Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 4.1.22

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Wake up right: Get your scoops and other news about Florida politics.

Good Friday morning.

Most Florida voters believe the state is headed in the right direction, but the country is on the wrong track, according to new polling from the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber didn’t provide statewide numbers on whether the state is on the right track but said that was the prevailing sentiment in eight of 10 media markets — the dissenters were Miami-Fort Lauderdale (40%-45%) and Tampa-St. Pete (45%:49%).

The positive outlook stemmed from a majority of voters (57%) believing that the next generation of Floridians will have better opportunities here than in other states. Meanwhile, more than six in 10 voters negatively viewed the nation’s trajectory.

In his re-election bid so far, Ron DeSantis has a leg up over all three major Democratic challengers.

“With Florida established as the 15th largest global economy, we have the momentum to continue building the brand of Florida throughout the world,” said Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson. “We’ve seen over the past few months just how important it is to ensure the right things happen to keep Florida, Florida and moving in the right direction.”

The poll, conducted by Cherry Communications, also showed Gov. Ron DeSantis with a leg up in his re-election bid. If the election were today, he’d beat U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist by 11%, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried by 10%, and Sen. Annette Taddeo by 15%.

DeSantis’ strong showing was attributable primarily to his popularity among no-party voters, who lean toward him by double digits.

Given voter registration trends, an advantage among NPAs is only becoming more important — Chamber data shows the no-party voters’ share of the overall electorate has increased in every county except Gilchrist.

The poll was conducted March 18-28 with a sample size of 603 likely voters, including 237 Democrats, 243 Republicans and 120 no- and other-party voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.

Florida Chamber Safety Conference: Mike Rowe advocates for ‘safety third’ philosophy” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Florida Chamber Safety Council wants the Sunshine State to lead the nation in workplace safety. That requires buy-in from businesses in the form of up-to-date training, proper equipment, checklists and more. But even rigorous safety drills and the best gear will do little if employees don’t take their own safety seriously. That’s according to Rowe, the host of the long-running Discovery Channel show “Dirty Jobs.” Across more than 170 episodes, Rowe has shadowed workers who perform some of the most dangerous and, of course, dirty jobs in the world — he’s been to coal mines, climbed to the top of 1,000-foot towers and tagged along on a crab boat.

—“Chamber Safety Council — keeping Florida’s $1T economy strong, dynamic” via David Acosta for Florida Politics

___

Chris Clark is taking over as Chief Executive Officer of the Florida Medical Association, effective Friday.

Clark has worked for FMA since 2014, most recently serving as the senior vice president of public affairs for the nearly 150-year-old association, which represents physicians statewide.

“Thank you to the FMA Board for the honor of naming me to serve as Chief Executive Officer,” said Clark. “Leading the association’s more than 25,000 members through these unprecedented times, providing support to our physicians and their patients, and collaborating with other health care practitioners and medical support staff has allowed our state to protect Florida’s more than 21 million residents through quality and affordable health care.”

Chris Clark moves up to take charge of FMA.

Before joining FMA, Clark worked as Chief of Staff to Senate President Don Gaetz, as the governmental affairs director for the Florida Department of Corrections, and as legislative affairs director for The Florida Lottery, among other positions.

His political experience also includes serving as a special assistant to then-candidate Jeb Bush in 1997 and as a personal assistant to Bush during his time as Governor. In 2018, Clark took a brief leave from the FMA to serve as Director of Recruiting for Governor-elect Ron DeSantis’ Transition Team and then returned to the FMA.

“Chris Clark has proven time and again to be an integral part of the Florida Medical Association’s success through the development and implementation of our legislative, policy, and political agenda since he joined the FMA in 2014,” said Dr. Douglas R. Murphy Jr., the president of FMA.

Jared Ross is the next president of the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, the organization announced Friday.

Ross previously served as FBWA’s vice president and brings over 15 years of experience leading associations to the top-level role. His promotion was approved unanimously by the FBWA board.

“Jared has a history of strong leadership and a solid vision for the future of the FBWA — approving his promotion to President was a no-brainer for us,” said Board Chair Ken Daley. “We’re looking forward to the future and stand in full support of Jared as we enter into a new era for the FBWA.”

Jared Ross’ promotion was a ‘no-brainer.’

Ross was elevated to the position following the death of Mitch Rubin. During his two decades leading FBWA, Rubin cultivated a reputation as an honest broker and fierce advocate who was unflinchingly kind, according to those who knew him.

“I am honored to be the next President of the FBWA. While no one can ever fill Mitch’s shoes, I am thankful for the Board’s confidence in me to be his successor. I will work every day to make our members proud,” Ross said.

Alongside the personnel announcement, FBWA released details of a scholarship fund created in honor of Rubin.

The new Mitchell J. Rubin Scholarship in Law was established with the Florida State University College of Law, Rubin’s alma mater, and seeded with a $200,000 contribution from FBWA.

The organization said the fund “will provide scholarship support in perpetuity as a lasting tribute to Mitch’s exemplary career.”

___

Chase Tramont crosses $130K mark, Governor’s Club fundraiser set for April Republican candidate Tramont has now added more than $130,000 to his bid for the House District 30 seat. And that’s before a planned Governor’s Club fundraiser in mid-April featuring several GOP heavy hitters.

Tramont added another $60,000 in March after pulling in $30,000 in February. He’s competing in the newly drawn HD 30, an open seat, against Republicans Richard Furman and Robyn Hattaway. Furman announced his candidacy on Thursday, while Hattaway has collected just over $41,000 in February after opening her campaign account last August.

“The support from all corners of our community and state has been truly overwhelming,” Tramont said in a written statement. “It’s clear many people share my vision for a Free Florida, a place we must continue to make affordable, safe, and welcoming through conservative policy that reflects the wishes of millions of Floridians. To reach such significant financial milestones as we have in this campaign as we focus on the August Primary says so much about the team we have assembled and the organized work we are doing each day.”

The money is expected to continue flowing in for Tramont. He’s advertising an April 18 fundraiser at the Governor’s Club and promising appearances from Reps. Sam Garrison, Tom Leek and Daniel Perez. Both Garrison and Perez are on track to hold the House Speaker role in the future, while Leek led the powerful House Redistricting Committee this past Session.

