Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of 3.27.22

winners-and-losers4
The CDC says it's now OK for cruise ship passengers to ditch face coverings, and that's winning.

You would burn up a calculator trying to count the billions of dollars Disney World generated for Florida since it opened in 1971.

Sure, the Mouse put plenty of those billions into the pockets of its employees and executives, but it didn’t stop there. Disney made Orlando an international destination, which required more hotels and restaurants. That led to the expansion of the Orlando International Airport.

The Disney cruises out of Miami and Port Canaveral pumped more money into the local economy. In turn, Disney execs gave large sums of cash to Tallahassee politicians to make sure the company got pretty much whatever it wanted.

That’s what makes the sudden fissure between Disney and Gov. Ron DeSantis over the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill so fascinating.

Under pressure from employees to take a more aggressive stance against the new law, Disney CEO Bob Chapek began speaking out against the measure. DeSantis didn’t like that, but that was mild compared to his reaction after a tweet from Disney urged the Legislature to repeal the bill.

“We remain committed to national and state organizations working to achieve that,” Disney said.

It was game on, with DeSantis and other Republicans invoking the “W” word: WOKE.

“I think they crossed the line,” he said. “We’re going to make sure we’re fighting back when people are threatening our parents and threatening our kids.”

What line, exactly, did Disney cross here?

It’s reasonable to ask why DeSantis believes it’s out of bounds for Disney executives to exercise their First Amendment rights by speaking out against this law. If that speech turns to activism, isn’t that what people on both sides of the aisle do every day?

I’m just asking for a friend.

DeSantis looks unbeatable in his quest for a second term in Tallahassee, and this stance certainly won’t hurt him with the Republican base. But with this ideological standoff growing more heated every day, it’ll be interesting to see if independent voters get turned off by all the noise.

Right now, those voters love DeSantis, but things can change quickly in politics.

Now, it’s on to our weekly game of winners and losers.

Winners

Honorable mention: Chris Sprowls. Florida’s outgoing House Speaker has a passion for promoting reading to school kids.

He was the architect of a $200 million program that has sent about 336,000 free books to elementary school students who need to improve their reading skills. The plan is to deliver a new book each month to those students.

Also, more than 100,000 students in K-5th grade enrolled in the state’s New Worlds Reading program. Students with a “substantial reading deficiency” receive nine books a year.

Children in the initiative pick topics that interest them, then receive books matching those interests. Parents also receive a worksheet and activities to stimulate reading.

The program got a boost when Sprowls announced another $50 million in corporate donations to the cause.

“We all believe that access to books is something that can change a child’s life,” Sprowls said. “You give a child a book, and their face lights up.”

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner: Shevrin Jones. The Miami Senator and Florida A&M graduate received a prestigious appointment to the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

In making the announcement, the White House lauded Jones’ record of public service.

“He served in the Florida Legislature, championing meaningful bipartisan legislation including two consecutive bills to secure dignity for incarcerated women,” the release said.

The announcement also praised Jones’ push for a statewide expansion of a clean syringe exchange program and other noteworthy achievements.

The Board of Advisors seeks to enhance HBCUs through private sector partnerships, including schools, to create a pathway for students interested in attending those institutions.

The organization also addresses school modernization and affordability.

The biggest winner: Cruise ship passengers. We know how stormy the seas have been for this industry since the pandemic began. However, things are calm enough now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped its COVID-19 risk advisory for passengers longing for a getaway on the waters.

The CDC warned cruise ship passengers were at risk regardless of their vaccination status just three months ago. It put the travel warning for cruises to Level 4, which is the highest level. That came following reports of outbreaks on multiple ships.

Things have changed since then.

The CDC now says travelers can make their own risk assessments.

Translation: Bon voyage!

Losers

Dishonorable mention: Jacksonville. The Bold New City of the South (as Jax calls itself) was ambushed on Fox & Friends Thursday morning.

Host Brian Kilmeade was on the mic as the 7 a.m. segment began.

“The city of Jacksonville’s got such great potential. They’ve got these bridges. Beautiful scenery,” Kilmeade said.

But then … BOOM!

They’ve got to rebuild that city,” Kilmeade said. “It’s just a mess. The city needs to be revitalized. It has all this potential, overlooking the water.”

Where in heaven’s name did that hot take come from?

The host did offer a bouquet — sort of — to the city’s NFL team. The Jaguars have a combined 15-49 record in the last four years, including 4-29 in the previous two seasons.

“I think they’ve added like seven or eight free agents. This might be the year with a brand new coach, where they probably get on the winning side of things,” Kilmeade said.

Stay in your lane, bro.

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser: Voting restrictions. Chief U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker declared two key parts of Florida’s new voter (cough) “security” law unconstitutional.

