Good Friday morning.
We should have known better than to think harmony could last after the Legislature’s initial congressional maps drew rare praise from both sides of the aisle.
Even Democrats agreed they were fair and stuck to the spirit of the 2010 amendment that required lawmakers to produce fair districts.
But after Gov. Ron DeSantis followed through on his vow to veto the maps, we now have a hot mess that leaves only one thing certain: Many lawyers will get rich fighting this out in court. Republicans already put $1 million into the map bill to cover legal expenses.
They probably should plan to dig a little deeper.
Republicans now figure to win 20 of Florida’s 28 U.S. House seats. Florida is trending red, of course, but not that red. Let the lawsuits begin. Even so, it’s unlikely any of this will be settled before the November elections.
Residents of the Tampa Bay area can forget whatever they thought they knew about their representatives in Congress.
After looking at the maps approved Thursday in a Special Session by the Legislature, that’s the takeaway.
Start with the fact that the map divides St. Petersburg in half, and that basically ensures Democrat Kathy Castor retains her seat in Congress. District 14, which Castor represents, has long been reliably blue.
Well, it just got bluer.
The district now includes South Tampa, Town ‘n Country, and other parts of Hillsborough County. But now it adds eastern and downtown St. Pete, which should make it a cakewalk for Castor.
But at what cost?
District 13, which Charlie Crist represents, now looks ripe for the taking by Republicans. It’s Christmas morning for Republicans Anna Paulina Luna, Amanda Makki, and Kevin Hayslett as the new map packs more blue neighborhoods from the old configuration into Castor’s district.
Can you say gerrymander?
It’s a nightmare scenario for Democrats Ben Diamond, Eric Lynn, and Michele Rayner-Goolsby. Their campaigns now face a steep climb.
Diamond was to become the Florida House Minority Leader for the 2022-24 term but gave that up after Crist announced his run for Governor. At the time, the district split was close but seemed to favor Democrats.
FiveThirtyEight.com projects it now leans for Republicans by 12%.
This race figured to attract national attention, with big money flowing in from all directions. Democrats, with little margin for error, if they hope to keep control of the U.S. House, now may have some tough decisions as November approaches.
If District 13 is as red as it seems, will the national party continue to target this race or redirect resources to more competitive areas?
Republicans will undoubtedly win the newly formed District 18, most likely with Scott Franklin running there. Franklin currently represents District 15, but former Rep. Dennis Ross is coming out of retirement to run there.
Do you see a trend here in this game of musical chairs?
As you float around the state, running against Republicans looks like a suicide mission in many places.
It was big news when Democrat and pragmatist Stephanie Murphy announced she wouldn’t run for another term in District 7. The new district gives Republicans a 14-point edge.
And, of course, there’s Democrat Al Lawson, who just got kneecapped. We knew that was coming because DeSantis targeted Lawson’s district. In the old configuration, it ran along a narrow corridor from Jacksonville to Tallahassee, designed to give minority voters the chance to elect a Black representative.
Lawson, now stuck in a deep red district, seems to have little chance of keeping his seat. Lawson complained that the Governor’s move “clearly violates the Voting Rights Act, as well as the U.S. and Florida Constitutions.”
Maybe so, but it also seems clear that DeSantis is itching for a court fight on this one.
“We are not going to have a 200-mile gerrymander that divvies up people based on the color of their skin,” he said. “There has never been a district of that length and that shape that has been justifiable under the federal constitution.”
If DeSantis wants to gut the Voting Rights Act — and he does — this district could be the case that makes (or breaks) it for the Governor.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
Honored to meet brave @USArmy members & fellow Floridians today at the Pabradė outpost in Lithuania – less than 20 miles from the Belarus border.
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) April 21, 2022
This seems pretty important: There's an ongoing collapse in pro-institution sentiment among Republicans—who disapprove of colleges, big corporations, tech firms, media, entertainment, and unions. Basically: Everything is bad, except church.https://t.co/x0hnTvJzFN pic.twitter.com/PXhFEfp8AA
— Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) April 21, 2022
—@MarcEElias: Florida will be sued.
—@Mike_Grieco: So, the @ special district repeal bill passed with no debate allowed. Disappointing, as I had a decent speech prepared. References to Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Russia suppressing free speech would have been on the menu.
—@ChrisConwayDC: It’s wild that Disney completely betrayed the LGBTQ community by donating to Republicans and letting the Anti-Gay bill pass, then halfheartedly acted like they regretted it, and now it’s costing them tons of money because Republicans are mad they vaguely criticized them. Wow.
—@TylerAKing: In voting to eliminate Disney’s special district, the Florida GOP Legislature has effectively erased $2 BILLION in Disney debt which will be passed off to Orange and Osceola households (Dem districts) to the tune of $2,200 each.
I covered my first Florida legislative session in 2002, a redistricting session, I don’t remember anything like this, nor do peers and friends who have done this longer than I have in Tallahassee https://t.co/rMSarc6zdM
— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) April 21, 2022
These two are not the same. pic.twitter.com/LOsSAgDgBX
— Shevrin “Shev” Jones (@ShevrinJones) April 21, 2022
Currently occupying the Florida House Chambers Floor. This is #ThePeoplesHouse we will not stand by and allow #DeSantis to eliminate Black districts. #StopTheBlackAttacks #FairDistricts pic.twitter.com/4LUpKWl5Yw
— Rep. Angie Nixon (@AngieNixon) April 21, 2022
—@VoteRandyFine: I hope the insurrection on the House Floor is dealt with appropriately. #LockThemUp
—@BryanDGriffin: Critics really want to make a story about “book banning” — but it isn’t. Refusing to buy every textbook proposed for Florida classrooms isn’t a ban. Textbooks always have content standards. Keeping books designed to deliver facts free of ideological-driven subtext is a good thing.
