Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 4.21.22

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Here's your morning briefing of what you need to know in Florida politics.

Good Thursday morning.

Bradenton law firm Grimes Hawkins Gladfelter & Galvano, now known as Grimes Galvano, is celebrating its 100th anniversary and a rich history — not only in the practice of law, but in Tampa Bay communities and the state of Florida.

In 1914, E. Glenn Grimes moved from Chicago to Florida. First arriving in Santa Rosa and working his way down to Palmetto, Grimes began practicing law in Manatee County, representing the citrus industry and the city of Palmetto. In 1922, he partnered with Alvan Rowe to form what is now known as Grimes Galvano.

The firm’s history and story run deep in the region, both in family and practice. In 1929, the firm proudly accepted the first woman attorney in the region and the first in Manatee County, Bessie Ethyl Sims, into their practice.

In 1930, the firm moved its practice to the Professional Building in downtown Bradenton. Originally located on the sixth floor, the firm now occupies the ground and mezzanine floors in the beautifully renovated building, as well as other offices in the tower of the building.

In 1983, the firm members purchased the historic professional building and completed the rehabilitation of the building, receiving an award from the state for the best such project in Florida. The historic, manually operated Otis Elevators were retained and are believed to be among the oldest continuously operating elevators in the state.

“This celebration is especially meaningful for me because my son, Kyle, is now a partner in this firm and will continue the legacy of my grandfather and father, which I share,” said Caleb Grimes, a partner at the firm.

Firm partner and former Senate President Bill Galvano added, “I am so proud of this firm and all it stands for and has accomplished. I started at the law firm as an attorney in 1992, and I could not be more excited to celebrate its 100th anniversary and highlight its rich history. The Grimes family has a tremendous presence and tradition in this state. I am honored to be a part of it.”


Courtney Larkin has been promoted to Director of State Legislative Affairs at the Florida Farm Bureau Federation.

Since the fall, Larkin has worked at the Florida Farm Bureau Federation, bringing more than 10 years of experience lobbying on financial services, K-12 education and agriculture issues.

“Ms. Larkin has built invaluable relationships with legislators, staff and members that will serve her well in this new role,” Florida Farm Bureau President Jeb Smith said to county bureau presidents. “We look forward to working with Ms. Larkin and our Tallahassee team as they continue to advance our mission and advocate strongly on behalf of Florida’s farmers and ranchers.”

Congrats to Courtney Larkin for a big boost in Florida’s agriculture sector.

Larkin came to the Florida Farm Bureau Federation from the Florida Bankers Association, where she served as assistant vice president of government affairs. She previously worked as Deputy Director of Government Relations at the Florida Office of Financial Regulation and in legislation and external affairs at the Messer Caparello law firm.

Larkin is a graduate of Florida State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in editing, writing and media.

The Florida Farm Bureau Federation touts itself as the “voice of Florida agriculture,” lobbying on behalf of the state’s agriculture industry.

With more than 134,000 members, FFBF is the state’s largest agricultural organization. Sixty county Farm Bureaus constitute the grassroots structure of FFBF, and it represents farm owners who produce all 300 of the state’s agricultural commodities, regardless of their scope of operations or location.


@NikkiFried: I’m suing the (Joe) Biden Administration because people’s rights are being limited. Medical marijuana is legal. Guns are legal. This is about people’s rights and their freedoms to responsibly have both.

@Annette_Taddeo: My name is Annette Taddeo — I’m a lifelong Democrat running for Governor of Florida, and I have never sued the Biden administration.

Tweet, tweet:

@Fineout: Fla Senate moving fast — approved both bills aimed at Disney … and they are done with their work …

@billscher: This is like the West Virginia Senate voting to end coal subsidies

@Daniel_Sweeney: Collateral damage in the war against Disney: “Top of mind is making sure that our staff does not become a casualty since we have folks that have families with children and we want to make sure they have a safe place to land,” said the Sunshine Water Control District’s president.

@jeffschweers: Re: Dissolving Reedy Creek, Senate Prez @WiltonSimpson said, “We don’t retaliate against businesses. We don’t raise taxes. This is an organization that has many powers we do not believe they should have in 2022. they have eminent domain powers. They can build a nuclear facility.

@Jason_Garcia: The Florida Legislature does raise taxes and Reedy Creek can’t build a nuclear power plant.

Tweet, tweet:

@MelissainJax: Just spoke with @RepAlLawsonJr about the state Senate vote in Tallahassee to redraw his CD5 district and rumors @lennycurry may run for the seat: “I understand the Governor has been meeting with the Mayor and telling him he’s gonna draw a district for him.”