In a scalding 288-page opinion, Walker ordered the state not to enforce the enhanced restrictions on the use of ballot drop boxes and third-party voter registration efforts. Critics had decried the original law as using scare tactics of voter fraud to justify suppressing minority voters.

We didn’t make this the biggest loser, as DeSantis is confident he will win on appeal.

“This is a judicial equivalent of just pounding the table,” DeSantis said.

He’s probably correct.

However, if that’s the case, Walker pounded so hard he nearly broke the table.

“At some point, when the Florida Legislature passes law after law disproportionately burdening Black voters, this court can no longer accept that the effect is incidental,” Walker wrote.

“Based on the indisputable pattern set out above, this court finds that, in the past 20 years, Florida has repeatedly sought to make voting tougher for Black voters because of their propensity to favor Democratic candidates. In summation, Florida has a horrendous history of racial discrimination in voting.”

The biggest loser: Orlando Gudes. He resigned as Chairman of the Tampa City Council after a damning report painted him a sexual harasser with a hostile work environment.

However, Gudes said he wouldn’t resign entirely from the Council despite calls to do so.

“Everyone has their day to be vindicated. I’m waiting for that day to happen,” Gudes said.

He may have a long wait.

Among the allegations that investigator Thomas Gonzalez found credible is that Gudes made numerous sexual and homophobic remarks to a female aide while in the workplace.

“This investigation has produced evidence the employee’s supervisor created a hostile working environment by comments and conduct which a reasonable person of the employee’s sex would find offensive and which the employee did, in fact, find offensive.”

While Gudes was not accused of making sexual advances, Gonzalez wrote that he had “frequent offensive conduct and abuse.”

Mayor Jane Castor said that if Gudes had been a city employee instead of an elected official, she would have fired him.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


14 comments

  • Tom

    April 3, 2022 at 6:45 am

    Hey Good morning Joe.

    Did Disney make money for Florida, or did the sweetheart deal Florida provided to Walt Disney allow Disney to create a endless profit. Not withstanding the property giveaway and it’s own governance rules delegated by the legislature. Just remember Joe, the lord giveth and he can taketh.

    Disney’s inability to follow the legislative process, with 32 lobbyists is text book example on company failure. The actions on video recently of Disney employees complaining takes the cake.

    They had every opportunity to participate in the legislative process. They apparently failed on the House side. Disney’s pac support does not guarantee any one issue from not being enacted. They had the opportunity to have dialogue through lobbying, they failed. To say they got involved in the 11 3/4 hour is understatement. The law Joe, that you, F P and other media refer to does not say what you call it. But why would that stop the media.

    Disney’s earned the wrath of America’s Governor, there corporate support of China is offensive. What bout the Taiwan patch that China objected to on Tom Cruises bomber jacket for upcoming movie. Disney caved in and removed. Ask Disney if they can lobby China? Or speak out.

    Independents and Dems support the K-3 law and Disney and others are on the wrong side.

    Walkers manifesto, so third party partisan organizations can provide voter drop boxes, in the name of partisan access ? Third party partisan voter registration is lawful? Walkers ruling will not likely survive further judicial critique. His continued hostility towards conservative governance will not stand under appeal. Say it ain’t so Joe.

    • FP Monitor

      April 3, 2022 at 9:25 am

      It’s a big mistake to respond to anything Tom posts. He’s an arrogant ignorant uneducated Trumpster hack simply looking for the attention he doesn’t get from friends or family. Tom is all about personal attacks and lying. Do yourself and ALL OF US a big favor. Ignore all of his return comments. Maybe the internet troll will go away.

      • Tom

        April 3, 2022 at 9:38 am

        Thank you F P Soros monitor.
        I am the legend.

        • Sister Mary Jane, Bishop Monty Academy for Silly Boys

          April 3, 2022 at 12:41 pm

          Heavens to Betsy DeVos, Tom, you have finally revealed your little fantasy to all: “I am the legend.”
          Bless your heart. I’ll send you an application.

          • Sista of Perpetual Indulgence RSM

            April 3, 2022 at 12:56 pm

            Tom can’t synthesize news from any source other than Fox. He’s been sucker punched by stupid.

            The divisive DeSantis narrative of teaching hate in Florida’s classrooms was not magically invented by DeSantis. No Sista ….. DeSantis sucked the story from Hungary’s right wing Trump apologist.

  • JD

    April 3, 2022 at 7:36 am

    It certainly looks like the Republican lawmakers and the Governor are looking to act punitively because a company took a social stance of their employees (even if late in the game).

    And the comparison I’ve been seeing where they are saying Disney does work in other countries with anti-gay laws, they are being hypocrites. I ask to that, does that make it OK and do you want to be associated with that thinking Florida? Just because somebody else pisses in the pool doesn’t make it ok do so. We’d all be swimming in a toilet then.