— DAYS UNTIL —
‘We Own This City’ premieres on HBO Max — 3; 2022 Florida Chamber Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit — 6; ‘The Godfather’ TV series ‘The Offer’ premieres — 6; 2nd half of ‘Ozark’ final season begins — 7; White House Correspondents’ Dinner — 8; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 14; Florida TaxWatch’s Spring Meeting — 20; ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ starts on Disney+ — 34; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 35; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 41; California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold midterm Primaries — 46; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 77; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 90; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 109; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 121; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 133; 2022 Emmys — 133; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 167; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 186; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 186; ‘Black Panther 2′ premieres — 203; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 203; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 209; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 213; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 213; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 214; ‘Avatar 2′ premieres — 238; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 319; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ premieres — 336; 2023 Session Sine Die — 378; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 462; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 546; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 826.
“After Democratic shutdown, Florida Republicans pass new congressional map that kills Black district” via Marc Caputo and Jane C. Timm of NBC News — The House passed the map just before 1 p.m. as two Black Democratic members shouted a call-and-response chant in opposition to it. The new map was drawn at the insistence of DeSantis, who demanded the elimination of a Black-heavy congressional seat; Democrats say the redrawn districts unravel Black political power in the state. The Senate voted Wednesday to pass the map.
The surprising act of defiance began a little before noon when Rep. Yvonne Hinson went over her allotted speaking time and had her microphone cut, prompting other Black lawmakers to stand without being recognized and gather in the center of the chamber, showing off shirts that said, “Stop the Black Attack” and sitting on the state seal of the House floor’s blue carpet.
House Speaker Chris Sprowls tried to rule them out of order, and when they refused to comply, the Session was gaveled into an indefinite recess. “We’re on lockdown right now,” one sergeant explained. Democrats, alone in the chamber, prayed and chanted. Rep. Dotie Joseph led a prayer suggesting Republicans were under the sway of Satan, whom she called “the Adversary.”
“House Democrats lead sit-in to protest vote on Ron DeSantis’ congressional map” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Black lawmakers in the House launched a sit-in protest in the Florida Capitol on Thursday. Several state Representatives wearing T-shirts reading “Stop the Black Attack” disrupted proceedings ahead of a vote on DeSantis’ controversial redistricting plan. The lawmakers soon broke out in a chorus, singing “We Shall Overcome.” Rep. Tray McCurdy read a statement that made clear the Black Democrats intended to sit in the chamber as long as possible. “We will not be denied,” he said, beginning to lead a chant. “We will occupy this floor.” Ultimately, the protest lasted a little over an hour. Then Sprowls gaveled Session back in and held a vote over the chants of McCurdy and Rep. Angie Nixon.
— SPECIAL SESSION —
“Legislature approves DeSantis’ controversial congressional redistricting map” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Legislature has approved a controversial congressional map from DeSantis, set to take effect before the 2022 midterms unless a court quickly decides otherwise. The cartography (P 0109), which creates 20 Republican-leaning seats and eight Democratic seats, will next head to the Governor for his signature. Once he approves the map, Florida comes off a list of just three states that have yet to complete their redistricting process. The House on Thursday picked up the reapportionment bill passed the previous day by the Senate. The Legislature’s lower chamber passed the bill through a party-line vote of 68-34.
“House passes bill ending Disney Plus carve-out, gavels out amid protests” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — As members of the Legislative Black Caucus sat on the House floor in protest over the redistricting process, Republican leadership pushed through with votes on the day’s business, including a bill to remove a carve-out for Disney Plus in Florida’s social media de-platforming bill. Lawmakers had allotted 40 minutes of debate on the Disney Plus bill (SB 6C), plus two hours of debate on a bill to eliminate Disney’s self-governing district (SB 4C). By a 70-38 vote, along party lines, the House approved the bill, which will remove a carve-out for companies that own theme parks from a law that tries to protect Floridians from social media “censorship.”
“Jerry Demings: Eliminating Disney’s Reedy Creek ‘catastrophic’ for Orange taxpayers” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — State legislators’ plan to dissolve a special district that has governed Central Florida lands owned by The Walt Disney Co. for over half a century would be “catastrophic” for Orange County’s budget and taxpayers, who’d shoulder the burden of providing public safety and other services for the entertainment giant’s properties, Mayor Demings said Thursday. He said Disney foots 100% of the bills for its law enforcement services, provided through a contract with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office; Reedy Creek Fire Services, which delivers fire-rescue protection from a station in Lake Buena Vista; and its 911 call center. He said the measure, introduced by Republican lawmakers, was “obvious … political retribution at play.”
“How DeSantis’ fight with Disney could impact you” via Michael Hudak and Matthew Seaver of WINK — “I have to imagine that Disney, on some level, is got to be wondering what the heck has just happened to us?” said UCF Political Science Professor Aubrey Jewett. “This fight not only impacts central Florida, but it could impact the whole state.” Jewett said that weight could fall on all of us. “If you get rid of Reedy Creek, then property taxes may have to go up for the surrounding counties to continue to provide those services. Because, you know, if you still have two or 300,000 tourists coming through Disney every day, we still need roads, we still need drainage, we still need fire and EMT service, we still need an electrical grid, we still need trash pickup.”
“Florida taxpayers could face a $1 billion Disney debt bomb if its special district status is revoked” via Robert Frank of CNBC — A repeal of Disney’s self-government status in Florida could leave local taxpayers with more than $1 billion in bond debt, according to tax officials and legislators. The Florida House on Thursday passed a bill that would dissolve Disney’s special improvement district, escalating DeSantis’ attack on the company over its opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, dubbed by critics the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The state Senate passed the bill Wednesday after it was first introduced Tuesday. It will now go to the Governor for his signature.
“What would Uncle Walt think? A Disney historian explains” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — If Walt Disney were alive today, what would he think of the Florida Legislature threatening to dissolve Disney World’s government? Disney historian Richard Foglesong hypothesized Uncle Walt fuming at lawmakers for even considering stripping Reedy Creek Improvement District of its powers after all — in Walt’s mind — Disney World had done for Florida. “That would clearly be the attitude of Walt and the old guard as well. They thought they were owed something for coming to the state, that they had done Florida a favor — Central Florida in particular,” said Foglesong, a retired Rollins College political science professor who wrote about the formation of Disney World in his book “Married to the Mouse.”