Magic Johnson’s Apple TV+ docuseries ‘They Call Me Magic’ begins — 1; ‘We Own This City’ premieres on HBO Max — 4; 2022 Florida Chamber Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit — 7; ‘The Godfather’ TV series ‘The Offer’ premieres — 7; 2nd half of ‘Ozark’ final season begins — 8; White House Correspondents’ Dinner — 9; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 15; Florida TaxWatch’s Spring Meeting — 21; ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ starts on Disney+ — 35; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 36; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 42; California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold midterm Primaries — 47; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 78; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 91; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 110; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 122; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 134; 2022 Emmys — 134; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 168; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 187; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 187; ‘Black Panther 2′ premieres — 204; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 204; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 210; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 214; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 214; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 215; ‘Avatar 2′ premieres — 239; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 320; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ premieres — 337; 2023 Session Sine Die — 379; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 463; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 547; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 827.


Senate OKs axing Disney World’s Reedy Creek and Black congressional districts” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — Lawmakers originally came to Tallahassee on Tuesday to take up a congressional map drawn by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office after he vetoed two maps approved by the Legislature during the Regular Session. But less than an hour before the Special Session began, he expanded it to include a bill dissolving Reedy Creek, which independently governs the Orlando resort, and another bill retracting a special carve-out that protected Disney from liability in the so-called Big Tech law from 2021.

Just a day later, the Senate voted 23-16 to dissolve Reedy Creek, with Sen. Jeff Brandes the only Republican to vote against Sen. Jennifer Bradley’s bill. The Senate voted 24-15 along party lines to approve Bradley’s bill retracting the Disney carve-out, which was found unconstitutional by a federal judge. Critics of the Governor say the bills were meant to punish Disney, Florida’s largest single-site employer, for opposing the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law signed by DeSantis last month.

Jeff Brandes, the lone Republican voice of dissent — again.

The bills were filed almost as soon as he called for the expanded Session, raising questions about who wrote them and whether the sponsors were forced to carry them for the Governor. Democrats assailed their Republican colleagues for capitulating to DeSantis out of fear of facing primary opponents or having their projects vetoed from the budget rather than acting as the independently elected lawmakers they are supposed to be.

Dismantling Disney World’s special district status would be complicated and expensive” via Kirby Wilson of the Miami Herald — The Florida Legislature is moving swiftly to strip The Walt Disney Co. of a series of unique legal protections that essentially give the company sweeping governmental powers. If the Republican-controlled Legislature passes a proposal drafted and hastily debated this week, the Reedy Creek Improvement District, as well as five other special districts in the state, would be dissolved on June 1, 2023. Disney, which employs more than 77,000 people in the state, would have the opportunity to negotiate with lawmakers about what the district might look like before that deadline. The Senate passed the proposal in a 23-16 vote on Wednesday, with Brandes the sole Republican to join Democrats in opposition. The House is expected to give final approval to the measure Thursday.

Ron DeSantis move to punish Disney threatens tiny water district hundreds of miles away in Broward” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Gov. DeSantis decision to punish Disney — a move the Legislature is rushing to complete this week — is creating collateral damage more than 200 miles away in Broward County. DeSantis announced Tuesday he wanted to get rid of special districts created before 1968, a move aimed at squeezing The Walt Disney Co., which has displeased the Governor with its opposition to Florida’s new Parental Rights in Education law, derided by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” law. The new law would affect five other districts, including the Sunshine Water Control District, which provides drainage and flood protection in central Coral Springs. The district’s website said it has a network of 22 miles of canals and waterways.

Randy Fine, sponsor of Reedy Creek bill, has a love-hate history with Disney World” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — It should be no surprise that Republican state Rep. Fine, despite living just one county east of Disney World, was a sponsor of the bill to eliminate the theme park’s Reedy Creek Improvement District. Fine has been one of the most vocal proponents of the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law signed by DeSantis that ignited the governor’s war with the theme park giant. He has also been at the forefront of the conservative push to label opponents of the bill, many believing it targets the LGBTQ community and is deliberately vague, as “this radical grooming minority trying to sexualize our children,” as he said.


Assignment editors: Gov. DeSantis will hold a press conference in Destin with Eric Sutton, executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 10:00 a.m.

Anyone contemplating crossing DeSantis needs to be prepared to pay a price” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Gov. DeSantis stepped to a lectern Tuesday morning and showed, once again, that he’s the boss of Florida politics — the kind of boss that you don’t cross, unless you’re prepared to pay the price. He escalated a political fight with Disney, exercised muscle over state universities and professors, and received enthusiastic praise from the leaders of what’s supposed to be a co-equal branch of government. It combined for a display of power that DeSantis has amassed and used more effectively than any Governor in decades, demonstrating the peril of getting on the wrong side of the Governor.