That’s a strong sign that Tramont, an ordained minister and educator, could be the party’s candidate of choice among the Republican field in this open contest.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

@BrowardPolitics: Palm Beach County Sheriff @RicBradshaw, five-term Democrat, offers effusive praise for Republican @GovRonDeSantis at event about state bonus $ for first responders. “Great Governor. That’s why the sheriffs support him. And we’re going to keep on supporting him.”

@MLafferty1: What could be more Ron DeSantis than Ron DeSantis demanding to repeal an exemption he personally sought in a bill that’s been found by a court to violate the First Amendment?

@VoteRandyFine: Disney is losing their sh&t because we supposedly passed “Don’t Say Gay” (we didn’t), but told their employees they can’t say “boy, girl, ladies, or gentlemen.” This is insanity. Wokeism is evil, and we will destroy it in FLA. Why? #BecauseWeCan #WeAreJustGettingStarted

@JBarro: Yeah, I think the silver lining about the gross “groomer” messaging is that it’s a tactical mistake — it’s ridiculous on its face, and parents skeptical about new pedagogy and new social trends don’t think teachers are trying to fuck their children

@SkylerSwisher: Here’s an interesting historical fact. Disney has the authority in Florida law to go nuclear. State lawmakers tried to revoke that ability in 2019, but the effort failed. Disney has never seriously considered building

@ChristinaPushaw: Media elites are extremely thin-skinned. They can dish out all kinds of false narratives & partisan rhetoric, but cannot handle any pushback. Journalists: If you want to play politics, be prepared to be treated like a politician. You are the regime in DC & opposition party in FL

@LeAnnaCumber: @kilmeade is right. We are a decade behind where we should be. As your next Mayor, I will right the course, make smart investments, and ensure gas tax dollars aren’t raised to fund boondoggles. Jax can be the best city in the South!

@JHWeissman: Staring at Twitter today, I’m reminded that there’s just an incredible amount of money to be made in this country by being a complete lunatic.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Grammys rescheduled in Las Vegas — 2; John Dingfelder to be replaced on Tampa City Council 6; MLB Opening Day — 7; ‘Better Call Saul’ final season begins — 18; Magic Johnson’s Apple TV+ docuseries ‘They Call Me Magic’ begins — 22; 2022 Florida Chamber Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit — 28; ‘The Godfather’ T.V. series ‘The Offer’ premieres — 29; 2nd half of ‘Ozark’ final season begins — 29; federal student loan payments will resume — 31; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 36; Florida TaxWatch’s Spring Meeting — 41; ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ starts on Disney+ — 55; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 57; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 63; California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold midterm Primaries — 68; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 100; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 112; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 131; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 142; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 155; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 189; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 207; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 207; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 226; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 229; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 234; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 236; ‘Avatar 2′ premieres — 261; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 325; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 341; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ premieres — 358; 2023 Session Sine Die — 401; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 484; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 568; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 848.


— TOP STORY —

Federal judge says parts of 2021 Florida voting law are unconstitutional” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — A federal judge ruled that multiple parts of a voting law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis last year are unconstitutional, striking down provisions that limit the use of ballot drop boxes and impose requirements on third-party voter registration groups.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker on Thursday ordered the state not to enforce parts of Senate Bill 90, passed by Republican lawmakers last year, including:

  • A provision that limited the use of ballot drop boxes to early voting hours, unless they’re in a supervisor’s office, and required the boxes to be staffed at all times.

  • A requirement that third-party groups issue a warning when trying to register voters, including telling voters that their registration application might not be turned in before the voter registration deadline or within the required 14 days.

In a 288-page ruling, Walker wrote that the defendants in the lawsuit, including Secretary of State Laurel Lee and Attorney General Ashley Moody, argued during a two-week bench trial that the law “makes minor prophylactic changes to the election code.”

via Associated Press
Ron DeSantis gets a legal smackdown over Florida’s 2021 voting reform bill. Image via AP.

The plaintiffs, including the League of Women Voters of Florida and the NAACP, argued that the bill “runs roughshod over the right to vote, unnecessarily making voting harder for all eligible Floridians, unduly burdening disabled voters, and intentionally targeting minority voters — all to improve the electoral prospects of the party in power,” Walker wrote.

“Having reviewed all the evidence, this Court finds that, for the most part, Plaintiffs are right,” Walker wrote.

Walker, appointed to the bench in Tallahassee by former President Barack Obama, has ruled against Republican lawmakers on numerous issues over the years.

Reax:

House Speaker Chris Sprowls: “The illogical leaps and unsupported inferences in Judge Walker’s opinion amount to a 288-page accusation of discriminatory intent based on limited analysis of data he thinks the Legislature might have had, the uncritical and complete acceptance of the comments of Democratic lawmakers, and a total disregard for other viewpoints. His alleged pattern of discrimination over time amounts to a conspiracy theory that overlooks the reality of term limits, and his insertion of Federal preclearance over Florida’s election laws is an egregious abuse of his power. Judge Walker’s premise — that the Legislature and Governor may only amend election laws if they are requested by Supervisors of Election or supported by the Democratic Party — demonstrate that this opinion was a predetermined outcome in search of an overlong and poorly reasoned rationale.”

Senate President Wilton Simpson: “Judge Walker’s comments about duly elected Florida Senators are appalling. This order is highly unprofessional, inaccurate, and unbecoming of an officer of the court. The Florida Senate looks forward to continuing to advocate for fair, free, transparent, and secure elections for all.”

Sen. Lauren Book: “Today, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker defended the integrity of Florida’s election process and found discriminatory measures of SB 90 unconstitutional. The Governor and Republican legislators who supported the bill want us to believe that there is a problem with Florida’s elections, seeking to sow seeds of doubt regarding our democratic process. In a letter from each of the state’s 67 election supervisors, they called out the dangerous harm caused by fabricating a problem to spread fear: ‘public trust in our elections is being systematically undermined … the integrity of our democracy has been challenged by misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation that sows discord and undermines trust in America’s electoral process.’ Today’s ruling reaffirms that our State guarantees free and fair elections — ensuring no Floridian has an unfair restriction or roadblock placed on their sacred right to vote.”