    And the real question is going to come from real Floridians that work there and this threat to the Reedy Creek. What about the muni services under Disney’s employ (police, fire, roads, etc) that would be absorbed by the counties? Do the counties want that? Do the employees want that? Do the Floridians that are employed by Disney in those positions suddenly want their pay, benefits and pensions stopped? Just to be supported from some unknown deal with the county because of what looks to be a clearly punitive political football?

    This is mostly bluster. Culture war to get people angry anyway and make micro-donations on some WINRED site. But they won’t repeal Reedy Creek without pain to the surrounding counties. Is the state going to pick up the slack?

    Just as independents may have gotten tired of the “Woke” wars, they are going to get just as tired of the “Culture” wars as well.

  • Tom

    April 3, 2022 at 9:32 am

    Welcome back JD
    Long time Manchurian master.
    Now let’s not defend the CCP.
    Are you serious? Culture wars?
    How bout decency, how bout respecting 5 to 7 yr. olds and their parents.

    The sweetheart deal provided is not guaranteed.
    Being a good neighbor matters. ABC/Disney sells out to China, just like Apple, Nike and others. Disney’s 32 lobbyists dropped the ball period.

    Florida may be better off reclaiming it’s rights and yes responsibilities. Disney benefits Florida period.

    Go look at Tom Cruises jacket being China censored. Appalling.

    Take the full look J D. Not narrow.

  • JD

    April 3, 2022 at 10:01 am

    Tom,

    The law itself is not necessarily a bad thing. However I question was it really needed? Florida isn’t allowed to teach sex education until 5th grade. So why do this law? Where was the need to warrant such a huge response?

    Even if there were few isolated incidents of some kid being shown different gender identifications, the school boards could have taken care of those with the parents and teacher. This law created an ICBM to kill a cockroach with potential radioactive fall out. Then the shot across the bow for the Reedy Creek act are why I call this culture wars.

    And besides, if your postulate is correct about the Republicans and Independents wanting and supporting this law and angry with Disney’s stance or the Chinese bowing by them, the market will take of care Disney anyway. Why muck with the county and Floridians livelihood over something in place for years? It’s kind of like pulling down Confederate statues uproar, but to living people…

  • Tom

    April 3, 2022 at 2:14 pm

    Sista, how are thou?
    How’s the kneeling? You know how to do so.
    You love silly boys, now don’t you?
    Yes I am the F P legend!
    Ms DeVos is not a kneeler. Now V P Harris does requires all to stand upright. Just saying.

    • It feels good

      April 3, 2022 at 6:15 pm

      “How’s the kneeling”

      Feels good.
      Like fentanyl destroying all of your neighbors.
      Like your people being Swept away in change.
      Like none of you being able to stop it. Like all you can do is be angry. But no one will listen.
      It’s power.

      • Tom

        April 3, 2022 at 9:58 pm

        Are you ill?

        The chinese fentanyl is coming in due to Biden/Harris. Do you understand that? Trump had the border sealed.
        China is tryin to destroy our society.

        How ignorant are you? DeSantis is the only one with Kahones and tie skills to save America.

  • Tom

    April 3, 2022 at 3:33 pm

    Sincerely, it’s great to have you back JD. As the FP legend, I always state that JD is good challenge. It’s a healthy debate. My comps to you. I told Alex last week to reach out to you.

    As for why? The powers to be saw a need to tighten up a area that was a concern for young ins. Can’t trust the school boards to do the right thing unless we have adult supervision. Just saying.

    As for the ICBMs killing a lizard, sometimes govt has to lay it on the line.

    The review of Disney’s sovereignty with Reedy act is healthy. They don’t have to cry uncle to legislature but they could stop bowing to the CCP of China so eagerly.

    All the varied public opinion has come back favorable plus 50% for Dems and Independents towards Gov and Repubs.

    Didn’t know I was a “postulater” but if I am, I am usually correct. Your dissertations are always interesting, LOL.

    Welcome back J D, don’t be a stranger.

  • krakkerlogik

    April 3, 2022 at 8:15 pm

    You’re quite the enigma Tom……..Keep us guessing, keep up the good work.

  • Tom

    April 3, 2022 at 9:11 pm

    My friend krakerlogik, I am not much into monikers. I am old school, I take your reference to enigma as a compliment.

    Thanks for the reference for good work. I’ve made the point to advocate on behalf of the conservative cause. FP was dominated by the AOC extremist wing. Not anymore if you notice.

    J D is a worthy and respectful person. His writing is sincere. I do enjoy ocean Joe, but he’s a traditional liberal. I do enjoy old school debate with old school Dems. We all want the same things, we just have different roads to get it to it.

    Thanks for kind words, stay in touch.

Comments are closed.


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