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape … and you don’t mess around with Ron DeSantis,

Local Black clergy, political and social group leaders blast Ron DeSantis’ redistricting plans” via Wayne Washington of The Palm Beach Post — Local Black religious, social and community group leaders tore into DeSantis’ plan to redraw the state’s congressional district lines Monday. Standing shoulder to shoulder at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Riviera Beach on Monday, the activists and group leaders said DeSantis is operating with one goal in mind, to mute the voices of Black voters who overwhelmingly favor Democrats over Republicans. “We will not stand idly by and watch this happen,” said the Rev. Rae Whitely of the West Palm Beach chapter of Faith in Florida, a coalition of congregations and community groups focused on issues of systemic racism and poverty.

Democrats take cautious look ahead to property insurance Special Session” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Democratic lawmakers are optimistic they’ll have more input in next month’s Special Session on property insurance than in the redistricting Special Session set to end Thursday, but they also acknowledge there are no silver bullet proposals that will stabilize the insurance market while lowering rates for residents. “The whole problem is that there’s no easy solution,” said Sen. Lori Berman. DeSantis said Monday he’ll sign a proclamation later this week for a Special Session sometime in May to address the property insurance market, which has seen three companies fold, other companies withdraw from more than 120,000 policies, and rates increase as much as 60% for some homeowners.

— 2022 —

DeSantis dunks on Disney in donor pitch” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — As a Special Session continues in Tallahassee where lawmakers mull drastic changes to the ‘special privileges’ of The Walt Disney Co., Florida’s Governor continues to fundraise off the confrontation. In an email entitled “They chose the wrong guy,” DeSantis delivers tough talk against “woke corporations” trying to “strong-arm our state.” The Governor said Tuesday that the Legislature would take a look in this week’s Special Session at repealing special districts implemented before 1968, including the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

Charlie Crist questions DeSantis’ ‘free state’ motto as GOP targets Disney” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Disney World is supposed to be the happiest place on Earth, but U.S. Rep. Crist doesn’t know if Disney is happy anymore. Lawmakers met Wednesday to advance legislation to claw back power from The Walt Disney Co. over its opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law. As they convened, Crist returned to Tallahassee, bringing a message of support for the entertainment giant. Republican lawmakers are pushing the move, at the behest of DeSantis, who Crist hopes to deny a second term in November. “To see this kind of exercise of raw power by this Governor at this time against this institution, it’s unbelievable,” Crist told reporters.

Charlie Crist goes after Ron DeSantis’ catchphrase.

Crist affirms pledge to legalize recreational marijuana at 4/20 panel” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics — Crist doubled down on his pledge to legalize recreational marijuana in Florida and expunge the records of nonviolent marijuana offenders during a panel discussion centered on the plant Wednesday. Crist first pledged to legalize the plant for all adult Floridians in October. The panel was held on April 20, or 4/20, a date known in pop culture as the unofficial marijuana holiday. While users of the devil’s lettuce often mark the occasion by getting blazed, supporters of legalization typically use the day to raise awareness on the issue. The panel was filled with former Leon County elected officials and student leaders from Florida State University and Florida A&M University. Almost two dozen attended to listen, mostly students from the two universities.

Assignment editors — Crist will join elected officials and community leaders to roll out a new coalition of Broward County co-chairs to engage and mobilize voters, 10:30 a.m., Fort Lauderdale; location and details upon RSVP at [email protected].

Assignment editorsNikki Fried joins Our Children’s Trust for a news conference to announce new statewide renewable energy goals, 10:30 a.m., Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, 5th Floor, 1101 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. RSVP to [email protected].

Gubernatorial forum set for April 29 — The Democratic Women’s Clubs of Florida Political Committee will host a forum for the three major Democratic gubernatorial candidates next week. The April 29 event will be held in Orlando at the Rosen Center from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. An email announcing the forum states Crist, Fried, and state Sen. Taddeo will attend the event. Tickets cost $20.22.

Here’s how much more cash Senate Democrats have than their Republican opponents” via Dan Merica and David Wright of CNN — Democratic Senate candidates in five of the six most crucial 2022 races are heading into the final months of the campaign with dramatically more cash in the bank than their would-be Republican opponents, a silver lining in what could be a difficult midterm cycle for their party. Rep. Val Demings, challenging Sen. Marco Rubio, was the top nonincumbent fundraiser, bringing in $10 million in the quarter and reporting $13.1 million in the bank as of March 31. While this is a notable uptick for Demings, who raised just over $7 million in the last three months of 2021, some Democrats are concerned this money could be going to a lost cause, given how Florida has moved away from the Party in recent years.