“Tampa Bay area state Senator says property insurance crisis has far-reaching consequences” via Christina Georgacopoulos of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Florida’s property insurance market is in crisis mode. DeSantis is calling the legislature back for a Special Session in May to restore “sanity” and stability in the Florida market, despite lawmakers’ failure to pass three bills that addressed the issue during their regular session earlier this year. Tampa Bay area state Sen. Jim Boyd said a failure to address skyrocketing rates and fraud in the market has far-reaching consequences. “This affects our entire economy. From homeowners who are paying the bills, to banks with mortgages and Realtors trying to sell houses,” Boyd said.
— FUZZY MATH —
Popular Information pored over some of the textbooks banned by the Florida Department of Education last week to determine why they were rejected. In short, they’re flummoxed.
DOE rejected 54 math textbooks and claimed half were binned because they contained “prohibited topics,” including Critical Race Theory and Social-Emotional Learning.
According to Popular Information, that’s not true — at least for the eight textbooks, they were able to get their hands on.
“What we found bears no resemblance to the alarming assertions of Florida officials,” Judd Legum, Tesnim Zekeria and Rebecca Crosby wrote.
“There was no discussion of race, racism, or anything that could be construed as related to CRT in any of the textbooks. While the vast majority of the textbooks focused on basic math skills, they also encouraged students to reflect on how they learn and work with their classmates. In general, the textbooks encouraged young students to be nice to each other and themselves.”
One book, Florida Reveal Math Grade 1, had a section asking students to reflect on how they can show they “value the ideas of others” and “what helps you understand your partner’s ideas.” It also encouraged students to share their own ideas, listen to others with an open mind, ask helpful questions, and disagree respectfully.
An eighth-grade textbook contained brief bios for several famous mathematicians, including two Black mathematicians. However, the book also includes bios for mathematicians of other backgrounds, and their bios make no forays into CRT.
“State education officials release examples of ‘impermissible’ materials in math textbooks” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) has released several examples from rejected mathematics textbooks considered “impermissible” by the Department after receiving a mass of requests in response to the agency’s significant cut of approved instructional material. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran approved the restrictive list on Monday, announcing that Florida is initially not including 54 of the 132 (41%) submitted math textbooks on the state’s adopted list. The number of math books rejected by the FDOE in the new list is the most in Florida’s history. The examples provided by the Department feature math problems that contain “prohibited topics,” like social-emotional learning, and references to studies that feature topics like race and racism.
“State rejects Escambia schools’ K-5 math textbooks. Time is running low to find new ones” via Collin Warren-Hicks of the Pensacola News Journal — DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education have put the Escambia County School District in a bind. There is a real chance that the district will not have math textbooks for its kindergarten through fifth grade students when school begins next fall. Last week, the FDOE rejected about 40% of the math textbooks submitted by local school districts for state approval to be used during the 2022-2023 academic year. The ECSD’s first, second, third, fourth and fifth choices of math textbooks to instruct all the county’s public elementary school students were included on a list of over 50 textbooks rejected by the state.
— 2022 —
“DeSantis to stump for Donald Trump-backed Nevada Senate candidate” via Max Greenwood of The Hill — DeSantis will campaign alongside Nevada GOP Senate hopeful Adam Laxalt, lending his growing political celebrity to one of Trump’s preferred Senate candidates. The April 27 “Rise Up” rally in Las Vegas will mark one of the Florida Governor’s first public appearances campaigning on behalf of a candidate outside of his home state. While he’s long attended fundraisers and other events across the country, he has so far avoided wading too far into races outside of Florida.
Happening today — DeSantis will be the featured guest at a fundraiser hosted by Nestor Plana and José Oliva at noon, Fisher Island. Details will be provided upon RSVP to [email protected]
“In video, Gov. DeSantis blasts ‘wokeness,’ vows role in school board races” via Gary White of The Ledger — During a recent visit to Polk County, DeSantis gave a talk that seemed to satisfy the appetites of an enthusiastic group of supporters. DeSantis warned that “woke ideology” threatens to destroy the country, vowed to get involved in local school board races and smiled in response to an audience member’s suggestion that citizens should shoot undocumented immigrants. The Winter Haven 9-12 Project, a conservative political group, posted a video of DeSantis’ talk on its website and YouTube. The 30-minute video captures DeSantis speaking informally but in campaign-rally mode during an April 1 visit to Blackburn’s Southern Barbecue in Eagle Lake. As of Friday morning, the video had been removed from both sites, two days after The Ledger asked DeSantis’ office and a leader of the Winter Haven 9-12 Project about it.
“DeSantis’ governing strategy in Florida is paying off” via Harry Enten of CNN — DeSantis has championed controversial stances that have catapulted him into GOP stardom. From COVID-19 vaccines to critical race theory to the law critics have dubbed “Don’t Say Gay,” DeSantis has annoyed Democrats (and many medical professionals) and delighted his fellow Republicans. He’s played to the GOP base, something you may not expect for a Governor of a competitive state running for reelection this year. But guess what? It’s working for DeSantis. His polling has improved since last summer, and he finds himself as the strongest possible competitor of Trump. His approval rating in Florida has risen into the mid-50s, while his disapproval rating has dropped to about 40%.
“Trump coming to Nassau County to deliver speech to Heritage Foundation” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — Trump will visit Amelia Island Thursday to address a meeting of conservative activists about setting the course for national policies. He’ll deliver the keynote speech at the Heritage Foundation’s annual leadership conference at the Ritz-Carlton at 6 p.m., with his remarks being livestreamed to a broader digital audience. The address will continue the former President’s efforts to push back against the policies of Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress. “America is facing dark times and tremendous plight due to the radical shift away from America First,” Trump said in remarks circulated by Heritage. “However, America’s greatness is not lost if we act with purpose. We can and must turn this around to save America.”