— 2022 —

Marco Rubio fundraises at NBA game after calling it a ‘partner’ of ‘the Chinese Communist Party’” via Josh Israel of The American Independent — Rubio held a fundraising event at a basketball game in Washington, D.C, on Wednesday night despite his recent criticism of the NBA for doing business with the Chinese government. Donors were asked to contribute at least $1,000 to Rubio’s re-election campaign to attend the Orlando Magic game against the Washington Wizards. Representatives of corporations and other special interest groups were asked to donate $2,500 from their political action committees to join Team Rubio at the Capital One Arena in Washington.

Marco Rubio trashes the NBA — until it’s time to raise money. Image via AP.

Ron DeSantis urges Legislature to pass his congressional redistricting map” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — In a visit to the Jacksonville market Thursday, DeSantis was unambiguous in communicating his expectations about the upcoming Special Session. Legislators are charged with drawing the once-a-decade congressional redistricting map, and after the Governor vetoed a product he didn’t like earlier this month, he laid down some expectations for the legislative meetings commencing Apr. 19. “I think the Legislature’s going to pass something that will get my signature,” DeSantis said. “At the end of the day, we were very clear about what the Legislature was doing, that would not get my signature. I think that there was a belief, a mistaken belief that somehow, I didn’t mean what I said,” DeSantis said.

Does the nicest person in Florida politics have what it takes to beat Ron DeSantis?” via Michael Kruse of POLITICO — Such a general election matchup would make for an unusually stark contrast, pitting Charlie Crist, whose calling card has been nothing if not a velvety public persona, against the relentlessly confrontational Gov. Ron DeSantis, nearly universally recognized as charmless but effective. Beyond the high stakes in this cycle, and perhaps the next one, too, this ultra-important race could have yet broader implications. Because the way Crist is running is a bet. That people are exhausted of the nonstop politics of conflict. That what they want really is to dial down the volume and the vitriol. And that almost all Democrats will vote for Crist and almost all Republicans will vote for DeSantis but that enough of the people somewhere in whatever’s left of the middle will vote because of this for Crist.

Ashley Moody endorses Cabinet colleague Jimmy Patronis for re-election” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — “The health of Florida’s finances is among the best in the nation and that is due in no small part to CFO Patronis’ commitment to fiscal responsibility,” Moody said in a statement announcing the endorsement. “While Florida has had many challenges over the past three years, CFO Patronis has helped our state navigate these challenges and create a brighter future for our state. I’m proud to serve alongside him on the Cabinet and I wholeheartedly endorse our CFO.” Moody’s endorsement of her fellow Republican isn’t a surprise. The only other candidates filed in the CFO contest are Democrats: Adam Hattersley, Tyrone Noel Javellana and Karla C. Jones.

Elizabeth Fetterhoff’s campaign paid thousands to husband John Ward’s firm” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Rep. Fetterhoff’s re-election campaign paid thousands to a consulting firm founded by her and husband Ward. Ward last April founded FWD Consulting, a Florida limited liability corporation that lists a DeLand home as its primary business address. Fetterhoff is listed in corporate filings with the state as the company’s CEO, while Ward serves as president, a title also included in his Twitter biography. But while Fetterhoff was listed as CEO when the company was formed, she said she isn’t working with the company right now.

Fetterhoff returns Disney donations amid parental rights bill response” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Rep. Fetterhoff has become the third Republican to announce her campaign is returning donations made by Disney in response to the entertainment giant’s public stance on “parental rights” legislation (HB 1557), dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics. Since January 2021, Disney has donated $2,000 to Fetterhoff’s campaign in $1,000 increments, the max an entity or individual can donate. Disney Gift Card Services and Disney Destinations LLC made those contributions. The entertainment monolith and Republican leadership have been at odds during the last few weeks because of the bill. Fetterhoff joins two other Republican lawmakers, Reps. Joe Harding and Randy Maggard, who also decided to return the donations from Disney.

Richard Furman files for HD 30Furman entered the race for House District 30, joining Hattaway and Tramont in what is now a three-way Republican Primary for the Central Florida seat. Furman is a U.S. Army veteran who lives in Volusia County and currently works representing his family’s real estate holdings throughout Central Florida. He said that, if elected, he would be an ally to DeSantis. “I will stand side by side with America’s Governor to push back on Joe Biden’s unconstitutional mandates, reduce regulations at all levels of governments, and continue the fight to put Parents First when it comes to the health, welfare and education of their children,” Furman said.

Richard Furman makes it three Republicans vying for HD 30.

Bruno Portigliatti enters race for HD 45 — Republican Portigliatti announced he seek the Republican nomination for the newly drawn House District 45. Portigliatti is the president of Florida Christian University and the CEO of Excellence Senior Living. A news release announcing his candidacy said he plans to focus his efforts on expanding on the DeSantis Doctrine of Freedom First. “Central Florida is ground zero in Governor DeSantis’ fight against woke corporate America. As a bold conservative leader, businessman, and education advocate, I have been and will continue to lead from the front on that fight,” Portigliatti said. Portigliatti joins Carolina Amesty and Vennia Francois in the Republican Primary. Democrat Allie Braswell is also running for the seat.

Andy Thomson lands endorsements for HD 91 bid — Democratic candidate Thomson announced a volley of endorsements for his campaign in House District 91. Thomson’s backers include Rep. Emily Slosberg, who currently represents the pre-redistricting HD 91 but has announced she would not run for another term. “I have worked closely with Andy Thomson over the years to help tackle some of our District’s most pressing issues. Andy knows this District, has served it well on the Boca Raton City Council and will be a staunch advocate for our seniors, families and residents,” she said. Other endorsements came from State Attorney Dave Aronbergand Palm Beach County Mayor Robert Weinroth. The new HD 91 leans toward Democrats, with 52% of voters in the district voting for Biden in 2020 compared to 47% who voted for Trump.

Vance Aloupis endorses former campaign manager Alexis Calatayud to succeed him in HD 115” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Calatayud has picked up her first endorsement in her bid to succeed Rep. Aloupis in House District 115, and it’s from the man himself. Aloupis on Thursday threw his support behind Calatayud, who ran both of his campaigns for HD 115 in 2018 and 2020 when Aloupis won re-election by nearly 15 percentage points. Between those two election cycles, the 28-year-old Cuban American and lifelong member of the GOP worked as a legislative aide in his district office. Calatayud, now director of policy and programs at the Florida Department of Education, is an ideal successor.