Jay Collins collects $400K, topping CD 14 incumbent Kathy Castor in Q1” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Collins reported raising $401,260 in the first quarter of 2022 as he runs for Florida’s 14th Congressional District, narrowing the fundraising lead still held by Rep. Kathy Castor. Castor raised $324,003 in the same timeframe, which spanned from Jan. 1 through March 31. Despite a slightly smaller quarterly haul, Castor has amassed $852,908 in her re-election campaign, keeping her on top compared to Collins’ $769,447. A third candidate, Republican James Judge, reported raising $22,298 in Q1, bringing his total to $123,222. According to his FEC filing, Collins reported $377,259 from individual donors, while Castor reported $216,013 from individuals in Q1.

Happening tonight:

Race for open HD 106 seat flooded with more than $760K in March” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — The contest to determine who will represent House District 106 this November saw its largest infusion of cash this election cycle last month, when more than $760,000 entered four candidates’ campaign coffers. Republican former reality TV star Fabían Basabe lent himself $250,000. Democratic Miami Beach Commissioner David Richardson hauled in nearly $476,685 last month between his campaign and political committee, including a self-loan of $260,000. Meanwhile, Democratic Bay Harbor Islands Council Member and former Mayor Jordan Leonard amassed $32,500. Republican community leader Wena “Lynn Su” Sutjapojnukul failed to crack the $1,000 mark. HD 106 runs along the Miami-Dade coast and includes Aventura, Bay Harbor Islands, Miami Beach, North Bay Village, North Miami Beach and Sunny Isles Beach.

—”Demi Busatta Cabrera enjoys $25K Republican Party boost for HD 114 defense” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

Johnny Farias bets $50K loan on his campaign for HD 118” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — After months of lagging fundraising, Farias bet on himself in March by adding a $50,000 self-loan to his campaign for House District 118 — his largest single-month gain since entering the race last year. That boost more than tripled what he held between his campaign account and political committee, Friends of Farias. As of March 31, he had close to $72,500 after gaining an additional $1,000 from Homestead-based Essential Realty Service Inc. and paying Miami consultant Manuel Gutierrez $2,000.


Florida says not to treat transgender, nonbinary youth by their preferred gender” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — Contradicting advice from human rights and medical organizations, the Florida Department of Health released guidance against social gender transition and against medical steps such as puberty blockers and hormone treatments. “Social gender transition should not be a treatment option for children or adolescents,” the guidance reads. “Anyone under 18 should not be prescribed puberty blockers or hormone therapy. Gender reassignment surgery should not be a treatment option for children or adolescents … Children and adolescents should be provided social support by peers and family and seek counseling from a licensed provider.”

It became just a little tougher for transgender youth in Florida.

Florida pulls out of CDC survey on students’ drinking, drug use and suicidal thoughts” via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel — On the heels of the state’s so-called ”Don’t Say Gay” law, the Florida Department of Education has quietly dropped out of a 31-year-old CDC survey of students that includes questions of mental well-being, suicidal thoughts, sexual orientation and gender identity. Mental health advocates called the move “an incredibly dangerous precedent” and said the data produced by the survey is essential for understanding the struggles of adolescents and teens and guiding public policy. Norín Dollard, a senior policy analyst at the nonpartisan Florida Policy Institute and director of Florida KIDS COUNT, said Florida’s decision to withdraw from the survey “was done in darkness, without any type of opportunity for public input.”

Florida man traps over 100 invasive tegu lizards; FWC needs your help catching more” via Max Chesnes of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Some people spend their retirement traveling the world or relaxing at home. Sid Pennington spends his time trapping the invasive lizards threatening native wildlife in his community. Pennington, 60, has single-handedly captured at least 117 Argentine black and white tegus from the woods and neighborhoods in western Fort Pierce, where he lives. In September, after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission saw how skilled Pennington was at catching nonnative tegus on his own, biologists lent him 20 traps and recruited him as a volunteer. He’s caught 31 this year alone. “I grew up being a big reptile guy,” said Pennington, a former St. Lucie Nuclear Plant employee.


Joe Biden admin faces budget shortfall when border COVID-19 ban lifts and migrants surge” via Julia Ainsley of NBC News — U.S. border agencies could face a budget shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars if a COVID-19 rule called Title 42 is lifted next month as planned and a record surge of migrants follows, and the Biden administration could ask Congress for more money to cover it, administration officials say. Some Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection operations could be completely out of funds by as early as July. Those projections are based on predictions that as many as 14,000 migrants could begin crossing the U.S.-Mexico border per day after Title 42 ends on May 23, nearly doubling last month’s record-high number of migrant encounters.

When the COVID-19 restrictions end, will chaos ensue? Image via Reuters.

The U.S. Justice Department appeals to reinstate transportation mask mandate” via Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Sharon LaFraniere of The New York Times — The CDC said Wednesday that it had asked the Justice Department to appeal a federal court ruling striking down its requirement for masking on planes, trains, buses and other modes of transportation, after concluding that “an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health.” The announcement came a day after the Biden administration said it intended to appeal the ruling from a Florida judge — but only if the CDC decided that the mask mandate was still necessary. “CDC believes this is a lawful order, well within CDC’s legal authority to protect public health,” the agency said, adding that it “continues to recommend that people wear masks in all indoor public transportation settings.”