“RNC boot camp aims to empower campaigns with data” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Republican operatives from Florida and the Southeastern U.S. continue a workshop in Tampa led by the Republican National Committee. The political professionals there will learn to use databases of networks available to candidates from seats in Congress down to local district seats. It’s part of a goal to lift Republicans nationwide in offices large and small. “We’re really excited to be in Florida, working with folks on the ground, spending our time to share as much as we can and help them leverage data to win,” said Justin Temp, deputy chief data officer for the RNC.
“Florida seeks 100% renewable electricity by 2050” via The Associated Press — Florida utilities would gradually increase their electricity to 100% renewable by 2050 under a proposed rule unveiled Thursday by Nikki Fried. The proposed rule is an outgrowth of a lengthy court battle involving dozens of young people who claim Florida is violating their constitutional rights by continuing to promote the use of fossil fuels that drive climate change. Similar lawsuits have been filed in other states. The rule announced by Fried, a Democratic candidate for governor this year, came following pressure from young people represented by the nonprofit Our Children’s Trust, who filed a petition seeking the proposal. It’s the first of this magnitude in Florida.
Charlie Crist campaign announces Broward co-chairs — Crist’s gubernatorial campaign announced a list of more than a dozen Broward County co-chairs on Thursday. The lineup, led by Broward County Commissioner Steve Geller, features a mix of current and former elected officials such as former Sen. Perry Thurston, Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam, North Lauderdale Mayor Ana Ziade, and Broward County State Attorney Harold Pryor. “I’m honored to lead this incredible group of public servants to help mobilize Broward County and elect our next governor of Florida, Charlie Crist,” said Geller. “I’ve known Charlie since college. Not only is he a genuinely nice guy and great friend, I am confident that Charlie is our best and strongest candidate to beat Gov. DeSantis.”
“Jimmy Patronis earns 60 Sheriff endorsements” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Chief Financial Officer Patronis has landed endorsements from the majority of Florida Sheriffs, his campaign announced Thursday. The lead endorsement came from the Sheriff of Patronis’ home county, Tommy Ford. “I proudly endorse CFO Jimmy Patronis. He has continued to stand with law enforcement and first responders in keeping Florida safe,” the Bay County official said. “Through many disasters and incidents throughout our state, he has had his boots on the ground to ensure that first responders had the resources and support that they needed.” Patronis was appointed CFO in 2017 and elected to a full term in 2018, earning 52% of the vote. He will likely face Democratic former Rep. Adam Hattersley on the November ballot.
“Aaron Bean exploring run in new Jax-area congressional seat” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Senate President Pro Tempore is considering running for Congress in Florida’s 4th Congressional District. But it’s not the district currently represented by John Rutherford. Sen. Bean, who represents Nassau County and part of Duval County in the state Senate, confirmed Thursday he is still considering a run for a new district in Northeast Florida. The Legislature approved the new map during this week’s Special Session. “Still exploring,” term-limited Bean said Thursday morning, saying decisions would come “after this Special Session” which wrapped the same day. One big name won’t be there, though: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. Curry, term-limited in 2023, said he wouldn’t run Thursday.
“Tallahassee City Commission approves resolution asking Legislature to protect Al Lawson’s district” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics — The Tallahassee City Commission voted unanimously to approve a last-minute resolution asking legislators to preserve Florida’s 5th Congressional District as the Legislature considers a map to change it. The resolution, drafted by City Attorney Cassandra Jackson and passed Wednesday through a motion made by Commissioner Jeremy Matlow, expresses the city’s support for protecting Black-access congressional districts in the state. The Leon County Commission made a similar motion last week. The resolution specifically calls for the preservation of Florida’s 5th Congressional District, which includes a chunk of the city and is currently held by Lawson.
“Dennis Ross clarifies he’s sticking with CD 15 run” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Former Rep. Ross made clear Thursday he’s running to return to Congress in Florida’s 15th Congressional District. While he announced his campaign in March, he put out a fresh statement following the Legislature’s approval of a new congressional map (P 0109) submitted by DeSantis. “I commend Gov. DeSantis and the Legislature for approving Florida’s congressional redistricting map and am very pleased to note that the newly created District 15 I am running in is made up of nearly 75% of my previous congressional district,” he said. The district notably appears quite different from an analogous jurisdiction in the map approved in March by the Legislature.
“Vern Buchanan announces he will seek re-election in CD 16” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Rep. Buchanan, a Longboat Key Republican, announced Thursday he will seek re-election in Florida’s 16th Congressional District. “The Congressman is looking forward to running for re-election in a district that he has served for the past decade,” said campaign spokesperson Max Goodman. The announcement comes the day the Florida Legislature expects to pass a new congressional map (P 0109) proposed by DeSantis. Buchanan’s choice to run in the Manatee-based seat comes less than an hour after Rep. Greg Steube announced he would run in neighboring CD 17.
“First to the ball? Greg Steube announces re-election campaign in CD 17” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — “Florida’s 17th District deserves an America First conservative who will fight for freedom and liberty, and I have a proven track record of doing exactly that in service to this district and our country,” Steube said. “I am honored to seek re-election once again in District 17, and I applaud Gov. DeSantis for his leadership during the redistricting process.”
“HD 5 candidate Shane Abbott lands endorsements from Alex Andrade, Michelle Salzman” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Reps. Andrade and Salzman weighed in on the competitive Republican Primary for House District 5, throwing their support behind Abbott. “Shane Abbott will bring proven business experience and a strong conservative backbone to the Florida House,” said Andrade. “I trust him to stand firm in the defense of our freedoms and always fight to protect the values we share in Northwest Florida. Shane Abbott has my full endorsement for the Florida House of Representatives.” Abbott said he was honored to receive the endorsements and praised Andrade for being a “staunch defender of conservative values” and Salzman for being “a distinguished Veteran and devoted conservative activist.”