Juan Carlos Porras enters GOP-filled fray for HD 119” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Porras, a lifelong Republican and resident of House District 119, has entered an increasingly crowded race to determine who will next represent the district later this year. The son of Cuban exiles and a self-described “principled conservative,” Porras most recently worked as a legislative aide for Rep. Alex Rizo. He’s also a small business owner, according to a press note from his campaign. Porras kicked off his political career early — he was only 18 when he was elected to a local Republican Executive Committee. During his four-year tenure there, he worked with conservative activists and elected officials to enhance the local Republican Party and ensure the election of qualified GOP candidates.

Communications Workers union endorses Dan Horton-Diaz in HD 120” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Horton-Diaz’s bid to supplant Rep. Jim Mooney in House District 120 now has support from one of the largest communications and media labor unions in the nation. Horton-Diaz’s campaign announced an endorsement from the Communications Workers of America (CWA), including the backing of CWA Local 3122 and CWA Local 3177. The two local chapters are based in South Miami-Dade County and represent workers for AT&T and the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority. More than 18,600 CWA members reside in Florida.

— DATELINE TALLY —

LGBTQ groups sue Florida over so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law” via Anthony Izaguirre of The Associated Press — The challenge filed in federal court in Tallahassee on behalf of Equality Florida and Family Equality alleges that the law violates the constitutionally protected rights of free speech, equal protection and due process of students and families. “This effort to control young minds through state censorship — and to demean LGBTQ lives by denying their reality — is a grave abuse of power,” the lawsuit says. “The State of Florida has no right to declare them outcasts, or to treat their allies as outlaws, by punishing schools where someone dares to affirm their identity and dignity.” The lawsuit adds that the law deliberately employs broad terms and invites arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement, empowering parents to be roving censors who can sue school boards for damages based on any perceived violation.

The pushback for ‘Don’t Say Gay’ is only beginning. Image via AP.

DeSantis backs ending ‘special privileges’ as lawmakers explore Disney crackdown” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — In light of Republican lawmakers discussing whether to limit Disney’s self-governing ability, DeSantis says Florida should reevaluate any special privileges for the entertainment giant. Republican lawmakers have held multiple meetings discussing changes to a self-governing arrangement Disney has enjoyed with the state since 1967. Rep. Spencer Roach tweeted Wednesday that lawmakers have met twice recently on repealing the law that created municipal-like governments, effectively run by Disney, to regulate the land where Walt Disney World operates. Should the Legislature repeal the law, that would leave the Disney property under the complete authority of Orange and Osceola counties.

Flashback:

—“Bon Voyage, Florida: Lawmakers set sail for the Bahamas” via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times

—“Sail away! Florida Senators to embark on Disney Cruise fundraiser in July” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

‘Don’t Say Gay’ is part of a larger anti-LGBTQ backlash, Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith says” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — For members of Florida’s LGBTQ community, DeSantis signing the so-called “don’t say gay” bill into law Monday conjured up memories of the infamous Johns Commission of the 1960s and Anita Bryant’s anti-gay campaign in 1977. “He is using this bill to smear and defame the LGBTQ community with the oldest anti-gay trope in the book,” said Rep. Smith, the Legislature’s first openly LGBTQ Latin member. He said it was particularly upsetting when DeSantis called out opponents of the bill, HB 1557, officially called the Parental Rights in Education, for not reading the bill, or if they did read it, for lying about it because they didn’t want to reveal their true intentions.

‘I hope this law is obliterated.’ Plaintiffs in the first lawsuit challenging ‘Don’t Say Gay’ in speak out” via Madeleine Carlisle of Time — Lourdes Casares and Kimberly Feinberg have been together for over 17 years. After they wed in 2016, when same-sex marriage became legal in Florida, they thought they would be guaranteed all the “rights and privileges” that come with it, Casares says, including having their child be protected and treated equally under the law. Casares and Feinberg are plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed Thursday morning challenging the law, arguing the legislation violates the Constitution. They are joined by others, including two other same-sex couples with young children. They are represented by the public interest law firm the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the law firm Kaplan Hecker & Fink.

‘Say gay’: Giant billboards going up across Florida in wake of ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law” via Brett Clarkson of the Orlando Sentinel — In the wake of Monday’s passing of Florida’s controversial Parental Rights in Education law, known by critics as “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, giant billboards are going up in some of the state’s largest cities. They are urging people to say gay. The billboards can be seen in Orlando, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville, with one soon to go up in Miami. The billboards are the work of the Southern Progress Political Action Committee. The new law bars the instruction of sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten through grade 3, and for kids in higher grades, in “a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

Just in case you forgot the latest battle in the culture wars.

Sen. Manny Diaz defends Jorge Masvidal … ‘It’s not like he beat up some kid’” via TMZ — Diaz spoke about the allegations against Masvidal after the fighter appeared at a DeSantis event Wednesday evening … and he made it clear, he’s in Jorge’s corner. “Jorge is a fighter and, yeah, he ran into another fighter,” Diaz said. “It’s not like he beat up some kid on the street. I mean, look. It happens.” Masvidal is accused of attacking Colby Covington outside of Papi Steak on March 22. Masvidal was hit with two felony charges over the alleged ambush — but at DeSantis’ event Wednesday, he didn’t look like he had too many cares about the criminal case that’s looming over his head.

More money more problems: Lawmakers mum on health projects as DeSantis hints at vetoes” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — DeSantis has already hinted strongly he will veto spending items included in the mammoth $112 billion budget that will soon head to his desk. Legislators earlier in March overwhelmingly passed a budget for the fiscal year that starts in July. But the question is whether, in a big election year where Florida legislators delivered on most of his key priorities, the Governor will use his veto pen sparingly. Since getting elected, DeSantis has used his line-item veto power to slash spending every year. In 2021, the Governor vetoed $1.5 billion, though $1 billion was in federal funds for his office. Unsure of what impact COVID-19 would have on the state’s economy, DeSantis, a year earlier, also trimmed $1 billion in spending.

Nursing homes end legislative session with wins. But will patients lose?” via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida’s nursing home lobbyists came away from the just-concluded legislative session with nearly everything they wanted, which worries some advocates for the elderly, including AARP Florida, that patient care will take a backseat to profits. The state’s lawmakers gave nursing homes a “historic” increase in Medicaid funds, extended a law shielding them from COVID-19-related lawsuits and passed a controversial bill that cuts the minimum number of hours that nursing assistants must spend at patients’ bedsides. The bill will become law unless the governor vetoes it, as advocates are urging. They see it as part of a decades-long effort by the nursing home industry to undo staffing regulations adopted in 2001 under Gov. Jeb Bush.