FAA makes ‘zero tolerance’ policy for unruly passengers permanent” via Amanda Maile of ABC — While the mask mandate on public transportation has been lifted, the Federal Aviation Administration’s zero-tolerance policy for unruly passengers is here to stay, the agency said Wednesday. The FAA instituted its zero-tolerance policy during the pandemic to curb a surge in disruptive behavior on planes. The FAA said the program has helped reduce the incident rate by more than 60%. This year alone, the FAA has received 1,233 reports of unruly passengers on flights — 797 of which were mask-related.

U.S. is weighing resuming migration accords with Cuba, Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says” via Nora Gámez Torres of the Miami Herald — The United States is considering resuming migration accords with Cuba at a time tens of thousands of people are leaving the island to come to the U.S., Secretary of Homeland Security Mayorkas said Wednesday. Officials from the two countries will meet in Washington on Thursday to discuss the current crisis. “I don’t want to get ahead of the dialogue between the United States and Cuba, but everyone knows we have had migration accords with the country of Cuba for many, many years,” Mayorkas said in a news conference after a regional meeting in Panama to tackle migration challenges in the Western Hemisphere.

Marco Rubio pushes White House on bill to establish space debris sanctions” via Brett Samuels of The Hill — Rubio is pushing the Biden administration to back his bill that would create a structure for imposing sanctions on nations that create space debris after Vice President Kamala Harris this week said the U.S. would avoid tests that could leave space wreckage behind. Rubio’s DEBRIS Act would lay out a path to impose sanctions on any country whose actions creates space debris, which the bill defines as “any human-made, Earth-orbiting object or fragment of an object that is nonfunctional and for which there is no reasonable expectation of assuming or resuming its intended function.”

Wilton Simpson says Jen Psaki ‘mischaracterizing’ Florida’s parental rights bill” via Joshua Q. Nelson of Fox News — Simpson on Wednesday hit back at White House Press Secretary Psaki for how she characterized Florida’s parental rights law. “I’m sure Jen can read just fine. This is a four-page bill. This bill has nothing to do with how she is characterizing this bill. I’m sure she has plenty of problems in Washington to take care of and she should leave Florida’s legislation to Florida. If she wants to talk about this bill, she should certainly read it first,” Simpson said on America’s Newsroom. In a podcast released this week, Psaki broke into tears while discussing Florida’s controversial parental rights bill. She said Republicans are using the legislation as a “political wedge issue” in an attempt to “win the culture war” in a way that is “harsh and cruel to kids.”

Wilton Simpson blasts the White House for not reading the parental rights bill.

Biden chooses Arizona prosecutor as interim director of ATF” via Eugene Scott and Tyler Pager of The Washington Post — Biden tapped Gary M. Restaino, the top U.S. prosecutor in Arizona, to serve as interim director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives until the Senate votes on the President’s nominee, Steve Dettelbach. White House press secretary Psaki said Wednesday that Biden had taken the step under the Vacancies Reform Act, which allows the President to temporarily fill a post that normally requires Senate confirmation, but she did not say whom the President had selected. An official with knowledge of the situation said Restaino would replace Marvin Richardson, the agency’s current acting director, who is returning to his post as deputy director and will advise Restaino.


Jacksonville flies the skies mostly maskless following judge’s ruling for public transportation” via Dan Scanlan of The Florida Times-Union — The Jacksonville Aviation Authority confirmed masks are not required anymore at the airport with a Tuesday morning statement, based on the Transportation Security Administration’s Monday announcement that it will no longer enforce it. Jacksonville airport officials did add that those travelers “who would feel more comfortable voluntarily wearing a mask while in the airport” are encouraged to continue doing so. But a 2 p.m. Tuesday visit to JIA’s baggage claim and concourse saw only a handful of passengers and employees wearing them. As for the airlines, many of which had been petitioning the federal government to lift the mandate, most are going along with the maskless decision.

Jacksonville’s friendly skies are maskless, for now.

Blue Origin re-evaluating if Pensacola ship Jacklyn will be used for rocket landings” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News-Journal — The 600-foot former cargo ship, Jacklyn, has been docked at the Port of Pensacola since 2018 and undergoing a retrofit by the Pensacola company Offshore Inland to enable the ship to serve as a landing platform for the first stage of Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket. When contacted by the News-Journal to ask if the retrofit project had been canceled, a Blue Origin spokesperson responded that no final decision had been made yet. The spokesperson said that the company is looking at “different options” for recovery vessels that give the best chance for mission success while also being safe and cost-effective. It’s unclear what the review means for Offshore Inland. The company had not responded to the News Journal’s request for comment as of Wednesday.