“Florida Police Benevolent Association backs Vance Coley in HD 5” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Republican Coley announced Thursday that the Florida Police Benevolent Association has endorsed his candidacy for House District 5. PBA executive director Matt Puckett said Coley “demonstrates a strong commitment to the men and women of law enforcement and corrections. We know he has our back.” Coley is one of three Republicans running for HD 5, which will be an open seat in 2022 because current Rep. Brad Drake cannot run for re-election due to term limits. Coley faces DeFuniak Springs pharmacy owner Abbott and Jackson County Commissioner Clint Pate in the Republican Primary. The Panhandle district covers Holmes, Jackson, Walton and Washington counties, as well as parts of Bay County. It is safely Republican, and no Democrats have filed to run in the district this cycle.
“ACLU of Florida challenges Fort Pierce redistricting plan, but City Commission moves forward” via Olivia McKelvey of Treasure Coast Newspapers — The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida is challenging the city’s redistricting process, citing concerns over data discrepancies. Yet despite the alarm bells set off by the ACLU, the City Commission Monday moved forward with one of the two district boundary maps proposed by Tallahassee-based consultant Kurt Spitzer and Associates. Only Commissioner Arnold Gaines dissented. A final vote is scheduled for May 2. Federal law requires the city to redraw its Commission boundary lines every 10 years. The population of District 2, which spans parts of Hutchinson Island and southern Fort Pierce, is thousands greater than District 1, mainly the northwestern sector of the city.
— STATEWIDE —
“Don’t be ‘cruel’: Gov. DeSantis drags Joe Biden’s airline mask appeal” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — In Destin, DeSantis made his latest argument against “cruel” mask mandates on mass transit, blasting Biden for plans to appeal a court decision rescinding those requirements. “There should be no mandates, period. None,” DeSantis said to cheers. “I think the airline mandate is to me one of the most cruel,” DeSantis argued, saying that due to “air filtration” systems, “you just don’t have outbreaks on planes.” “And the thing is, you’ll have somebody sitting in an aisle seat and they will put the mask down and fake nibble on peanuts for two hours so they don’t have to have a covering, so they can breathe freely, and it’s all a charade,” DeSantis lamented. “This is COVID theater.”
“DeSantis recommends Manny Diaz Jr. as state Education Commissioner” via Jeffrey S. Solochek and Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — DeSantis on Thursday recommended Sen. Diaz Jr., who has a long history on conservative education issues, to become the state’s next Education Commissioner. Diaz, a Hialeah Republican, has led several education committees in the Senate and House. He has spearheaded legislation on several DeSantis priorities on the topic, including voucher expansions and the “individual freedoms” bill that deals with the teaching of race issues. “Manny Diaz has done a great job in the Legislature fighting for educational choice and keeping indoctrination out of our schools,” DeSantis said in a statement. “I am confident that he will serve our state well as the commissioner of education.”
“DeSantis’ Twitter threats make no sense” via Chris Cillizza of CNN — Now DeSantis wants to take on Twitter. “We’re gonna be looking at ways the state of Florida potentially can be holding these Twitter board of directors accountable for breaching their fiduciary duty,” DeSantis said. “They rejected it because they know they can’t control Elon Musk,” added DeSantis. “They know that he will not accept the narrative.” It’s more than a little strange that DeSantis, a conservative, would be advocating that government should tie the hands of private industry.
“Florida pension leader praises Elon Musk’s Twitter bid, criticizes poison pill” via Ross Kerber of Reuters — A Florida official praised Musk‘s offer to buy Twitter and said pension officials will tell the company its efforts to fend off the bid could hurt shareholder value. “We’re definitely very concerned about them leaving offers on the table,” said Florida Chief Financial Officer Patronis in a telephone interview late on Wednesday afternoon. Patronis is one of three elected officials who are trustees of the State Board of Administration (SBA), with some $250 billion in retirement assets. It will vote 808,093 Twitter shares at next month’s annual meeting, about the 70th largest investor.
“Ashley Moody honors Vero Beach police Thursday with Thin Line Tribute” via Lamaur Stancil of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Attorney General Moody presented a Thin Line Tribute Thursday afternoon to the Vero Beach Police Department, recognizing the work of front-line law enforcement officers. The tribute is to thank front-line law enforcement officers for their selfless and dedicated service to the citizens of Vero Beach, she said. Moody presented the tribute to Vero Beach Police Chief David Currey for his department. Vero Beach Mayor Robert Brackett; Michael Marsh of Team Success Enterprises, a local nonprofit that works with domestic violence victims; Vero Beach City Attorney John Turner, and other local business leaders were in attendance at the Police Department.
“Florida’s water-board appointments show Critical Race Theory is no theory” via Craig Pittman of Florida Phoenix — When I need a good laugh, I check the latest news about DeSantis. Our Governor is a comic genius! Just look at his record, and you’ll see what I mean. Last week, his education department unveiled his greatest joke yet. In a classic 5 p.m. Good Friday news dump, the department issued a news release that said the DeSantis administration had rejected a bunch of math textbooks for elementary school kids. Why? Because the publishers were trying to indoctrinate kids with Critical Race Theory! I haven’t laughed this hard since the last time I watched “Blazing Saddles.”
— D.C. MATTERS —
“If Biden’s plan is like a ‘New Deal,’ Why don’t voters care?” via Alexander Burns of The New York Times — Unlike the New Deal, this $1.9 trillion federal investment in American communities has barely registered with voters. Rather than a trophy for Biden and his party, the program has become a case study in how easily voters can overlook even a lavishly funded government initiative delivering benefits close to home. Biden’s popularity has declined in polls over the past year, and voters are giving him less credit for the country’s economic recovery than his advisers had anticipated.
“Biden’s internal border battle” via Alayna Treene of Axios — Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas privately told members of Congress he’s concerned with the Biden administration’s handling of its plans to lift Title 42 on May 23. The private airings by Mayorkas, recounted by lawmakers, belie his public posturing that the administration is prepared for a potential influx of migrants. The secretary is not only charged with protecting the border but overseeing the process of ending the Trump-era immigration control. Mayorkas has also indicated frustration and unease with the repeal rollout. DHS spokesperson Marsha Espinosa told Axios: “As Secretary Mayorkas has said repeatedly, Title 42 is a public health authority — not an immigration authority — and he defers to the public health experts at the CDC for any decisions related to it.
