featured speaker at Monday’s bill signing. DeSantis approved the measure that now restricts instruction about gender identity and sexuality in elementary school. The woman, a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the school district, said from behind the lectern at a Pasco County charter school that Leon County Schools excluded her and her husband from a conversation about their child’s gender identity.
“Tallahassee attorney disbarred for scamming NFL player, Supreme Court affirms” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics — Florida’s highest court affirmed the decision of a disciplinary referee Thursday to disbar a Tallahassee attorney accused of participating in a scheme that defrauded former NFL players connected to the 2016 concussion settlement agreement. The state Supreme Court upheld the finding that Phillip Timothy Howard will lose his license to practice law for five years and have to pay $265,000 for restitution within six months to the estate of his client, Jason Hall, and $15,449.70 to the Florida Bar for attorney fees. The referee found in June that Howard took $200,000 in settlement proceeds from Hall as part of a loan he never paid back, and fraudulently claimed a lien reduction fee of more than $56,000.
“The parade is back: Springtime Tallahassee is in full bloom downtown this weekend” via Martha Gruender of the Tallahassee Democrat — After last year’s pandemic-modified festival at the fairgrounds, it’s nice to have Springtime Tallahassee celebrating back under the live oaks in downtown Tallahassee for 2022. The event goes on rain or shine. In the case of extreme weather, updates will be posted at springtimetallahassee.com and on the Springtime Facebook page.
“Likely targeting ships at Naval Station Mayport, Navy budget aims to decommission 9 LCS” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — U.S. Navy administrators want to decommission nine littoral combat ships next year, apparently targeting the Freedom-variant ships based at Naval Station Mayport. The budget request, $180.5 billion for the Navy, another $50.3 billion for the Marine Corps, includes recommendations to retire 24 ships in total, 16 before the scheduled end of the vessels’ service lives. Congress would have to grant waivers to retire the ships early, but a Navy budget executive said the decision particularly makes sense regarding LCS.
“Judge orders Chris Dorworth company to pay Seminole nearly $537K in River Cross suit costs” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — A federal judge today ordered that Dorworth’s River Cross Land Co. must pay Seminole nearly $537,000 the county spent in public money defending itself against a federal lawsuit filed by Dorworth that she dismissed last year. “Once again, the courts have found that the people of Seminole County have the right to decide to preserve and protect the rural boundary and to protect themselves from frivolous lawsuits,” Commissioner Lee Constantine said.
“UF’s Tyree Appleby seeks transfer; named possible witness in Keyontae Johnson sex assault case” via Fresh Take Florida — Appleby, the starting guard in the University of Florida’s men’s basketball lineup, is reportedly entering the transfer portal to play his final season at another school, as police identified him as involved as a witness in their sexual assault investigation against Appleby’s famous roommate and teammate, Johnson. Appleby was among five people listed by name as involved in the case on a Gainesville police incident report made available this week. Witnesses placed Appleby at an invitation-only pool party on Feb. 26 at the apartment complex, where a 19-year-old former UF student has accused Johnson of sexually assaulting her in the apartment Johnson shares with Appleby.
“Tampa City Council colleagues call on Orlando Gudes to resign following sexual harassment investigation” via Daniel Figueroa IV of Florida Politics — Tampa City Council Chair Gudes faced sharp rebukes from his Council colleagues Tuesday following reports of “credible” and “corroborated” sexual harassment allegations. City Council members were quiet Monday. But on Tuesday, calls for Gudes’ resignation came from across the dais. “I have read the full report on Chairman Gudes and sexual harassment. No person who behaves (toward) women as is detailed in this report, should hold public office, much less chair City Council. The statements detailed here are deplorable,” Council member Luis Viera said. Council member Joe Citro echoed Viera’s sentiments. He also called on Gudes to step down and commended his former aide for coming forward.
“Here’s how much Georgia owes UCF for hiring coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson” via Jason Beede of the Orlando Sentinel — Former UCF women’s basketball coach Abrahamson-Henderson will be formally introduced Tuesday afternoon at the University of Georgia. The total buyout that Georgia will pay UCF is approximately $1,437,500 — or 50% of the total compensation due to Abrahamson-Henderson for the remaining amount of time on her contract, according to documents obtained by the Orlando Sentinel. When the Knights initially hired Abrahamson-Henderson in April 2016, she signed a five-year contract that included an annual base salary of $275,000, documents show. By the time Abrahamson-Henderson signed her last contract extension before this season, she had more than doubled her original yearly salary. In her six years at UCF, Abrahamson-Henderson transformed the women’s basketball program, reaching the NCAA tournament in three of the last four seasons.