FAMU’s Kortne Gosha steps down as VP and Director of Athletics” via Jim Henry and Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — Gosha‘s tenure as FAMU’s Vice President and Director of Athletics ended after less than three years Wednesday as he announced his resignation. Florida A&M University President Larry Robinson named Michael Smith as interim athletic director. Smith, a veteran FAMU employee and former interim athletic director in 2013, was serving as the university’s assistant vice president, Finance and Administration. The university said in a statement that it plans to conduct a swift national search to find a replacement. Gosha — hired in December 2019 from the University of Miami — oversaw the day-to-day facility and event operations, grounds, custodial, information technology, access control and capital projects for the Rattlers. He was in the final months of his three-year contract that paid $200,000 annually.


Split Oak toll road gets unanimous approval from Florida agency” via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel — A state agency voted 4-0 Wednesday in favor of allowing a toll road to be built in Split Oak Forest, reasoning that the project met requirements and that controversy over potential impacts to the forest and region are for Orange and Osceola counties to resolve. The Florida Communities Trust, a branch of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, rejected arguments that Florida’s constitution prohibits the agency from giving a thumbs-up to the road and that the agency should take a stand on the larger angst over out-of-control growth and congested roads in Central Florida.

Altamonte Springs homeowner faces foreclosure as state sits on $675 million in mortgage relief” via Trevor Fraser of the Orlando Sentinel — Scott Silver is behind on his mortgage. Like tens of thousands of Floridians, the former technology salesman and his partner lost income during the pandemic and were unable to keep up with the bills. So, when Florida opened a portal in February for people to register for mortgage relief, Silver signed up on the first day. Since then, all Silver says he’s received from the state is platitudes and silence. “All I have is just a registration number,” said Silver, who’s been warned he could face foreclosure.

Magic Johnson, Simply Healthcare highlight importance of housing to health” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — At the Holden Heights Community Center in Orlando today, Johnson hosted a discussion on how important housing is to good health. Johnson serves as an ambassador of Simply Healthcare, a Florida managed health care plan that serves Medicare Advantage and Medicaid members in the state. “On and off the court, I’ve seen how team effort can yield powerful results,” Johnson said. “It will take all of us working together to fight against housing instability and homelessness, especially for communities of color that are disproportionally affected by housing insecurity. Everyone deserves to live in a secure environment that will promote better health outcomes.” Studies have identified a direct correlation between housing instability and increased medical and behavioral health problems. Communities of color are among those who suffer the most and disproportionately experience housing instability.

Magic Johnson delivers a message of good health and housing to Central Florida.

Raul Pino, voice of Orange’s COVID-19 fight, resigns as state health officer to direct county Health Services” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Five weeks after returning to work from a suspension, Dr. Pino, state health officer in Orange County, submitted his resignation late Monday to the Florida Department of Health and has accepted a leadership post with the county government. Pino, who declined to comment, will replace Yolanda Martinez as director of Orange County Health Services. She resigned on April 1. “Dr. Pino is a revered public health expert in Orange County,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, confirming the hiring first reported by the Orlando Sentinel.


Big shake-up in Boynton: Lori LaVerriere fired as City Manager; District 4 seat filled” via Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post — LaVerriere‘s long reign as Boynton Beach City Manager came to an end in a flash Tuesday night after the City Commission voted to fire her immediately. The departure is the second one involving a high-ranking city official in recent days. Police Chief Michael Gregory unexpectedly resigned last week after four years on the job. Mayor Ty Penserga made the motion to fire LaVerriere, and the move was supported by Vice Mayor Angela Cruz and Commissioners Thomas Turkin and Aimee Kelley. Kelley was sworn in earlier in the evening after being appointed by the rest of the Commission to fill the District 4 seat vacated by Penserga. Woodrow Hay voted to retain LaVerriere.

Lori LaVerriere is out in a big Boynton Beach shake-up.

Domestic violence deaths on rise in Miami-Dade even as overall murders decline” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — It took just two days to ring up the first domestic violence fatalities of 2022, a murder-suicide. After a bitter argument at their home near Miami Lakes, Fernando Cintron, 33, shot and killed his wife, Ariij Al-Husani, a 40-year-old decorated U.S. customs officer. Then, he killed himself. In the ensuing months, there have been more gut-wrenching examples: the father who fatally shot his two young children before turning the gun on himself in Miami Lakes, the Instagram model who fatally stabbed her boyfriend during a violent argument in their luxury Miami high-rise, the Little River mother who was embroiled in years of domestic turmoil before police say she strangled her own young children.