“Jerome Powell reinforces expectations of sharp rate hike next month” via Christopher Rugaber of The Associated Press — The Federal Reserve must move faster than it has in the past to rein in high inflation, Chair Powell said Thursday, signaling that sharp interest rate increases are likely in the coming months, beginning at the Fed’s next policy meeting in May. In a panel discussion held by the International Monetary Fund during its spring meetings, Powell also suggested that “there’s something in the idea of front-loading” aggressive rate hikes as the Fed grapples with inflation that has reached a four-decade high.
“Democrats aim to require FTC to investigate possible gas price gouging” via Aris Folley of The Hill — Democrats have introduced legislation that aims to require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate possible gas price manipulation, as polling shows rising fuel prices have become an issue for many consumers amid an increase in inflation. Democratic Reps. Val Demings, Jerry Nadler, David Cicilline and Castor unveiled the bill, dubbed the Oil and Gas Industry Antitrust Act, early Thursday. The measure seeks to require the FTC to investigate whether the price of gasoline is being “manipulated by reducing refinery capacity or by any other form of market manipulation or artificially increased by price-gouging practices,” the bill text states.
“Florida man charged with attacking officers at Capitol riot” via The Associated Press — A Florida man who attacked police officers while storming the U.S. Capitol during the January 2021 insurrection was arrested Thursday. Barry Ramey was arrested in South Florida, where he is scheduled to make his initial court appearance Friday. Ramey faces charges of assaulting, resisting or impeding officers with a dangerous weapon, civil disorder, and engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds with a dangerous weapon. The case is being prosecuted in federal court in Washington, D.C. Ramey, on Jan. 6, 2021, joined with others objecting to Biden’s 2020 election victory over Trump.
“Biden to issue Earth Day order to safeguard old-growth forests” via Anna Phillips of The Washington Post — Biden will sign an executive order on Friday in Seattle laying the groundwork for protecting some of the biggest and oldest trees in America’s forests, according to five individuals briefed on the plan who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it was not yet finalized. Biden will direct the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to inventory mature and old-growth forests nationwide, three of the individuals said. He will also require the agencies to identify threats to these trees and to use that information to write policies that protect them.
— LOCAL NOTES: N. FL —
“Charlie Adelson arrested: Latest twist in the 2014 murder-for-hire case of FSU professor Dan Markel” via Grace Pateras and Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Nearly eight years after FSU law professor Markel was gunned down in his Betton Hills garage by hired hit men, his former brother-in-law has been arrested in connection with his killing. Adelson was booked, according to Broward County Jail records, on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation of murder. He was taken into custody at his home by the U.S. Marshals Service. The news was a Thursday morning bombshell in one of the capital city’s highest-profile cases — one that has been chronicled for years by the Tallahassee Democrat and around the globe on true-crime drama television shows ranging from “Dateline” to “20/20.”
“State suspends Destin nursing home license, orders it to discharge 100-plus residents” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — A Destin nursing home must discharge more than 100 residents by April 25 after state regulators alleged its corporate office put profits above resident care and Florida law. The state issued an emergency order suspending Destin Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center’s license and took the unusual step of ordering it to discharge its residents after finding the nursing home continued to accept new residents despite not having adequate staff to care for them. “The misplaced weight on financial concerns over immediate resident care and the legal requirements of Florida law must be addressed,” Agency for Health Care Administration Deputy Secretary Kimberly R. Smoak wrote in an April 16 emergency order.
“Lack of trust, communication over impact fees delays American Beach vote” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — A process meant to direct money toward the American Beach Historic Park appeared to have been caught up in an ongoing lack of trust between American Beach residents and Nassau County officials. The Nassau County Board of County Commissioners’ Wednesday morning meetings typically don’t feature controversial topics. Those issues are more suited to evening meetings that are more convenient for public attendance. The agenda item in question looked at whether to allow the Board Chair to sign financial action forms to use impact fees to develop American Beach Historic Park and the Tributary Community Park.
“Gov. DeSantis drops into Destin to announce red snapper season extended to 57 days” via Tom McLaughlin of Northwest Florida Daily News — DeSantis dropped anchor at Destin Harbor to announce this year’s Gulf red snapper season would be extended to 57 days, making it the longest for anglers since the state began managing the species. The state’s 2021 red snapper season ran for 54 days. This year’s season will include both summer and fall sessions. The 45-day summer season will begin on June 17 and run to July 31. A 12-day fall season, the longest since the beginning of state management programs, will allow snapper fishing on Oct. 8-9, 15-16 and 22-23. Snapper fishing will also be legal over Veterans Day weekend, Nov. 11-13, and Thanksgiving Day weekend, Nov. 25-27.
— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —
“Central Florida COVID-19 wastewater levels back down after jump” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — After an increase in the concentration of COVID-19 gene copies — fragments of the virus found in infected or recently infected people’s stool — levels have gone down in local wastewater over the last week. The increase was first highlighted by Altamonte Springs City Manager Frank Martz after a Thursday, April 7 reading in the Altamonte Springs sewer service area showed a 1,661% increase in COVID-19 concentration since March 10. The Casselberry sewer service area saw a 4,323% increase during the same period. Since then, COVID-19 virus concentrations have declined. This decrease over almost two weeks suggests there is not as much COVID-19 viral load in the community now, said Edwin Oh, an associate professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Kerkorian School of Medicine.
“Downtown St. Pete’s tallest apartment tower has topped out at 36 stories” via Breanne Williams of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — One of the tallest high-rise apartments in Tampa Bay, under construction in downtown St. Petersburg, has topped out. Charleston-based Greystar Real Estate Partners is developing Ascent St. Pete at the corner of First Avenue N and Second Street S. It will include a 172-key hotel by hotel in a partnership with AC by Marriott and will be 36 stories with 357 units. The units will range from studios to three bedrooms and penthouse units will also be on-site. The hotel will have a separately branded restaurant on the eighth floor with an outdoor terrace and bar. The project will include outdoor pool amenities on the sixth and 36th floors. Along the ground floor is more than 6,800 square feet of retail along First Avenue and Second Street.