Law enforcement recruitment package hits DeSantis’ desk” via Florida Politics — Lawmakers have formally delivered DeSantis legislation to bolstering officer recruitment and retention and solidify Florida as the most “law enforcement-friendly state.” The bill (HB 3), passed 114-3 in the House and unanimously in the Senate, would provide recruits a bundle of perks. Among them is a one-time $5,000 bonus for first-time officers and a $1,000 reimbursement program for out-of-state officers who relocate to Florida. It would also bump the base pay for county sheriffs by $5,000. DeSantis floated the law enforcement recruitment package in September, decrying the “defund the police” movement. The Senate didn’t draft an accompanying version of the House bill but included its law enforcement priorities within its budget proposal.

Florida’s free book program to improve reading enrolls 100,000 kids so far” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — “Starting in December, Florida has shipped nearly 336,000 free books to elementary school students, kicking off a program that aims to deliver a new book every month to youngsters who need to boost reading skills. More than 100,000 students so far are enrolled in the state’s New Worlds Reading Initiative, and officials hope thousands more sign up. The program mails nine free books a year to public school students in kindergarten to fifth grade with a ‘substantial reading deficiency.’ More than 500,000 Florida students are likely eligible, officials said.”

What happened to the plan to put cameras on teachers in Florida?” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — There are so many bad ideas in the Florida Legislature that trying to follow them all is like trying to herd cats … if the cats were also doing things like sucking up to special interests and trying to keep secrets about the way they run the government. For instance, there was a proposal to inject more secrecy into how Florida carries out executions. Do you know what happened to that bill? There was also a proposal to record everything teachers say to students so that any parent who feels like their child was exposed to a thought they disliked could file a complaint. Do you know what happened to that one? Well, one passed will probably soon become state law. The other won’t.

— STATEWIDE —

DeSantis announces $1,000 bonuses for state’s police, firefighters” via WTSP — Speaking in Ponte Vedra Thursday, DeSantis announced that the state’s police and firefighters will receive $1,000 bonuses. Patronis joined him at Valley Smoke Restaurant to make the announcement. At this time, it’s unclear when those bonuses will be distributed. “While other states turned their backs on law enforcement and first responders, Florida has continued to support them. These bonuses are a well-deserved recognition to our law enforcement and first responders for all they do for Florida,” DeSantis said. The Florida Times-Union reports that the bonuses appear to be at least partially funded with federal aid.

Ron DeSantis makes friends the American way — with big bonus checks.

Joseph Ladapo hiring violated UF procedures, faculty report says” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — The University of Florida violated its own hiring procedures while bringing aboard Ladapo to a tenured position. The hiring of Ladapo, whom DeSantis picked last year to be the state’s surgeon general, did not adequately involve the input of faculty normally charged with reviewing a candidate’s application for tenure, the report found. It said that administrators accelerated Ladapo’s start date to accommodate DeSantis’ announcement that the doctor would become the state’s next surgeon general. And some faculty members felt Ladapo was the subject of “preferential treatment on the basis of his political opinions,” the report said.

University accreditation tussle rhetoric ramps up” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Key officials from the leading college accreditation association and Florida’s State University System escalated their war of words late Wednesday over what the association thinks about how Florida runs its universities and whether that should matter. Belle Wheelan, President of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and Alan Levine, a vital member of the State University System Board of Governors, fired another round of notes back and forth late Wednesday. Those messages got harsher after Wheelan made critical comments and Levine followed up with his first terse response. The latest letters were set in courteous pleasantries, but only on the surface and only at the start.

New Board of Ed members show conservative bent; Esther Byrd says ideology in FL school system ‘not OK’” via Danielle J. Brown of Florida Phoenix — Two new women members of Florida’s State Board of Education made their debuts Wednesday, revealing a conservative to far-right bent that could foreshadow their priorities for the state’s public school system and its 2.8-million students. DeSantis appointed Byrd and Grazie Pozo Christie in mid-March, just before the 2022 Legislative Session ended. Byrd, from Duval County, used her first board meeting to signal to Floridians that she would be fighting “ideology” within Florida schools.

Gaming Control Commission hires top DBPR gambling regulator as Executive Director” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Florida’s Gaming Control Commission held its first formal meeting Thursday and hired Louis Trombetta, Director of the Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, as its Executive Director. Trombetta, who has served in that role at DBPR for two years and previously served as counsel for the Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering since 2013, was selected from three finalists. He beat out Monica Rutkowski, who worked as deputy director for the Department of Economic Opportunity’s strategic planning and emergency response office, and Krista Woodard, Executive Director for DBPR overseeing the agency’s numerous professional boards.

Florida No. 2 for tech job growth in 2021” via Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida ranked second among all states in technology job growth last year. The Sunshine State added 10,522 new tech jobs in 2021, more than any state besides Texas, which added 10,851, according to the Computing Technology Industry Association, or CompTIA. Both Texas and Florida gained more than twice the number of tech jobs as the No. 3 state on the list, California, which added 5,165. But by another measure, Florida beat all comers. The state added 2,715 technology businesses in 2021, far more than Texas (1,807) and California (1,199).

Another home insurer loses financial stability rating and will likely be dissolved” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In yet another ominous sign for Florida’s failing property insurance market, Tampa-based Lighthouse Property Insurance Corp. lost its financial stability rating, which means it will likely be placed under receivership and dissolved. On Wednesday, ratings firm Demotech announced the withdrawal, effective Tuesday, of Lighthouse’s former A rating. “Despite a substantial capital contribution in the fourth quarter 2021, the operating loss in 2021, which reflected the evaluation of losses and loss adjustment expenses associated with Hurricane Ida, resulted in a level of capitalization below what was needed to sustain [its stability rating] at the A level,” Demotech President Joseph Petrelli said in a brief news release.

Joseph Petrelli has a stern warning for the Florida insurance market.