NFL quarterback Dwayne Haskins had run out of gas before he was struck and killed on I-595, wife says” via David Fleshler and Chris Perkins of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A 911 call from the wife of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Haskins appeared to solve the mystery of why he was walking on a busy interstate highway when he was struck and killed: He had run out of gas. His wife, Kalabrya, called moments after he was killed on Interstate 595 near the Fort Lauderdale airport early on the morning of April 9, saying she was worried about him. “He was stuck on the side of the highway,” she told the emergency operator, in one of a series of 911 recordings released Wednesday by the Florida Highway Patrol. “He had to go walk and get gas.”

Jupiter to hire former Police Chief as new Town Manager, bypassing 2 other candidates” via Katherine Kokal of the Palm Beach Post — Choosing not to consider its two other finalists for the job, Jupiter appointed Frank Kitzerow, its former Police Chief, and its acting Town Manager, to the permanent position Tuesday night. There, he will manage all town staff, lead negotiations with his former department on a new officers’ union contract and represent Jupiter from its top unelected office. The vote was unanimous and was met with resounding applause from the audience. Kitzerow, 64, has been a crowd favorite since he was appointed to fill the job on an interim basis after former Town Manager Matt Benoit resigned under scrutiny and criticism on Nov. 8.

Developer’s plan for downtown West Palm Beach looking like Miami’s funky Brickell Avenue” via Alexandra Clough of the Palm Beach Post — The Related Cos. built The Square, the center of dining and entertainment in downtown West Palm Beach, and now has plans to transform it. During a presentation to top Kravis Center for the Performing Arts corporate donors in March, Related Cos. partner Gopal Rajagowda laid out the company’s long-term vision for The Square, previously known as CityPlace. He noted that the New York-based company is working to transform the shopping and dining complex into “a place in the city.” Conceptual drawings beamed on two large screens at the Kravis Center revealed blocks of towers of steel and glass.

Billionaire Steve Wynn bought a $24M house in Palm Beach. It sold for $32M a year later” via Darrell Hofheinz of the Palm Beach Post — Wynn, a casino-and-resort billionaire, spun the wheel on Palm Beach real estate when he bought a lakefront estate for $24 million last year. And his bet apparently paid off. A just-recorded deed indicates he has sold the estate at 1040 N. Lake Way for $32 million — a 33% increase. Wynn’s primary home in Palm Beach is across town, where he has owned an ocean-to-lake estate on South Ocean Boulevard since 2019. Companies linked to him have bought and sold other properties in Palm Beach, records show. The buyer on North Lake Way was a Florida limited liability company named 1040 N. Lakeway LLC, managed by West Palm Beach real estate attorney Francis X.J. Lynch.


Rick Wilson: The Battle of Reedy Creek” via Florida Politics — The Battle of Reedy Creek could be the Gettysburg of America’s culture war crusades. Today, in the first wave of the battle, the Florida Senate dutifully passed the demands by General Robert E. DeSantis to attack and dismantle Disney’s land holdings in Orlando. This stunt is all about giving DeSantis more ammunition in his nonstop culture war as he prepares to primary Donald Trump in 2024, and the Florida Legislature has covered itself in infamy for playing his game. Just as Washington Republicans lived in terror of Trump’s horde, Florida House and Senate Republicans live in fear of DeSantis and his mob, including the ones who troll on the taxpayer’s dime. Having abandoned all their previous ideological predicates under Trump and giving in to the sweet seductions of the pursuit of absolute power, today’s GOP believes in nothing and, therefore, can convert any issue into a campaign weapon … the more lurid and conspiratorial, the better.


Gov. DeSantis unleashes vengeance on Disney. This is the stuff of Richard Nixon’s enemies list” via The Miami Herald editorial board — In an act of pure vengeance, Gov. DeSantis announced Tuesday that he was using his powers to expand this week’s Special Session in a push to strip Walt Disney World of the special taxing district that independently governs it. It may be that the taxing district, which has been around since 1967 and encompasses two cities, is an outdated concept. But there are ways to handle changing that, such as proposing legislation during the regular Session — which happened in 2019, though the measure died — and allowing the issue to be fully aired and a logical conclusion reached. That would be thoughtful. That would be normal. This? This is the stuff of Nixon and his enemies list.

DeSantis’ misguided attack on Disney’s legal status” via Charles C.W. Cooke of National Review — DeSantis issued a proclamation instructing a Special Session of the Florida Legislature to review whether Walt Disney World’s 50-year-old “independent special district” status should be rescinded now that The Walt Disney Co. has had the temerity to annoy the Republican Party. This escalation represents an ugly and ill-conceived mistake, a blemish on DeSantis’s otherwise mostly excellent gubernatorial record. There is no need for the Republican Party of Florida to salt the earth here; it has prevailed in every particular.