“Florida bride and caterer charged with lacing wedding food with cannabis” via Jamiel Lynch and Elizabeth Wolfe of CNN — A Florida bride and her wedding caterer have been arrested and accused of lacing wedding food, including lasagna, with marijuana and causing several guests to become sick. Bride Danya Shea Svoboda and caterer Joycelyn Montrinice Bryant have been charged with culpable negligence, delivery of marijuana and violating Florida’s Anti-Tampering Act, the affidavits say. One affidavit alleges Svoboda “agreed to and allowed Joycelyn Montrinice Bryant to lace the food she served … with cannabis unbeknownst to the attendees, many of whom became very ill and required medical attention.”
“Broward family savagely beat gay man because they felt he ‘made’ son gay, victim told cops” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — A forbidden relationship led to the attack of a Pompano Beach gay man that was so savage it left him blinded, according to court documents released this week. The arrest warrants offer new details of the brutal attack in the case against members of the Makarenko family, who were charged last week with attempted murder under Florida’s “hate crime” law. Prosecutors say Inna Makarenko Yevhen Makarenko and two of their adult sons, Oleh and Vladyslav, stormed the man’s apartment in August, beating him and leaving him to die on the blood-covered floor for 13 hours. The attack was spurred because the parents found out the victim had been in a gay relationship with Oleh, authorities say.
“West Palm sober home operator gets six years in prison in $31.3 million health fraud scheme” via Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post — A 49-year-old Lake Worth Beach-area man who used people struggling with addiction to bilk insurers out of $31.3 million will spend six years behind bars, a federal judge decided Wednesday. Despite a blunt assessment from a grieving mother that Kenneth Bailynson had “blood on his hands” for causing the overdose death of her son, U.S. District Judge Rodolfo A. Ruiz II said he was reluctantly imposing what he acknowledged was a lenient sentence. Since the former New Jersey accountant has already spent more than two years in jail, he will spend less than four years in federal prison.
“Palm Beach County School board hires Sarah Mooney to serve as Chief of district police” via Giuseppe Sabella of the Palm Beach Post — The School Board has approved a new Chief for the district police force, the department’s fourth leader in about a year. Mooney, former head of the West Palm Beach Police Department, where she climbed from police officer to Chief over more than two decades, will start as the newest leader of school police on May 4. “I do not take the responsibility lightly,” Mooney said in a prepared statement. “As a native of Palm Beach County, I have a vested interest in providing the highest level of service to our School District.” The department had just under 250 officers as of late February, making it one of the largest police forces in Palm Beach County.
“Mortgage demand is dropping. Here’s what it means for the housing market in South Florida.” via Amber Randall of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Some mortgage lenders across South Florida are seeing a substantial decrease in the number of applications — as interest rates hit their highest level since the start of the housing boom. Lenders see the effect of interest rates as they receive fewer purchase applications. “We definitely had a dip across the board on applications,” said J.C. de Ona, the southeast division president of Centennial Bank. According to numbers from his bank, recently they’ve seen a 20% to 30% drop in purchase applications. Craig Garcia, with Capital Partners Mortgages in Coral Springs, said that applications with them over the past two months have declined 30% when compared to the previous year.
“Home prices still on the rise in Palm Beach County. Will higher interest rates slow them down?” via Kimberly Miller of the Palm Beach Post — Prices continued to reach record highs in Palm Beach County’s unbridled residential real estate market last month, trouncing values seen during the hotheaded peak of the previous boom and leaving buyers stranded in an inventory desert. The median price for an existing single-family home hit $541,000 in March, a 23% increase from the same time last year, according to a report released Wednesday by the Broward, Palm Beaches and St. Lucie Realtors group. While the Realtors group’s records date back to 2008, Palm Beach Post articles that chronicled the market’s rise and fall in the early 2000s reflect a 2005 peak price of $421,500.
“‘There’s more to eat and drink on every block’: Las Olas Wine and Food Festival is back with its biggest bash in two years” via Phillip Valys of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — After presenting a slimmer, COVID-19-leery version of its bash six months ago, the Las Olas Wine and Food Festival is back this weekend with its first full-size festival in two years. Organizer Valerie Roy is the first to admit that the nighttime open-air showcase, returning on April 22, makes up for lost time. For one, some 40 restaurants and 35 craft beer and international wine purveyors will line up beneath tasting tents along four blocks of the drag, and attendance this time will be capped at 2,500 guests, higher than the 1,500 that visited last November. “Back in November, we dialed back the entertainment to keep everyone’s safety in mind,” Roy said.
—TOP OPINION —
“Who’s the real Mickey Mouse in Ron DeSantis vs. Disney?” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — The Walt Disney Co. is learning what university professors, public schools and media organizations in Florida already know, cross DeSantis at your own peril. Nothing else explains the governor’s crusade against Disney in the wake of Disney’s criticism of the so-called “don’t say gay” law that Florida Republicans made a priority this year. Repealing the designation raises pros and cons, all of which deserve serious, deliberate consideration. But that’s not what this week’s special session is about. Adding Disney at the last minute was a shot across the bow, and the Governor’s way of warning other companies not to cross him — or else. Of course, this has become standard procedure for one-party rule with whiffs of autocracy.
— OPINIONS —
“Bought and paid for in Florida’s Capitol” via the Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — A visitor to the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee finds a security checkpoint at the entrance. But considering what goes on inside, an ATM would be more appropriate, one that spits out $100,000 bills, the largest denomination possible. The practice of plowing tens of millions of dollars into the campaigns and political committees of DeSantis, legislative leaders and the Republican Party has become so deeply ingrained that the staggering level of corporate greed and special interest influence is losing its shock value even among the public that indirectly pays for it.