Florida approves plan to clean up, shutter Piney Point” via Zachary T. Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida regulators have approved a plan to remove hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater from the site of the old fertilizer plant at Piney Point. The Department of Environmental Protection said the goal is to shut down the looming environmental menace to Tampa Bay. Piney Point was the source of 215 million gallons of wastewater dumped into Tampa Bay last spring. “Today, as a result of ongoing efforts on the part of DEP, Manatee County, and the court-appointed receiver, we are in a significantly better place than we were then, and this approval marks a key milestone in ensuring this is the last chapter in the long history of Piney Point,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton in a statement.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Joe Biden oil move aims to cut gas prices ‘fairly significantly’” via Zeke Miller and Josh Boak of The Associated Press — Biden ordered the release of 1 million barrels of oil per day from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve for six months, a bid to control energy prices that have spiked after the United States and allies imposed steep sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. The President said it was not known how much gasoline prices could decline as a result of his move, but he suggested it might be “anything from 10 cents to 35 cents a gallon.” Gas averages about $4.23 a gallon, compared with $2.87 a year ago.

Private concerns mount about Biden’s new COVID-19 czar” via Adam Cancryn of POLITICO — When Biden tapped Ashish Jha as the new leader of his coronavirus response, he hailed the well-known public health expert as the “perfect person” to steer the nation through the next phase of the pandemic. Not everyone is as convinced as Biden. In the weeks since Jha’s announcement, administration officials’ surprise over the selection has given way to skepticism, with some privately questioning how an academic well known for his television commentary will manage a complex operation that touches every part of the federal bureaucracy. Close Biden allies and medical advisers have expressed similar misgivings about Jha’s ability to exert influence as an outsider thrust into a tight-knit West Wing.

Not everyone sees Ashish Jha as the ‘perfect’ person to lead the nation’s coronavirus response.

COVID-19 pandemic’s end may bring turbulence for U.S. health care” via Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of The Associated Press — When the end of the COVID-19 pandemic comes, it could create major disruptions for a cumbersome U.S. health care system made more generous, flexible and up-to-date technologically through a raft of temporary emergency measures. Winding down those policies could begin as early as the summer. That could force an estimated 15 million Medicaid recipients to find new sources of coverage, require congressional action to preserve broad telehealth access for Medicare enrollees, and scramble special COVID-19 rules and payment policies for hospitals, doctors and insurers. There are also questions about how emergency use approvals for COVID-19 treatments will be handled.

Marco Rubio demands Education Secretary Miguel Cardona answer questions about monitoring new Florida law” via Marc Caputo of NBC News — Cardona on Monday pledged to monitor Florida’s implementation of a controversial new law that restricts schools from teaching young kids about sexual orientation and gender identity. Rubio, who is running for re-election this year, fired back Tuesday with a letter demanding answers from the Secretary about what that might entail. Rubio’s questions range from “Should pre-K through third grade students be required to engage in classroom discussions about sexuality and gender identity?”

Al Lawson lashes out after House fails to rename Tallahassee court for Black justice” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A vote to rename a Tallahassee courthouse after the Florida Supreme Court’s first Black justice failed Wednesday in the House. U.S. Rep. Lawson fumed at colleagues, particularly those in the Florida delegation, about the vote. Last July, Lawson introduced legislation (HR 4771) to rename a federal courthouse in Tallahassee after Justice Joseph Woodrow Hatchett. Sens. Rubio and Rick Scott introduced similar legislation in October, and Rubio ushered the bill to be passed through unanimous consent in the upper Chamber. But a vote on the bill in the House failed, with several Florida members voting against it.

Joseph Woodrow Hatchett Federal Courthouse was a tough sell for Al Lawson.

White House taps Shevrin Jones to serve on President Board of Advisors on HBCUs” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The White House tapped Miami’s state Sen. Jones to take a place next to university presidents and executives of national companies to serve on the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Jones is a graduate of Florida A&M University, which is an HBCU. He said he was “deeply honored and overjoyed” to accept the appointment. “President Biden and the administration at large have made clear that HBCUs are a top priority, delivering unprecedented funding and support to schools nationwide that are producing industry leaders and barrier breakers across so many fields,” said Jones, who broke barriers as the state’s first openly LGBTQ state Senator.

— LOCAL NOTES: N. FL —

Fox and Friends” host Brian Kilmeade says Jacksonville needs a ‘rebuild’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The 7:00 hour of Thursday’s Fox and Friends began with a host’s unsolicited attack on Jacksonville. Kilmeade offered narration over b-roll that included the Main Street Bridge headed Downtown. “The city of Jacksonville’s got such great potential. They’ve got these bridges. Beautiful scenery. They’ve got to rebuild that city,” Kilmeade said, with Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” blaring as the backing track. Asked by co-host Ainsley Earhardt to clarify that take, Kilmeade continued to go in on the so-called Bold New City of the South. “It’s just a mess. The city needs to be revitalized. It has all this potential, overlooking the water,” Kilmeade contended.

Brian Kilmeade says Jacksonville has a lot of potential.

U.S. Army Corps contradicts bumbling JAXPORT officials in feud with JEA” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not decided whether a series of high-voltage JEA transmission lines crossing 175 feet above the St. Johns River must be raised, notably contradicting months of assertions made by Jacksonville Port Authority officials amid an increasingly bitter conflict with the city utility. JaxPort is scrambling to put punishing political pressure on JEA to capitulate to its demands that ratepayers in Duval, St. Johns and Nassau counties finance a risky, complicated, multimillion-dollar project to raise the transmission lines, something both Army Corps and port officials said for years was unnecessary even as they embarked on a high-profile project dredging the river to attract larger and larger cargo ships to Jacksonville.

Nick Maddox responds to ‘racist’ text during Blueprint vote” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics — Maddox responded to text messages from a local political operative to a County Commissioner attacking him for his support of the Doak Campbell stadium funding in an op-ed to the Tallahassee Democrat Thursday. The operative, OurTallahassee writer and former city lobbyist Max Herrle, sent a text to County Commissioner and Tallahassee Mayoral Candidate Kristin Dozier calling Maddox a “dumb little bastard” for his support of the stadium funding. The text messages were uncovered in a public records request. Maddox wrote that the text from Herrle was racist and criticized Dozier for not calling him out.

Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey releases first video ad in re-election campaign” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics — Dailey released the first video ad in his 2022 re-election campaign in an email to supporters Tuesday. The video, entitled “Promises Made, Promises Kept,” features Dailey standing outside Tallahassee City Hall and arguing he kept the promises he ran on when he was elected in 2018. This election cycle, he is being challenged by Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier and Whitfield Leland III. In the ad, Dailey said he made three promises to voters in 2018. “No. 1, to clean up City Hall; No. 2, that economic expansion would be one of our top priorities; and No. 3, that I’d wake up every day and concentrate on those quality-of-life issues that make our community so great,” Dailey said. “I’ve kept my promises.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Nassau, Rayonier lawsuit set for closed session discussion” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — There appears to be movement afoot in a legal dispute between Rayonier, its subsidiary Raydient, and Nassau County and former County Attorney Mike Mullin. The county announced Wednesday that the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners would meet in closed session an hour before their regularly scheduled meeting on April 11. The purpose of the meeting is for the new County Attorney, Denise May, to receive instruction from Commissioners about what direction they want to take the case. The lawsuit stems from accusations that Mullin and the county played roles in destroying and withholding public records relevant to another lawsuit.

‘Do the right thing:’ Milton City Council address issue of one member’s absenteeism” via Alex Miller of the Pensacola News Journal — The fear of another member stepping down is looming over the Milton City Council after members are questioning Councilman Matt Jarrett‘s absenteeism through the first year and a half of his tenure. Jarrett won his election in 2020 to serve as a Ward 1 council member. Looking at 2021, his first full year in office, Jarrett was not physically present at 29 City Council meetings, giving him an absent rate of over 75%. In 2022, Jarrett has not been present for nine meetings to date. Jarrett has stated publicly that a work opportunity has forced him to be away from the area, and he does call into meetings via phone, but those calls do not contribute to a quorum, and he cannot vote.

— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —

Randolph Bracy calls for permanent closure of Orlando amusement ride after teen’s death” via Issac Morgan of Florida Phoenix — A teen’s fatal fall last week at an Orlando amusement park has sparked a senator to urge Fried to permanently shut down the Orlando FreeFall ride and “take swift action for the critical safety of others.” State Sen. Bracy sent a letter to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, addressing the incident at ICON Park that took the life of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson after he fell from the ride as it was coming down. The state agency has the responsibility to “inspect all amusement rides in Florida, except for those at large parks that have more than 1,000 employees.” “I also request that the Department close the Orlando FreeFall ride permanently,” Bracy said in the letter.

After a tragic death, Randolph Bracy wants Orlando FreeFall permanently shut down.

Assignment editors Fried joins FDACS Division of Consumer Services Director Rick Kimsey for a news conference to discuss FDACS’ amusement ride regulatory program while the department’s investigation continues into the incident at the Orlando Drop Tower where a 14-year-old died. Orlando Democratic Rep. Geraldine Thompson will also participate, 11 a.m., Thompson’s office, 511 W. South Street #204, Orlando. RSVP to [email protected].

A port official accused his boss of bid-rigging. The port paid the official to keep quiet.” via Andrew Marra of The Palm Beach Post — The Port of Palm Beach paid one of its top executives more than $60,000 to resign last year after he accused the port’s executive director of rigging a contract-bidding process to favor an acquaintance’s company. A third-party investigation found no conclusive proof of the claim but revealed what a government watchdog called a troubling scenario: The port director restarted the bidding for a landscaping contract after an unsuccessful bidder treated him to lunch at a West Palm Beach steakhouse. Two months after the accusation, port Commissioners quietly approved a settlement with the executive who made it, one that required that he never reveal any “non-public information” about the port and “make no criticism or negative statements” about it or its employees.

UF professor files lawsuit claiming political interference over COVID-19 safety on campus” via Douglas Ray of The Gainesville Sun — A professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida has filed a lawsuit against administrators who he claims offered conflicting and shifting demands for in-person classes at the start of the fall term, forbade him from discussing COVID-19 with his students and ordered him to undergo a mental exam when he pushed back. Professor Richard Burt, who teaches in the English department, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Gainesville, seeking unspecified monetary damages and an order from the court blocking administrators from suppressing his rights to free speech.

— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —

Coral Springs names new police chief whose life is ‘rooted in this community’” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The city of Coral Springs has chosen its next police chief. Deputy Chief Bradley “Brad” McKeone will replace Chief Clyde Parry when he retires this summer after 35 years with the agency. The city manager didn’t have to conduct a national search, saying that McKeone’s “childhood, family life and career are rooted in this community.” A 1996 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, McKeone began work with the agency three years later. He’s worked road patrol, the Vice, Intelligence and Narcotics Unit, and was a K-9 dog handler. He was also among the first members of the agency to swarm Stoneman Douglas during the February 2018 massacre and helped coordinate a command center to clear the school.

After 35 years, Bradley “Brad” McKeone gets his shot in Coral Springs.

‘My Patriot Son’: Christian crowdfunding campaign backs alleged Jan. 6 rioter #Tweedledumb” via Alex Deluca of the Miami New Times — To some, Mason Courson is Broward man #Tweedledumb, arrested in late December for his alleged role in the deadly attack to stop the certification of electoral votes at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. But, to his mother, Angelica Rea, the 26-year-old is still her “Patriot Son,” at least according to a campaign created in her name on the Christian crowdfunding platform GiveSendGo that seeks to raise $50,000 to help cover Courson’s legal fees and other financial obligations. The campaign states that Courson had “no ill intent” when he went to watch then-President Donald Trump speak but wound up in a situation he “never imagined.”

— TOP OPINION —

Disney’s definition of ‘family friendly’ isn’t the same as Florida’s” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — In theory, legislation just signed into law by DeSantis would seem like a perfect fit for Disney, one of the state’s largest employers. Titled “Parental Rights in Education,” the bill has been hyped as a way to empower parents to protect their children, a family-centric idea that might get nods from the family-focused corporation. But the title of the legislation is narrowly drawn; the empowerment it offers, focused solely on those parents worried about how interpersonal relationships and gender identity might come up in school curriculums. The bill makes the long-standing assumption that conversations about same-sex couples are necessarily conversations about sex, an assumption that doesn’t apply to non-gay couples. For that and other reasons, the bill has provoked an enormous backlash, including, now, from Disney.