DeSantis is using every power of his office — real and imagined — to prep for his 2024 run” via Charles P. Pierce of Esquire — DeSantis, who was a Tea Party nut in Congress long before he decided that the road to glory required him to turn into QAnon Huey Long, turned a special session of the Florida Legislature into a new front in his battle against Disney. To be entirely fair, the special status granted to Disney by Florida is a huge gift of corporate welfare and can righteously be criticized on that basis. Elsewhere in DeSantis’s naked power grab, he signed an education “reform” package driven by the same performative political kabuki that nonetheless will put genuine pressure on the state’s public colleges and universities.

DeSantis has taken Donald Trump’s playbook — and made it much more dangerous” via Dennis Aftergut for NBC News — So it’s come to this in Florida: censoring math books. Last Saturday, the state’s education board banned 54 of 132 books submitted for inclusion in public schools’ math curricula. In June, the board similarly banned the teaching of critical race theory, or CRT, from public schools, notwithstanding the absence of any evidence proving that it was being taught in Florida’s K-12 schools. CRT is currently one of the right-wing’s favorite racial boogeyman, and one of DeSantis’ favorite causes célèbre.

DeSantis’ congressional map stacks the deck for Republicans” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Florida has about 5.15 million registered Republicans, a little more than 5 million registered Democrats, and more than 4 million voters registered with no party affiliation or with a minor party. That doesn’t mean congressional elections should always produce about as many Republican and Democratic winners. The governor’s map will continue the disturbing trend of forcing candidates to run for office in too many districts that are politically stacked with one party’s voters. The state won’t see as many competitive elections between Democrats and Republicans. Many of the races will essentially be over after the primary election.

Every day is Earth Day for Florida’s farmers” via Jeb Smith of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Every day is Earth Day on a Florida farm or ranch. When the sun comes up, we’re in the field. We’re tending to our herd or crop, analyzing the soil and applying just the right amount of nutrients and water. We wake up every day and go to work to ensure Americans and citizens around the world have access to a safe, affordable and abundant supply of food, fiber and other important staples. However, our job does not end at the cultivation and harvest. We also care for Florida’s natural landscape and protect our natural resources, and Floridians benefit from our efforts to care for, restore and protect the environment. Florida’s farmers and ranchers are among the most, if not the most, progressive in the nation when it comes to protecting and restoring the environment. We are proud to have seen great success from these efforts.

— ALOE —

Here’s the real reason we associate 420 with weed” via Olivia B. Waxman of Time — Over the past decade, 18 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Among the latest of these states is New Jersey, which permitted medical marijuana dispensaries to begin selling their products to all adults on April 21, 2022, the day after 4/20, a date that both marijuana smokers and non-smokers recognize as a national holiday for cannabis culture. Yet few actually know how the date got chosen. The most credible story traces 4/20 to Marin County, California, in 1971, five students at San Rafael High School would meet at 4:20 p.m. by the campus’ statue of chemist Louis Pasteur to partake.

Don’t bogart that joint: How did this whole 4/20 thing get started, anyway?

The summer of revenge travel is coming. No one can afford it.” via Leigh Giangreco of The Washington Post — After the delta variant cooled off “hot vax summer” last year and the omicron surge put holiday travel on ice, many Americans were clinging to the idea of returning to a normal vacation season — or what’s known as “revenge travel.” Instead, pent-up demand for travel, high gas prices and inflation has created the perfect storm. That has led many travelers to reassess their itineraries, whether it means canceling that overseas trip (again) or trading it for more modest domestic tours.

Comic book creators team up for Ukraine relief effort anthology ‘Sunflower Seed’” via Borys Kit of The Hollywood Reporter — In times of terrible need, comic creators have assembled for a greater good, be it for famine in Africa with Marvel’s 1980s Heroes for Hope comic or the graphic novels made after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Now, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine entering its seventh week, more than three dozen creators, among them numerous Eisner winners and veteran comic icons, have come together for a charity book that seeks to raise money to aid Ukrainian refugees displaced by the war. Titled Comics for Ukraine: Sunflower Seeds, the anthology book is the brainchild of Scott Dunbier, a veteran industry editor currently at IDW who teamed up with comic crowdfunding platform Zoop and charity Operation USA for the effort.


Best wishes to our friend, Rachel Davis Cone, managing partner of The Southern Group, former journalist Lloyd Dunkelberger, Jake Farmer, Regional Director of State & Local Government Relations for Walgreens, Hessy Fernandez, Director of Issues Management and Crisis Communications at the University of Florida, Andrew Hall, Kelly Schmidt, and Erik Suskey.


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, 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. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.

One comment

  • Tom

    April 21, 2022 at 9:00 am

    Amazing that Rick Wilson would be offered a opinion column. It can’t even be understood at to why. Obviously, Peter H is a plant on behalf of Lincoln. Who is next? Joe Scarborough?
    So sad.

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