“New Titusville hotel targets space fans by offering clear launch views” via Trevor Fraser of the Orlando Sentinel — Located directly across the Indian River from Kennedy Space Center, The Marriott Courtyard Titusville at 6245 Riverfront Center Blvd. is positioning itself as both a top lodging destination for space fans from out of town and a gathering spot for Central Floridians to watch liftoffs. “There are many differences between a typical Marriott Courtyard and the Courtyard Titusville,” said general manager Wayne Soard. “We think it’ll be pretty unique.” The lure of the location is visible right through the front doors. The whole east side of the hotel looks out onto the river through a bank lined with old-growth Florida vegetation. From the pool, with its hot tub and bar, to the window-facing treadmills in the fitness center, every accessible space was designed to maximize the view.
“Disney: Hoop-Dee-Doo returns in June” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue is coming back after a two-year absence, Walt Disney World announced Tuesday. According to a post on the official Disney Parks Blog, the frontier-style dinner show’s first meals will be June 23 at Pioneer Hall at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, where it debuted in 1974. Disney will start taking reservations via disneyworld.com May 26. Hoop-Dee-Doo went dark with the rest of Walt Disney World in mid-March 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The resort has used a phased reintroduction of its entertainment lineup. Other announced productions expected this year include “Fantasmic,” the nighttime spectacular at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and a new “Finding Nemo” show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
“Two new high-paid administrators are approved to join Broward schools” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Vickie Cartwright is making one of her first big moves as Broward’s new school superintendent, appointing two seasoned administrators to fill two new top-level positions. Cartwright is naming Carmen Balgobin, 50, as the deputy superintendent for teaching and learning, and Judith Marte, 63, as deputy superintendent for operations. The School Board unanimously approved the two hires on Tuesday. Both worked with Cartwright before. Balgobin and Cartwright both had long tenures as administrators in Orange County Schools in Central Florida. Cartwright was associate superintendent while Balgobin was a principal and an executive area director assisting low-performing schools. Balgobin left Orange in 2018 for an administrative job in Osceola County.
“No curfew in South Beach for last Spring Break weekend, parking restrictions remain” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — South Beach City Manager Alina Hudak said Tuesday she will not extend the Spring Break state of emergency that was imposed on March 23 following two shootings that injured five people on Ocean Drive as throngs of young tourists visited the South Beach entertainment district. From Thursday evening through the weekend, Hudak had imposed a daily midnight curfew for a large swath of the city south of Dade Boulevard. The city’s imposition of a 6 p.m. cutoff on alcohol sales at liquor stores in the area won’t be repeated this weekend. Spring Break will officially end on April 3, according to the city of Miami Beach. Police will continue to have an increased presence in South Beach through the weekend. Traffic and parking restrictions will also stay in place.
“Ecuadorian arrested in Miami on money-laundering charges tied to Odebrecht bribes” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — A former senior Ecuadorian official convicted in his home country of extorting millions from Brazilian engineering firm Odebrecht S.A. was arrested in Miami on Monday in a related federal money-laundering case. Carlos Polit Faggioni, who lives in a high-rise condo along the Miami River, was Ecuador’s longtime comptroller. Polit’s position required him to sign off on public budgets that authorities say enabled him to demand $8 million in bribery payments from Odebrecht, the giant firm at the center of public corruption scandals extending from South America to the United States. Polit, 72, was charged in a money-laundering conspiracy indictment during Tuesday’s first appearance in Miami federal court.
‘I felt like an animal’: Deaf woman wins suit against hospital for refusing to provide interpreter” via Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post — When Rose Adams was released from Cleveland Clinic after spending days pleading in vain for an interpreter, she vowed that no other deaf person would experience the agony of not knowing what doctors and nurses were doing to them. “I felt below human. I felt like an animal,” Adams, born deaf, said of the experience. “I didn’t want that to happen to any more deaf people, any more deaf patients.” This month, two years after Adams sued the hospital giant for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, the 60-year-old Seminole Ridge High School sign language teacher finally achieved her goal — and then some.
— TOP OPINION —
“When will Florida lead on climate change?” via Dawn Shirreffs for Florida Politics — While all of us feel the squeeze on our electric bills and at the pump as fossil fuel costs rise, lawmakers passed a $112 billion budget, the largest in state history. So how did Florida’s families and businesses who are concerned about damage from climate impacts from the Florida Legislature fare over the 60-day Legislative Session? It’s a mixed bag of results. Florida lawmakers strengthened the statewide Office of Resilience to ensure the new office was empowered to coordinate flood resilience and mitigation efforts across the state. Unfortunately, instead of embracing the sunshine, the Legislature passed anti-solar “net metering” legislation that creates new barriers for homeowners and businesses who seek to invest in solar and claim their energy independence.