— OPINIONS —

A federal judge said Donald Trump probably committed a crime. The DOJ can’t ignore that.” via George T. Conway III of The Washington Post — “A coup in search of a legal theory.” That was the sober, and apt, assessment made this week of former Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, not by a partisan or pundit, but in an opinion by a federal judge. And although that ruling, by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, did not decide a criminal case, it ought to presage one. We don’t know whether the Justice Department has been considering criminal charges against Trump, or whether it will. Carter’s conclusion clarifies that, for the Attorney General’s commitment to be met, the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of Jan. 6 must focus closely on Trump.

DeSantis says ‘Don’t Say Gay’ is about parental rights. Really? Then why is it so vague?” via the Miami Herald editorial board — DeSantis is angry that critics have successfully attached the “Don’t say gay” label to what he calls parental-rights legislation that he signed this week. DeSantis has accused them of misconstruing what it does. In other words, people who truly read the bill know what it does. Or do they? Many who have done so can’t answer this basic question: What will actually change for students and teachers? Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Jose Dotres said he’s awaiting guidance from the state. The problem with the law isn’t only what it does, but how much it leaves up in the air.

Politics’ addiction to unlimited sums of money from unknown donors must end” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — In a simpler time that now seems almost quaint, the legendary California politician Jesse Unruh famously defined money as “the mother’s milk of politics.” He is also said to have added the qualifier “for better or worse.” It certainly got worse. Money has become the narcotic of politics, a full-blown addiction that must constantly be satiated with another fix. Back in the 1960s, when Unruh quipped about campaign cash, it was still possible for states and the federal government to limit donations. The epithet “dark money” was unheard of. So were so-called “super PACS,” legally free to dominate politics with unbounded “independent” expenditures.

ICON Park tragedy should inspire safeguards” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Fourteen-year-old Sampson was a talented student-athlete, much loved by his family and looking forward to starting high school with a guaranteed spot on the football team. All that potential, all that hope, crashed to the ground last week when Tyre slipped out of a seat on a drop-tower attraction in Orlando’s ICON Park and fell to his death. Ride safety experts have said they believed the ride should have had additional restraints as well, providing an extra layer of protection if the shoulder harness failed. It may be a long time, however, before the full truth is known. That shouldn’t stop Florida officials from asking what more they can do to prevent another tragedy such as this one and protect other families from unimaginable heartbreak.

— WEEKEND TV —

Battleground Florida with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): Reps. Joe Harding and Carlos Guillermo Smith.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at South Florida politics and other issues affecting the region.

In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: a discussion on the future of Florida’s transportation options, including inroads made by SunRail and Brightline. Joining Walker are Commissioner Lee Constantine, Seminole County Commission, District 3; Commissioner Mayra Uribe, Orange County Commission, District 3; Bob O’Malley, executive vice president, Railroad Consultants PLLC.

Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A look at the Special Session held in Tallahassee to handle redistricting, and U.S. Senate candidate Al Fox will discuss his campaign.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Rep. David Smith will discuss legislation passed by Tallahassee lawmakers, including the state’s record-setting budget.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Attorney Sean Pittman and Judge Carlos Moore, president of The National Bar Association.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: U.S. Sen. Scott and Chris Hand, co-author, “America the Owner’s Manual” and former Chief of Staff for the city of Jacksonville.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Rep. Kelly Skidmore talk redistricting; Broward School Superintendent Vickie Cartwright on ‘Don’t Say Gay.’

— ALOE —

Disney: Traditional character meet-and-greets returning in April” via Ashley Carter of Spectrum News — Disney theme park visitors will soon be able to hug characters again. The company announced Thursday that traditional character meet-and-greets will return to Disney World and Disneyland starting April 18. Character greetings will return in phases throughout the spring and early summer, Disney said in a blog post, so not all characters will be available for up-close interactions initially. Disney suspended traditional character meet-and-greets its parks reopened from their pandemic-related shutdowns. Since then, visitors could pose for selfies or wave at characters from a distance. But hugs and autographs were off-limits.

Expect more face time with Disney characters. Image via Disney.

Jai Alai hasn’t been hot since ‘Miami Vice’ days. A casino wants to change that.” via Arian Campo-Flores of The Wall Street Journal — Michael Carballo used to play center field in the minor leagues for the Chicago White Sox. Now, three times a week, he dons a helmet, straps a basket-like contraption to his arm and rifles a plastic ball at a wall at up to 150 miles an hour as one of 28 players in the last remaining professional jai alai league in the U.S. Miami’s Magic City Casino hopes Carballo and his fellow players will save jai alai from extinction in the U.S. Dubbed the world’s fastest ball sport, jai alai involves players hurling and catching a pelota with a cesta on a three-walled court. Magic City’s latest bid to revive the game is Battle Court, a new league launched last month.

Celebrities: Monkeys near airport delight visitors” via Terry Spencer of The Associated Press — As departing jetliners roared overhead, an aging vervet monkey moped on a mangrove branch one recent afternoon in the woods he inhabits near a South Florida airport, his ego bruised. Mikey, as he is called by his human observers, has long been the laid-back alpha male of a troop of monkeys ruling this tract of land tucked off a busy runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. But this day, he lost when challenged by a feisty youngster called Spike. Mikey fled screaming and was now sullenly staring at humans watching him from 15 feet (4 meters) away. “Did you have a bad day?” asks Deborah “Missy” Williams, a Lynn University science professor who has been studying the troop and others nearby since 2014.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to our dear friend Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Director of Governmental Relations at the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, our friend, former Pinellas County Commissioner Neil Brickfield, John Harris and Ryder Rudd. Early birthday wishes to Gary Yordon, president of The Zachary Group and host of “The Usual Suspects.”

___

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


One comment

  • nail

    April 1, 2022 at 9:30 am

    DeSabtis and his Russian press secretary sent out thousands of trolls over social media. They attacked Disney. What governor want their largest employer 70,000+ and the largest taxpayer 3 billion to move from their state. He asked everyone to sell their Disney stock. What governor and and GQP legislature does this. Does Desantis want Florida to go into bankruptcy? Disney has done it before. They will move to the NE were they have been looking at 2 locations. DeSantis is a vindictive SOB who does not care about the state.
    He must have hired all the trolls with the money he stole from the dead Covid ppl. He skimmed money from the monoclonal antibodies by disparaging the vaccine. Then sent everyone to the clinics to get the antibody treatment that did not work. We still have more deaths daily than any other state. He received 10.5 million from regheneron and gets a kickback on every voter he kills.
    This is a very sick person.,

Comments are closed.


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