“Enforcement is the best solution to Florida’s insurance crisis” via Chris Cury for the Tampa Bay Times — If you’re one of the 14 million homeowners in Florida, the chances are your property insurance rates are increasing at an unprecedented pace with seemingly no end in sight. With some insurers raising rates by as much as 111%, others declining coverage or going insolvent, homeowners are paying the cost and bearing the burden of a weakened insurance market. With no substantive new insurance legislation passed this year and the market in decline, it’s easy to understand why a special Legislative Session has now been scheduled. But, as lawmakers head into this Session, I urge them to consider the great strides on insurance reform in recent years. Last year, SB 76 and SB 1598 were signed into law, to provide more protection for consumers and discourage the type of fraudulent activity that drives up policy rates.
“We have the technology to stop superspreading without masks” via Donald K. Milton, Edward A. Nardell and David Michaels for The New York Times — At every stage of the pandemic, a disproportionate number of coronavirus infections have been traced to a relatively small number of gatherings, also known as superspreader events. The recent Gridiron dinner, after which over 70 people tested positive, including members of the Biden administration, is just the latest example. Some public health experts argue that tolerating these events is what living with COVID-19 looks like. As far as we know, no one who tested positive after the Gridiron dinner became severely ill, but we don’t know if these cases also spread to workers and beyond. There’s little reason to accept this as a new normal.
“Biden’s COVID-19 team should stop treating parents like idiots” via Alyssa Rosenberg of The Washington Post — Parents of young children have been asked to put up with a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic, working through day care closures, mourning lost time with grandparents, teaching 2-year-olds to wear masks. Moderna plans to file for an emergency use authorization for its pediatric vaccine this month. Pfizer is waiting to measure the effect of the third shot on trial participants and may not be able to move forward until June. Apparently, the administration thinks parents are too feebleminded to parse that different vaccines with different dosages might have different levels of efficacy or require a different number of shots. “Try to explain that to parents,” an unnamed administration official said.
“Parents aren’t the only ones with rights” via Frank Bruni of The New York Times — Public education is precisely that, and it’s both inappropriate and dangerous to treat the parents who have children in public schools as the only interested parties or as stakeholders whose desires are categorically more important than everybody else’s. The spreading cry of “parental rights” suggests as much. And the wrongness of that transcends any partisan affiliation. When I was growing up in the 1970s and ’80s, plenty of parents disagreed with the mores that they attributed to the schools down the street. But many of them, at least in my imperfect memory, responded not by screaming at school boards but by rerouting their children to parochial institutions. If they wanted overt religion in their schools, they patronized overtly religious schools.
“I urge the beleaguered Florida educators I’ve taught to stay in their students’ corner” via Anindya Kundu for the Miami Herald — When I moved to Miami last spring, I knew that my temperament would sometimes be tested by the political climate. I’m an assistant professor of educational leadership at Florida International University (FIU). I research student achievement and the support that helps children thrive. I also teach teachers. I used to do a lot more public-facing work before I got here but have since told myself: “Stay out of it. It’s not worth it.” But this week, one of my friends texted me, “Wait, so your kids can’t learn math in Florida?” Funny as that was, it got me fired up. I couldn’t stay out of it. Rejecting textbooks for potentially including Critical Race Theory or Socio-Emotional Learning is nothing but a political charade, one that can hurt our students.
— WEEKEND TV —
ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: Former U.S. Rep. David Jolly.
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 of tax holidays the Florida Legislature enacted during the 2022 Legislative Session and how federal funds contribute to an upcoming October gas tax relief holiday. Joining Walker are Rep. Bobby Payne, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee; Kurt Wenner, senior vice president of Research, Florida TaxWatch; and Jared Walczak, vice president of State Projects, The Tax Foundation.
Political Connections Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: An interview with Sen. Marco Rubio to discuss his 2022 re-election campaign; a recap of the Special Session on redistricting; and the latest on Gov. DeSantis’ feud with Disney.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: A recap of the Legislative Special Session, including the debate on Congressional district maps, special districts in Florida, and the definition of social media platforms.
The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Sen. Audrey Gibson and attorney Sean Pittman.
This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: U.S. Reps. Lawson and Michael Waltz; Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute Director Rick Mullaney.
This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Filmmaker Billy Corben and former Miami Marlins President David Samson.
— ALOE —
“A stunning shutdown at CNN+” via Julius Lasin of USA Today — Three weeks after its launch, CNN’s new streaming service is planning to shut down. The media giant confirmed Thursday that Warner Bros. Discovery will shutter CNN+ on April 30. In a statement, CNN Worldwide Chair and CEO Chris Licht said the network is part of the company’s broader streaming vision and expects to combine elements of it with a planned merger of HBO Max and Discovery+. The decision to drop CNN+ marks a stunning reversal for the media giant, which had billed the fledgling service as one of its most important launches. But WarnerMedia, CNN’s former parent, was acquired by Discovery on April 11, and the new owner had a different strategic vision for its streaming networks.
“Watch what happens when a great white shark circles a fishing boat in the Florida Keys” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — Great whites in the Florida Keys can be a rare sight. The large migratory predators prefer cooler water and are just passing through when they’re spotted in South Florida. But when they do show up, most anglers, divers and others on the water view it as a treat. That was the case when Amanda Callahan, Chris Marotti, Fred Lewie and Eric Rasmussen, all of Cudjoe Key in the Lower Keys, went out for a day of fishing Friday. At about 1:30 in the afternoon, they were about 7 miles southwest of the American Shoal lighthouse in 280 feet of water when a male great white began cruising around Rasmussen’s Calcutta open fishing boat.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Celebrating today is prisoner 24601, err, former Sen. Frank Artiles, our former colleague Janelle Irwin, St. Pete City Council Member Brandi Gabbard Kunard, Bert Ralston, World Partnerships’ Mary Ellen Upton, and Doug Wheeler. Happy early birthday to Laura Lenhart of GrayRobinson.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.