— OPINIONS —
“DeSantis: Say ‘no’ to harmful SB 1382” via Bill Herrle of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida’s small businesses do a great service to the state. They create jobs, provide the goods and services people need, and collect and send sales taxes to the state. Remitting sales tax revenue can be trickier than it sounds, which is one of the reasons why, if the state audits a small business, there’s a good chance it’s over sales tax payments. Under a bill awaiting action by DeSantis, state tax audits for small businesses will get a lot worse. Penalties would increase, and the ability of small-business owners to defend themselves would be hamstrung. Small-business owners would be stopped from presenting additional evidence found after the initial audit to prove that the state’s tax estimate is incorrect.
“Counties, municipalities can band together to minimize rising energy costs” via Daniel Badran for Florida Politics — Florida legislators recently passed HB 741, which sets a timeline to end net metering in Florida. It would be a major blow to the state’s rooftop solar industry. Net metering, according to Florida Power and Light, is when “customers who connect approved, renewable generation systems such as solar panels to the electric grid” can “buy and sell electricity to FPL.” In other words, it’s a way for residents to lower their monthly electric bills. HB 741 reduces the credit from 75 to 60% for applications approved from Jan. 1, 2026, to Dec. 31, 2026. For applicants approved from Jan. 1, 2027, to Dec. 31, 2028, the credit amount on their bills drops an additional 10 points, down to 50%.
“Pay legislators more? What a gross idea. Let’s do it.” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Today, I would like to bring back one of the least popular ideas I’ve ever proposed: giving Florida legislators a raise. Believe me, I know how that idea sounds. I threw up in my mouth a little bit just saying it. The current salary for Florida legislators is so low, at $29,697, that few regular people can afford to quit their jobs and serve. As a result, the Legislature is full of independently wealthy people who are woefully disconnected from most people’s real-life issues. A report from 2019 found that the net worth of the average state Senator in Florida was $5.9 million.
— ALOE —
“‘Top Gun: Maverick’ trailer ties Val Kilmer’s ‘Iceman’ into new story” via Ryan Parke of The Hollywood Reporter — The new trailer for the much-anticipated Top Gun: Maverick dropped Tuesday, and beyond all the thrilling action, the preview shows how Kilmer’s “Iceman” will fit into the new story. Tom Cruise is back as the ultra-gifted but super cocky Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, who is asked to train a new team at Top Gun at the behest of Kilmer’s Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, now a Navy admiral. Kilmer has a cameo in the film, but in the trailer, only a picture of Admiral Kazansky is shown as Vice Admiral Cyclone (Jon Hamm) tells Maverick he would rather the showboat pilot not be a part of the team and its training.
To watch the new trailer, click on the image below:
“‘A gift to the city.’ This $4B development is creating an outdoor museum in Miami” via Amanda Rosa of the Miami Herald — At first glance, Miami Worldcenter, a sprawling multi-use complex in the heart of downtown, seems like South Florida’s premier spot to spend, spend, spend. Worldcenter has been unveiling one attraction after another: an open-air “high street retail” center, a 60-story luxury condo that changes colors and an infinity sky pool overlooking the city. Its latest addition, though, is completely free. Miami Worldcenter is announcing a $5 million public art program to display museum-quality works at the complex to attract art-loving locals and tourists. The program, which cements Worldcenter’s place in Miami’s growing and profitable arts scene, has already completed its first public artwork: a massive mural inspired by nearby Overtown by artist Nina Chanel Abney.
“Chris Rock to perform in South Florida following Oscars slap” via Amanda Batchelor of WPLG Local 10 News — Rock has yet to respond to Sunday’s now-infamous incident in which Will Smith slapped him onstage at the Oscars for making a joke about his wife’s hair loss, but he may address it live for those who buy tickets to his upcoming show in South Florida. Rock is making a stop on his Ego Death World Tour 2022 at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood. He will perform his stand-up act on Thursday, April 14 and Friday, April 15. Tickets range from $78.25 to $208.25, and can be purchased by clicking here. Smith issued an apology to Rock on Monday, a day after the incident.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday to former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, Democratic activist Susan McGrath, Tony Perfetti, and Trent Phillips.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.